Harmeek Singh arrived in the UAE in 2003, with little more than a handful of grit and fiery determination. He decided to live the Dubai dream when he quit his job – which paid him only AED 2750 – to go his own way and start a business that he felt strongly about.
Plan b Advertising started with one employee – Harmeek Singh. Today, it's known as Plan b Group, comprising of eight companies with over 500 employees. When he started the company (or rather, Singh decided to begin his plan b) he had little choice but to manage the entire business himself. He juggled multiple roles for almost a year, before he could afford his first employee. Today, that ethos – to be able to manage multiple roles – has become Plan b's signature 'zero dependency' business model, which has seen the company grow into one of the UAE's most well-known marketing and events companies.
Headquartered in Dubai, with offices in Abu Dhabi, India, and London, the Plan b umbrella today covers eight companies -Plan b Advertising, Plan b Events, SiO2 Events, bCreativeTech (Innovation, Tech and Experiential), bMovies, bDecor, Next Door Sports Marketing and bSocial, the group’s PR and Strategy wing. Owning to such comprehensive integration of cross-complementary disciplines, Plan b has been the instrumental in the success of several campaigns and companies from across all industries including the Government, Real Estate, Retail, Finance, Telecom, Media, Sports, Fashion and Automotive to name a few.
“Control and Ownership are the two attributes that differentiate winning from losing. Our fierce sense of ownership and loyalty towards every client we work with and the fact that we are in control of every aspect of even the most complex 360-degree campaign, owing to our in-house capabilities and diversity has been the reason for our clients’ wins and in turn ours,” notes Singh. “This acts as a major advantage in a very demanding service industry, and allows us to offer faster turnaround times to our customers…not to mention better value,” he added.
This strategy of having in-house expertise along several different verticals also makes sound business sense, says Singh. “Plan b operates a group of companies, so our diversification is balanced upon individual business units that are responsible for their own bottom lines. The benefit of having the expertise across the group gives us in-house capability for a lot of product development and R&D, which keeps us up to speed with the rapidly moving trends and technology, and gives our customers the benefit of cost-effectiveness."
Talking about the secret to success, Harmeek almost philosophically explains, “It is not really a secret to begin with… In today’s fast-paced, challenging and competitive world, straight lines are the best routes – add focus and passion to it and you have the perfect recipe”.
“As you may excel, move, and elevate into bigger and better things just make sure you keep yourself grounded and close to what you are about and always remember that the cliché ‘customer comes first’ is true”.
The importance Harmeek Singh places on caring for his customers is also reflected in his attitude towards his employees. He believes that the right work culture plays an integral role in an enterprise’s success, which is evident in Singh’s comment on personal leadership strategy for his organization. “I have nurtured a family, rather than employees, at Plan b,” Singh says. “Keeping your employees happy takes more than just a paycheck; you need to create a positive culture to inspire your staff."
So what is next for Plan b? “Strengthening of our individual verticals, bringing in a strategy of consistent improvement and development, and expansion of our footprint are our three main long-term objectives,” says Singh. “Based upon the pace of our growth, we have received a lot of interest from entities abroad in a franchise model, which is something under consideration now.”
When not wearing the Plan b hat, Harmeek is an avid literature fan and a writer and poet.
Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.