How would you describe yourself in three words?
Confident, incisive, optimistic
What was your first job in media?
Classified sales executive, What Hi-fi Magazine, Haymarket.
When I got home after a year out travelling, my Dad challenged me to get a job within a month. I took him up on it and identified media sales as the easiest way to get into magazines. Three weeks later, I moved to London and started work at What Hi-fi? After a week's sales training, I was given sole responsibility for selling ads in the Regional Spotlight section, a buyers' guide on the best hi-fi shops in the country. A typical day would include cold calling anything up to 50 clients to ensure I filled the section while maximising revenues and also booking all the ads into the ledger – which had to be done manually as we didn't have a digital system.
The job led to me gaining a lot of knowledge in terms of brands and hardware, as well as developing a hard-but-flexible sales pitch.
While the work wasn't very glamorous, it provided all the necessary training to forma solid start to a media career in a young and dynamic environment.
What does it take to make it big in media?
Most successful people in media are ambitious, outgoing and competitive, so a good mix of these qualities should get you off to a good start. You've also got to be fairly robust, as inevitably your career path will follow a different route than your big plan, so you need to be able to learn from setbacks and stay positive. Self-promotion will also go a long way in getting you up the ladder faster, so networking with the right people can be very advantageous. Media is a work hard, play hard environment, so be prepared for long hours – but the rewards are worth it.
What is the best piece of advice ever given to you?
Honesty is the best policy. I firmly believe it's important to be upfront with your team no matter how bad the news is. Your team will respect you if you promote an open culture, where communication across departments is at the forefront and people feel involved. The creativity and talent of your team will be maximised if you keep them energised and motivated.
Who is the person you most admire in the media industry?
Sly Bailey, without a doubt, is an inspiration. As a woman, she's achieved at the highest level in a male-dominated industry. I've never worked with her, but her track record shows she's not afraid to make brave decisions and provide strong leadership in the most challenging environments.
What has been the most embarrassing moment in your career so far?
Perhaps storming the stage while Darius was performing at an Emap Awards do a couple of years ago. My excuse was that I was the then publisher of Smash Hits, so behaving like a teenager came with the territory!
Unsurprisingly, the event was alcohol-fuelled, which is typical of most embarrassing stories.
What has been your biggest regret?
I don't believe in regrets. My philosophy is life's too short.
Occasionally you’ll make mistakes, but all experiences are valuable. The important thing is to reap the benefit of the learnings and move on.
What is the first thing you do when you get to work in the morning?
I'll start the day with a cup of tea, then log on to see what's new on FHM.com. The site has grown phenomenally in the past year and it's a good way to keep on top of what's igniting our audience.
I'll also scan the tabloids to see what's happening on the celebrity circle and check any relevant trade press. Most days I'll have a busy diary, so I like to get in early to have some thinking time in the office while it's quiet.
What is the most exciting aspect of your job?
The strength and flexibility of the FHM brand to deliver content across all media platforms means that it's a really exciting time to be working on it. Technology is moving so fast that we're constantly evolving our offerings to satisfy changing consumer and advertisers' needs. At the same time, the magazine continues to innovate and lead the market through pioneering promotions, such as the recent multi-size issue. FHM may be the UK's biggest brand for 18 to 34 year-old men, but the real buzz comes from the speed at which we are evolving.
And what do you least enjoy doing?
I think we have far too many internal meetings, but I guess it's part of being such a big business.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years' time?
I'll definitely still be working and still be in media. With the pace at which technology is changing, the balance of the business is likely to be different and the industry will have to adapt. I believe that the success of brands will be judged by how flexible and fast they are in providing content to consumers across a range of media platforms. Increasingly, consumers want to be informed and entertained on their terms, so you'll see more brands migrating onto digital platforms. Media is an addictive industry and I can't see myself getting the same job satisfaction anywhere else.
Career path - Rimi Atwal
August 2004 Emap Teen group publishing director Smash Hits, Sneak, Bliss Publishing director, Mix mag
2001–2004 Emap Publisher – Smash Hits, Sneak, Mixmag
1999–2000 Attic Futura Publisher – TV Hits, All About Soap
1998–1999 Attic Futura Marketing manager – Shine, Real Heath & Beauty, TV Hits
1998 Ministry of Sound Associate publisher, Ministry Magazine
1995–1998 Mongoose Communications Group advertising manager, CBI News, Candis, Ski Club of GB
1994–1995 Haymarket Publications Advertising sales, What Hi-Fi?