Born: Beirut, Lebanon
Worked in: France, Beirut, Dubai, Cyprus, Bahrain
Describe an innovative idea or business solution of which you are most proud. In a region faced with an industry-wide talent shortage, we developed the OMD Academy, a first for the Gulf States. Through its mixed curriculum of training sessions, ad-hoc seminars, network-wide conferences, and master classes for media creativity and marketing, we are developing a new generation of industry superstars.
Why do people see you as an innovator? Leadership is about being a magnet — attracting bright people to an organization and spreading an energetic culture across every level of seniority. We strongly believe in assisted empowerment; we expect our teams to act decisively with the help of tools, training and support structures. This is not the traditional way of managing a business in the Middle East, yet we already see benefits — clients report high levels of satisfaction.
What role does innovation play in your marketing strategy today? We thrive on doing things first in the Middle East region. In addition to the OMD Academy, we were first to act on television audience measurement, first to create a marketing function in a media agency, first to create a branded entertainment division and first with a “thought-starter” unit.
How do you characterize innovation in your work? Innovation means reaching beyond the status quo. It’s about being brave enough to act differently — even if it may mean risking failure. It is also very much about seeing someone’s potential beyond their current role, even if they can’t yet see it themselves. And this is particularly true for brands, as well as people.