How I made it featuring Rami Hmadeh, CEO at Serviceplan Group Middle East
For our latest inspiring stories series, 'How I made it', we're interviewing the cream of the crop across all facets of communications and marketing. This is where you'll learn about how the best in the industry got to where they are today and hopefully pick up some tips along the way to help your own career progress.
We sat down with Rami, currently the CEO of Serviceplan Group Middle East, an innovative, multi-disciplined creative communications agency group, and leading a team of 65+ colleagues. Rami transformed regional operations from a single discipline agency over 9 years ago, to a fully integrated creative offering by establishing Serviceplan's “Haus der Kommunikation” in the Middle East.
How do you start your day?
with a smile…I’m a morning person. Fully energized from the moment I open my eyes. I wake between 6.00am and 6.30am. After the usual rituals, I drop my daughter to school – my favourite part of the day. Then I go to work; I’m always there at least an hour before other team members.
Because there are no interruptions, this is usually the most productive hour of the day for me. I always plan a day in advance – meetings, appointments etc. – and I use this time to make sure I’m fully prepared.
What personal attributes have most helped you in the course of your career?
Curiosity and ambition.
Curiosity because I was always interested in taking assignments outside my comfort zone and to get to know and be exposed to new things, new brands, new clients, new industries. I’ve never been a big fan of ‘titles’; if there’s an interesting opportunity, I’ll go for it. I’m always hungry for more and eager to learn.
And ambition has helped me because right from university, I always had an idea of where I wanted to be in the next five, ten years. Always aiming for higher, but keeping my feet on the ground.
What keeps you sane on those crazy days?
In our industry, most of the days are crazy ones. The worst thing that can happen is when this starts to stress you down to the extent that it cripples you from doing what you’re supposed to do…and even worse when it start affecting your mental and physical health. You need to keep cool in such a volatile and unpredictable environment….Always take a step back and look at the big picture and evaluate all options…there is a solution for any problem!
What career advice would you give to someone wanting to break into the industry?
Don’t! Joking aside, I think it’s about staying hungry and curious. Don’t do this for the money, especially if you’re a new graduate. It’s also important to keep moving, even if that means losing a ‘title’. Doing this will enrich your experience and prepare you for the next step. Looking back, I would have done more of this.
And don’t watch Mad Men and think you want to go into advertising. You might be disappointed!
What three words best describe you as a leader?
Ambitious. Pragmatic. Open-minded.
Who, or what, inspires you?
What is inspiring me, especially in the last few years is – and I hate this term – the Millennials. In this generation, we’ve seen a real rise in start-ups and entrepreneurship. It’s impressive and I really love it. I like the fact that when I’m talking to young people, they’re not thinking the way that I think many people in our generation did – that you had to find a job, buy a car, buy a house, get married etc. Now the idea is more about doing something for yourself and for society – even if it’s only a small thing. This can be tied back to many of their traits — especially the independence and desire for financial success. They are highly motivated and willing to work hard to achieve their dreams It’s very inspirational.
What challenges have you faced in the course of your career?
A major one was the shift from marketing consultancy to advertising. Before then, staying till 7pm was a late night at the office. But then I moved to the agency side. On my fourth day, we had a pitch presentation; I stayed until 5am, went home and showered and then was at the client’s office at 8am to present it. It was a blurry phase in my life. I loved it, I still love it, but it was certainly a challenge.