Cardiff Works: Shakira Obaid
Shakira Obaid is the Director of the Oldwalls Collection, an array of award-winning luxury Welsh wedding venues. Renowned wedding specialists, Oldwalls Collection has been at the helm of the wedding industry since 2008. They offer three of Wales’ most jaw-dropping wedding venues, Oldwalls Gower, Fairyhill and Sant Ffraed House. From an aspiring journalist to redundancy, to then landing a position as Commercial Director at Oldwalls Collection, Shakira spills all about her career and its progression.
Shakira has always had a love for the media industry and from a young age, aspired to have a career in journalism. Because of this passion, Shakira attended Cardiff University to study Journalism and Politics whilst balancing a part time telesales job at The AA to fund her love of fashion and travel. This is where she discovered she was a pretty good saleswoman and her passion for selling began to flourish.
Both of these experiences helped Shakira realise that she wanted a career where she could balance her love of media with her love of all things sales. For Shakira, a career whereby she could “sell clients products and service” through effective communications became the next progression, where she fell in love with the concept of public relations. “PR and communications is still one of my biggest passions which supports my overarching passion, helping businesses to thrive and realise their growth potential.”
At the age of 22, Shakira was made redundant from the PR agency that she worked at as they suddenly went into administration. She was offered several jobs but took the plunge and set up her own PR Agency, Seren 7 LTD. This brought many opportunities to work with all different types of clients, including the Oldwalls Collection…
At the time, Oldwalls was an incredible family run business but still developing. Shakira said she “absolutely loved the mission, values and culture of Oldwalls from the very start and worked closely alongside the owners and management to develop it over the past decade”. Her initial brief was to effectively market the wedding venue to prospective couples via strategic PR, marketing and sales campaigns. The Oldwalls Collection then acquired the beautiful Fairyhill with the ambition to grow the group and offer the best wedding venues in Wales to a wider audience. This is when Shakira was then offered the role of Commercial Director… and the rest in history.
Oldwalls Collection now offers three of Wales’s leading wedding venues in the portfolio, Oldwalls Gower, Fairyhill and Sant Ffraed House, with the ambition to expand across the bridge. Shakira’s mission is to work alongside the board of directors, herself being one of them, as well as the management teams to make ‘Oldwalls Collection’ a household name throughout Wales and beyond. Shakira tells us “We are constantly looking for ways to develop the product, service and offering.” Herself and the senior leaders consider innovation to be absolutely key to the success of the Oldwalls Collection. They continue to research and innovate every day to ensure that they’re ahead of trends and remain the number one wedding venues in Wales.
One of the most notable changes that Shakira brought to fruition during her tenure (and one she is most proud of) is introducing the concept of ‘Wedding Showcases’. When she joined the industry, the standard promotion events for independent exclusive venues in South Wales were traditional wedding fayres. Shakira felt that couples wanted to experience the venue exactly how it would be on the day and wanted a more personal approach, so introduced the ‘Wedding Showcase’ concept. These showcases rocketed their bookings by tenfold and are now a standard across the industry.
For those looking to break into the PR industry, here’s some advice from Shakira (and Oscar Wilde); “Be yourself, because everyone else is already taken.” She said it’s critical that you believe in the values, mission and culture of the client you are managing or the agency you are working for. “It is such a competitive industry full of talent that the only way you are going to stand out is to be authentic and passionate”. Shakira told us, “You don’t have to directly relate to the products, clients and services you are representing, but it is important that you believe in their values, mission and goals to effectively represent and support them in being the best that they can be”. This will, in turn, help you to be the best that you can be
To find out more about the Oldwalls Collection: www.oldwallscollection.com/