Maria spent over 10 years in advertising and research agencies (including ACNielsen, Publicis, BBDO), where she worked mainly as Media Research Director. She completed a dissertation on visual semiotics in 2004 and after that started working as a freelance semiotician with several international companies. She enjoyed the methodology so much that in 2009 she decided to make it her main field of specialization and founded semiotic and cultural research agency LocalTalk. Maria holds Masters (Hons) degree in Sociology and PhD in Social Psychology from State University of Management, Moscow.
Habiba Allarakia has worked since the early 1990s in business and marketing research across diverse markets and categories, with 6 years in Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East and over a decade in the Arabian Peninsula. Habiba was the first woman to work at Procter & Gamble Saudi Arabia, where she set up the now flourishing women’s office. Her key areas of expertise are strategy & initiative development, building brands & portfolios, consumer insight and market understanding. Habiba loves reading, the sea, travelling and discovery.
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Kathryn was born in 1979 in Toronto, the daughter of a hotelier. She has worked as a writer & broadcaster for a decade. She was founding producer of top-rated CBC national radio program Q. Her print journalism has appeared in the Guardian UK, the Globe & Mail, the Toronto Star, the National Post, the Walrus, Salon.com and Nerve.com, among others. Kathryn's first book, Corked, was a finalist for the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour Writing, Canada's top humour writing prize. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her boyfriend and her existential dread.