Q&A with Tala Al Ramahi

Q&A with Tala Al Ramahi

Ahead of our Braver Conference in Dubai on 14 November, we caught up with one of the speakers. Tala Al Ramahi, to talk bravery and more.

How can marketers be braver? 

Marketers can be brave by addressing social issues that matter. Very often, marketers focus on what “sells”-- and so they overlook or avoid campaigns that, they think, will not. However, I think it is time for all of us to realize that people, especially our younger audiences are driven by causes—they care about making an impact, and therefore, there is a lot potential for marketers to really capitalize on this passion that youth have to “fix the world”, or at least, to start being brave about the conversations that we choose to elevate to foster that change. This is precisely what we are trying to promote through the Special Olympics World Games. We are “selling” a cause—and a promise, and a call, for a more inclusive world. 
 

What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career?

After working on Abu Dhabi’s bid for the Special Olympics World Games 2019, I asked to be seconded to the local organizing committee of the Games so I can witness the bid come to life, and help drive legacy efforts through the Games. I had never worked for a mega-event organizing committee in my life, but was very passionate about the cause, and knew that I needed to be a part of that journey. That meant that I would leave my “safe” public policy job for about 2 years to focus on the Games. The journey so far has been filled with some of the greatest challenges I’ve faced in my career, but also the most rewarding moments of my professional life. 
 

How is the UAE going to be brave post the Special Olympics to create a legacy?  

The UAE and its leadership immediately realised the potential of the Special Olympics World Games in creating a legacy of inclusion. In our region, having a family member with a disability is still regarded as taboo, and many people will never mention that they have a brother or sister or aunt with an intellectual disability, however the UAE has really amplified the conversation about disabilities and inclusion through these Games. The UAE’s bid committed to creating a legacy by addressing societal misperceptions, and to work on programs, policies and projects that would promote further inclusion in our society. We are working with government partners ,private organizations, schools and the third sector to instil this legacy of inclusion. 
 

Which business leader do you admire most and why?

In my professional life, I have always been drive by causes, and so, I am always galvanized by successful business leaders who believe good citizenship and monetary gain can go hand in hand. Indra Nooyi, the former CEO of PepsiCo is an impressive business leader who pushed for a healthier portfolio of products when she was leading PepsiCo, and has now announced that she will be dedicating her time to empower more women leaders. Another exceptionally successful business leader is Hamdi Ulukaya, founder of Chobani, now a yoghurt empire. Ulukaya actively calls for higher wages for employees, has offered his own employees 10% shares in Chobani, and announced that he would donate the majority of his wealth to help refugees around the World through The Giving Pledge.  
 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I’ve learnt this the hard way. There were times when I had taken on much more than I could handle because I didn’t want to say “not now” or “I already have a lot on my plate”. And then one day when I was so overwhelmed with everything I needed to do, a colleague who reports to me told me “Ask us to help you. That’s what we’re here for.” It was one of the most reassuring things I had heard in a very long time. 

 

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