Samira Nasr, editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar, had lots to say about teamwork, her leadership style, being creative during isolation and getting her son off to school on time.
Speaking Wednesday on Instagram Live with Jesse Gre Rubinstein, the granddaughter of Anne Klein, who runs a digital marketing agency and a social series called “Anne Klein Women Who Do,” the two chatted about Nasr’s new role, which she began in July. Topics ranged from the future of print magazines to what excites her about her job and how she wants to give people of color and other minorities a platform to express themselves.
While she is the first woman of color at Hearst to hold the editor in chief position, Nasr acknowledged, “I’m the first to hold this title, but I’m not the first person of color to be qualified to hold the title.”
Nasr, whose background includes fashion roles at Vanity Fair, Elle and InStyle, said what excited her the most about this role was that she really thrives on teamwork.
“That’s my happy place, collaborating and working with people who know more than I do. In this particular role, it’s great because I’m still learning.…Previously I was focused on fashion, and in this role I’m involved in features, and digital, and I have an incredible team who inspire me and teach me so much. It’s also exciting to be able to build the team,” Nasr said.
Considering most of her staff works from different places, Nasr was asked what communications methods have helped align her team during the pandemic.
“It’s the same that everyone is using. One thing we do everyday is a daily meeting where everyone’s on it, and we start our days where everyone sees one another, even if it’s just faces on the screen. So you feel less isolated. If I think what this period has taught us, it’s how to be nimble and how to stay connected in other ways. Maybe you don’t need the physical closeness to be connected. And it’s forced us to develop other muscles that will help us in the future when this is all behind us,” she said.
Nasr said one of the biggest challenges has been the stillness and not being able to travel at all. Among the opportunities have been being able to be home with her family and having three meals a day with her son.
She and her team are currently working on the March issue, which will be their redesign. “That’s really exciting for me because I’ve never been so intimately connected to a process. I’ve worked as an editor through a redesign, but to be an editor in chief and to work so closely with the creative director has been really thrilling. And to think about how to reimagine this brand at this moment and carry this legacy,” she said.
While the media landscape has changed so much with digital, Nasr doesn’t see print going away.
“Print is the maximum expression of what we do. I think my publisher Carol Smith [senior vice president, group publishing director of Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and Marie Claire] said that first. We are a media brand, and we have digital, we have social media. Print is part of what we do, and print is our storefront. It’s where we get to show the purest expression of what we do, and we communicate now in so many different ways, so it just makes it more exciting. I just don’t see print going away. It is the well that everything springs from. For a brand like Harper’s Bazaar, we’re very committed to print and we’re continuing to evolve that media,” she said.
During the question-and-answer period, Nasr was asked to describe her leadership style and how it developed.
“I think I developed my leadership style from having held so many different roles in magazines and just being a constant student. I always try to be quiet and learn from the people who are around me and to pay attention to what I think has worked during the course of my career and what hasn’t. I think my leadership style is I am trusting, I set the expectation, and I let people execute. I surround myself with people who I think know more than I do. I trust that when they make a decision or recommendation or they come with ideas, they’re great. I love the dialog. I don’t hold grudges. I don’t fear failure. With failure comes the opportunity for a great lesson and evolution. I’m never making decisions out of a fear of failing. I just feel you have to be able to try something and see if it works. And I think when people make mistakes, we acknowledge them and we move on.”
Finally, when asked how she plans to make Harper’s Bazaar more representative of people of color, she replied, “Just invite people of color in. Have writers, creatives with different points of view create content for us.…It’s not going to change our voice, it will just make our voice more colorful, more beautiful and more relevant and a stronger reflection of the real world. It’s just inviting people to the table, inviting people of color, queer, anyone who is different and has felt they haven’t been able to participate. It’s inviting them to participate and work with us and collaborate.”