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Women of Pearls: Madina Kalyayeva, Managing Director of RSVP PR

No two days are ever the same for a publicist. As Managing Director for Singapore-based PR firm, RSVP, Madina Kalyayeva finds that 24 hours in a day is hardly enough. She begins, “It’s back to business now that Singapore has moved into a new phase of the pandemic. From digital fashion brands, to the launch of an NFT platform at RSVP to handling two kids, I can say that life is in full swing.”


Apart from emerging digital fashion labels, Madina also works closely with esteemed brands including Vogue Singapore and top luxury travel properties under YTL Hotels. She ponders on the exciting journey she’s been on—from her early start at a hedge fund in London to her years at the United Nations and now, as a passionate storyteller for brands. She intimates, “Seeing your ideas come to life is the great reward that re-emphasizes that the storytelling is powerful. By creating effective storytelling, I was also recognized as the Upstart of the Year Hall of Fame in Singapore.” Madina has also been mentioned as part of the Top 19 Individuals to Watch by the Singapore Business Review.



  1. What keeps you busy these days?


It’s back to business now that Singapore has moved into a new phase of the pandemic. I am busy with work as it is full scale. Clients have embraced digital and no longer suffer as much as they did a year ago. From digital fashion brands, to the launch of an NFT platform at R.S.V.P, and handling two kids, I can say that life is at full swing.


Mornings are the busiest as I prepare my older son for school. I usually go for a walk with my youngest son at 6AM. He wakes up early and is very loud so we go outside to greet the sunrise. From 10AM onwards, the busy Zoom schedule kicks in. The beauty of this whole set up, I get as much quality work done during the eight hours so I can enjoy being with the kids.


I absolutely love being busy to an extent that I did not take a single day off during my maternity leave. For me, work life balance is enjoying the work you do so much that it becomes a pleasurable routine.




  1. How did you come to find your current career or life’s work?


I used to work for a hedge fund in London. After that I moved to Jordan to work at the United Nations. Even then, I found that my heart lies in agency life. Advertising & PR is true story telling which creates a shift in behavior. It’s fascinating how powerful the world of media and advertising is, especially during the pandemic. Creating impactful stories is exactly what I always wanted to do. 


I was born in Azerbaijan, lived and studied in the US and UK.  After Jordan, I moved to Singapore. All these things really shaped my outlook. My parents are medical doctors. My grandfather is a precious stones evaluator, while my grandmother is a mathematician. No one in the family thought I would explore a career in advertising and media. Yet, this is exactly what I am doing. I create emotional and deep connections between products and people through beautiful storytelling.


At the moment, I look after niche 100% digital fashion brands, fashion-tech start-ups and 38-boutique luxury hotels. All of them have their own story and what I do is help get those stories out for people to get inspired, connected and be part of their journey. 



  1. What is it about your work or career that you enjoy most? 


Stories. There are people behind each brand that shape it. They put in the effort and their heart to make their brands and products desirable, while I do the storytelling and help spread the message to the world. Each story is emotional in its own unique way as it has an element of persuasion. 


People.I love speaking with people—founders, brand managers, suppliers, journalists, consumers. My job allows me to do just that, either through press releases or advertising.


  1. What do you consider to be “hazards of the job?”


I handle information which clients share with me. Some of it is confidential as it’s about an upcoming collaboration, launch or a change in business strategy. Caution when handling information is crucial. If information ends up in the hands of a wrong journalist, the consequences are difficult to solve.  



  1. For women who aspire for similar careers, what would be your advice?


If one loves what they do, they will never do a bad job. There is a difference between choosing what you are good at and doing what you truly enjoy. I was good at working in the procurement department, but I can’t say that I loved my job.


Know that it’s ok to explore. Look into other options. Try different hats. When you find that hat that fits, turn it into your fashion statement. Even if the early stages of your chosen career might not pay well, stay and make it your next big thing.





  1. What are the career milestones that inspire you to break the glass or mold?        

Every time I see my ideas come to life--installed as a billboard for millions to view—is regarded as a milestone. Winning an award for the effectiveness of that campaign and getting clients featured in publication is the great reward that reinforces the power of storytelling.


By performing effective storytelling, I was recognized as the Upstart Of The Year  Hall of Fame in Singapore, as well as Singapore Business review of Top 10 Individuals to Watch.



  1. How do you balance work and family life? What are activities that enable you to bond with family?


Working from home is all about balance now. The pandemic allowed us to get to know the family better. I am closer to my children as I can attend to them every time I have some free time between calls/meetings or admin work.


Sundays are dedicated to family bonding. Connecting with the children is important, allowing my sons to express themselves freely and be confident. This is the aim that my husband and I share as we raise them. They also see that both of us are working hard, but we enjoy work. It is very important that children understand that work, regardless of how difficult it may be, is something that is enjoyable and interesting. That is why on Sundays we do absolutely nothing. We keep it as a spontaneous day, we never plan anything. We can just do something we randomly decide we feel like doing.



  1. How do you unwind or rewind? Any favorite spots in your current city that you consider as your me-time haven?


I love to walk. The botanic garden is walking distance from our home, so morning walks allow me to recharge and get inspired. Nature is a strong energy giver, so I try to be as close as possible. While walking or people watching at the park, I listen to an audio-book. Most of the books I listen to have educational content, so I could constantly learn something new and interesting.


But nothing beats shopping. I like to shop alone because there is no one to stop you from being generous to yourself!




  1. How would you describe your personal style? What are three your wardrobe essentials 


I like to dress up, even though sometimes there is nowhere to go. Casual chic is what I go for today—basic t-shirts, extravagant suits and funky sunglasses always dial up the outfit.




  1. What makes for a good investment piece? Kindly cite examples of pieces in your current wardrobe. 


I absolutely love precious stones. Since my grandfather is a precious stones evaluator and my uncle is a jeweller, I have been playing with precious stones at my grandparent’s kitchen since early childhood.


Now, for me, jewelry is a good investment. I design and have my uncle make the pieces for me—these tell different stories and represent various stages of my life.




  1. What do pearls mean to you?


My zodiac sign is Cancer, so pearls are one of the stones that resonate with me. I have some of my favorite pieces with pearls. They always add a sense of elegance and sophistication when mixed with rubies, diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, or any stone.


Since Cancer is a water sign, pearls are that little connection between me and the water. I prefer Tahitian South Sea pearls as they have a color range from white to aubergine and black – really moody stones!