Question 1 - Almost a year into your own private management consultancy venture, how have you found the change from corporate life?
Answer 1 - Yes indeed, the past year has flown so fast, and the pace has been furious. I have always been someone who needed adrenalin, action, challenge and great people to interact with to keep me sharp, motivated and at my best professionally. The learning curve has been steep. Starting a new business in an environment of recession and downturn was always going to be adventurous and daring, but the rewards were also potentially higher and more lucrative.
I am glad to report that the first full year has been tremendous, with over 20 client assignments and an excellent rapport built with some of my regular clients across a wide variety of industry. The beauty of what I am doing today is that I now have width of assignments ranging from corporate strategy development to internal engagement programs and in one specific case, the development and production of a new television campaign for a major client.
The major difference from my past 24 years of experience in the corporate world, is that I feel like a new graduate trainee, eager to learn and absorb the developments around me rather than lead, instruct or manage the owner or Chairman of my organization. Reinvention was a major strategic objective of mine when I went solo, because I had gone stale, with a narrow opinion and outlook at how to approach each task that had confronted me, especially over the past 3 to 4 years in the senior roles that I had the honor of holding. Question 2 - What has been the major learning over the past year?
The major learning was a personal issue, one where I needed to forget about the title I held, the remuneration I received or the publicity that I had generated. It focused on me as an individual, and the search to rediscover the fire and passion for what I was doing for 8 to 10 hours a day. I loved the CEO roles I held, but stepping back and rolling the sleeves again with young marketing professionals and tackling the consumer or customer issues that were evident with some of their assignments were challenging. I discovered that I have always loved being a marketing person, and that marketing rather than general management was the thing that me happy.
Question 3 - You have mentioned that during the first year of operation, you have won over 20 assignments across a wide variety of industries. Who are your major clients at Andarakis Advisory Services?
Unfortunately, my confidentiality agreements restricts my ability to openly disclose the names of my clients, but the industry width of assignments include nearly all of the Real Estate Asset classes including Retail Malls, Mixed Use Real Estate, Hotels & Hospitality both within the UAE and the region, Fast Moving Consumer Goods, Smart Phones, Finance & Banking, Travel & Logistics as well as Media & Production.
Question 4 - How easy has it been to adapt the experiences you have gained during your corporate life to assignments, which span such a wide spectrum of industries?
Great question, and one where the answer will sound vague, but the truth is that fundamentally each industry or assignment, whilst different in description has a fundamental truth, which is common. They are all based on the premise of a transaction, one between a company and their target audience (customer, consumer or employee), and how well the conversation is crafted in strategy, communication and relationship to find the options, answers and possibilities for mutual advantage and growth.
With this perspective, each and every assignment has a common thread as a start point, which is then defined and sculptured around the elements which will impact the result most effectively whether it is based on pricing, proposition, positioning, engagement, promotion, packaging, placement, communication, channel management, etc
Question 5 - What makes Andarakis Advisory Services different from other mainline consultancy companies in the UAE?
The difference lies in the proposition. Andarakis Advisory Services is Alex Andarakis, and each assignment or client who engages with my company gets me to work on their assignment. The proposition lives and dies with the level of service and respect for each assignment, and ensuring that the value addition is evident from the first conversation and that delivery is timely and with enough ‘juice' in content and debate to ensure that the return on investment for the client has been exceeded.
Question 6 - What are your personal targets for 2011?
My targets are simple, and if I execute effectively, I will repeat the success of 2010. Firstly, I want to keep learning and challenging myself, secondly I want to give something back to the industry which has loved me for the bulk of my career through my contribution as an advisory board member of The University of Wollongong in Dubai - Faculty of Management, and thirdly I want to stay focused on having fun and going to work with a smile on my face more often than not! Along the way, I want to make sure that I am a good husband, father, friend and improve my golf handicap from 9! Question 7 - Finally, what do you see as the greatest challenge facing leaders of business in 2011?
That's simple, the fear of making decisions on time and from instinct! Alex Andarakis is the managing director at Andarakis Advisory Services.