A Conversation with Cem Arikoler: Regional Director, Promax Middle East, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
What historical figure do you most identify with and why?
I identify with Thomas Edward Lawrence--"Lawrence of Arabia." I come from Holland. Living and working in the Middle East, being from a European background, is extremely challenging. It requires adopting local political, social, cultural and religious sensibilities. T.E. Lawrence was a British soldier who came to the Middle East in the early 1900s and turned it upside down. He helped the small Saud family in the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula to construct their own country, which is today's Saudi Arabia, using his knowledge of how to handle communication with the British forces at the time. Recently, my company [a strategic communication consultancy with 16 offices in the Middle East] has been helping various Arabic countries and companies manage the post-Sept. 11 stigma around them. I find myself educating them on how to communicate with the Western world, and I have also helped some Western countries learn to communicate with these countries and companies. The strategies and tactics I develop for them with my team have similar effects as Lawrence's.
Which word or phrase do you think is overused right now?
"Measurement for the bottom line." Companies do not understand what will be the result if they do not communicate and directly jump on the tangible outcomes. I am not against measuring outcomes--in fact, I spend quite a lot of time learning new methods. However, without identifying and planning what are the short- and long-term outcomes, people simply look into tangible sales outcomes.
How would you explain your profession to a child?
I would explain that I am like a gardener. I first plant seeds, then nurture them with the right amount of water, correct lighting, exact amount of nutrients, etc., and observe their growth step by step. Do not expect things to happen overnight, but be patient and enjoy every phase of the growth. …