Hala Wahba: Pioneering Emerging PR & Marketing Leadership | Interview

November 25, 2023
Dina Al Mahdy

With over two decades of strategic management, Hala Wahba leads For Impact Group (FIG), blending traditional PR with digital innovation. Her diverse experience includes leadership roles at CC Plus and Narrative PR Summit, expanding global clientele. At FIG, she leverages this expertise for exceptional outcomes.

Prior, Hala Wahba excelled in banking, notably at Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, crafting transformative communication strategies and leading landmark initiatives. Her educational journey spans English Literature, Marketing, and a Master’s in Global Business.

WoEN: Despite studying English literature, you practiced a career in public relations and marketing. What led to this career change?

Hala Wahba: Several factors pointed me in the direction of public relations and marketing but the main driver was my passion for communicating with people and building fruitful relationships with them. It made me realize that public relations and marketing rely heavily on the linguistic and professional skills I acquired through my study of English literature.

It was not an easy decision but I’m glad I made it because my work as the Corporate Communications Manager at Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, where I was responsible for establishing a consistent editorial style and visual identity across internal and external channels, gave me extensive experience that I use until today. Another remarkable experience in my career was managing the daily operations of the outstanding team of “Corporate Communications Plus”  PR firm and the professional team of “Narrative PR Summit ” for 7 years, creating thorough business plans and meeting clients’ expectations in various fields while ensuring desired results. All of these experiences together helped form my unique vision that I aim to actualize through For Impact Group (FIG). I felt it was time to showcase that wealth of vision and practice and turn it into a reality.

WoEN: Did you have any moment of doubt or soul-searching at the beginning of your career, or did you have a clear roadmap that helped you reach where you are today?

Hala Wahba: As I mentioned before, it was not easy. Yet, I always sought to clarify my goals, set professional priorities, and organize my time. It is an ongoing journey, but I was always eager to learn and develop myself, and all these steps helped me reach my goals. For example, leading a team and managing the daily operations required significant effort at the beginning, but I developed new skills in the role, which led to boosting teamwork efforts and achieving notable successes with the company’s clients in various sectors. This translated into several landmark campaigns and success stories that I managed with prestigious clients. Currently, I continue my career progress as CEO at For Impact Group.

WoEN: “Women don’t have the ability to lead.” Your success story clearly contradicts with this statement. What challenges did you face as a woman competing for leadership and managerial positions?

Hala Wahba: Yes, I faced some challenges during my professional journey as a woman, especially in a highly competitive field like the banking sector. How did I overcome that? I worked hard to prove my abilities and competence in leadership positions and took on my full professional responsibilities alongside my family responsibilities. We have many role models of successful and outstanding women in various fields, and we can see that evidently in remarkable success stories of women in prestigious positions in the country. Let’s agree that the real challenge for any successful person is to maintain and showcase their capabilities in leadership roles, given the challenges we face.

WoEN: In your professional experience, what are the essential characteristics of a successful leader that can be acquired and honed?

Hala Wahba: I believe that main make-up of a successful leader is the ability to communicate effectively and utilize that to build long-term relationships. Also, the ability to motivate and inspire a spirit of teamwork and collaboration in the organization, the ability to make wise decisions and think strategically, as well as the ability to adapt to changes, innovate, and develop opportunities. In the public relations field, it’s like leading an entire orchestra of creatives. Yet, all of these characteristics can be acquired and improved through continuous learning and practical experience in leadership.

WoEN: Between public relations, marketing, and project management, how does Hala Wahba find herself through hobbies and activities to recharge her energy again?

Hala Wahba: I always have time for myself and reenergize by practicing certain hobbies and personal activities. Sports, reading, and jewelry design are among the most important activities for me. Sports and yoga help me renew my energy and regain my focus, while reading gives me moments of relaxation and the joy of new knowledge. Jewelry making helps me grow my creative capabilities and innovative thinking.

WoEN: “It’s difficult for a woman to balance her work obligations and taking care of her family affairs,”. How true is this statement, and how do you balance your professional life and personal life?

Hala Wahba: I always say that a working woman is competing with herself in the first place. The balance requires some assisting factors like choosing trustworthy individuals to help me in some areas that can be delegated at home for example. I taught my children from day one to rely on themselves and assist in all household matters and their lives. I personally allocate time for my work that doesn’t take away from my family time. I know very well that it is not easy, but a smart woman can balance her affairs and try as much as possible to achieve work and family balance by dedicating time to family and friends and balancing priorities. It takes some resolve and time management skills.

WoEN: You have obtained several certificates in different fields. To what extent did academic education feed into where you are today?

Hala Wahba: Academic education certainly had an impact. I obtaining a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Cairo University, and followed that with a diploma in marketing and a digital marketing certificate from the American University in Cairo, a banking credit certificate from the Egyptian Banking Institute, and completed my master’s degree in Global Business Management from ESLSCA Business School in Paris. All these degrees formed the basis of my professional journey. They  provided me with valuable knowledge and skills that I have invested across my work. Academic education was essential to develop my strategic and managerial capabilities and achieve my successes in public relations and marketing and to continue to acquire everything that is new and innovative. So, I never stop learning new skills.

WoEN: Tell us a little bit about “For Impact Group”. When did you feel that this was the moment to launch your own organization, and what do you aim to achieve through that institution?

