Shaikha Al Naboodah, General Manager of Marketing at Al Naboodah Group Enterprises LLC, talks about entrepreneurship
Shaikha, 27, joined Al Naboodah Group Enterprises, one of the UAE’s oldest and most respected family conglomerates with a diverse portfolio of businesses, in 2012 and is one of the third generations Al Naboodah family members within the Group.
She tells GMR, women marketers are generally more emotionally driven, which can be beneficial at times especially when they are trying to engage with customers.
How would you describe your major achievements so far in the company?
Progressing within my role, and being appointed as General Manager of Marketing in 2016 was a major career highlight, which I am definitely proud of. Today, I manage the marketing specialist team, and together we are a solid, collaborative team that has a strong family spirit, which I believe, retains Al Naboodah’s heritage and values. Next year, my scope of responsibility will expand, as I will also have branding and public relations under me, in addition to the areas I currently oversee – which are digital, social media, events and graphics.
I have also earned a seat in the Group’s Sustainability Committee, which is a sub-committee of the Board, and I am also a Sustainability Council Leader, focused on the objective of ‘educating our stakeholders’. Being able to help steer the direction of the company towards a more sustainable future enables me to ensure that my family’s legacy continues – and with positive impact to the UAE.
Since the beginning, I have always engaged in learning and development initiatives to further my professional growth, including the Women Empowerment programme and Duke Corporate Education leadership training. I also was very involved in Al Naboodah Group Enterprises’ award win as the ‘UAE’s Happiest Workplace’, and consider this both a personal and professional milestone.
I also played a key role in launching the Group’s social media presence, which was a milestone for a relatively traditional company. Recently, we celebrated 50,000 followers on LinkedIn, which reinforces our commitment to customer engagement.
My career spans nearly six years, and I’ve been able to develop and further my skills across a number of disciplines across marketing, branding, social media and event management, leading me to my current role as General Manager of Marketing.
What’s your key marketing philosophy or mantra that you believe in?
Larry Page, co-founder of Google said, “Always deliver more than expected.” Going over and beyond your responsibilities sets you apart from the rest. However, I also never agree to something that I can’t deliver. I prefer to manage expectations and deliver confidently on my promises. Marketing is very demanding, but my goal is to always deliver more – but I also want to be accountable for my promises.
Where did you grow up? Tell us about your journey to what you are doing today.
I was born and raised here in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. After graduating from Zayed University, in Public Relations Management and Advertising, I was immediately keen to apply my education and be a part of my family’s legacy. With Al Naboodah Group Enterprises being so diverse, I found it both challenging and stimulating working in such a dynamic environment.
At the time of joining, we were just a few in the marketing team. Today, the team has grown into a diverse team of specialists who support all of Al Naboodah Group Enterprises’ businesses. The journey has been professionally fulfilling, and over the years I have taken a very proactive, yet humble approach to learning as much as I could from the leaders in the company. Becoming General Manager has validated the hard work, trust and commitment I’ve shown to my career, and I am continually looking for ways to develop my leadership and professional skills.
You’ve been leading the marketing department of the Al Naboodah Group for the past 5 years. What have been your biggest marketing lessons so far?
Definitely to be organised and to always have a Plan B. Organisation comes in many forms, but I believe it first starts with having one’s mindset clear and organised for the day ahead. For example, I am extremely structured when it comes to time management, meeting deadlines and being prepared, both mentally and physically for any occasion. I believe this has been key to my professional success.
Being organised also means to have a fall-back option or a Plan B in every scenario. I always try to be solution-oriented, and by offering alternate solutions – you can manage everyone’s expectations.
Why did you choose marketing as a career option? Is marketing your dream career you always aspired to?
I graduated in PR Management and Advertising, so marketing was a natural move. It combines everything I am personally passionate about including event management and social media.
How has been your family support so far in your professional life? Was there any hesitance from them?
My family are hard-working and committed entrepreneurs, and they’ve instilled these values in me. My father definitely is my role model and mentor, and I aspire to follow in his footsteps one day as a third generation family member in Al Naboodah Group Enterprises. They have always supported my decisions on a personal and professional front, and are my best support system.
How do you establish a more personal interaction with the company’s customers?
As a consumer myself, whenever we launch a campaign, host an event or implement an initiative where we are engaging with a consumer, I always try to put myself in their shoes. I ask – how would I want to be treated?
As a result, I strongly believe that customer engagement needs drive almost everything that marketing does, across all touchpoints. It needs to be meaningful, memorable and impactful.
What is your message to young leaders who want to opt marketing as a career?
Don’t get stuck with routine – relying on the same tactics. Continually reassess what you’re using and doing because online marketing, social media marketing tools, and audience preferences are always evolving. A successful marketer needs to stay current with industry trends and therefore flexible, open to change and an active listener.
Do women make better marketers than men?
Not necessarily, but I do feel women think out of the box more than men. We also are generally more emotionally driven, which can be beneficial at times especially when we are trying to engage with customers.
Tell us something about your future plans.
As part of the Al Naboodah family, I feel a great obligation to follow in the footsteps of my father and continue the legacy, and the vision. For this reason, I am most proud of helping the company earn the recognition of being the ‘UAE’s Happiest Workplace’ this year. Sitting on the Sustainability Committee and being a Sustainability Council Leader allows me to play an active role in creating a more sustainable future for the company
My focus is to continue with my professional development and position myself to be a prominent female leader in the industry.
The article appeared in the November 2017 issue of Gulf Marketing Review.