7 questions with Fasahat Beg: ‘Brands must retain relevance’

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In our current series of ‘7 questions with’, we present you Fasahat Beg, Executive Vice President – Water, Beverages & Dairy, Agthia Group PJSC, who says the highest point of his career has been the re-engineering of the Al Ain Water brand.

#1 What first attracted you to your current role?

What attracted me, and that was more than a decade ago, was clearly the mandate to re-engineer what was already an established, recognized heritage brand in the UAE.

The Team that was being assembled at Agthia senior management level (in terms of experience and background) to deliver this business mandate; and the empowerment afforded to me by both our Executive Committee and Board to identify and deliver the required change to make Al Ain the number one water brand in the UAE.

#2 What has been the highest point of your career so far?

Undoubtedly it has been the re-engineering of the Al Ain Water brand to a point where:

– It is now the clear number one water brand in the UAE;

– It has been recognized by the global water community as a case-study of a highly successful business strategy (as presented recently at the 14th Global Bottled Water Congress in Barcelona);

– It is deemed the innovation leader in the UAE water category delivering products such as Al Ain Zero and the newly launched Al Ain Vitamin D

– Regional expansion into KSA, Kuwait, Iraq and other GCC-markets is currently underway

#3 If you could restart your career from the beginning, what would you change?

Absolutely nothing – I am very fortunate to have worked in several blue-chip multinational organizations where I teamed up with fantastic people and have secured the necessary learning and skill set to be successful in my marketing career.

I have been very fortunate also in the fact I have been able to apply my marketing experiences in several, diversified markets ranging from the Middle East, Eastern Europe and South-East Asia.

This has been beneficial both from a consumer-understanding and cultural perspective.

#4 What are the biggest challenges facing chief marketing officers in the year 2018?

Economic pressure and its impact on consumer spending is probably the biggest issue facing marketing executives in 2018.

All markets in our region are experiencing expat population outflows and the combined impact of salary freezes and increases in direct/indirect taxation have put increasing pressure on consumer’s money-in-pocket.

Consumers have become more careful in their spending; they are now looking for more value-for-money propositions; the use of coupons and modern trade bargain flyers is now more prevalent.

Therefore the biggest challenge will be for brands to retain their consumer relevance, consumer loyalty and preferred brand status in a market where significant price discounting to secure volume and share has now become the norm.

#5 What is the one thing that you can’t live without?

Family – after a long day it’s always great to come home to my wife and kids and forget about work.

Working in the Middle East, and particularly the UAE is extremely fast-paced and my daily commute from Dubai to either Abu Dhabi or Al Ain can be tiring.

This therefore necessitates the need to have some proper downtime and I get this with my family.

#6 What is the first thing you do after waking up on a morning?

I head out to the gym to try and get my mind and body jump started for what will inevitably be a busy business day.

Once the day is underway, I try to focus on what is the key deliverable for the day and then work to ensure that is completed.

In addition, I look to see what one new learning (generally from a cross-functional perspective) I can secure by the end of the day

#7 If you were not in marketing, you would be. . .

Probably a teacher or University professor. People/team development has played a very important role throughout my career and it is something I enjoy very much.

I think one’s business legacy should not always be based exclusively on financial (share of market) results but also on the professional success of those you have mentored and developed during the same period of time.

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