Name: Detria Williamson
Age: Born on the same day as Prince William but different year!
From: Chicago, USA
Current job title: CEO & Founder
When did you arrive in the UAE?
August 2009, when the humidity was at 80%, I remember walking around with a permanent afro.
Where did you work prior?
Prior to arriving to the UAE, I worked for Discovery Channel Networks, overseeing their channel portfolio globally.
What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East?
As a client I felt that products and leadership were always on the front foot, but the media behaviours and practices were lagging.
Have these impressions changed much?
Media is changing here because the world is moving at a hyper-speed pace. Simply put, we as leaders in media have no choice but to take bigger risks and stay on the cusp of new media and technology.
Tell us about your new role with Drum Content Design…
Starting Drum Content Design is a thrill, after spending years on the client side and in television. I am in a unique position to know what the client really, truly needs and wants – even if they are unable to articulate it -because of my decade-long career working with the world’s most loved television brands globally. As CEO of Drum, I’m happy to build on this experience and provide non-conventional approaches for clients looking to connect with consumers in a deeper manner.
What challenges do you face?
I’m pretty sure most creative entities here would echo this challenge – recruiting. Having eclectic and diverse staff is a non-negotiable mandate for myself, as well as the hiring managers within Drum Content. Finding global talent from various backgrounds can be tricky but we are hitting a very nice stride so far with a team of female leadership, a rarity in the Advertising industry as a whole; as well as scriptwriters versus copywriters, film videographers versus TVC directors and analysts versus planners.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Converting traditional marketers to content evangelists who never look back. It’s a complete shift in terms of the marketing psyche, which requires risk, especially in this region where clients have a shortage of content agencies.
What’s the most exciting thing to happen so far?
Given the launch of the company, I’d have to say finding our location at D3. Our approach is centered on design so it’s a perfect fit. To be in an environment surrounded by designers across various categories is fuel for designing marketing innovation.
What do you think of the quality of media publications in the region?
The great thing about Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha is that they’re blank slates you can paint whatever color you want. I think 2015 is going to be a year where media publications push even further outside of the norm and convert standard publications to richer online and mobile experiences. Having tech leaders Google and yahoo in the region will keep all of us on the cutting edge of technology.
What sets you apart from other content design professionals?
I have been a client most of my career which enables me to connect with clients in a relevant and transparent way. When clients ask about our agency credentials, I have no shame in telling them our credentials are that we come from award winning brands as clients, journalists and producers. Pushing the boundaries of traditional agencies and offering clients marketing innovation brings a great deal of satisfaction.
Work calls via landline, mobile or both?
Strictly mobile. The GSMA just released a statistic that by 2020 60% of the world’s population will own a mobile phone. Landlines will be soon become a vintage household name.
What’s your most overused saying?
Mistakes are great and should be studied relentlessly. Repeated mistakes are failures, which are unacceptable. It’s a principal I stand by in my work and personal life.
Five things you can’t live without?
The Sneeches by Dr. Seuss (for serving as a reminder we are all the same), music (in particular Nina Simone because of her brutal honesty), Raw Coffee, true love (it could be Jimmy Choos or it could be a person…stay tuned) and finally, my superstar kids, Noah and Sophia who teach me to constantly start over with grace.
If you weren’t in content design and production, what would you be?
A home school Mum…but I’m ashamed to say my kids are too smart for me.