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One on One with Mai Salama, Co-founder of the Creative Industry Summit

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One on One with Mai Salama, Co-founder of the Creative Industry Summit
written by
Cairo 360

Like any other sector affected by the outbreak of COVID-19, the creative industry faces many challenges that need a swift change of tactics to address the new future.

Being one of the industry’s most significant events in the region, the Creative Industry Summit is set to gather some of the field’s brightest minds to discuss the effects of the pandemic, and how to tackle the repercussions.

Cairo 360 had the privilege of sitting down with one of Creative Industry Summit’s co-founders, Mai Salama;an advertising connoisseur with an inispiring journey in the field.


From being a Dubbing Director in Disney, and Editorial Associate for Cleo magazine, to diving into the broad fields of advertising and event management; tell us more about such an interestingly eventful journey and how one role lead to another.

I would like to believe that I am an accomplishment and passion-driven person. I never worked in anything that I wasn’t passionate about. I’ve had an interest in advertising through my love of commercials since I was a child; I used to tape-record TV commercials and play them over and over to dissect, study, memorise, and sing. Little did I know I was taking my first steps towards my real passion in life.

Growing up with the belief that communication can break every barrier, I started following my passion starting as a Dubbing Director, and one role led to the other as I explored myself.


From your perspective, what is strikingly common between these fields?

All of these roles were, technically, in the communication field, but as I learned something different from each position, I kept capitalising on one of the most important traits learnt, which is networking and communicating with the right people can make a difference.


Which role did you enjoy the most?

I liked all roles because each was a milestone on my journey, and added to my character development to where I am today. What I can say I enjoyed the most was always the one common factor between all, which is seeing the end result as the work materialises, and seeing people engaging, learning, and developing. For example, what makes me very proud is seeing the gurus from the creative field connecting the dots with the younger generation. They make the Creative Industry Summit a platform where creatives across all sectors want to join and showcase their work, to network, and, in many cases, start new business opportunities.


Tell us how a 23-year journey in the creative field has enriched your experience as one of Creative Industry Summit’s Co-Founders.

I think the one big win learnt from this journey is people; I am a people’s person, and this is my biggest gain and has helped a lot with the Creative Industry Summit. As I mentioned earlier, the main trait that I have learnt and capitalised on from my different roles has been the art of maintaining connections with the right people to bring breakthrough ideas to reality. Seeing the manifestations of these ideas on the ground confirms the impact of the Creative Industry Summit.


Speaking of the Creative Industry Summit, what’s new for 2020, and how will it tackle the challenging impact of the pandemic?

I think that as bad as it is for all of us right now, and as down as we all are, we must find the silver lining; we must persevere and not give in to it all.

The silver lining has driven us to try new things, such as going full virtual with CIS and allowed us to bring very strong speakers who were not easy to fly into Egypt. In addition to many surprises in this year’s edition, CIS 2020 is a full-on virtual edition. It is not a zoom session, not a webinar; its an e-conference experience where you can network, chat, talk to speakers, comment, and interact.


Given that the pandemic has left its mark on all aspects of life; what are the repercussions on the creative industry, and how can the industry overcome the negative impact?

I would say that the current challenges come with a number of opportunities as we started getting creative in overcoming them. We have learnt to find other creative solutions to adapt and contribute to the new normal.


In such challenging times, how do you remain inspired?

The fact that this challenge is global increased my willingness to hold the 11th Creative Industry Summit since it is a gathering that brings business innovators, leaders, and creatives from around the globe, and this is what kept me going and inspired. In addition to reassuring me that we have to remain connected and united to find more creative solutions that will keep us all going in the new normal.


What advice would you give to creatives to remain positive?

I would say that these times have taught us a lot about business and life in general:

1- Be agile and ready to accept any change

2 – we are all the same, literally all the same, so accept it and stop judging

3 – be prepared for anything because nothing is absolute nor granted

4 – finally and most importantly, embrace and wing it 🙂


If you could describe yourself in one sentence, what would it be?

I would say that I am the person that would choose to “Take the Path Less Traveled”.


Earlier, you mentioned growing up recording TV ads on videotapes; tell us what’s your alltime favourite ad, giving us the recipe for a perfect ad from your point of view.

As a kid, well it was all jingle based, from Mahmoud eih da ya Mahmoud’ [Carpet City], Gersy chocolate, then later to Mobinil’s launch ad,  and the list goes on.

There were two OT campaigns we did back in Synergy, one Corporate and the other for Human trafficking, and I believe those are my favourite from our reel.

I think there are many people more equipped to talk about the recipe for a successful ad, yet, if I may say, the ad that is not complicated, that is simple, based on insight and has a bit of humour or satire. A message that resonates with its target in some ways.

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Creative Industry Summit is taking place on the 20th of July at 7 pm. Check the event on Facebook. Book your ticket here.