INMA Elevate Scholar: Harris Ahmed of The Guardian

By Paula Felps

INMA

Nashville, Tennessee, United States

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On October 29, INMA and Google News Initiative (GNI) awarded 50 news media professionals around the world with its debut Elevate Scholarship. This series features these impressive media professionals who are shaping our industry.

Harris Ahmed was planning to study biochemistry at Oxford Brookes University but changed his mind at the last minute and earned an English Literature degree instead. His post-graduation career options were limited, and while working as an English language teacher, he fortuitously picked up a marketing certificate from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. 

“Once I was qualified, I knew I wanted to work at The Guardian,” he said. It took six interviews for four different positions before he was hired. Now, as CRM and retention marketing manager, he focuses heavily on personalised onboarding as a way to reduce churn, uses content personalisation to drive engagement, and experiments with solutions for the multichannel customer journey. He strives to become a specialist in strategic customer engagement, a goal his colleagues are confident he will accomplish.

Harris Ahmed is an emerging leader in retention marketing and in workplace equity and inclusion.
Harris Ahmed is an emerging leader in retention marketing and in workplace equity and inclusion.

“Harris is a high-achieving individual with huge potential for the future and will undoubtedly become a senior leader in marketing and reader revenues,” said Ben Lappin, director/retention and customer experience at Guardian News & Media. “His ability to navigate the incredible complexity of our proposition and a complex matrixed organisation and mix it up with very senior people really sets him apart.” 

Having found his place in marketing, Ahmed also works to improve the workspace by leading The Guardian’s internal Diversity & Inclusion forum. He is as proud of his work in that area as he is of his marketing accomplishments. 

“My colleagues and I have made some brilliant progress,” he said. “We have conducted and published an ethnicity pay gap study, publishing findings from focus groups to assess our cultural strengths and weaknesses in the workplace, and creating guidelines and policy to support [minority] staff with their workplace needs.” 

The hard work he puts in is creating positive change at every level.

“The people in his care are achieving everything I had hoped for — and more — through his leadership,” Lappin said. “He has done some really impactful and visible work on diversity [including] an incredible week-long series of events on diversity and inclusion that were a huge success.”

Ahmed will continue to embrace diversity and work to help create a more accepting workplace environment.

“I see myself in a workspace whose boardrooms, huddles, imagination, and subsequent output to the world is reflective of the world itself,” he said. “Hopefully, I will have a small part to play in building that space.” 

About Paula Felps

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