10 questions with... Zaid Al-Zaidy, ‎chief executive officer of Above+Beyond

Zaid Al Zaidy, chief executive of Above + Beyond

The Drum speaks to people across the global media and marketing sector who are bringing something a little different to the industry and talks to them about what little insights they can offer the rest of us. This week's 10 Questions with... features Above+Beyond's chief executive, Zaid Al-Zaidy, fresh from his fourth appearance on The Apprentice.

What was your first ever job?

In 1986, aged 16 yrs old, I took a job working night shifts alone, in a video rental store in South East London’s Lewisham, when it was ‘proper proper rough’. Sadly, my on-boarding didn’t include an introduction to the world of film and its various eclectic genres, merely an induction to the till and the baseball bat for self-protection purposes. Nice.

Why did you get into marketing?

Following my second degree in ‘art and politics of the middle east’, I thought I was ideally placed to sell Islamic art back to a niche market of very rich Arabs trying to reclaim their cultural treasures. I knew about art, but nothing about marketing & business, so took a position on Unilever’s graduate scheme to learn a little and to complete my skillset for my dream job. Very quickly I realized that the oriental art market had been cornered by Persians and, simultaneously, I fell in love with turning inanimate objects into brands with stories. Before I knew it, I’d spent eight years of my life selling deodorant before embarking on my career creative agency side.

Who is your favourite person to work with and why?

I don’t think answering this will lead to good things…

What is your ideal work night out?

Pints of Meantime Pale Ale in Borough putting the agency to rights. Or pints of Meantime Pale Ale with vodka chasers to celebrate a new client win. Often in bed by 11.30pm.

If you could go to one marketing event this year which would you choose?

SXSW for a trio of tech, beef rib and chicken shit bingo.

If you could ban one buzzword or piece of jargon what would it be?

Millennials.

What is the most exciting thing about your job?

It’s an amazing time to be in our industry. The power shift away from the oligarchs of big TV, in favour of the more nimble, human and collaborative spirit of a modern agency, is an amazing thing to see and experience. And thanks to the convergence of media and tech, we are now witnessing the rise of new creative cultures able to harness an eclectic mix of talent: the rational and the madcap, the scientist and the artist, the thesp' and the prole, the university-educated and the self-schooled, the dyslexic and the spelling bee. This is the ‘atomic soup’ from which great modern ideas are being born. This and the amazing pizza at 'Over near Borough Market.

IPhone or Android?

If I live to 90, I’ll be making my last VR call on an iPhone 55i – ‘i’ for integrated into my cortex.

Best book you have ever read?

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

What's the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Everyone is busking it.

The next installment of 10 Questions With... will return next Monday.

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Stephen Lepitak

Stephen Lepitak is editor of The Drum, with responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day running of the content produced for the various platforms run by the publication. Over the years he has interviewed agency network bosses such as Sir Martin Sorrell, Maurice Lévy and Arthur Sadoun, as well as Cindy Gallop, Kim Kardashian, film directors James Cameron, Spike Jonze, Richard Curtis and Lord David Puttnam. With a keen interest in media and breaking news, Lepitak has been with The Drum since 2005 and is based across its UK, US and Asia operations.

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