Communicate chats with International Advertising Association’s (IAA) UAE chapter President, Hani Ghorayeb for an insider’s perspective on the local talent pool as well as what initiatives he believes should be taken, going forward, to promote the industry.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of the local talent pool?
Over the years, I have seen the talent pool in the UAE is young, creative and eager to learn and grow within their respective fields. It is multicultural and diverse, and as the region develops, we are attracting some of the best minds from across the world.
One thing that could be improved is talent having more access to continuing education and learning on the job about different aspects of advertising, marketing and communications. The IAA UAE Chapter is heavily invested in making it possible for young advertisers to learn about different discipline within the field – from their peers, from agency heads, and more.
One current example of this was the IAA Lynx session that was dedicated to young advertisers – it was called “The Young Guns” initiative. Additionally, we hold regular talks, inviting members from our industry to speak to their peers about their specific discipline. Our networking sessions are also geared towards helping young advertisers learn more and develop.
Finally, the IAA has launched a project called #IAATicketToCannes to provide the regional talent pool with an opportunity to learn and grow from global experts and acclaimed industry gurus at Cannes Lions 2015.
What could the industry do to include more local (UAE national) talent?
I’m not entirely sure why the advertising industry hasn’t seen more interest from young UAE nationals. Over the past decade, many industries have seen increasing numbers of Emiratis in the workforce. Rationally, this should be no different for advertising. I think part of the problem is that there is less awareness of the advertising industry, as a whole, at the student level. The best way to tackle this issue would be to raise the profile of the industry amongst college-bound Emiratis. Presently, the IAA is working on formalizing an approach.
What measures could be taken by the industry to recruit more women talent?
First, I don’t think that the industry is set up to keep women out. Talented women have always been part of the advertising industry ranks in the UAE, and their presence continues to grow in our industry. To say that the industry must take measures to recruit more women is to say that the industry does not recruit women. I do not find this to be true. The industry is open to men and women alike and those who put in the time and effort and show results should move up through the ranks regardless of their gender. Most agencies are equal opportunity employers in this regard.
From a more personal perspective, there are some things that could make the industry more attractive to women, especially mothers of young children. Many mothers feel the pressure to choose between a full-time job and being a full-time mother. Unfortunately, around the world, advertising and media demands long hours and everyone has to put in the time and effort if they want to succeed and grow.
Would it be nice to have certain initiatives that make it easier for mothers to stay in the career race? Of course, it would. Would it be good to make changes so that women wouldn’t have to make sacrifices to hold senior-level positions? Yes, of course. As things stand, this is not the case – and not just in the UAE or the region, but across the world. But, for women who are able and willing to make that sacrifice, the industry is just as open to seeing them grow into senior positions.