Aline Krioghlian, “20-something”, Social Media Manager, Netizency
Just like her colourful Snapchat account, Aline adds color and attitude to everything that she touches, a bit like a gif library.”
What is the best bit of your job? Something I love about my job is that I can tell a story and be as creative as I can. I love coming up with light-hearted content that would make people look at their phone screen and laugh – I just love it when I make someone’s day.
What is the worst bit of your job? Budgets. Having very limited budgets restricts creativity and narrows down the motivation to go beyond the horizon to create outstanding campaigns.
What would you change about the industry? I think proper data analysis is lacking at least in this part of the region. Analyzing data will greatly help with content creation and what is or is not working for your brand. It’s often underestimated and I think we should refer to insights and analytics to better understand our social media needs.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? Social Media platforms and tools are constantly evolving and I think there are going to be more diverse posting options in the future. Although, videos will still be big, 3D visuals, possibly holograms and augmented reality will become incredibly famous.
Walid Sanjad, 30, Social Media Executive, Netizency
I have a background in Psychology and enjoyed a brief stint in HR consulting for the pharmaceutical industry, where I secretly managed my company’s social presence – primarily through memes and Dilbert comic strips. I joined Netizency after cutting my teeth as a community manager in the mean streets of Beirut and Jeddah.
“Well read, well spoken, and well rounded. Walid has the unique talent of making everything seem much more interesting than it actually is, because all social content needs to compete with photos of your friends vacationing in the Bahamas.”
What would you change about the industry? The lack of conviction. While there are brands and agencies who have demonstrated their boldness, I would like to see it more widespread. Whether it’s in communication strategies or PR responses, I’d like to see the industry be just a little less concerned about brand safety (not entirely unconcerned), take the risk of failing, and own it when they do (and they will). Less appeasement and safety, more conviction and boldness.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? The biggest change I expect to see is faster adoption of new platforms and technologies. I think many of the larger agencies, networks, and brands failed to adopt the internet and social media early enough, leading to a series of missed opportunities. They’ve stumbled gracefully for the most part, to be fair, but this time around it would be interesting to see agencies integrate technologies such as blockchain, on a wide scale, before everyone else and their grandma does.
Mher (Kriks) Krikorian, 29, Head of Digital Content, Netizency
“Kriks is able to infuse a social spirit into anything from the most basic buy one get one free promotion to an elaborate CSR strategy. Just imagine unlocking a snapchat filter with a lead generation form that is part of a Twitter website card in an Instagram story kind of thing.”
What is the best bit of your job?The opportunity to learn the dynamics of diverse industries and verticals and impact them through our digital content strategies. I never get bored from being in one specific industry.
What is the worst bit of your job? The paradox of creativity and restraint by brand guidelines. We have so many ideas for digital content that tend to be more advanced than the documented and perceived brand and advertising guidelines by our clients.
What would you change about the industry? The way we pitch for new businesses; The process doesn’t seem sustainable and is a waste of resources. It’s important to think of new ways to establish relationships with clients. In an ideal world would cancel pitches and make clients pay for the concepts developed.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? Advertisers will need to focus on delivering personalized advertising experiences, be more entertaining and better fit into what people are doing at the moment. The challenge to the industry is always the same, delivering more work in less time.
REEM NASSAR, 26, BRANDING DIRECTOR, TONIC INTERNATIONAL
Started out as a fashion show backstage director then moved on to advertising in Gyro International for four years. Shifted to branding in Tonic in 2015 and was promoted to branding director in 2017
“Wise beyond her years, Reem is Tonic’s young star in the branding department. A natural born leader and a strong professional, already at a very young age she manages the branding department and her clients with great knowledge and dedication.”
What is the best bit of your job? Watching my clients’ reaction when they see their brand identity for the first time.
What is the worst bit of your job? 9am meetings.
What would you change about the industry? Shift agency behaviour from a “service provider” mentality to a “professional consultant” mentality. It would benefit our industry as a whole if all agencies behave like experts in their field, rather than paper pushers.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years?
For branding specifically, brands are existing less and less on print. Creating brands that exist powerfully on digital platforms will become a priority rather than an after-thought.
ISRAA TARIQ, 25, ENGLISH COPYWRITER, TONIC INTERNATIONAL
NOMINATION: Israa is one of the most promising talents at Tonic. Her hunger for knowledge makes her our go-to girl, especially for literature (or anything else, really). Since her hobby is to devour books in a heartbeat, bringing campaigns to life is all about giving life to insights for her. Her love for brands can only be beaten by her passion for ideas.”
What is the best bit of your job? The language. I studied it and am passionate about it. My job allows me to experiment and play with the power of language for an ever-changing and fascinating subject: humans.
What is the worst bit of your job? Good work that dies without ever seeing the light of day, usually the bolder routes, that we put our hearts into, that get shut down because of clients that aren’t willing or in the position to be taking risks.
What would you change about the industry? This stems from my previous answer about clients being braver. I know everyone’s got a boss to answer to, but the dream is clients willing to take risks with your work. We challenge the status quo and try our best to help differentiate the brand in a market with a multitude of alternative options, and clients often still choose to go with the safe route, consequently going unnoticed in this chorus of similar messaging. I’m not just here to be creative, but also to try and build brand legacies as best I can.
THOMAS SAUNDERS, 25, 3D CREATIVE, JACK MORTON
NOMINATION: “Thomas joined the team during the summer of 2016, quickly becoming an integral part of almost every project or proposal we have pitched or delivered since. His ideation and general passion for creativity have been visible to see both internally and externally, coupled with his dedication and attention to detail, which are second-to-none. It’s been wonderful to watch Thomas develop fuelled by his desire to take ownership and accountability of a project from concept to delivery.”
What is the best bit of your job? Having the power to turn conversations and ideas into reality, from small sketches into developed concepts.
What is the worst bit of your job? Long hours and tight deadlines aren’t always the best conditions for great creativity, but the flipside is that a tight deadline makes me focus and concentrate my design process to guarantee results.
What would you change about the industry? Throw away mentality – think more sustainable. Reduce, reuse and recycle.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? Undoubtedly tech breakthroughs that will change the way audiences interact and connect with brands. Also regional investment in creativity through events, festivals, developments and institutions such as Dubai Design Week, Art Week, Dubai Design District, Alserkal Avenue and DIDI will empower true creative talent that is already starting to flourish.
FIRAS GHANNAM, 29, SENIOR ART DIRECTOR, J. WALTER THOMPSON KSA
“Firas is a solid creative. One of the best talents in our office, passionate, responsible, and eager to learn. Coming from a multimedia and digital background, followed by a master’s degree in visual communication from the UK, gives Firas an edge where he can think across channels and bridge between channels. Although only 29, some of his work has been awarded locally and globally – such as the Biggest Art Gallery, which won a Grand Prix in Lynx and a shortlist in Cannes, and the Roaming Puppet that got two Silvers in Lynx and a Bronze in Effies, as well as the Do-minis, which was rewarded in Lynx, Effies, and NYF.
Apart from his creative talent, Firas carries a lovely personality, always positive and loved by everyone.
