Sometime back in June my bosses came to me with the following question, ‘How would you like to go to London and present the Annual Review to Ciena in August?’. ‘Err yes please that would be amazing!’ was my answer without a seconds hesitation. I was too lost in my fantasy of imagining myself as a serious businesswomen jetting off on a business trip to actually bring myself to think of the work involved. I could just picture myself in a boardroom standing by a projector screen and a roomful of people applauding my presentation…all this and only 22 years old! July passed in a summer haze of similar visions and before I knew it, it was time to pack my bags and say ‘Masalama’ to Dubai and ‘Hello’ to London!
Now before I tell you about my trip I have to make a special mention to Claudia Curici for all her hard work and time spent on this review, as well as my bosses for their time and effort and giving me the opportunity to take this trip. So thank you all!
There was very little that could prepare me for my meeting with Anthony James. No one told me, for instance, that he was formerly the key executive in strategy, concept and development of IBM’s global eBusiness division since the mid-1980s. Or that having moved into the world of retail and branding, he became the creative driving force behind 3.5 billion McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys and countless other global brands that include the likes of Kellogg’s, Disney, Nestle and Coca-Cola.
Yesterday morning he was just a person with a compelling start-up in the papers that my colleague tipped me off to. “Maybe you should call this guy”, said Claudia, a colleague of mine, after hearing that I was searching for my next Middle East entrepreneur profile.
And so walking into this interview I was entirely unaware of his larger-than-life professional profile, instead innocently focused on this compelling concept called Sample Central, which is scheduled to open in Dubai in November 2011.
Interestingly enough, the premise behind Sample Central screams louder to me than any Happy Meal toy or IBM eBusiness division has ever been able to in recent memory.
Many people in the UAE know Leila Al Marashi as the artist behind a standout collection of prints of Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Mona Lisa and even Beyoncé being retrofitted in Khaleeji styles that include henna art, ornate jewelery, and even the Emirati borqa, a decorative and semi-religious piece of facial metal that gives women a striking bird-like appearance to the uninitiated.