Interview with Christina Ioannidis
Insight World is delighted to speak to Christina Ioannidis, world-recognized speaker, facilitator and entrepreneur
Christina, please tell us about yourself and your role at Aquitude.
I am the CEO (Chief Engagement Officer) of Aquitude. I am a Greek-Venezuelan, who after many years living in multiple countries, I am now a resident of Dubai. I travel a lot for public speaking, delivering training courses or consulting with clients.
Could you give us an overview of what Aquitude does? What are the current priorities and vision for the future for Aquitude?
Aquitude is an Engagement consultancy. We work with our clients to build strong relationships with their key stakeholders – their employees and their customers. We have 3 lines of business – Talent, Marketing and Digital. Happy employees = Happy customers, quite simply! Our clients include superbrands and regional power-players such as Hermès Perfumes, Kaya Skin Clinic, Al Gurg Enterprises, Sky News Arabia to name a few.
What are your perspectives on customer experience? In your view, how can companies deliver the best customer experience?
Companies very often focus on their processes rather than take a holistic view of how customers are interacting with them across multiple touchpoints. We always take the customer perspective on what works for them and what does not. Whether through mobile, desktop or tablet, customers need to have a consistently fulfilling experience with their favourite brands/retailers. It is no longer enough to say ‘we have a website or ecommerce shop, come buy’. Retailers and e-commerce players have to offer a truly engaging and enjoyable experience that matches customers expectations in order to beat their competition and, most importantly, build loyalty with their customers. In short, for us, it is all about Engaging Commerce not just e-commerce….
Aquitude has partnered with ThinkSmart Bahrain to develop the Bahrain Ecommerce Academy. Could you give us an overview of the Bahrain Ecommerce Academy? Who is this program designed for? What are its main benefits?
We are very honoured to have been selected by ThinkSmart Bahrain, the Bahrain Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism and Tamkeen, to be the International Training Partner for the Bahrain Ecommerce Academy. The Academy is set up to unlock Bahrain’s Digital Economy by skilling entrepreneurs and SMEs in the creation of their Ecommerce businesses. The masterclasses we offer include: Mastering Ecommerce, Mastering Marketplaces, Internet Marketing Executive Masterclass, Mastering Digital Marketing. They courses are a resounding success and have been over-subscribed! We are thrilled to be part of this new chapter Bahrain!
What inspired you to write the book “Your Loss: How to Win Back your Female Talent”? Who would benefit from reading the book?
After very long corporate careers, my co-author (Nicola Walther) and I noticed that a lot of the women just like us, were leaving their ambitions of corporate leadership to set up their own businesses. We wanted to redress the stereotype that women were leaving the corporate worlds to become mothers and then did not want to return. On the contrary, we proved that women were leaving to become entrepreneurs. On the back of international research, we wrote the book for (male) leadership in corporations to understand that reasons behind the female brain-drain and what they can do about it. A lot stems from cultural biases which work against women, so we provide a blue-print with practical advice for male leaders to redress these biases and create what we call a ‘gender-savvy’ workplace.
You have also launched “Top of Her Game”, an incredibly important initiative designed to inspire women in the region to be active, ambitious and resilient. Could you tell us more about it and how our readers can join?
I founded the platform Top of Her Game (www.topofhergame.biz) 4 years ago. I was very aware that Arab women of the GCC were not being showcased for the amazing work that they are doing, despite excelling in non-traditional fields. So, Top of Her Game puts these #gamechangers, trailblazing women, on a pedestal, recognizing their amazing efforts thus giving them the opportunity to inspire the younger generation of women aiming to succeed in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), business and sport. Our Female Majlis, our monthly peer-mentoring dinners held in Dubai, have been designed to offer a peer-mentoring platform like no other. Women from across industries, ages and interests support each other, providing a support tool for success. We are humbled to have created a very loyal fan-base who are proud to be associated with such a forward-thinking programme! Your readers can follow us on Instagram: @topofhergame, visit www.topofhergame.biz or email us a firstname.lastname@example.org.
Which advice would you give to aspiring female entrepreneurs in the region?
As a woman who has faced every level of adversity (double-redundancy, business failure), I am a passionate proponent of women taking charge of their careers. I would advise female entrepreneurs to follow their dreams, to focus on their strengths and never, never isolate themselves. Women are great workers, but often they do not have the courage to ask for help in the belief that they will be judged orcriticized. My words would be ‘Get out there, do what you love, build your support group and conquer!’
About Christina Ioannidis
Christina is the Chief Engagement Officer of Aquitude, a Dubai-based engagement consultancy, which works with corporations to engage with their main stakeholders – their employees and their customers. From Retail Management through to Digital Marketing and Business Transformation training, Christina’s breadth of business expertise has equipped her to deliver cutting-edge speaking engagements and training programmes globally. From Brunei, to Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Dubai, Manama, Madrid and as far afield as Norway, and even Texas, Christina has inspired and enlightened training audiences worldwide.
Aquitude clients include blue-chip organisations such as Barclays Bank, Lloyds TSB, Accenture, PA Consulting, Mercer, Cisco, and other FTSE/Fortune 100 organisations, as well as local power players such as Blibli.com, EASA Al Gurg, Sky News Arabia among others.
Christina is a thought leader in the subjects of Transformational Leadership, Customer Experience, Customer Engagement, Employee Engagement. She has been invited to comment on The Sunday Times, The Observer, Emirates News – Dubai One TV, Dubai One Radio, Gulf Marketing Review, Bloomberg TV, Sky News, The Evening Standard,The Guardian, Marie Claire, to name but a few.