What is the best bit of your job? The best bit of the job is also the main reason I decided to join an international advertising agency, because it provides the chance to work on projects that make a difference in society. With our clients, we can do that. I am always interested and excited to either initiate or be a part of such projects, because my ultimate goal is to witness a change that I helped create.
What is the worst bit of your job? Unrealistic deadlines, which make it much harder to get into really crafting a fresh execution. Although, it challenges me to find a door leading to a creative solution that can embed deeper and greater ideas, and ultimately create a positive impact.
What would you change about the industry? I believe we need to modify the nature in which we address our audiences, and use less traditional tones (ad talk) when communicating in advertisements. I think people nowadays are immune to advertising messages, and they’ve already developed negative perceptions about what we do. To many, ads have become annoying and irrelevant, something we can’t wait to skip! We need to rethink the method in which we deliver our messages without forcing ourselves into people.
ALICIA PAYNE, 27, SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER, 1000 HEADS
“Alicia is one of the most humble and hardworking people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. She has been nominated for her extraordinary expertise and knowledge in this fast-paced industry. Her ability to adapt to any challenge thrown her way and bring an authentic, human touch to brands is inspired. Clients adore her. Her colleagues love working with her. She is without doubt one of the brightest stars of this region.” – Holly Collins, ideation lead.
What is the best bit of your job? Social media is always evolving; from trends to platforms features, it always keeps you on your toes. From creating communities and engaging with awesome people to creating unique content for brands, how can you not love it?
What is the worst bit of your job? The greatest challenges are juggling which activities to prioritise that will have the biggest impact on the brand and the team involved.
What would you change about the industry? For brands to focus less on influencers with huge followings and no loyalty, more on genuine, inspiring, game-changing humans with a voice. Quality over quantity – always.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? On the tech front, VR and AR will cause a huge impact for the industry and brands that are open to exploring; I can’t wait to be part of this next chapter. On the social side, virtual bridges from all corners of the world are connecting and talking about issues we’ve never openly discussed; creating and sustaining positive social change is the goal. I’m really looking forward to seeing how both will develop over the next five years and how we can build the future we need.
REMY ABOU CHAKRA, 26, CONTENT LEAD, HAVAS CREATIVE
“Remy is an exciting talent who has step-changed the quality of the content we develop. His creativity and craft combine with his business and brand understanding to create work that works. Through his background in planning he has brought strategy to content, and content to the core of many of our clients’ business. His work on La Perle, FAB, Ooredoo and Durex provide proof.” – Bronson Smithson, general manager, Havas Dubai.
What is the best bit of your job? The limitless opportunity of “content creation”. And involvement throughout the process: content strategy, ideation, creation and production.
What is the worst bit of your job? “Remy, can we have a new film for tomorrow?”
What would you change about the industry? A more focused definition of content creation and the role it can have for a client’s business.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? The realisation that content is nothing new; it represents the same underlying principle of storytelling. We’re in the business of creating great, business-driving ideas. Our role as content creators is to bring them to life in the most relevant way across evolving touchpoints – social, VR, AR and whatever’s yet to come.
MOHAMED EL-DALY, 27, SOCIAL MEDIA DIRECTOR, 1000 HEADS
“Mohamed surprises me every day with his extensive knowledge of all things social. He has quickly climbed up the ladder thanks to his ability to maintain a cool head and his admirable leadership skills. He has an amazing gift of being able to put clients at ease and to reassure them that they are in safe hands.” – Holly Collins, ideation lead.
What is the best bit of your job? Working with all the creative minds in the agency to come up with ideas and solutions based on consumer insights and tends, and trying to add value with our content.
What is the worst bit of your job? Watching brands who only care about numbers and quantity rather than trying to offer real value to their consumers. This is not what social is about, and seeing that potential go to waste is always disappointing.
What would you change about the industry? The perception that social media is a standalone element of your marketing strategy. We need to stay ahead of the curve and start integrating social media and the latest technologies into everything we do.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? With the new algorithm changes and the ever-changing nature of the digital world, the biggest challenge right now is building a real community of fans who are true advocates for your brand. Engagement baits will no longer work in 2018; only value-filled content is going to win and it’s up to brands to figure out the value they can bring to people’s lives through their social presences.
NINOKSHA MARIA DSOUZA, 26, JUNIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE, 1000 HEADS
Started a social enterprise while at university to tackle energy poverty in Ghana by crowdfunding solar powered tech. Worked in a Dragon’s Den-styled private equity firm connecting entrepreneurs to investors. Worked with a local budding startup that is now a bustling discovery platform for local musicians. Changed career paths to work in social media in order to learn about the industry and its impact on people, with an aim to build a career in utilising social media for social impact.
“Nino is one of the most energetic and dedicated people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. Her work ethic, attention to details and positivity are inspirational to everyone around her. I’m sure she’ll make a big name for herself in the region due to her creative thinking, skills and the love and trust of her clients and colleagues.” – Mohamed El-Daly, Social Media Director
What is the best bit of your job? I get to constantly learn something new every day. It’s amazing to see how much influence a brand’s social presence has while creating local trends.
What is the worst bit of your job? Trying
to beat the Facebook algorithm
What would you change about the industry? Regionally, I think the industry could leverage its brands’ positioning
to encourage diversity in the content that we put out. Given that the region is a melting pot of cultures, we could all do
a lot more to cater to each and every
one of them.
What will be the biggest change t in the next five years? Cause marketing will become a necessity in the coming years and most agencies would learn to adopt strategists who specialise in the impact social media has on social causes. Social media for social impact will no longer be a trend but rather an integral part of effective and relevant campaigns.
RHYS CHOW-SEEGOOLAM, 30, DIGITAL ACCOUNT DIRECTOR, ARTEFACT
“Rhys is spearheading the paid search account for a leading Middle East based global airline after joining the team five years ago. He is responsible for a team of 15 digital marketing experts, overseeing campaigns in over 80 countries, 18 languages and across 13 search engines. Rhys has built a close relationship with the client team and guides them on digital and audience-led strategies and KPI measurement while working with our partners to test new features and betas.”
What is the best bit of your job? Working with such a large team from both the agency side and the client side is
definitely very challenging, however coming up with solutions to operations and challenges is very rewarding.
What is the worst bit of your job? Excel!
What would you change about the industry? Reporting .While reporting is important, a lot of emphasis is placed on creation of reports that provide low value, when the time could be better spent on optimisation of the accounts and development of the digital strategy.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? Automation and machine learning. Over the next five years, the manual level of operations will drop as custom tools are created and developed through machine learning.
TRACEY ROUNTREE, 28, DIGITAL ACCOUNT DIRECTOR, ARTEFACT
“Tracey has helped to grow the Artefact team and establish a theme park and leisure resort as one of the leading entertainment attractions in the UAE through digital strategies across multiple channels including search, programmatic and social media with MENA-first digital initiatives. Since joining Artefact Tracey has develop our programmatic and social capabilities for clients in travel, retail and insurance. Over the last 12 months, she has balanced this while helping the expansion of the company into Hong Kong and the APAC region. She is a very popular and driven member of the Artefact team, and always has the best interests of the team and client at heart.”
