Ameena Saiyid, OBE, is Managing Director of the Oxford University Press in Pakistan. She is the first woman in Pakistan to become head of a multinational company. In 2009, she was elected Vice President of OICCI and will automatically become President of OICCI. She is the first woman in the 150 years’ history of OICCI to become Vice President and President.
In 2005, Ameena was honoured by the British Queen by the award of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services for the promotion of Anglo-Pakistan relations, democracy, women’s rights, education, and intellectual property rights.
Ameena received her primary education in the USA where her father was a diplomat, followed by the Karachi Grammar School and the Karachi University. She received training in Advanced Management from Templeton College, Oxford University, and the Ashridge School of Management, UK. She taught at the Lahore American School before joining Oxford University Press (OUP), Pakistan, in 1979, where she worked in various capacities in sales, marketing and editorial functions based in Lahore with responsibility for the Punjab and NWFP regions and then later in Karachi. She left OUP Pakistan in 1986 to set up her own publishing house under the name of Saiyid Books which grew into a successful business. However, in 1988, she was invited by OUP to rejoin as Chief Executive for Pakistan and moved back to OUP.
She rapidly built up OUP Pakistan’s publishing programme to such an extent that it began publishing a book a week from the earlier days of a book a year. She recruited and trained editors, designers and illustrators, sales and marketing staff and expanded OUP operations from Karachi and Lahore to the rest of the country by opening offices in Islamabad, Peshawar, Multan and Faisalabad. She established a network of nine bookshops in Pakistan. She organized the first nationwide book fair held simultaneously in twenty towns and cities in Pakistan. Today there is no school in the private sector in Pakistan which is not using an Oxford book.
In 1997, OUP Pakistan published 37 books in the Jubilee Series to celebrate 50 years of Pakistan’s independence. Cramped by the small size of a residential house in Karachi from which OUP Pakistan was operating, Ameena bought a two-acre plot in the Korangi Industrial Area and built an office of 40,000 sq ft and a warehouse of 20,000 sq ft. She equipped the new office with SAP, an integrated software solution that revolutionised its business practices in areas such as budget, liquidity control, supply and material management, distribution, customer services and royalties. She put in place global best practices and benchmarks to enable OUP Pakistan to operate at a high level of efficiency in different functional areas.
The new office building is a celebration of Pakistani art, crafts and culture in which the works of Pakistani artists and craftsmen is proudly showcased. Ameena’s aims are to publish and sell as many books as possible, to develop a large number of bilingual dictionaries on Pakistan’s national and regional languages, to set the standards for school textbooks and children’s books, to employ the best possible people, to manage the business in an ethical manner, to be a good employer, to continue publishing textbooks for schools, colleges, and universities, to contribute to the academic community, to promote readership, to project a positive and soft image of Pakistan and Pakistani authors.
She has been working for the promotion and rights of Pakistan authors by publishing and promoting their books in Pakistan and abroad and by ensuring their intellectual property rights are asserted and protected and their books are not pirated so that they get a fair benefit from the sales of their books. She wants to make writing and authorship by Pakistani authors worth their while so that they can contribute and grow the literary treasure and heritage of Pakistan.