What is the story behind the Aegis Academy?
Every company invests in its people’s knowledge and development, and for improving their products and services. The Aegis Academy is our platform for learning and development at the company. It officially launched in Q3 2013, however it is an internal initiative.
The first time I proposed the project was in Q1 2012. The idea was well received and we started having small initiatives, such as training sessions. We wanted to have an academy to inspire others in the network. Throughout the years, we improved the concept, mission and learning methods.
At the beginning of 2013, the project was introduced as a management initiative. We had a survey across the company to receive feedback regarding the launch of the academy. That made us realize that we have a lot to learn ourselves, so we set up a committee that includes experts in their fields who can share their experiences with others.
At end of June 2012, we had everything ready based on the survey’s findings and then, in September, we started our Arabic lessons, targeting anyone who wanted to improve their language and communication skills.
We also had a big focus on our tools training – the ICP [integrated communication planning] of Aegis and Carat, and the CCS [Consumer Connection System].
What are the objectives of the Aegis Academy?
We want to improve the quality of work and knowledge of our people. We also want to attract and keep talents, which is one of the toughest challenges in this region. So, when you have an academy, it will have more appeal to talents, because they know their careers are in safe hands.
Moreover, you will also contribute to your
industry and the community through an academy, because we offer classes not only for our employees, but also for our clients.
We also invest in fresh graduates; in Egypt and Lebanon, we now have trainees that we groom for a few months. Those who score well will land an internship with Aegis and then get a job
How much has been invested in this venture?
I would rather not talk about finances. The biggest investment we have put in for this venture is our time and brains. The committee and our team are doing a lot of work.
How do you select those who participate in the academy?
We have different models, some related to planning, performance marketing or digital. We also have models for the “superstars” – the ambitious few who excel in the academy.
For the trainers, the committee identifies leaders in Aegis Media, with years of experience. We also have candidates from our network from the UK, France and the US. Whenever I am traveling, I always ask my Aegis peers who their champions in digital or social media are, and if they are open to come and train in the academy. Experts from our internal or external networks also coach the trainers.
Where is the academy located in the region?
Aegis Academy MENA is headquartered in Dubai. Each office [nominates] a leader for the academy, usually managing director or the [person in charge] of the office. They receive the agenda and list of the models. There is, of course, a criterion for them to suggest their employees.
Predominately, the main training takes place in Dubai, but other markets benefit from the academy as well. For example, Egypt needs more CCS training, while Saudi Arabia requires more digital and Lebanon prefers social media. We can either invite our teams to come [to Dubai] for training or we send our trainers to them.
Are you pitching this to current clients?
We are not pitching it to our clients, but we are inviting them, because it’s a benefit to them.
However, there are limitations to this and if clients wish to benefit from more services, then we can pitch these to them as a separate product. The same thing applies to the suppliers and business partners; there are areas they can gain from and other areas that we can pitch to them as a product or service.
What, in your opinion, makes this academy different from others launched by competitors?
A lot of other groups have academies, but it is part of other initiatives. We have a vision that you will not stop learning. Everyone will have a chance to become masters at what they do and then they can teach others about what they do.
We first identify the talent and what they need and their weaknesses. Then, we prioritize the areas that we need to develop based on the person’s interests and business needs. Later, we develop and coach them, and, in return, they practice what they learn, so they become masters of their crafts.
After all, this project is all for the sake of people’s learning and development.