What is the best bit of your job? Working with our ever-expanding Dubai team and helping them develop their skills while learning from and training our wider global teams.
What is the worst bit of your job? Jetlag!
What would you change about the industry? I think it’s a shame the MENA region is lagging behind in transparency for clients and programmatic solutions but I am glad to work at a company that is actively trying to change the industry standard.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? Transparency and automation. Clients have a right to full transparency on how agencies handle their campaigns, while consumers have a right to understand how their data is used. Meanwhile, we are moving towards a much stronger automated approach to account management right from planning to reporting.
CHRISTY KUNJUMON, 29, SENIOR DIGITAL ACCOUNT MANAGER, ARTEFACT
“Since joining Artefact, Christy has been a key player in our team with full-service experience across all digital channels and web and data analytics. Christy goes above and beyond to provide our clients with data and audience-led global digital marketing strategies, and has launched MENA-first activations including Twitter Instant Unlock, Promoted Stickers, motion activated, talking creatives and Instagram Betas. In addition to his dedication to our clients, Christy proactively learns and educates our wider team on the latest initiatives in digital marketing and analytics.”
What is the best bit of your job? Finding answers from the data while considering the anomalies that can influence the data makes me curious and happy. Also, the satisfaction when your solutions get implemented and earn sincere appreciation from the client, manager or teammates motivates me.
What is the worst bit of your job? The existing tools limit understanding of the user journey. Marketers or clients lack the necessary tools to measure the right attribution and give credit to the right channel. Companies like Google, Adobe and others realise the challenge and have introduced tools in recent years but there’s still a long way to go.
What would you change about the industry? Transparency. it doesn’t just make moral sense but also good business sense. However, many digital agencies fail to understand this. Over the years I have learned that transparency creates trust and helps in relationship building between the client and the marketer.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? I believe AI will disrupt our industry. 40-50 per cent of what we do now, ranging through reporting, optimisations and execution will be automated. Future managers will be focused more towards strategy, technology and campaign personalisation with the assistance of AI. 360-degree is being talked a lot but not executed well. The growth of technology and machine learning will help agencies to integrate offline, online and other forms of meaningful data together and thus achieve higher return on advertising spend.
TAMARA D’COSTA, 25, ACCOUNT OFFICER, C2 NATIVE
“Tamara is an extraordinary professional with a great attitude and capabilities. She has onboarded, managed and expanded one of the most demanding and challenging clients we have here at C2 Native. She is able to handle and be the point of contact for clients and several
What is the best bit of your job? Working at C2 Native I’m surrounded by talent that nurtures growth and “out of the box” thinking, while putting me at the forefront of data-driven marketing so early on in my career. Recently, C2 Native, in partnership with Oracle, hosted a workshop where we demonstrated the importance of enhancing a user’s digital experience. We identified touch points within a consumer journey and highlighted the importance of using various tools such as social listening to develop personal messaging, which in turn increases brand affinity.
The highlight of my role is being a part of this progression – of consumer journey mapping becoming less of a foreign concept and more the norm.
What is the worst bit of your job? Digital marketing has a learning process that is not always immediate and results are mostly seen in the long term. I personally feel one of the biggest challenges is maintaining brands’ focus to stay on the course to achieving a long-term vision and reassure them that the benefits outweigh the short-term pain associated with the move.
What would you change about the industry? It would be exciting to start seeing agencies and clients shift priorities on the long game and on enhancing user experiences, rather than focusing on more short-term objectives. There are no quick fixes in digital. Everyone stands to benefit from a more balanced system enhancing consumer experience, which in turn will generate richer benefits with both brand awareness and profits.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? I believe the rise of AI, coupled with data driven marketing, will be a game changer to the industry. For starters, it will engage with customers in the moments that truly matter by providing personalised communications, and in turn trigger a positive effect on the value chain. Through personalised targeting based on an intricate understanding of consumers, brands will manage to apply gained insights in real time, ensuring communications and products are always in line with current and future consumer needs. Through AI, brands will go from predicting interest today to discovering intent tomorrow.
MICHAEL JOHN DE CASTRO, 22, JUNIOR WEB TECHNOLOGIST, C2 NATIVE
“Mikko, despite his very young age, is a well skilled and driven professional. His natural attitude and manners have allowed him to be a great team player and added value to the team. A full-stack front- and back-end developer so young and talented is something that our industry does not experience every day.”
What is the best bit of your job? Technology is a playground for me to create, eliminate and automate lifestyles. As we enter the era of the digital age, it now becomes necessary to be flexible to tackle the ever-changing technology scene. As a young achiever, the mantra I repeat to myself is: “Always be a harbinger of constant change to improve my generation.” New methods and concepts never cease to excite me. This drives me to further learn and develop my existing workflow so I can transform and innovate processes. Being as young as I am, I am amazed by how people react and recognise the influence that comes from a young millennial and how much he can bring to the table in terms of new tech ideas that can advance businesses.
What is the worst bit of your job? In the information age, computer technology is rapidly advancing. I have seen evidence of this since I graduated with a degree in information technology three years ago. To my surprise, almost half of what I learned is already outdated.
What would you change about the industry? The problem is not about the technology, as the vast majority of businesses can support the digital transformation. The issue is that they forget that vision plays a big role in a company. The vision of a company must be as important as the team’s vision for its future. This must align for a smooth journey where they can pave the way together. Therefore, this will promote efficiency throughout the team to engage much more in the strategies being used by the company.
SURAJ SADEESH, 26, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT OFFICER, C2 NATIVE
“Suraj is a great example of how a person without previous industry experience can excel and embrace a completely different field. His attitude and way of approaching a new challenge is something that granted him this nomination.”
What is the best bit of your job? The challenge.
What is the worst bit of your job? Again, the challenge.
What would you change about the industry? The industry is already changing. I would just encourage everyone to embrace the change.
AMR GHONIEM, 30, ART DIRECTOR, THE CLASSIC PARTNERSHIP
“There is always that one person in an office who is very quiet and many times you pass him by without thinking very much. Then when you least expect him to speak he delivers a gem. Amr is that one person. He joined us three years ago in the studio, and a year later he knocked on the creative doors with such force we agreed his time had come to cross over to the creative side. He is that typical new-age kid who thinks ideas and is comfortable with any channel. Give him three to five years and the stage will be his for the asking.”
What is the best bit of your job? Letting me learn, play and put my opinions out there (and get paid for it). There’s something new every single day. One day I will be trying to solve the global water crisis and the next day I will be pushing frozen peas off the shelf. It’s crazy. The adrenaline-rushing kind of crazy.
What is the worst bit of your job? Clients’ strong belief that advertising can solve all marketing problems. Habibi, if your product is bad, no amount of creative advertising will help.
What would you change about the industry? The definition of the target audience who always seem to live in a different world from us.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? AI, chat bots and me (evil grin).
SARAH RIZVI, 30, ACCOUNT MANAGER, THE CLASSIC PARTNERSHIP
“And exactly the opposite to Amr you have that one person at the office who, if she does not show up to work, work is not the same. Sarah is that at Partnership. She is an account manager by profession but a ‘restless ball’ in person. An avid food blogger, curious like my 12 year old, with a face that does not stop smiling no matter what and a passion for life; these are some of the virtues that define Sarah. A darling of the clients and the creatives alike, you could not ask for a better account management person.”
