50over50: Adeeba Hussain

About the author

Ann is a co-founder of PR Academy. Her special areas of interest are internal communication, change management and project communication. MSc, Dip CAM, MCIPR

Our #50Over50 feature is all about getting the PR community to think a bit differently about age and show that it is no barrier to doing great work. And Adeeba is the perfect example. 

She is about to launch her own consultancy focusing on measurement and evaluation.  As she’s hit her 50s she feels she has the confidence – as well as the experience and knowledge – to make a really good go of it. 

It’s a big change but that’s what Adeeba thrives on. 

It was an organisation restructure that saw her move from her administrative manager role into communication.  “I was working for my local council and picked up the task of creating a new weekly school bulletin. Blackburn with Darwen Council wanted to put it online and generally improve the way that they communicated with schools. 

“Well, I’d found something that I really enjoyed!” says Adeeba. “I loved finding content and the being in the role of editor. 

“However, local government does like to re-organise! My team had picked up other comms work along the way – some marketing, design, things like that. So when the next re-organisation came along we moved into a new the Marketing and Communication team for Education Department. It was an opportunity to learn a lot on the job and then in yet another re-organisation I was able to join the main Corporate Communication Department. This was a more strategic role working with the executive team and councillors.” 

Adeeba spent 12 years in local government mastering politics with a “small p” and getting an understanding of how to operate in a complex stakeholder environment. Oh, and also did a business studies degree while bringing up two young children. 

But the call of the private sector and the different type of experience it offered led her to join BAE Systems working with the teams that made the F-35 Lightning II and Eurofighter Typhoon fast jets. Once again Adeeba embraced change and when the opportunity came to set up an internal communication function from scratch – but in Wales – off she went! 

When another re-organisation brought that role to an end Adeeba used the opportunity to gain experience in other sectors including housing and some time at Heathrow Airport. 

Adeeba says: “I’ve matured in my comms practice throughout this time and one thing I’ve become really passionate about is effectiveness – if it’s not adding value, why are we doing it? Its not a question I used to ask in my early days but its something all practitioners should.

“Age has given me confidence to ask the question.  A few years ago, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to say that I was as specialist and that I understand measurement and evaluation – doing the AMEC Certificate in the subject has helped here.  It gave me validation when I needed it.” Adeeba Hussain

Adeeba is also a graduate of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations PR Diploma which she completed with us at PR Academy. 

Adeeba feels that there is still some way to go in getting practice to focus on effectiveness and those organisation outcomes. “I’m passionate about it – we need to be more impact aware, less output focussed. Quality over quantity,” she says. “Begin with the end in mind, as Steve Covey would say.” 

As well as getting her consultancy up and running, Adeeba is involved in the CIPR North West Committee, sits on the AMEC Education Committee and is Chair of a local primary school governing board. She is also interested in raising the profile of menopause in the work place and was recently interviewed on her local radio station about the topic. Outside of the communication space she has joined a really fascinating initiative, British Textile Biennial Home Grown Home Spun which is a regenerative fashion project involving growing flax to turn into a pair of jeans – do check it out. 

Adeeba is a shining example of how age brings not only experience but the confidence needed to make a real impact on the practice of PR and communication.