Hikmat Al Kaitoob has supported both international and local brands to grow and thrive in the region through her relationships with incredible women. We ask what she looks for when building real, long-lasting connections and how it feels to play a role in elevating an iconic brand.
What do the first 30mins of your day look like, your morning routine?
The morning is my favourite time to reflect on my work. I like to start my day by sipping on some warm water and lemon while checking my emails. I usually spend some time reviewing my to-do lists for the day and sorting out my calendar. Then, I get ready to head out to the gym to start my day.
You are a great connector of people and have supported many brands through your network. How do you select the brands you partner with?
As a businesswoman, I felt there was a gap in the market and particularly the region between local clients, brands, and PR agencies. We work with excellent PR agencies – but most of them were often hesitant to adapt their strategies to the local market and adapt to the local culture. I noticed that the PR strategies of brands became similar to one another, and so were the guest lists for events. I would be invited to four events that fell on the same day, four of which included the same invitees and similar aesthetics. There was little diversity and not many locally-informed strategies. International and regional brands craved a connection with the local community, as did the local community to those brands. I partner with brands to give them an insight into how they could connect with the local community in a more personal setting. I select those brands based on their vision and receptivity to new suggestions and ideas.
Which projects that you’ve worked on have been most rewarding and which did you learn most from?
All the projects that I’ve worked on have been rewarding to me – either as a blessing or a lesson. However, the projects that have been the most rewarding are the projects I am involved in as a humanitarian, such as the projects with UNICEF and other non-profit organisations. I’m happiest when I give back, and I’ve been recognised for my work in multiple award ceremonies internationally. However, to me, giving back isn’t just within the scope of my role as a humanitarian. In the Year of Giving in 2017, I wanted to give back to my beloved country, the UAE. A dear friend and I launched an initiative that highlights our appreciation to HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his support to women in the UAE. We curated a coffee table book titled “Mothers and Daughters”, which highlights women from different cultures and backgrounds, all of whom have made a difference and have excelled in their role with the support of the UAE and its leaders. The UAE gives women from different nationalities equal opportunities to excel in many fields, and we wanted to highlight a number of successful women that have excelled in their careers while raising their daughters, to whom they became role models.
Have you had any mentors along the way and if so, what has been the best advice they have imparted to you?
I don’t have one mentor – I learn and am inspired by the many successful and intelligent entrepreneurs in the region. If I had to give one piece of advice, it would be to never stop learning.
The last year was a time that saw brands change strategy. How have you been able to navigate continuing to partner with brands and make connections when physical events were not possible?
Before the global pandemic, I was a firm believer that brands should establish an online presence and introduce intimate gatherings into their PR strategies. The brands I partnered with began to introduce those strategies pre-COVID. So, at a time when everything shifted to a remote setting last year, our strategies fit seamlessly into the new reality. We prepared strategies based on building connections virtually, and we were thankfully able to connect with a wider audience online. And once lockdown was lifted, we were able to resume connecting with clients through intimate gatherings, which proved to be very effective in creating an emotional connection between the brand and the clients.
Which brands are on your Wishlist to work with and why?
There’s not one brand on my Wishlist. I like to work with brands that take clients on a journey and connect with those clients on a personal level. I like to work with brands that advocate for things that matter and that create awareness. I like to see brands nurture their relationship with their clients and pay great attention to their pre-and post-sales strategies. I like to work with brands that appreciate the importance of changing mindsets to “the client wants to buy” rather than “we must sell”. In doing so, the experience for both the brand and the client becomes a beautiful experience rather than a transaction.
What effect do you see social media having on brands that you partner with?
Social media is powerful. It has allowed local and international brands an opportunity to boost their brand visibility and widen their audience. However, the most common adverse impact of social media that I’ve seen in the last couple of years is authenticity. The lines have become blurred and staged perfectionism has, unfortunately, become the norm for many. In a world where every post on social media is filtered, it is important for us to shed light on genuine and transparent marketing and PR practices.
In today’s market, what is luxury and what do clients expect luxury brands to deliver?
Purchasing a piece from a luxury brand is an emotional investment. We often don’t buy luxury items for any ‘logical’ reason – the emotional experience and premium journey is part of the experience. Clients are drawn to the story behind the brand and the emotional connection that most appeals to them.
This is The Icon issue- who or what to you is iconic?
To me, iconic is anything or anyone that has great significance in today’s world. It can be someone that will leave a mark wherever they go or something that people strongly resonate with. To be iconic in my eyes, it would have to be authentic, relatable and timeless.
September’s – ‘The Icon Issue’ – Download Now
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