What is the best bit about your job? Dynamism. No one day is like the other. Imagine how boring it would be to come to work every single day and be doing the exact same thing. Who wants to be a robot when you can be a human, right?
What is the worst bit about your job? Sometimes there is so much to do and very little time. Even if we plan things well, there is always this slight fear that something might go wrong. And, the thing is, chances are, you won’t have the time to change or rectify it.
What would you change within the industry? Digital transformation. But hold your guns. What I mean is, let the digital adoption be need-based and not under pressure. Just because the competitor is doing a digital campaign doesn’t mean you send seven posts as a fitting reply. Because chances are, this may do more damage than good. The shift in the industry towards digital is happening at a very fast pace, and it is a little scary.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? Even in a rather volatile industry, change still is the only constant. So the biggest change is sitting in our pocket right now. The first thing we see when we open our eyes and the last thing we see before closing them. Mobile is going to go beyond its purpose and role of a communication device, and bridge the gap between consumers and brands quickly.
MARTA SERUYA, 27, SENIOR STRATEGIC PLANNING MANAGER, HAVAS CREATIVE
“Marta’s analytical skill, creative curiosity and ability to simplify complexity make her a hugely valuable client partner. Her maturity and manner make her a hugely valuable leader in our agency. Marta’s Creative Strategy for FAB, Durex, Veet, Palmdream and Ooredoo have given each brand a compelling voice and platform to grow. She’s a strategist who evolves with the times and always finds an edge.” – Bronson Smithson, general manager, Havas Dubai.
What is the best bit of your job? Having to learn and navigate across different cultures, industries and mediums, giving insight and order to complexity.
What is the worst bit of your job? Sometimes encountering perception that our industry is not a go-to for discussion of business fundamentals.
What would you change about the industry? The misperception that the creative industry isn’t
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? The fragmentation of creative authority – clients’ in-house creative, publishers, media platforms, consultancies, content creators. Strategy will have a critical role in owning the overarching direction that ensures brands don’t erode in the process.
MINA WILLIAM, 27, SENIOR DIGITAL MARKETING EXECUTIVE, TONIC INTERNATIONAL
“Mina is Tonic’s digital guru and go-to guy for any technical questions when it comes to digital marketing. He is a regular on CNCB Arabia to discuss digital marketing in the region and we proudly rely on him to train and share his knowledge. Performance marketing is his strong suit, and he always delivers our clients KPIs.”
What is the best bit of your job? Technical bits (Web analytics and tracking user actions and behaviour online).
What is the worst bit of your job? Educating clients on how to spend efficiently on digital marketing.
What would you change about the industry? Brands are not willing to invest to experiment in what works and what doesn’t.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? New platforms for users to consume media, which means a learning curve on how to create content that is consumable by the new generation on the new platforms and how to target them efficiently. Also, attention span will be lower, which will cause brands to be more competitive with their content.
RAMZY SALHAB, 28, ACCOUNT MANAGER, J. WALTER THOMPSON BEIRUT
“Ramzy is the go-to person at JWT, be it in account management or other disciplines. He’s managed to build concrete relationships with clients and colleagues alike. He’s shown a new benchmark of commitment to high quality work and determination to deliver, despite the circumstances in the last quarter of 2017, when we had an immense number of campaigns going simultaneously. Ramzy is a strategic brain that adds value to clients’ businesses outside the day-to-day briefs and communication plans. He’s also a heavy reader, and has a unique interest in behavioural economics, choice architecture and human psychology, which allows him to see things others don’t, and find ways to get
results in a non-traditional fashion.”
What is the best bit of your job? I work with a lot of talented and inspiring individuals who keep pushing me, themselves and everyone around them. Every day I learn how much I didn’t know and every day I improve. Every day is like having a new job.
What is the worst bit of your job? 1) Short-termism and expectations to get immediate results. 2) Agency services being regarded as a cost as opposed to an investment – but I also believe the onus is on agencies to show clients what added value we bring to the table.
MARWA RAGAI HUSSEIN KHALIFA, 28, SENIOR ART DIRECTOR, J. WALTER THOMPSON CAIRO
“As a rising young team, Marwa and her copywriter partner, Farah Sultan, have put in an extraordinary performance. Together they work on big brands including Nestle and Vodafone, and have empowered the rest of the young creatives to push for their goals. With the diverse ideas and the good energy Marwa and Farah put to each and every brief, we are proud to have teams like this on board, giving confidence to the other teams and disciplines.” – Ibrahim Eslam, head of creatives, JWT Cairo.
What is the best bit of your job? Working on an idea from scratch and bringing it to life after all the sweat and tears that went into it is unquestionably fulfilling.
What is the worst bit of your job? As an art director, facing the “make the logo bigger” client comment and compromising design craft over it is always challenging.
What would you change about the industry? For clients to pay more attention to digital fronts and treat them with the same significance as TV rather than just a supporting element.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? Hearing the name of successful female creative director wouldn’t come as a surprise.
Aditya Hariharan, 25, COPYWRITER, MEMAC OGILVY
Hugo Rochette, 29, Art Director, Memac Ogilvy
First real job, dare we say? Before working with us they freelanced a bit here and there.
“Aditya and Hugo are one person to us – even though they couldn’t be any more different. But it’s tension that creates diamonds right? Still very young (so young in fact that one of them missed going on stage during the last Dubai Lynx Ceremony for an Outdoor Gold because he was hanging out at the bar), but with enough maturity, we entrust them with big responsibilities, like Volkswagen’s 2018 brand campaign. They fully embrace today’s media landscape and treat a social post with the same respect as a $600,000 film production. Brace yourselves; they’re only getting started.
Bear in mind that we’ve implanted tracking devises under their skin; so don’t even think about stealing them.
What is the best bit of your job? The little wins that add up in the long run—coming up with ideas and getting them approved, seeing a Post-It turn into a production brief, collaborating with incredibly talented people along the way, and finally, the blank slate of a new brief so you can do it all over again. We’re very grateful for all the opportunity and responsibility we’ve been given. We’re also very grateful for all the free soda.
What is the worst bit of your job? Scientists say that there is no greater feeling of
human pain than discovering that an idea you were really excited about has already been produced.
What would you change about the industry? The ‘work first, live later’ philosophy in the industry that we wear as a badge of honour. The notion that you’re lazy if you don’t spend most of your weeknights at work or cancel your weekend plans at the mercy of client feedback sent at 6:30 pm. Simply explained, we’re humans creating work to speak to other humans. It’s important that we get time to be with those other humans so we remember whom we’re really talking to. At least until we’re all replaced by sentient AI.
What will be the biggest change to the industry in the next five years? We’re moving into an era where mediums are dying and being discovered every day. Brands that can recognise and adapt to these changes will definitely be ahead of the curve, so there’s going to be a lot more emphasis on smart media buying and quick impact. Privacy and data security is going to be commoditised too, so it will be interesting to see how that affects the way we target our audiences. On a more cynical note: More projects, fewer retainers, tighter budgets, shorter deadlines, and less grandiose holiday parties.
