Keeping up with the alumni

7 mins read

WONDERING where your uni-degree might take you? Time it right, and you could end up managing the Olympic Games broadcasting, according to Hanif Hosseini!

Hosseini graduated from the University of Stirling back in 2007, with a BA of Hons in Film, Media and Journalism. Since then, and partly due to Zlatan, he has climbed the corporate ladder, to a stile where he is practically in charge of all sport broadcasted in Sweden. Here’s his story, and some life-advice he’s picked up on the way.

How would you describe your time at Stirling?

“Pretty decent! The long Christmas and summer holidays came as a blessing to me, being a foreign student and all. Flying back to see family and friends was so valuable. I found the study pace just right; you didn’t need to be glued to your books to get through it.

“Most of my focus and energy was spent partaking in various sports teams. I played everything from football, to badminton, tennis and volleyball. And I loved it. Stirling University was perfect in that sense, as I am a bit of a sports-nerd.”

From doing sports in Stirling, to broadcasting it world-wide – how did you get there?

“I’ve done the whole climb! And I’ve climbed fast.” He explained that he received his first temporary position as a reporter for the Swedish National Public Television Broadcaster (SVT) due to luck, and modestly points to the importance of timing.

“Strolling around Stockholm in the hunt for Christmas presents in December 2004, I spotted a senior manager at SVT, whom I had briefly met during my two day internship there the previous summer. I decided to go up and say hi.”

This conversation landed Hosseini a six month contract as a reporter for SVT, after which he started a production company with a friend, making “how-to” videos.

Producing classic Youtuber style videos starring make-up and sunscreen appliance advice, the initiative must have been too early for its time.

He said: “We were actually the first ones to bring instruction videos like these to Sweden. Unfortunately, we didn’t break through. The Swedes weren’t ready for us,” he says with a chuckle.

Some years later, having worked as an editor at SVT’s Lilla Sportsspegeln (a children’s sports show) for a while, Hosseini decided it was time to step things up. The 2012 Olympics in London were fast approaching, and SVT needed a sports editor to run the show.

“I was super-keen to tackle the challenge, which I told my boss. However, she was sceptical, considering my lack of experience was very much a risk. She asked me to tell her more about myself, and what I could bring to the table.”

Initially taken aback by the negative response, Hosseini decided to “do a Zlatan,” having just read the football legend’s book.

“I replied: ‘I am not a coward. I dare to win. And I hope that you do, too.’ Two to three weeks passed. Utter silence. Then, one day, she sat down next to me and said: ‘Okay, let’s do this!’”

The Olympic games went grand, securing Hosseini a permanent position as a sports editor at SVT. But he got bored quickly.

“I get bored quite easily career-wise, as I constantly want to move forward, to develop.”

And this boredom drove him to where he is today, with the title of Sports Director for Discovery and Eurosport Sweden.

However, his journey hasn’t always been a bed of roses.

“It’s been really rough at times. I’ve been turned down, let down, and it’s not always easy being an immigrant, a wog, among all blonde Scandinavians. Often, when things go your way, and a new chance is presented, you’ll hear someone blaming it on the minority card.”

What is the biggest life-lesson you’ve learned throughout this journey?

“Dare to be yourself! Say what you want to say, and don’t apologise for having an opinion. Learn from your mistakes. Mistakes are invaluable; without them you cannot succeed.”

Reflecting upon this question, Hosseini once again points to how crucial timing is within your career. “Don’t stress about climbing career-wise. Enjoy the process, and trust that things will happen at the right time. I got my current job because I’m good at what I’m doing – correct. But if the previous guy would not have been promoted, that opening would not have been there – and consequently, I wouldn’t have been, either.”

What piece of advice would you give a current university student?

“Work wise, don’t let other people pressure you into doing things you don’t want to do; follow your heart. Or else, you will not enjoy your work, and seeing that it makes up for more than half your life, you won’t enjoy your life.”

“When building a career, be ready to get your hands dirty. But remember, to always stay humble and play a fair game. Know your values and stick by them. Then source out companies or workplaces that support the same ones. It’ll be a match made in heaven!”

Okay, last but not least, would you choose Original Strongbow or Darkfruit?

“Neither – Guiness every day of the week!”

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