Welcome to the Emirates Woman weekly series ‘How I got my job as…’ where we speak to some incredible entrepreneurs and businesswomen both based in the UAE and globally to find out about their career paths that led them to where they are now; what their daily routines look like; the advice they’d give to those starting out; and the hurdles they’ve had to overcome.
This week we chat with Christina Maroudias, founder of luxury communications agency CM Communications. With over a decade of experience in public relations, Maroudias took the leap to launch her own agency just over two years ago and since then has been working some of the top luxury clients across the lifestyle and hospitality space including Gaia, Shanghai Me, The Hundred Wellness Centre and many more.
As an individual who always has a great eye for storytelling, Maroudias is passionate about all things brand building and communications. Emirates Woman sat down with the communications guru to discuss becoming an entrepreneur, her approach to business and what 2022 has to hold for CM Communications.
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What was your favourite subject at school?
I loved Philosophy & Ethics and English Literature. I really enjoyed learning theories about the world we live in and finding hidden meanings in the written word.
What was your first job?
I started my first job when I was around 12 years old, my friend and I worked at a teeny-tiny snack shop at the Rugby Club (honestly, looking back I think it was actually a cupboard). We sold hot chocolate to cold parents watching their children play rugby, and had so much fun! When I was a little older, around 16, I started working at Waitrose, after school and during weekends. They initially put me on the fish counter, and after a very teary first day (gutting fish is not one of my skills), I achieved my dream of working on the check out. I studied PR at university in London, and on my off-days, I worked part-time in Shoe Heaven at Harrods, I adored my time there, learned so much and met so many incredible people – it was magical. I did a few internships in PR agencies, and then officially began my career at Edelman London once I graduated.
What eventually brought you to Dubai?
I always wanted to live in the Middle East, it has such a charm to it, filled with beauty and adventure. I came to visit one of my oldest and closest friends who was living in Dubai, and fell in love with it. I applied for a job with her boss, resigned from my stable role in London and flew over for an in-house PR and marketing position in a hospitality group.
Can you talk us through the drive to launch your own business?
If we need to make a big decision in life, I believe the universe will push us towards it in different ways. Small things will keep triggering you and make you think “I need to do this”, until you actually do it. When I started CM Communications, I wanted to represent luxury brands in an elegant, consistent way and raise awareness for the skill and craftmanship that goes into every product and service.
The drive to launch a business differs entirely to the drive to keep one going. Having a company is so exciting and amazing, but nothing makes me work harder than the fear of failure or the thought of upsetting someone. The brands we represent have trusted us with their reputation, so it is our duty to do an excellent job, create beautiful campaigns and exceed expectations. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me when an event goes well, or when we secure an incredible feature for our clients. I am truly passionate about my work, and receiving recognition or positive feedback motivates me to keep going and make the next campaign even better.
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What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
I think deep down, I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. What we do is such an important part of who we are, and I am really lucky to enjoy my job and to have found something that suits my skills and personality. I think any job that we have needs to align with the type of lifestyle we like and our plans for the future. I have always valued flexibility and freedom, having a business enables me to manage my own schedule, and will hopefully allow me to create the life I want for my family and future.
What are the key elements of your role?
As an agency, our key areas of focus are reputation management, storytelling, personal profiling, campaign development, media relations, influencer engagement, brand collaborations and events. As we are growing, my role is shifting slightly. I am still very much hands-on on all of our accounts, I oversee all of our activities and hope it stays that way because I really enjoy it, but I also now work on business development and management, which is such a nice opportunity to learn more and develop my skills.
Talk us through your daily routine.
I begin every day with a walk on the boulevard, I call it a gratitude walk because I think of all of the things that make me really happy. Then I make a black coffee and some berries, and sit at my desk to write out my priorities, a plan for the day and a list of the 3 things I am most thankful for that morning. This little routine sets me up for the day. Then, I dedicate some time to emails and correspondence, checking in with my lovely team to ensure our campaigns and activations are all on track. We usually have meetings in the late morning or early afternoon, where we catch-up with clients, brainstorm ideas and create new ways to ensure our messages are heard by the right audiences.
I love writing and putting together strategies, and find that I am more able to focus in the afternoon, so I try to reserve some time on my laptop after my meetings. Then, depending on my schedule, I either do a Barre or Pilates class or go to the gym. I prefer to exercise after work as it clears my mind from the day, and makes me feel so much happier.
Evenings are for dinners in our restaurants or events. As an agency, we aim to highlight the talent and craftmanship of the brands and venues that we represent, so it is important to host our guests, make them feel welcome and spend quality time with them. I always feel so lucky to have such a social job and to have made so many genuine friends that work in the same field. It really doesn’t feel like work at all.
When I get in, I always have a cup of chamomile tea, write down the best things that happened that day and do my skincare routine before bed.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?
Manifest it! Write down your goals, even the ones that seem unrealistic, make a vision board and then take daily action to achieve it. Focus on the next 3 steps to achieving your dreams and then, when you’ve completed them, the next 3 will appear.
At the risk of sounding like Kim K, it really does take a lot of work, so make sure that you are doing something that you actually love – that’s what will get you through the more challenging days. Your work is your art, let it reflect who you are.
Surround yourself with people that inspire you & support you, and prioritise your health – mental, physical and emotional. I’ve learned that a little self-belief and a lot of kindness goes a long way.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
My mum has the best advice, I call her the oracle because she just has a deeper understanding of everything. She taught me to be free and follow my dreams, and she is the kindest, most moral person I have ever known. Recently, she told me that she didn’t want to look back and wish she had done things differently and it really stuck with me. It changed my perspective on a few things.
I believe in repeat messages, when you hear the same thing from a few different people it means that it is advice that is meant to guide you.
And what is the worst?
So many people have told me that I am “too-nice” and that I need to “toughen-up” or be more aggressive, but it’s just not me. I think it’s really nice to be nice, especially in business. I am so sure that they were all trying to help me, but we can’t change who we are just to make other people happy. I am learning that boundaries are important and trying to implement them in my own way, but really, we all have to be true to ourselves and live in alignment with our own values. We have to put our own happiness first, because when we are in a good place, we can share our high vibe and good energy with everyone else.
What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
This may be too honest, but my biggest challenge is my confidence and self-belief. I am also so scared of getting things wrong that I get in my own way sometimes. I am really aware of this now and I’m working on improving this part of myself – it’s like going to the gym, we have to keep building those muscles.
What are the future plans for your brand?
One of my biggest ambitions is to have a really happy team, and a flexible work schedule that allows everyone to have the space to be creative and feel passionate about their work. I would love to work on exciting, global campaigns for luxury brands, becoming an extension of their in-house team. Eventually, I aim to grow across the region and into the UK, working with people and on projects that inspire me, and everyone else.
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