HEELA DAUDZAI, 26, STRATEGIC PLANNER, MEMAC OGILVY
From graduating summa cum laude at the American University in Dubai to being promoted from intern to junior planner then strategic planner in less than three years.
“Every day Heela brings to the agency the same dedication that got her on the dean’s list. While good planners are far and few between, Heela marries her intelligence and her readiness to rise up to any challenge with a true spirit of collaboration and humility, something that she’s already shown across many projects from her contribution to the successful launch of Open, Flydubai’s loyalty programme, to Coca-Cola’s latest regional launch, Smartwater. The youngest among a very talented team, her true professionalism often makes you forget that she’s just a couple of years into her career.” – Jennifer Fischer, regional planning director, Memac Ogilvy.
What is the best bit of your job? It’s the fact that there is no one right answer. Unlike other fields like medicine or law, in advertising there are several different ways to solve the same problem. Everyone comes from different backgrounds, with different mindsets, and we all apply our unique knowledge and personalities to client problems. That’s what makes every day full of possibilities and my job so exciting.
What is the worst bit of your job? The ever-growing industry jargon. I think a lot of times we use complicated language to convey something very simple. Simplifying the way we communicate and focusing on the substance of the topic at hand would help us become more aligned and increase efficiency.
What would you change about the industry? I would like to see media and creative agencies coming together once again, like in the good old days. Only then we can ensure we are always on the same page and provide consolidated solutions to our clients.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? In an ideal world, the biggest change would be a shift towards a deeper focus on effectiveness in relation to client objectives and KPIs. As the biggest advertisers cut communication costs due to economic factors, the advertising industry will have to show tangible results to prove the need for its services. To survive the new world, I see advertising agencies either coming together with consultancies or adopting a consultancy business model in the next five years.
AYOUB EL MAMOUN, 27, MEDIA PLANNER, SOCIALIZE
Ayoub has worked in both the creative and media departments at Socialize since the start of his career, and this has given him the unique benefit of having a holistic POV. He has put this to good use, and has been instrumental in driving the holistic way in which Socialize works. This has been proven by him spearheading Mercedes-Benz’s digital lead generation activity across MENA, which included early adoption of Facebook lead ads, to the development of an automotive Facebook chatbot. He has become an essential part of growing the agency into what it is today.
What is the best bit of your job? Free homemade cakes after photoshoots.
Marrying science and art in order to invent the right solution that helps a brand achieve its business goals. Throughout the years, my joy has come from understanding the business needs of my clients and working with the different squad members to craft the adequate strategy or piece of technology that would solve the business challenge and prove ROI.
What is the worst bit of your job? Emails that end with ”I need this ASAP”.
What would you change about the industry? It seems to me that some advertisers sometimes jump on the first key consumer moment or social cause to sell their products and services. As a result, people start to see these brands as the creepy guests that no one invited to the party. Content is king, but context is emperor.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? This is how I see things in 2023: 1. Social and augmented reality will become the new internet. 2. Transparency will dictate the relationship between agencies and brands, and between brands and consumers.
3. Timesheets will be automatically filled thanks to robots.
HAMEED YOUSUF, 29, DIRECTOR, DIGITAL, BPG GROUP
Recently selected as a Youth Media Council Member, an initiative by the National Media Council, Hameed is the only non-arab expat amongst the 12 council members. He was also Change Agent of the month, a BPG Group initiative.
“Hameed is a true believer in change and symbolises the fast-paced digital era. His strong technical background gives him the flexibility to think beyond standard planning, prioritising tracking and measurement. Hameed is game for anything. When he’s not off-roading in the desert on weekends, he’s also a TV presenter and micro blogger and loves shooting short video content for clients.”
What is the best bit of your job? Change is constant. There is no time to rest and there is always something new and innovative that makes it interesting and engaging at the same time. Media that doesn’t evolve will eventually dissolve.
What is the worst bit of your job? You’ve got to stay connected 24/7. Digital is dynamic and major updates can happen at any time. As digital natives, we can’t afford to be the last ones to know about it.
What would you change about the industry? Standards. With advancement in digital and measurement, most brands need to partner with a team that not only plans their campaigns but also conducts workshops and educates them. It is not about just executing standard digital campaigns but measuring every element of the campaign.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? With the introduction of AI, we can expect a bigger base of self-service platforms and much more smarter technology in terms of digital payments and purchases. Specialised social media content houses will be set up to take on media giants, and measurement solutions will evolve.
ALISHA GOPIRAJ 28 VIDEO EDITOR, SOCIALIZE
“Alisha is the best example of commitment and professional behaviour you will find among young talent. She has a unique eye for telling stories through video that allows her to create something beautiful from scratch in just a few hours. Being so young this doesn’t come from experience; it comes from natural talent. A good example is the Grow Up campaign for Mercedes Benz Middle East she worked on last year. The client loved it from the very beginning. She has a very promising future ahead, and we’ll give her the opportunity to shine even more.”
What is the best bit of your job? Editing for me is like solving a puzzle. You need to shape up the story by placing the right clip in the right place. The best part comes when you know you have finally solved the puzzle; when you have a story created that emotionally connects with your viewers.
What is the worst bit of your job? Watching long hours of boring interview footage just to get the perfect two-second clip drains out my energy.
What would you change about the industry? I don’t believe in the rule of showcasing the brand in first three seconds of the video. A well-tailored opening can grab and hold the viewer’s attention. There are a million videos out there and people know what exactly they like to watch, and putting the brand in the beginning doesn’t help in stopping them from scrolling down.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? I think 3D video production and playback will be an easily accessible feature on smartphones in the coming years, and augmented reality will be the hero of social media.
AMR MOKHTAR, 29 SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER, TONIC INTERNATIONAL
“Amr is Tonic’s best asset when it comes to understand the client business thoroughly and making things happen in the best way. “If you’re not sure, ask Amr,” is one of the most heard sentences in the agency. His clients trust him because he knows their products often better than they do. He mixes knowledge with great passion and respect for creative ideas. His colleagues respect him because of his professionalism and genuine passion for everything he does.”
What is the best bit of your job? The nature of our job urges us to know a lot of details about different industries, different markets, different types of people. We learn about things we never seek to know about. Being exposed to these insights doesn’t only help create effective campaigns; it also changes the way we think, the way we see life.
What is the worst bit of your job? Seeing great ideas that never see the light of day. Whether it’s budget, risk factors or global mandates, these are the factors that
stand in the way of creating the best
What would you change about the industry? Brands are focusing their attention on the global market, when we have a niche one right here in our region. We need to focus our attention on our local community, making work that is meaningful for our target. The morewe understand our local market, the more we can tailor global businesses to succeed within the local community.
