Walking through the predominantly white-coated space of local advertising and communication agency Clémentine felt like being part of a blank canvas where ideas are given a function followed by the form to match. What was more intriguing was the bright and quite spirited persona that preceded Claudine Aoun Roukoz, the Founder and CEO of this agency as she, like a young and giddy school girl, into her office entered.
The dreamlike environment, filled with bright though quite soothing colours, induced a serene layer of possibility that indirectly radiated a sense of well-being. Despite the fact that each of the items occupying a place had nothing to do with the other, the room, in its entirety, just seemed to flow.
When prompted what the secret behind such a Zen-like milieu was and how it affects the agency’s culture, Claudine, comfortably nestled in one of the chairs reserved for clients instead of behind her desk replied, “It’s not about how an office is decorated because any space I happen to find myself in has an effect on me.”
She then explained how cleanliness an organisation communicate a sense of security and confidence as well as reflect personality. Emphasising that point, she argued, “A space that has all these characteristics communicates positively on my person. This again, does not need to be so when it comes to the work we do. But, it is a plus. I mean you could cook a delicious meal using an old pan or you could do the same using a new one. The difference is that the latter adds an additional welcoming layer.”
Before moving into these new offices almost two years ago, one of the major elements taken into consideration was how to ensure an optimal workflow while preserving a certain sense of privacy. The other pertinent matter was how to establish and maintain a healthy relationship, which at times and by design, extends to somewhat personal affairs.
Yet before this matter could be sorted out, the pieces started falling into place. Commenting, Claudine said, “I never really thought nor analysed the matter because this is how I have always approached things. No decision was made for the relationship to be this way. Best of all, experience in the field has taught me that when the working relationship is based on openness and transparency, any situation requiring immediate action can then be easily dealt with. That is a very comforting thought to have because it keeps the mind clear, sharp, and focused.”
To cement ‘the affair’, a sort of mission statement was drafted to become required reading for any new recruit. Since then, results have proven that when all employees are fully-aware of the rules and regulations, as well as their responsibilities, the people running the agency automatically minimise risk and raise potential. Following through that train of thought, she clarified, “It allows for a clearer sense of freedom and responsibility. If an employee realises that the work is overbearing, he/she say so and resign. On the other hand, if an employee is going through a physical challenge or sorting out personal issues, we recommend they take time to sort these out before returning as failure to meet the assigned obligations will in turn affect all of us and that is, unacceptable.”
Another rule she stresses is the need for everyone to make full-use of the annual vacation time allotted so as to maintain objectivity and creativity. For that very reason, during the summer season, the agency closed its doors every other Friday. “The idea was such a good one that you could see how comfortable the employees became, as did we. In other words, the rules apply to all of us equally without exception,” she concluded with a smile capable of illuminating the darkest of spaces.
The other matter, which was somewhat a delicate one in nature, was related to the challenges this particular entity faces, being the official communication agency of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM). “The fact that our political affiliation was clear, raised plenty of issues and questions. We were under extreme scrutiny, especially since everyone knew I am General Aoun’s daughter. This fact hurt rather than benefited us in that respect,” she said with a very sober expression.
Altering her posture to clearly communicate her next point, she continued, “People were wondering why a person like me is working for a living, so allow me to be clear. I am not working to waste time, quite the contrary. I love what we do and therefore take it very seriously. This however does not imply more clients nor does it imply that people from our party will come to us with requests. While I do maintain that some do, plenty of others do not.”
With a proven track record, plenty of creative campaigns, and the awards to match, people began to understand and appreciate the quality of the services provided. It was also when the agency’s unbiased approach became inviting to people in the market, which explains why the majority of the agency’s portfolio is comprised of clients outside the political arena and covers various sectors such as insurance, banking….
“The work the agency maintained was so professional, that even those affiliated to opposing political factions wanted our expertise. This, in reality, is what a deeply-rooted entity such as ours can achieve if the rules and regulations of the marketplace are respected and maintained,” she proudly said.
Before rushing off to an undisclosed location, the woman sporting casual attire made quite a peculiar remark that truly brought the conversation full circle. “Growing up in a home run by a military man and then marrying one would imply a certain conviction. However, I do not believe in any system. What I do believe is being honest about who you are, because everything else flows from there, especially the work!” she said with a great sigh of relief at the communicated notion.