Hala Wahba: “For Impact Group” is an intelligent center that focuses on blending traditional public relations with smart digital tools. I decided to establish the group based on my practical experience and to resolve some of the challenges I faced in my professional career. The group aims to achieve success for its clients by providing exceptional Digital PR strategies and Digital solutions and achieving tangible results in the field of public relations and marketing. Smart and digitally enabled public relations rely on solid insights and professional data analysis, which provides PR Experts with evidence-based direction regarding the interests and preferences of the audience. This data analysis develops our strategies and helps our experts design messages that ensure the most relevant exposure for our clients and build a professional relationship with them based on trust and credibility.

WoEN: What inspired the name “For Impact Group” and what is your vision for this promising project?

Hala Wahba: The name of our rising company is inspired by my personal dream to positively impact the industry of public relations, publicity and digital marketing. Through this project, we can contribute to the development of numerous startups and companies in their different fields. This project and the many contributions made by companies and organizations are essential for a healthy ecosystem that’s suitable for growth and development. This is my vision for this project which we hope would add up even a simple contribution to this collective success.

WoEN: What were the most difficult challenges you faced along your career, and how did you overcome them and continue on your success journey?

Hala Wahba: Naturally, I embrace challenges, and the difficulties I faced during my professional journey varied between handling the responsibility of the daily operation management and dealing with work challenges. Thank God, I managed to overcome these difficulties through mastering the skills of planning, management, and committing to my designated timeframes for each goal. For me, it’s a priority to maintain my positive energy and ensure my physical and mental wellbeing. This process helps me gain the clarity of vision I need and handle any challenges or difficult situations effectively.

WoEN: Many people want to start their own projects or launch organizations under their name. What is your advice to these visionaries or the “success formula” you recommend?

Hala Wahba: My advice to them is to be prepared for hard work and constant challenges. They must stay enthusiastic and persistent in achieving their goals and never give up in the face of difficulties. They should have a clear vision and a solid strategy to reach a specific goal. Then success is granted with a bit of Godspeed after that.

WoEN: Have you ever experienced frustration and decided to quit, and what did you do to overcome this feeling?

Hala Wahba: Definitely, I have faced many challenges during my career, but I always have faith in God and in my abilities as a decision-maker and a person in charge of analyzing situations and making the proper decisions at the right time. No one is immune to frustration at certain times, but how we deal with it and how quickly we overcome it differs from person to person. I have definitely faced many challenges throughout my years of experience, but I always dealt with them objectively and positively. It is indispensable to overcome negative emotions in order to achieve success. Inside me, I always have a feeling of acceptance and faith in God’s wisdom – and this helps me to quickly overcome any negative emotions and look at things in a positive way to find accessible solutions and alternatives.

WoEN: You focus on combining the advantages of traditional public relations and smart digital tools in your institution. To what extent can technology impact the future of marketing?

Hala Wahba:“For Impact Group “focuses on merging the advantages of traditional public relations with smart digital tools to achieve a comprehensive and effective marketing strategy. We are aware that technology and innovation in the field of marketing have a significant impact on the future of the industry. Artificial intelligence, big data analytics, machine learning, digital marketing, and social media are some of the tools and technologies that are bringing about a major transformation in marketing. Technology allows for the collection and analysis of major amounts of data, provides effective and immediate communication methods, and offers particularly targeted experiences to the audience. Additionally, technology improves the tracking and measurement of results, giving us access to new insights about customer needs and behaviors. By adopting technology and smart tools in marketing strategies, we enhance the quality of communication with customers, increase interaction and engagement on our clients’ channels, improve customer experience, and maximize the return on investment for their marketing efforts. It is massive to think how much technology has the potential to impact the future of marketing so significantly, offering great opportunities for innovation, growth, and improved marketing performance.

WoEN: You have gained over 13 years of experience in the banking sector. Tell us a little about your achievements in this field and how far you’ve put this experience to action in your subsequent professional journey?

Hala Wahba: During my 13 years in the banking industry, I made a number of accomplishments. I succeeded in leading different work teams, and managed various key projects including marketing campaigns and an international branch opening, acquiring marketing and public relations skills and adding value to the organization I worked for. I was able to achieve success by increasing the customer base, strengthening the bank’s market share, and improving customer experience.

I drew on this extensive experience in the banking sector greatly and in different situations throughout my career journey. The projects I led developed my skills in strategic management, marketing, and customer relationship management. Further to this, my deep understanding of the banking sector and financial consulting were a supporting factor for me to provide high-quality, 360 consulting services to my clients.

WoEN: In conclusion, what are your future aspirations professionally, and what advice do you have for young ladies who want to pursue a similar career path?

Hala Wahba: I aspire to continue providing innovative and impactful media and marketing services to my clients. I also would love to reach out to more startups, entrepreneurs, SMEs, and educational institutions to create innovative and smart solutions with them to promote their businesses, deliver their messages to the target audience and be their backbone for success in the market, despite the challenges of the current period.

As for the ambitious young ladies who want to follow the same career path, my advice to them is to continuously learn and develop their skills in the fields of communications, public relations, and marketing. They should also be able to work within diverse teams and effectively manage projects to learn every new and innovative method in the industry. Most importantly, they should be committed to excellence in their work and keep moving forward towards achieving their professional goals. “And always remember that there are no difficulties without solutions, no challenges without doors opening, and no success without effort. Lastly, there is no limit to your capabilities.”

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