ALVARO BRETEL, 30, STRATEGY DIRECTOR, WUNDERMAN
Peruvian strategist with almost 10 years of experience, eight as a planner in agencies including Wunderman, MullenLowe and Grey. Started working when he was 20 years old. Moved to Dubai two years ago to head the Strategy Department at Wunderman. Alvaro has more than 35 awards and recognitions from national, regional and international award shows including Effies, Dubai Lynx, El Ojo de Iberoamerica, MMA and IAB, among others. He has also been an instructor and guest speaker in several advertising schools including Miami Ad School (Peru), Escuela Superior de Creativos (Argentina), Brother (Peru) and Planning Academy (Costa Rica).
“You can tell from his answers to your questions that he is special. Alvaro is in the simplest terms part of a special and rare breed. His work, way of thinking and positivity enable him to simplify any complex brief or challenge. After all, advertising is all about impact through simplicity. His work is part of everything we do.”
What is the best bit of your job? I love being a planner because it is the only job that pays me to read and learn about things I wouldn’t get to know any other way. Every single brief is an opportunity for me to learn something new. I love losing myself in conversations, research, books, essays. I once got to read about the consequences that fire manipulation had in human evolution for a propane gas manufacturer brief, and even about the American Feminist Revolution in the 60s for a feminine hygiene brand. All that research to then use the knowledge to connect what was not connected before.
What is the worst bit of your job? The worst is that 99 per cent of advertising is crap. If we look around, most of it is just landscape advertising, the kind that you would never remember. The “good” ones only tend to be made for awards. However I still have hope that there’s a way of creating meaningful advertising for the real world.
What would you change about the industry? For awards to be a consequence and not an objective. We are too focused on building case studies that aim to save the world by solving problems that no politician, scientist or doctor has been able to in the past 50 years. We should be focused on creating actual pieces of culture for people to enjoy. What the industry needs is to embrace its ‘purposelessness’, to be more punk and to have fun again (both agencies and clients).
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? We always tend to talk about how technology is shifting the way we work, but actually we’re only coming up with new ways to interrupt people’s lives; we have forgotten about the power of an idea. Our industry is about ideas, and ideas will always be at the core. Great ideas are the only ones that will save us from clients questioning what we do and consultancies stealing our clients.
KATHERINE HO, AGE 26, INTERACTIVE DESIGNER, WUNDERMAN
“People with potential are those who, besides great skills, have also a clear vision of themselves and the right balance of confidence and modesty. Katherine has it all. She is driven by passion and curiosity. One of the examples of her work I especially like is the design of Unilever’s brand store on Souq. It’s a proof that she will use every occasion to push things forward and do something original.”
What is the best bit of your job? The best thing about my job is that I have the freedom to work on everything, even if it’s beyond just designing. As a multidisciplinary designer I take on projects that vary from print, digital and social to art direction, depending on what is needed to complete the job.
What is the worst bit of your job? Like many creatives, it is tight deadlines, feedback and letting go of a project that you are attached to.
What would you change about the industry? The industry needs to evolve from the mentality of how we can boost sales to adding value to what we do. Making ads that serve a purpose, change people’s perception and create an impact in the society we live in. As for work dynamic, working in an industry that is notorious for having long hours, ridiculous deadlines and high competitiveness. We tend to forget about our mental health.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? With every new generation there’s a new way of communication from social media to real-life interaction. With the constant development of technology like AI, I feel that this will affect how we approach certain target audiences and, with most interactions happening online, I think that advertising will start forming or using digital and real communities (take Instagram as an example) as a form of communication channel. Also, with the concept of in-house creatives and freelancers, agencies will have to be more collaborative to meet clients’ demands. Collaborations with different expertise ignites creativity to its fullest.
MOHAB ALAA, 28, ASSOCIATE CREATIVE DIRECTOR, BPG KUWAIT
“Mohab’s ideas have helped move our clients into taking a video-led approach to social media content. In particular, his work on Porsche Centre Kuwait’s 60th anniversary TV commercial was an eye-opener for the client. He brings a fresh and often irreverent approach to weaving stories for our brands, from banking to burgers.”
What is the best bit of your job? Having fun with briefs and trying to do more than what is requested. For me to enjoy what I’m doing and for the client to do something new.
What is the worst bit of your job? Stubborn clients, subjective clients, no-clue-what-I-want clients, play-it-safe clients.
What would you change about the industry? Not using influencers in anything, as no-one gives a damn about what they promote.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? I believe ads will be more tailored to each individual, using AI. Even if it’s from the same brand, the ad targeting me on social media will be completely different from those targeting others.
AZIM AMIN, 28, SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER, ADVERTISING, BPG GROUP
“Azim has a genuine passion for advertising and marketing communications. He is hard working yet humble, always making sure he evaluates himself upon completing his projects. A thinker and a doer with a calm personality, he has been reliable in managing the most complex clients and projects. Not only has he built great relationships within the agency, he also built lasting relationships with his clients. In addition to managing existing businesses, he has been responsible for leading and winning new businesses for the agency.”
What is the best bit of your job? I enjoy taking up the opportunity to create real-world impact through new challenges, which is why I have constantly set high goals for myself.
What is the worst bit of your job? It can be frustrating when campaigns and broader initiatives are killed due to factors outside of your or your client’s control. Agency business models and short-sighted client business objectives incentivise efficiency over effectiveness rather than seeking an appropriate balance.
What one thing would you change about the industry? Bring about a strong shift towards the usage of innovative technologies and explore new media to reach out to audiences effectively.
What will be the biggest change to the industry in the next five years? In the coming years, the biggest challenge will be to predict new trends amidst the rapidly changing industry environment. Brands will have to find opportunity in building loyalty with consistency and forward thinking in their offerings.
CRISTIANO SIGNORE, 30, JUNIOR ART DIRECTOR, SERVICEPLAN MIDDLE EAST
“I have been consistently impressed with Cristian’s creativity, productivity and attitude since he joined the creative team. It’s not every day that you get the chance to work with a young talent that challenges you and tries to push the quality of the work to the maximum. In addition to his obvious creative talent, proactivity and the ability to solve complicated briefs, Cristian’s attitude towards the job and his colleagues is always positive. Cristian has also been effective in his efforts to push, participate and organise the Serviceplan internal awards program SPARKS, in which his creative ideas got noticed by international creative directors within the Serviceplan Group. His ideas won twice. In short, Cristian is one of our most talented, energetic and kindest creatives.” – Moe Jawhar, ECD, Serviceplan Middle East.
What is the best bit of your job? The ideation process. The pitch adrenaline, and the possibility of (almost) doing whatever we want. I like to know how people think and how to make communication relevant for them. But I also love the opportunity that advertising gives us of meeting people from different industries and (cultural) backgrounds.
What is the worst bit of your job? I hate to see good ideas – ideas I believe in – die. And it is even worse if a wrong brief or budget problems are the reason.
What would you change about the industry? I would put creativity over everything, even over the monetary part. I think we should focus on creative quality more than execution quantity in order to keep the innovative and creative output high.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? I think artificial intelligence will create a lot of buzz if we approach it with the right ideas. And we will probably see more personalised content served to niche target audiences.
