Born: Beirut, Lebanon
Worked in: New York, San Francisco, Mexico City, Dubai, Singapore, Guangzhou and Delhi.
Name an innovative idea or business solution for which you are most proud? My most proud business innovation/solution is the creation of B. E. International, an international marketing communication group operating in 26 markets. The dream started in a garage in Bethel Connecticut in the U.S. and has expanded to include offices in markets like Beijing, Dubai, Singapore and Delhi. We currently employ 1000 people and have 11 companies under our group specializing in Youth Marketing, Media Planning and Buying and PR.
Our latest innovation is the Women’s marketing firm called “Muse” operating in the Middle East in order to help marketers communicate with women from a woman’s perspective. Many doubted the validity of such an idea in a market like the Middle East, but we felt that this segment of the market was being neglected. We were able to prove its success within the first 6 months of its inception.
Why do people see you as an innovator? People have often say that when someone has a new marketing or business idea and they are in need for someone to develop it through, they simply should contact Shadi. I have launched 28 successful companies over the last 11 years with little or no capital and without any outside funding or financial assistance. Twenty-six of these companies have a market value of over USD $1 million.
This experience has also helped fuel many of our clients’ business development efforts in diverse countries and industries. Whether it involves helping them create new services or products or enter and win new markets, many clients often say that my innovative business ways have contributed to shaping their businesses thinking.
What is the role of innovation in marketing strategy today? To win new business, we, of course, compete against multinational network agencies and large local marketing groups. Innovation has to play the most important role in any organization’s marketing or business strategy, especially in regard to recruitment. We strive to offer talented individuals creative compensation packages that include unique working environments, profit sharing schemes, equity stakes and many other incentives to help attract and retain great people around the world.
What is the biggest challenge you face in applying thinking to international projects? The world is a huge place, and as technology becomes more advanced in markets from Brazil to India-- and not just in the U.S. and Europe, it becomes increasingly difficult to compete and innovate.
For example, in a market like China, we may introduce a “new” idea related to a product launch, only to be surprised to learn that the same idea has been already executed by another company in the market.
Other International Facts: I moved to the U.S. in 1988 at the age of 14 and currently have homes in Delhi, Dubai, Doha, New York, Bethel-Connecticut (U.S.), Singapore, Guangzhou, Manila, Istanbul and Bucharest. In any given week, I am in 2.5 countries.