'How I Made It' featuring Karim Nagaty, CMO of Dubai Properties
Karim Nagaty is an expert brand builder with a passion for creating, shaping, and expanding businesses and winning teams. Working across several Fortune 100 and Global 1000 consumer products, luxury goods, and real-estate companies, he executed turn-arounds on iconic brands such as Pampers, Tide, Max Factor, Hugo Boss, Dolce Gabbana, Gucci, and recently Dubai Properties.
“I love the thrill of a challenge, leading disruptive consumer innovation, setting go-to-market strategies & building world-class marketing and commercial capabilities.”
Karim has been recognized with awards for breakthrough marketing and best advertising campaigns including the prestigious Effie, Gold Cannes Lion and Elle Beauty Awards. After recruiting Karim for his current role as CMO of Dubai Properties, we were keen to speak to him about his career and how he made it in the marketing industry. Read on for the secret to Karim's success... from his typical day at work to the biggest challenges he's overcome.
What does your typical day look like?
My typical day starts at 6 am and – like any normal human being – I have three cups of coffee to help me wake up. Then I head to the gym for an hour and finish by eight then I'm off to work.
I dedicate the first two hours of every day to one-on-ones with my team over breakfast before I start my meetings between 10am-6pm. Finally, I leave few hours networking with externals such as suppliers and partners from other agencies. My day will typically finish around 11pm, when it’s time for sleep.
Key to the way I work is preparation. My typical week will start on a Saturday, not a Sunday, when I’ll go through my calendar and make sure I’m well prepared. Working this way helps me deal with all the sanity and insanity you get your way, and keeps you from the urgent and important issues.
What personal attribute has most helped you succeed in your career?
I don’t think there’s a specific attribute but maybe the most consistently useful thing has been thinking deeply. You have to think as a human being before anything else. When you try to solve business problems, it’s easy to forget that it’s actually about people – your customers and the people you work with – and if you lost sight of this you forget what success really looks like.
Ambition has also been key. If you want a 9-5 job, I’m not the right person to speak to. If you’re not able to come up with where you want to go, and how you want to get there, there is no point in even trying to be successful.
And lastly, leading by example. You can’t expect to ask people to do things that you can’t do yourself.
What keeps you sane on those crazy days?
Being calm regardless of the situation or the stress and always looking for the solution versus trying to see who caused the problem. For example, we’re having this discussion now and my team is preparing for one of our biggest launches, happening in three hours. Normally you’d be going crazy but what I’ve discovered is that the moment you start focussing on one event or campaign to the exclusion of others, you start going mad. So I try to stick to my routine regardless while keeping my eyes on the ball.
It’s also worth remembering that we’re hired to fix mistakes and solve challenges. If work was running too smoothly there’d be no point in us even being here. Once you remember that dealing with the tough stuff is what you’re paid for it gets easier. Finally, you need to understand that people make mistakes and that is how they develop. As a leader and colleague, you need to be able to tolerate these mistakes and help your people to grow.
What career advice would you give someone trying to break into your industry?
I would say they need to be extremely agile. I’ve worked in many other industries and I’ve never seen anything that works as fast as real estate. So you need to stop trying to push back for the sake of pushing back and just find ways of making things happen. It’s worth it as it’s a very rewarding sector where you can do small things and get big results – which is a dream for any marketer.
In marketing more generally, it’s about remembering that it’s about being a strategic enabler. You need to be a person who wants to tell people and businesses that this is where we should be going and how we’re going to communicate it. You need to do the function justice – it’s not just about nice designs and creatives, it’s about so much more than that.
What are three words you would use to describe yourself?
Ambitious. Good boss.
Who inspires you?
I don’t think there’s a single person I’d be continuously inspired by. I’d rather be inspired by small things. I’m inspired by a good creative I see on the street or when my people get a good idea.
What major challenge have you overcome in your career?
The real estate market is very competitive. Over the past few months, we’ve seen a lot of competition and a decline in the value of the market despite a healthy pick up on volume. But I believe that even when the market is tough, there is always market share to be won, so we are pushing the boundaries and the marketing team have still delivered. Over the last two quarters, we significantly accelerated our market share.