NICK BRISTOW, 29, SENIOR ENGLISH COPYWRITER, HORIZON FCB DUBAI
“Nick started his career in South Africa, won a couple of local awards and then moved to the UAE two years ago to experience and take advantage of the melting pot of cultures and ideas that Dubai offers. His strategic strength and leadership ability shine through in every job. He takes control, puts everyone at ease and is able to influence the thinking of both the agency and the client with his clear, concise point of view. He is also able to able to adapt to the needs of each client and deliver the best solutions for their problems – from big campaigns to the smallest post – and adds value in everything he does. And his dry, sarcastic presentation style charms each and every client.”
What is the best bit of your job? Being able to change opinions and behaviours with the ideas in my head.
What is the worst bit of your job? Emailers.
What would you change about the industry? I would remove the fear and indecision that affects the creativity that our industry should be based on. All we have to offer our clients is creative solutions, and too often the creative gets lost from that solution.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? I think our industry will move from pure selling to bigger, higher-purpose communication that ties brands to a cause and a point of view that aims to change behaviour on a large scale, with the help of the reach of social media.
UDIT SINHA, 24, ACCOUNT PLANNER, HORIZON FCB DUBAI
“You can ask Udit to jump off a bridge into water and he will do it. Sometimes he will do it forgetting that he can’t swim in strong currents. This statement sums up his attitude. The most remarkable thing that Udit was able to do is not just one incident, but multiple occasions when he found himself facing clients with the good, the bad and the ugly… and has delivered outstanding work, amazing his audiences, every time.”
What is the best bit of your job? It is what inspired me to be a strategist: the joy of solving problems through logical thinking and creativity. Each project needs a different approach. The solution is always tailor-made.
What is the worst bit of your job? Though rejections are an inseparable part of our industry, it can sting when ideas that you have helped bring into existence are cut down. I have been advised that I need my heart broken occasionally to be able to grow.
What would you change about the industry? Ideas that work are more valuable than ideas that amaze – delivering on that promise on every brief.
MOHAMMED AQEL, 29, VIDEO MANAGER, RAW
“Aqel is a secret weapon within the creative department. Not only does he create award-winning videos and multimedia designs, but he continues to support the agency on a daily basis across all existing clients and new business pitches. As our communication landscape continues to evolve, the role of multimedia design and video content is becoming increasingly important, and an essential skill set within any creative agency. Our only challenge now is finding more people like Aqel.” – Adam Fothergill, managing director, RAW.
What is the worst bit of your job? The addiction. Animation is such an interesting field that it gets you hooked; it feels more like a game than a job, and that is why once you start you cannot stop.
What one thing would you change about the industry? The definition of time; the quick nature and demand in the industry imposes a challenging timeframe, while more time will always result in a better outcome.
KRISTINA KOIVIO, 30, ACCOUNT MANAGER
I’m actually fairly new to advertising. I worked in the music industry until I was 25, but it was impossible to miss the change businesses were undergoing around me; companies everywhere were endeavouring, and often struggling, to go digital. A big change was happening and I wanted to be part of it. So with digital calling my name, I took a leap of faith and moved to digital advertising. I’ve been with Hug for three years and love it. It’s very exciting to be at the forefront of a global movement.
“Kristina is a natural people person with the right dose of both aptitude and attitude for advertising. She easily turned her hand to digital advertising and makes hard work look easy. She knows how and when to say no to clients for the greater good of their brands. Her excellent work across her brands has delivered great results and has grown both our client agency relationship and their commercial success.” – Tim Baker, CEO, Hug.
HIAM BALTAJI, 28, SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER, HORIZON FCB DUBAI
“Hiam was a key person working on the Clorox global pitch that we brought back home. She played a key regional role on the account that contributed to achieving one of the highest client evaluation scores on Clorox globally last year.
She is a dynamo, with fluid skills and talents that can adapt to any situation or any business. Being born and raised in Dubai naturally provided her with the local and regional knowledge. With years of experience working on a strong and versified portfolio of international and local accounts, Hiam is going up the ladder very confidently. A perfect formula for one of the strongest senior account managers in our industry. Being precise and perfectionist at her work, strategic and experienced with her value and a pleasant personality to work with makes every single account director in the agency fight to have her on their team.”
What is the best bit of your job? Working in advertising is like working in modern art. There’s so much room for creativity while at the same time solving a client’s challenge. It’s very rewarding to see how a tough challenge can be tackled with the help of simple creative solutions and powerful insights that hit it at the core.
What is the worst bit of your job? Timesheets. I can’t stand those.
What would you change about the industry? In this region, we need to keep up and be more agile when it comes to new trends.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? More branded engaging content. Currently in advertising we don’t only compete with similar brands, but also with on-demand video platforms that provide our target with loads of content at a press of a button. These online platforms are growing rapidly. We need to ensure our brands get to our consumers’ hearts in engaging ways so they don’t just hit the skip button.
Mohammed Naazyad, 28, Technical Project Manager, RAW
“Occasionally you find people who go above and beyond for their clients and the agency. Mohammed is one of those special and rare individuals. His commitment to meeting and exceeding client expectations and deadlines is unquestionable. In addition to a remarkable work ethic, Mohammed has a wealth of technical knowledge and experience, making the impossible possible on a daily basis.” – Adam Fothergill, managing director, RAW.
What is the best bit of your job? Every day is a new day with new challenges and surprises. This is fun when you are a person who loves challenges.
What is the worst bit of your job? Connection. In the age of the internet, you can’t afford not to be connected. You never know what’s trending on Twitter this very second.
What would you change about the industry? Educating people about quality versus cost.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? I believe that artificial intelligence is playing a major role in changing the way technology works. Elon Musk is a great person to follow, given his numerous ground-breaking projects and ideas on AI.
VYLAN DALMAIDA, 25, CREATIVE STRATEGIST, HUG DIGITAL
An engineer turned designer turned strategist turned ‘what is it that you do?’, Vylan broke into the industry only a year ago after completing the Social Strategy boot camp at Miami Ad School with the Top Dog Award. After his internship at TBWA\RAAD under the wings of some of the top planners in the region, Vylan realized his purpose in adland – to come up with the idea for the idea; a cheesy line he uses proudly on his LinkedIn. Just seven months into Hug, Vylan has already created strategic platforms on social and digital for brands such as Lexus and Kraft, effective campaigns for Honda and has spearheaded major pitches with an impressive track record.
“For me, Vylan is a new breed of creative thinker, who brings to the table a level-headed strategic thought process and mixes it with creative flair. He understood very quickly how we like to position our strategic offering at Hug and has since been the strategic lead on many pitch-winning projects. Coupling all of this with his dedicated hard-working attitude means I couldn’t be happier with this young man’s performance to date.” – Simon Reid, ECD, Hug.
What is the best bit of your job? What I do can influence culture.
What is the worst bit of your job? What I do can influence culture!
What would you change about the industry? I’d rather say what I would never want to change but fear it will because of new media and tech emerging, unless we are constantly reminded of it:our best ideas come from a human insight. Not a digital one, not a social one, but an organic truth that is reflective of who we are. I hope that never changes.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? Interdisciplinary thinking will become more mainstream. Look at recent disruptive ideas and you can tell that they are coming not just from the creative departments of traditional agencies. With business challenges getting more complex, consultancies threating our existence and AI developing creative capabilities, our creative solutions will require a collaborative effort, one that requires us to understand and contribute to every bit that goes into the mix.
