Interviewing the Interviewers: Sonoo Singh

In NDA’s Interviewing the Interviewers series, we caught up with some of the best interviewers in our industry, from journalists to independent content creators, turning the tables to find out what makes them tick.

Sonoo Singh has almost two-decades experience as a media and marketing journalist. Currently Consulting Editor at The Drum, she previously worked at titles including Marketing Week and is currently making a film documenting stories about female empowerment, exploration, potential and perseverance Called Incredible Women,

What is your biggest hope and your biggest fear for the digital industry in 2020?

I recently finished Antonio García Martinez’s Silicon Valley tell-all ‘Chaos Monkey’. Soon after I re-read ‘Bad Blood’ by John Carreyrou – the exposé about Theranos, which once had the paper valuation of $9bn. And it occurred to me how we continue to decorate the Silicon Valley and everything digital as something magical, and always wondrous.

And rejoice its hegemony without really questioning the kind of influence ‘everything digital’ has had on the cultural, economic and political aspects of our lives. Meanwhile, digital exclusion is exacerbating the long-established inequalities.

Just take the case of online education during the pandemic. With most of the world’s students now at home, half of all students currently out of the classroom – or nearly 830 million learners globally — do not have access to a computer, according to the UN. More than 40% have no internet access at home. The one great hope around digital has always been equity and inclusion – just the very concepts that digital has failed to solve.

My (immediate) hope? Advancements in health tech solutions, and in new workplace tools to help drive the economy for the rest of the year.

(And perhaps, I need a new reading list).

What was your biggest personal industry highlight of 2019?

Speaking on the main-stage (alongside Accenture/Karmarama) at SXSW, in Austin. The debated was moderated by an AI moderator.

Who was the most inspirational person you interviewed in 2019 and why?

Interviewing people live on stage or camera is a huge privilege I have in my current role, and I go through a lot of names every year. But when it comes to ‘inspirational’ the list is very short.

Last year’s most inspirational interview has to be the one with Jan Gooding, at the Barbican for a Shutterstock event. The former Aviva and BT marketer who is now chair of the board of trustees at LGBT charity Stonewall, has the candour and the courage that sometimes makes people uncomfortable.

To this list, would  also add Rania Robinson, CEO at Quiet Storm, who was interviewed for the ‘immigrant’ feature  in The Drum magazine last year.

What one technology are you most excited about this year and why?

The next-gen ebike. My 13yr old made me sell my car two years ago because of his eco-drive. So as I rethink my commute, I’m coveting a cool two-wheel ride for my birthday!

What was your favourite ad or digital experience of 2019?

Monzo. Paying pocket money for my son, tracking every penny he spends on gaming or at Subway and McDonald’s and not having to look for pound coins every time I get him to do chores around the house means I can no longer get conned by my maths genius of a son!

What is the buzzword or phrase you’d like to ban forever?

Agility.

Who’s the one industry figure you’d most like to interview you yet haven’t?

Mark Zuckerberg or Sheryl Sandberg

How could someone persuade you to interview them and what would put you off completely?

If you have the relevant experience, the title (decision maker or someone that can sway the industry with your influence, personality or presence) and something interesting to say.

The challenge is the “interesting” bit. And that is what puts most journalists off. Our industry is so self-obsessed and loves navel gazing to such an extent that the concept of what could be interesting is mostly lost to them.

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