In The Hot Seat – Eamon Sallam

Eamon Sallam, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at Elevision Media tells TMN about successful management and creativity in Middle East media…

Name: Eamon Sallam

Age: 40              

From: Canada

Current Job Title: Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer 

When did you first arrive in Dubai?|

Where did you work prior?
NorthStudio360 in Vancouver, Canada. NorthStudio360 was a video production company specialising in 360 video. I worked primarily in business development, but was also involved in video production and editing. After the release of a number of innovative videos in 2009 and 2010, two of which went viral, NorthStudio360 was acquired by a larger global production house.

What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East?
I found it to be very informal and relationship based, which has its advantages and disadvantages to a newcomer. I also thought that it already had a high number of skilled creative people, but not as much effort or resources going into the creative process to produce innovative campaigns. 

Has your opinion changed much?
Definitely. We’ve seen campaigns take on a variety of new and progressive forms. Agencies and brands are much more willing to try new and different platforms and technologies. There seems to be a more focused effort on producing something new and groundbreaking.

Tell us about your current role…
My day to day efforts are spent primarily on managing the functions of the current network while continuing to drive network expansion into new buildings, districts and regions. This involves a lot time spent with my IT and content teams, as well as a consistent effort outside the office to meet with and develop strong partnerships throughout the various building developments across the region. 

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
It’s always very satisfying after a large scale installation is complete and a new circuit comes online. This includes projects like DIFC and JBR here in Dubai and more recently Marina Square on Reem Island in Abu Dhabi. I’m always happy when I meet someone new and they’re familiar with Elevision because they live or work in one of our buildings. 

What do you think is the secret to successful leadership?
I’m a big believer in an empowered staff with plenty of autonomy. Everyone at Elevision is perfectly clear on their role and what’s expected of them. I want to hire people that once provided with the necessary resources, are able to execute their function efficiently and at a high level without management sticking their nose into everything. If I have to micromanage my staff, then I’ve done a poor job in hiring and training them.

What advice would you offer to someone looking to start a career in media in the UAE?
Develop strong technical skills, whether it’s on the tech side in programming and development, the creative design side; or even in sales and business development. Whatever it is, have a strong foundation of knowledge. Never stop learning and be prepared to develop new skills on the fly. 

In your opinion, what makes an advertising campaign successful?
There’s the obvious metrics of reach and impressions, but without engaging content that resonates with the audience, all the exposure in the world is of no use.

Would you rather be contacted by phone or email?
I’m probably in the minority on this one, but I usually prefer a quick phone call. I’ve always found we can share the same info in a 3-minute phone call that would often take 5 emails going back and forth over 5 days.

Work calls via landline, mobile or both?
I prefer a call on my mobile. I like the caller id visibility, as well as the ability to follow up with a quick sms when necessary. I’ll tell you what I don’t like – doing business via Whatsapp! I’ve always felt that kind of messaging is best kept to friends and family I feel it is not an appropriate platform for formal business communications.

If you weren’t in your current role, what would you be doing?
I would be a ski bum in Canada, chasing the snow through the mountains of BC.

If you could have one work wish granted, what would it be?
To never have to process another employee visa, ever. I would give anything for a magical visa fairy.

What is your favourite form of media (i.e; TV, radio, print)?
For my personal consumption, I’m a big fan of quality podcasts (especially in the car). From an advertising perspective… Digital-out-of-Home obviously!