LEA BITAR, Planning Manager, PHD UAE
Accolades: Marketing is in Lea’s DNA, having been raised amongst a family of advertisers. Upon completing her studies in 2014, she joined PHD and was immersed in a diverse range of accounts. Her affinity to provide hybrid solutions for optimal campaign results, is at the forefront of her communications planning. Lea has led and contributed to several projects over the years, but her work with Arla Foods is worth highlighting. Her work on the campaign ‘Cook With Her’ resulted in three awards at the 2017 Effies and was shortlisted for the 2018 Festival of Media Global awards. She has also been recognised internally, winning the award for ‘Leader in Advancing Content & Experience’ at last year’s Omnicom Media Group’s annual ceremony celebrating its brightest talent.
Nomination: “Lea has impressed since the moment she set foot into PHD. Her innate inquisitiveness, desire to learn and push the boundaries of what is possible has made her one to watch from the very beginning. She is trusted and valued by her clients, appreciated for the knowledge and support she provides to her team and respected by the PHD network as a true leader in driving change. Lea’s genuine passion to deliver quality, innovative work is the embodiment of our agency mantra of ‘Finding a better way’.” Nawal Nasreddine, Senior Director of Planning, PHD UAE
What is the best bit of your job? One of the best aspects is the people. I’ve had the privilege of working with a diverse group of clients and colleagues all from very different backgrounds and industries. PHD’s diversity has only made us stronger and smarter, and has equipped me with invaluable experience. As a fresh graduate entering the industry, I couldn’t have asked for a better platform to learn, grow and thrive.
What is the worst bit of your job? The fast-moving pace of technology and the effect it has had on what we do is a game changer, but equally a challenge. To thrive in this environment means to find a thrill in the speed of the shift while also anticipating the next turn so you can be one step ahead. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that you need to be a sponge, take in everything that comes your way, and accept the changes as opportunities to do more – and do it better.
What will be the biggest change to the industry in the next five years? New tech and data have really changed the way we plan, create, design, write and sell. At a time when we are seeing more and more clients seek an integrated team to handle their marketing business and to lead the tech and data wave, it only makes sense to break down the current silos. It’s a shift that would not only lead to managing marketing budgets more efficiently but would also allow clients to integrate new tech and data launches more accurately, by utilising everyone’s expertise to identify which tech to use, how to use it, when and why. Consider the rise of voice for example, and the myriad of operations needed to deploy a search function related to this, or with the increasing popularity of AR. How would you manage this effectively with multiple entities involved? Media, creative, PR, content and social media will need to work cohesively together on one project. Naturally, the wall that exists between these agencies and departments will have to fall.
STEPHANIE MEDLEGE, Associate Director of Planning, PHD UAE
Accolades: Stephanie has operated across several market categories during her five years with PHD. Her data-led and creative approach to helping brands communicate effectively is only half of the success story. It’s Stephanie’s expertise, combined with her natural ability to build trusted and collaborative relationships that makes her a standout, amongst her team and clients. Her contribution to the business has been well-recognised, winning numerous accolades over the years, including the PHD UAE awards for ‘Advancing Data & Analytics’ and ‘Client Satisfaction’ in 2015, and the ‘Sustained Performance Award’ a year earlier, at Omnicom Media Group MENA’s annual honours ceremony.
Nomination: “In an industry where client servicing is key; it is imperative to be agile, confident and diligent. Stephanie’s ability to be all three, while utilising her strong regional and multi-market expertise ensures she always delivers an exceptional output and makes her a leader of note. Never one to accept the status quo, Stephanie leads from the front to challenge convention and influences how we, as a team, work as a result. It is this foresight and initiative that safeguards our commitment to driving continuous value for our clients.” Karen Doumet, Senior Director of Planning, PHD UAE
What is the best bit of your job? PHD’s future-facing vision for what it needs to do today to prepare for tomorrow is inspiring. Being in an environment like this, which is embracing the evolution of marketing, really pushes you to think differently and find a better way in everything that you do.
What is the worst bit of your job? I see challenges only as drivers for growth and development. For me, it’s about juggling all of the pieces as best I can, remaining focused on what I can control, and never letting the standard lapse. I also practice a bit of yoga, which helps keep me zen!
What one thing would you change about the industry? At the moment, we are working in silos when it comes to developing creative, planning and even PR, but we’ve reached a point where data is driving every action we take. In the future, we will need to somehow merge every component of media into one cohesive unit, which will ultimately allow us to deliver superior standards for our clients.
What will be the biggest change to the industry in the next five years? The merge between technology and humans will transform everything we do as marketers, even more than it has already. Data too is something we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of. We can anticipate a future where our understanding of data is much deeper because of technology and as a result will be in a position to more accurately tailor our communication.