On the Importance of Championing Diverse Perspectives – SYPinto Mentee Muneera

Posted on July 26, 2018 in London

With this next instalment in our mini mentorship blog series, we’re introducing you to Muneera – MA Publishing student, artist and SYPinto mentee.

Applications for SYPahead, the second stream in our mentorship programme, dedicated to junior professionals in their first or second job, will be opening on 30th July!


I am a modern nomad because my life is not limited to a single language or nation; I am complex as the next global citizen. I have worked as a Journalist and feature writer and now am working on an MA in Publishing to switch to publishing as a full-time career. A lifetime spent moving from one country to another helped me gain the invaluable experience of integration, adaptation and love for different cultures and new things which I navigate with the help of books. My waking hours are spent in and around books and in my other life I paint portraits.

The SYPinto scheme has allowed me to have a personal mentor who has been guiding me as I take my baby steps to break into publishing as a full-time career. After our initial introduction, my mentor Juliet Pickering, has spoken to me at length to understand in detail what I want to achieve and what I actually do in order to achieve what I want to do. She has given me tips about what I am doing right and what needs more work on and what else I could consider doing. I had an interview recently that I considered important even as a experience, and Juliet took extra time out to walk me through my preparation. I got a long list of valuable tips that only helped me prepare for the day but tips that I will be applying to my meetings with people from the industry in future. It is amazing how much a personally tailored preparation helps one in gaining confidence and be relaxed for the hour zero. Having a personal mentor means I can approach her when I have doubts over a matter or when I think I need some professional hand-holding. The idea behind having a mentor is to become confident in presenting myself to the world and I have to say Juliet is a star because she has helped me gain confidence in my strengths and lose fear about my weaker points. I am looking forward to what the next 3 months will bring me.


What would I change about the publishing industry?

I really think the industry has to increase the percentage of ‘other views’ it publishes each year. Publishing 5-20 ‘different’ books a year is nothing in an industry that turns out over 190,000 titles a year (in UK, according to the IPA). English is a global language but the stories need not be so western hemisphere-centric. A story about Cambodia really need not be the experiences of a Briton or American in Cambodia but can be of that of a local Cambodian for example. People will read such stories nevertheless because people are interested in reading about others’ experiences. There is a hesitation, or reluctance towards publishing other viewpoints.


Is there an individual in the industry you find inspiring?

Nikesh Shukla. He has almost single-handedly been carrying the mandate for (among other things) brown people in publishing, both as a writer and as publisher. He strikes a very good balance when he talks about issues that affect brown people in the industry and has no reservations about talking about things like it is. People like him inspire others to do their best.


Recommendation for a 2018 summer read?

The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zaynab Joukhadar. It is a story about Old-Syria and the War-torn present day Syria seen from the eyes of a young teenager and reminds us of a vital thing we forget: That wiping out history is not the way forward for any one as it maims communities.


You can follow Muneera at @mun_artist!