What drew you to the event & marketing industries?
Simply put, my desire to create and implement innovative campaigns & events while keeping in mind the ROI. There was also an even bigger desire to make a difference. As a person who strongly believes that knowledge is power, working within this industry has given me the opportunity to learn and experience something new every day.
As a Master’s graduate in International Business Transactions, how did this experience contribute to your success in your line of work?
Education in general, and the International Business and Economics University in particular, gave me the exposure I needed and a better understanding of the business universe. It also taught me to negotiate, rationalize, strategize and work against deadlines.
The Master’s class focused on forward-looking transactions, negotiations between business principals, as well as negotiations over legal issues. We are talking cross boarder sales of goods, contracts for services, gradually working through representation relationships to licensing and joint ventures.
My Degree has been an important milestone in forging a strong foundation; enabling me to combine innovation with attention to costs, while focusing on the ROI. I have the business acumen to do things different, analytics being the base.
How were you able to shift across different disciplines and verticals throughout your career?
I believe, flexibility and willingness to learn are keys. I have always been a curious person and enjoyed taking on different challenges throughout my career.
Each experience prepared me for the moment when I was finally ready to launch my own company, in 2008.
I started working at the age of 18, when I was still a student. First as a tourist guide, then as a stock broker. I then, graduated and moved on to work as an expert contracts negotiator for one of the biggest oil companies in the world. I gradually expanded into Data Intelligence and Strategic Planning based on customer data and analytics, Direct Marketing, Telemarketing, Online, Interactive and Coalition Loyalty Programs.
Can you tell us about your journey to becoming a managing partner at one of the best marketing and event management agencies in Dubai?
We started the business in 2008 with nothing but 4 hands and a desire to make it. We had no financial support at the time and therefore have handled every aspect of the business – from being a promoter booking agent, to a model scouting agent, to a supervisor, a strategist, an operations head, a finance in charge and so on.
Today, everyone sees a 200+ team handling the best activations in town, but only few remember the 10,000 stairs taken to reach where we are today and no hand to hold us.
Prior to setting up our own agency, we first identified a need-gap. We understood that there is a need in the market for solid strategy-driven companies that can guide brand owners and corporates to the best way of promoting their wares.
In 2009, we were at the beginning of the economic recession, and many brands wanted on-ground activations to directly reach out to their consumers, as mass media advertising was expensive, scattered and not targeted. There were advertising agencies focusing on communication & strategy but didn’t have strengths on execution. And there were the smaller promotion agencies providing staffing for promotions, but did not provide the strategic thinking to go with the activity. We bridged the gap and provided strategic solutions along with execution support.
Since then, we have grown the company to include synergistic divisions for Marketing, Events, Models and Digital, Production.
- The Marketing division specializes in Activations, Road-shows, Promotions, Direct to consumer programs with a large focus on Consumer Engagement
- The Events division specializes in providing talents and entertainers as well as handling new product & brand launches, and store launches for our clients
- The Models division specializes in talent and model management and also handles full campaign production for different brands
- The Digital division is, catering to our clients’ ever growing demand for strategic online campaigns across Social Media and the Web as well as interactive applications, VR & AR for our on ground activations
- The Production division is the latest division and specializes in stand build up
Have you faced any gender-based challenges throughout this journey? Can you name other significant challenges you faced?
I have seen and experienced lots of challenges, just like anyone else. The taste of victory is therefore much sweeter after all this. As they say there is no escalator to success and there are lots of No’s, I heard before reaching where I am today.
I however chose not to focus on those. I tend to ignore whenever faced with such situations. I would rather concentrate on how to get the things done. One cannot choose how others behave, however, the effort we are willing to put in, is solely in our hands.
My firm belief has always been that time, experience, teamwork, dedication, are keys to moving forward as individuals and as a society.
We started our business during the recession, with nothing but 4 hardworking hands and a desire to make it. I moved from my house and lived with a friend as I couldn’t afford to live by myself. I learnt to adjust and live day by day. I never doubted for a moment that it will work.
It was a time when brands simply did not have the budget required to invest in their marketing activities. So from the start we had the challenge of managing small budgets with measureable ROI; this is possible with strategic and out-of- the box thinking that comes with experience and confidence. We have maintained the same approach post-recession; it’s easy to get swept away in bigger budgets but we remind ourselves of the ultimate value proposition that our clients want to achieve each and every time.
What are your plans for FLC over the next 3 years? Are you looking forward to EXPO 2020?
We want FLC GROUP to be the best, attract the best talent and resources and be the first choice of all our clients.
Our plans are to expand regionally as well as division wise. We have recently launched an in house Production & MICE division.
Ultimately we are working towards each division becoming number one in GCC in their respective fields. The advantage of being under the cohesive banner of FLC is that they can draw on the strengths of each other to be even more cost effective and offer better services to our client portfolio.
2020? We are sure that lots of opportunities are coming up and there will always be a demand for outstanding service while keeping the bottom line in mind.
What message would you like to share with the Executive-Women community?
I would advise them to look ahead instead of left and right. We all have our journey and there is no need of comparison unless it is a comparison between who you were yesterday and who you are today. Understand their strengths, develop a solid strategy, be confident in their own skills, surround themselves with competent people, stay calm, network, identify friends with similar interests and be ready to work hard.
Last but not least, support your fellow women in business. A team can deliver more.