RANA SADEK, 27, ACCOUNT MANAGER, SPARK
“Having Rana as part of the team is unarguably a valued asset because she has always showed confidence and diligence in her work as well as her communications skills. No matter how tough the challenges are that she faces, Rana has always managed to effectively face them with dedication and reliability. Her attention to detail and creativity makes her an outstanding team member in every possible way.” – Adam Fothergill, managing director, Spark.
What is the best bit of your job? Each day is different and brings about different projects and challenges. In advertising, one cannot have the same day twice in a row.
What is the worst bit of your job? The long hours. Of course, I understand that our field requires and needs it occasionally, but at the same time that is time away from family and friends.
What would you change about the industry? It would be great to work together with our clients as the consultants that we are. There are times when the client dictates and influences the overall project, but we should be able to steer them in the direction that serves their best interests without compromising the end goal.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? The biggest change will be the difference in how media is utilised, especially TV. TV will be non-existent as it is being overtaken by online portals such as Netflix and Amazon, and it will be interesting to see howadvertising plays into that.
SARA EMAD, 28, ACCOUNT MANAGER, SPARK
“Not only does she handle one of the biggest clients in the agency, but her professional and interpersonal skills allow her to build strong and trusted relationship with the clients as well colleagues. Sara always delivers 100 per cent on every project, which in turn results in her continuously exceeding expectations. Her positive spirit and energy is remarkable and contagious.” – Adam Fothergill, managing director, Spark.
What is the best bit of your job? Whether you yell or get yelled at, this means you’re somehow learning something new, and yes it happens daily.
What would you change about the industry? The industry in this region lacks one thing, which is risk taking. We don’t see daring clients in this region. I’d love it if all clients were daring, which in return makes us all more competitive.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? YouTube ads and 6-second ads will not last long. I’m a true believer that traditional advertising will never die. Yes, digital and social will win so many hearts, yet traditional lives on. It might be even strongerin the future.
DANA SALAMOUN, 28, ACCOUNT MANAGER, HORIZON FCB DUBAI
A strategic planner for three and a half years then a shift to account management for two and a half years make her a unique, strategic-thinking account manager who adds values, insights and her unique approach to every dialogue.
“Dana is a pure ad woman in the making. Being a planner at the core gives her a leverage over her peers and colleagues that you rarely witness in our industry. Growing up and living in the UAE gave her a strong knowledge about our region and an insight to the local consumer. Dana is a very perceptive human being, passionate at heart with a constant thirst for learning. A unique formula that creates one of the strongest account managers that you can encounter.”
What is the best bit of your job? This is a tough one. It’s like having a universal degree on the major sectors in the world. One day you are fully devoted on real estate and another you are an expert on skincare routine. Total schizophrenia.
What is the worst bit of your job? Dealing with so many hormones along with mine.
What would you change about the industry? While shifting from Planning to Account Management, I heard a lot of “are you sure?” and “but why are you doing this to yourself?” Little that they know account management teaches you way more than what’s perceived. And I would like to change the awareness of who we are – other than ‘delivery boys’. We are more likely to be mini planners, financial reporters, walking calendars, politicians, imaginary boyfriend or girlfriend to clients, psychiatrists, relationship advisors… you just name it.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? Due to rapid technological change, 65 per cent of today’s students will be employed in jobs that don’t exist yet. This factual statement gets me somehow nervous, as I believe one of the biggest factors of a worldwide change is artificial intelligence. We are seeing AI empowering existing products by reinventing them along with new experiences. The question remains: how fast can we cope?
AMBAR R KAKKAR, 23, DIGITAL ANALYST, FP7 DUBAI
My career began at KPMG (in the Digital Strategy & Transformation Consulting division), where my passion for analysing qualitative and quantitative data and applying it to solve business problems began. After moving into advertising, I was able to apply my data analysis capabilities to develop relevant customer experiences and growth strategies for brands through the use of social data, persona development and customer journeys.
“An analytical mind in the midst of a creative agency. Always willing to challenge ideas and backing his arguments with data. His work on one
of our pitches was crucial in helping us win the business. He was part of the whole process to make sure that all the ideas proposed are backed by solid data from the audience of the brands we are talking to. His intellect is one to be watched, he is just getting started.”
What is the best bit of your job? The opportunity to sift through data, whether it be social, attitudinal or demographic and create meaningful insights that can help brands create content that resonates with their audience and meet multiple business objectives and goals.
What is the worst bit of your job? Prioritising insights. Often enough, there are numerous insights that get generated, however prioritising which insight will help address the task or brief at hand for the brand and its business is always challenging.
What would you change about the industry? I think the industry as a whole needs to understand the power of data-driven insights that help create meaningful experiences and solve business problems for brands. As the industry leverages data, it will be able to create personalised experiences for audiences in terms of online content or in-store experience and, in effect, increase emotional affinity towards the brand
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? The importance of data-driven insights is going to increase as consumers demand personalised experiences. However, the collection of personal data is being increasingly scrutinised. The juxtaposition between consumers demanding personalised experiences and the amount of data that one will be able to ethically collect is likely to lead to marketers having to find creative ways to target the right audiences with appropriate content without breaching any data regulations.
MAIA NOUN, 25, SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE, FP7 BEIRUT
“There are people who have advertising in their DNA. That’s Maia. A real, true, authentic ad woman who keeps on surprising us with her thinking. She’s what I like to call an ‘insight catcher’. And quite a storyteller. When it comes to presentations, she’s a natural. In her first year, she was able to play a major role in a Maybelline YouTube series on her own, a series that ended up being globally recognised by L’Oréal and won a major internal award.
Not bad for a small country like ours. All people are prone to learning, but raw talent is quite hard to find. We can’t wait to see her shine.”
What is the best bit of your job? Being able to look at a business from an outsider objective and filling in strategic gaps with creative solutions.
What is the worst bit of your job? Short lunch breaks (I love my food).
What would you change about the industry? Switch the perception of ad agencies from creative shops to marketing consultants.
What will be the biggest change in the next five years? With creativity no longer being limited to ad agencies, expanding to in-house client departments, content creators, influencers, publishers, TV stations or anyone with a Facebook account, ad agencies will have to re-invent their business model and figure out how to convince clients of their added value.
ALAA EL SHEIKH, 29, SENIOR COPYWRITER, FP7 CAIRO
“Alaa is nominated because of his remarkable efforts and perseverance putting his work in a good place in the market. An example of his good work would be the Etisalat World Cup brief and World Youth Forum (We Need to Talk). He has good potential to lead teams and produce more great work. He is well known for his copywriting and how it captures the viewers’ hearts every time.”
Best bit of my job: unleashing my creativity, getting exposed to literally everything (sports, politics, cultures…. etc.). The cycle of an idea on paper to an ad that everyone sees and getting the feedback is such an enjoyable ride.
Worst bit of my job: Having a great idea get killed by client because it’s brave, crazy, budget cuts or it’s just cancelled is the most frustrating thing.
One thing to change in the industry: Badly handled research and focus groups made from the client side.