An Advocate of Many Missions.

Every day, on the dot of noon, Yahoo Messenger would ping with messages from Blitz Advertising in Karachi to Afia Salam's home in Hong Kong. This was in the nineties, Salam's year away from her hometown. She would turn on the video camera and connect with her colleagues at Blitz, later writing copy and sending it off, in what was a forerunner of remote working. A critical creative resource at Blitz, Salam had managed a way to continue working from Hong Kong, where her husband had been posted.

Advertising was Salam's third career after a love affair with journalism and a short tryst with aviation. She entered each career in a similar vein: open to what came her way, following her joys and quickly becoming a key resource. She had made her mark in her previous careers by becoming Pakistan's first woman cricket journalist as well as a member of the first-ever batch of women air traffic controllers, handpicked by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). 'I used to passionately discuss cricket with my friends at Karachi University, and a friend who became a journalist asked me to write down what I said for the sports pages he was overseeing. I taught myself cricket through second-hand books, bought off the footpath, and here I was writing articles on cricket in Urdu and English.' Salam is reminiscing while sitting on a cushion in her living room.

She left journalism somewhat abruptly to become an air traffic controller, a decision she confesses was 'taken in a moment of madness.' The foray into aviation was short-lived and ended when it was 'discovered' after eight months of training that she wore glasses. She chuckles at the memory and happily recalls running back to journalism, this time to become the editor of The Cricketer where she worked for three years. In between she edited Wings, an aviation magazine, putting her training with the CAA to use.

Next, it was the advertising industry that beckoned. Another opportunity, another chance to make her mark in a new field. 'I had done some freelance work for Blazon Advertising in 1990 and when their creative head left, they invited me to take his place,' she says. By then she was a mother of two and not contemplating full-time work; nevertheless, the team at Blazon roped her in with subterfuge. As she had worked on their campaign for Toyota Corolla, they asked her to accompany them to the presentation. Unbeknownst to her, that act of support would propel her into a career in advertising that lasted over...

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