Sarah Nurgat

Client Services Director, Diageo

"As a Muslim woman of Indian origin, I am among a small minority in the field of PR; a 2024 report by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations found that 87% of PR practitioners in England & Wales are white. I started out as a French translator and interpreter, but was drawn to the PR & Marketing agency (that I still work at!) because I could apply all my skills and interests: languages, writing and communications. 

 To start with, I supported the account teams responsible for B2B firms in the medical device, serviced offices and building supplies sectors - among others. Writing for trade press, pitching to journalists, and making market research calls were all completely new tasks to me - I hadn't expected to find myself in the sector but found I suited it perfectly. Coming from a fairly conservative background, I also needed to navigate the social aspects of working life: looking different to others, feeling awkward about taking a prayer break, and not being able to fully participate in late evening activities - especially when alcohol was involved.

 I become a Junior Account Manager in 2020, right as my team manager left for maternity leave, my team director left to set up her own gig, and lockdown began. I found myself suddenly remotely managing a team with just the Managing Director above me. In the summer, he offered me a highly exciting and unexpected opportunity - to become a shareholding Director of the business. I had to seize the opportunity.

 Four years later, I'm the Client Services Director, overseeing a team of 10 employees and multilingual freelancers, as well as a network of freelance copywriters. I am focusing on creating a team of leaders in their own right, offering training opportunities such as Leadership & Management courses from an early stage. This International Women's Day, I launched a campaign around women's health, applying my marketing skills and knowledge of the life sciences industry to support this growing but still underserved industry - while also growing our business.

 This new role has given me the confidence to share my own thoughts and experiences with other professionals. My growing network means I have a platform for sharing what it's like to be a working Muslim woman in this industry - I was especially pleased at the engagement with my recent light-hearted post for World Hijab Day. 

 PR & Marketing is often overlooked by bright students because of a lack of knowledge about the sector. Along with my Managing Director, I have already delivered a presentation to students at the University of Oxford about the different pathways in the industry, and we are planning to deliver more sessions this year. I hope this will raise awareness about an interesting career path, but also help to attract people of different backgrounds who may not expect to see someone like me in this field."