Zebanomics: A tete-a-tete of ‘mindsets’ with du’s Hala Badri…

Hala Badri

Have you ever had one of those nightmare, worst-fear-come-true moments? I had one just a few days ago. I was running late for an important meeting, getting hyper and anxious all at once. Being late for meetings in many ways is worse than last second cancellations. But accidents in Dubai apparently happen quite frequently for comfort, and I was facing one at the JBR exit. No one was hurt thankfully but traffic was stalled in the most unbelievable way. The plan was to reach at 2.45 PM for a 3 PM meeting, and I reached at 3 PM. Mental Status: Yikes!

The next I know I am at du’s reception, being guided to the office of the company’s EVP, Brand and Communication, Hala Badri. All of this took not more than four minutes but it may as well be 40 with the way I was aging inside. In this case, it was not just about being late. Ms Badri is someone I have looked up to for a really long time. I admire and, not so secretly, hope to embody her qualities of being calm and yet surging ahead at all times, relentlessly achieving newer milestones – both personally and professionally.

But it took lesser than a second for Ms Badri to put me at ease with her warm reception. It comforted me immediately, and I was reminded once again why this woman commands the respect and admiration of so many. I was meeting her for the cover report of the Arabian Marketer’s (AM) March edition.

Ms Badri’s journey – from a brand executive at ENOC to EVP at du, and all the recognitions in between, in addition to the role she plays on various boards contributing to issues such as education, children and women empowerment – is filled with milestones. And du as a marketer has claimed more than its share of headline space for its various clutter-breaking marketing initiatives, some of which have also been awarded globally. Combined, we knew this was the kind of story that we wanted told on The Arabian Marketer.

At the start of the interview, Ms Badri encouraged us to ask any question we had in our mind. We have been hearing about Emirati women evolving into dynamic, business leaders. In Ms Badri, we were seeing it.

In the course of the interview, Ms Badri’s passion for her work, her colleagues and her need to make a difference stood out the most. It’s not every day that a telecom marketer speaks of creating a fan base instead of a customer base or highlights the importance of newer forms of media to the established, conventional ones. A lot of what she said was refreshing. The one thing that stayed with me the most however was the rather rare ability to keep a positive mindset. Things can go wrong, and they will. But there is no need for women to pressurize themselves to be the employee and the mother of the year. It was alright to make mistakes. A clear ahead would achieve more than an overworked one. Ms Badri’s advice was simple and effective.

Being a mother of a 30-month old, I was relating to it. At some point, I must have even got into flashback moments of my own juggling the two roles, and going crazy over it. As I confessed upfront, I can only hope to embody some of these qualities but I know that with the likes of Ms Badri around, one will not stop trying.

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