Wavemaker’s Mariam Raafat in Egypt Talks Global Growth and Local Culture | GroupM’s The ReGroup Ep 4

The ReGroup is a limited series hosted by GroupM’s Global CEO, Christian Juhl. It’s an intimate conversation with the people who bring great advertising to life everyday—GroupM team members. The series features guests from GroupM and its portfolio of brands, including Mindshare, MediaCom, Wavemaker, Essence, m/SIX and Xaxis.

In episode four, Christian speaks with Mariam Raafat, Wavemaker’s Managing Director in Egypt, makes our mouth’s water with her description of the Egyptian dish kushari, tells us about why she loves her teaching position at a university in Cairo, and delights us with advice and insight on the media landscape and the passion of Egyptians.

Christian Juhl, GroupM’s Global CEO, caught up with Mariam Raafat, Managing Director of Wavemaker’s Egypt, as Cairo Egypt is starting to get back to traditional, everyday life. Raafat talks about how it’s been a little easier to readjust to the everyday normal this time of year because it’s currently vacation season, allowing the offices to slowly readjust at a 30% capacity rate. Though not so busy at the moment, Cairo is normally a busy metropolis like its counterparts New York and London. Where you can often catch Mariam is going out to get a dish of kushari and she makes our mouth water with the description. 

Over the past ten years, Raafat has seen quite a shift in her clients, both globally and locally, into more of an online media presence. She talks about how the revolution in 2011 allowed new talents to be explored and took the market ahead into 2020: “the scene is completely different in terms of internet penetration, how people perceived digital, how clients are receptive to leave out all the traditional media to actually go out and explore opportunities on non-traditional media.”

With this shift, the University of Cairo saw a need to offer classes on the subject, so Raafat began teaching an Advertising Management to graduating seniors. This class allows seniors the opportunity to learn the basics of media and if they see a career in it. Raafat says that it is very rewarding to teach and that it also offers her, as an MD, the opportunity to see the current talent in the industry and how they interpret this industry.  

As she observes the new and upcoming talent of the media world, she looks for someone with “dedication, commitment, and responsibility.”  And, she goes on to talk about how they need to be able to commit to a very tough and pursuing industry like the media. “Media is a very rewarding career but a tough one. It is one of the fast-changing industries I’ve ever seen.” 

Lastly, Raafat was asked by Juhl if she had any advice to give when it came to running a big company, such as GroupM. “This is tough because you are dealing with different types of people, different cultures, and different countries… to know about the local markets and their culture, and try to have the flexibility of accommodating different people in order to be able to achieve the greater goal of the company.”