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Thursday, 18 August 2022

My Morning Routine: Gamal Salah, CEO of POD Egypt

Gamal Salah, founder, CEO, and deputy chairman of POD Egypt: Each week, My Morning Routine looks at how a successful member of the community starts their day — and then throws in a couple of random business questions just for fun. Speaking to us this week is Gamal Salah (LinkedIn), CEO of POD Egypt. Edited excerpts from our conversation:

My name is Gamal Salah and I’m the founder, CEO, and deputy chairman of POD Egypt, one of the leading PR agencies in Egypt and the Middle East. On the personal side, I’m a husband and a father to three children: Nour, who’s 13, and Aly and Omar, who are 5 years old.

POD in its current form has PR and communication as a large part of the business, but there are also other functions we serve, including an advertising agency. We’re the advertising agent for Hayah TV, CBC, OnTV, and DMC, as well as Nagham FM, and newspapers including Youm7, El Watan, and El Dostor. On the PR and communication side, we serve more than 50 retainer clients. Our goal is to ensure that, every day, we deliver to our clients a strategy and service that is appropriate for our size and the significance of our clients, as well as benefiting their brands. We’ve built a large team of over 300 professionals, including 130 specifically dedicated to the PR function. We try to bring in the most talented people we see in the market, many of whom are fresh or recent graduates who we bring in and train on the job. We teach them how to understand the industry and our clients’ needs.

We founded POD towards the end of 2015, originally to act as a PR firm. We only added our advertising agent function after we joined the umbrella of United Media Services. When we set up shop, the PR and communications field was reliant on traditional services such as conferences and writing press and news releases to be published in newspapers. The market was static for a long time. The digital boom and the shift to rely on alternative PR methods such as influencer marketing and social media platforms created a window for POD to tap these changing tides.

My main responsibilities are ensuring that the best strategies are in place for our clients, executing the calendar of deliverables we have for our clients, and constantly communicating with the c-suites among these clients. I speak with CEOs and managing directors on a weekly basis, whether on the phone or at meetings, and we agree on strategies that I then bring back to my team to implement.

I start my day by waking up at 8am, which is considered relatively early for most people in my field. I always have a cup of coffee and, before anything else, catch up on the news. I read Enterprise in the morning, along with different news outlets to be aware of what’s happening in the world, but also to keep an eye on developments that could have an impact on our clients, preempt a crisis that could come their way, or even find potential new partnerships for POD. I usually have morning meetings from 10-11am, which are often at clients’ offices, and then I make sure to be at the office from noon until 5pm. I sometimes take a few more meetings from 5-7pm.

One of the constants in my daily routine is spending time with my kids. I’m always home by 7pm to make sure I get a couple of hours with them before their 9pm bedtimes. Once they’re in bed, I sometimes go out again to attend business events until 11pm or midnight.

Once I’m home, I rarely go to sleep right away. I like to wind down by watching a movie or TV series. One of the movies I always come back to is The Terminal, which never fails to put me in a good mood. These days, I’ve been reading a lot of history books. My reading has made me realize that history consists of consecutive, but separate phases. There are things happening around us today that I can relate to previous historical times, whether near or far. These connections help me implement historical lessons on contemporary issues.

To stay organized, I write everything down. Earlier on in my career, I needed to write down my task list to be able to set my priorities. Now, I still write everything down, but my brain automatically organizes its priorities according to the urgency of each item.

The best piece of advice I can give to anyone is to find your talent and pursue it. It’s a gift from God to have a certain talent, but it’s your personal responsibility to cultivate that talent and be persistent in pursuing it. I would also say it’s important to never hold yourself back from pursuing something new because of time or age. Prior to entering the PR and communications field, I spent 14 years in banking at HSBC, but I realized my passion is communications. I left a stable job and field to enter a completely different area.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2022 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

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