As a Marketing Manager, Jad Akiki understands the importance of reflecting a positive, ethical attitude. As a foodie, he’s constantly on the lookout for what’s new. Sounds like the perfect combination for a career in F&B!
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
I’m Jad Akiki, Lebanese, 29 years old.
Tell us about your education.
I was French educated in high school, got a baccalaureate in Social Economics, then did my Bachelor degree in Business Management with a minor in Marketing. I’m planning on pursuing my Masters soon too, you know, to raise my own bar!
What made you get into marketing?
The fun of it! It’s a multitasking field with a lot of PR and social events – just my scene and character, to be honest.
Give us some highlights of your career so far.
I have only worked in industries I like or have interest in. Chronologically speaking, Automotive – I’m a car fanatic, Fashion – I like to believe I’m trendy and stylish, F&B – I’m a foodie. Food can light up my mood anytime, anywhere!
How and when did you come to Kuwait?
I moved here in September 2015. I was recruited from Lebanon, took the big step and here I am!
Tell us about your current role at UFC and what it entails?
Where do I begin? I’m the marketing manager of the company. To sum it up, everything related to brand image and marketing activities falls under the department. I basically communicate with everyone and anyone since my work involves everyone and vice versa.
Tell us a little more about UFC. Which restaurants are currently operated by the company and what is the vision of the company?
UFC was established in 2004. We have the brands of Zaatar w Zeit – a Lebanese franchise, Life with Cacao – our own brand that we are franchising in the GCC, and last but not least, FatBurger – an American franchise.
We aim to be the destination of gourmet food offering a tasteful experience, humbly delivered.
What is a typical day like for you?
I wake-up, put on a human face, go to work, gym, sleep – repeat! Add eating five times a day in between!
It’s hard to believe that Life with Cacao is a home-grown concept. How did the idea develop and how did you make it look world-class?
I’m just one of the many new members to hop on that train. That’s what happens when the founders love chocolate and are well-travelled. They turned their passion into a business in 2010. Add good taste to that with a hard-working dedicated team and Life with Cacao was born.
How many locations are currently operating in Kuwait for each of your restaurants?
9 for Zaatar w Zeit, 6 for Life with Cacao, 2 for Fatburger. There are more on the way by the end of 2018.
What do you do to keep your menu new and exciting?
Generally speaking, we are curious and nosy and annoy our chefs as much as we can! We have brainstorming sessions with our founders. It’s important to always be on the lookout for what’s new and what the trends are worldwide. We try to implement them in Kuwait before they hit the market because it’s a fast moving one. You need to be able to taste ten dishes at once then make one perfect for your brand to introduce it in the menu. The exciting part comes with our specials and/or our limited edition items. If you visited us this Valentines you would know what I’m talking about. Alert your taste buds for Ramadan!
We all know service is key. How do you motivate your staff to keep a constant service ethic?
Keep the flow of work and support constant. Highlight the importance of them being the brand representatives and they will automatically reflect a positive ethical attitude.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The lack of time. No matter how much you plan ahead, you’re going to face a closer-than-expected deadline. So head held high, smiles on and hit it.
What is your favourite part of the job?
The job itself.
What is something you have learned about yourself in your current position?
I’m immune to pressure. That is something you earn along your career. You learn to manage your emotions and thoughts and to express them properly, keeping a cool working environment with and for your team.
How important would you say social media is for UFC?
Not only for UFC but for everyone. It’s an intermediary between a business and its customers; an individual and the world.
What are the hot items selling at your restaurants these days?
We have many! I’ll leave that open to you. Visit us and pick your favourites! Giving you a bestselling item based on numbers is not something I’m fond of, it’s more of a subjective matter.
What are your expansion plans for the near future?
Life with Cacao opened in Qatar and KSA. Oman is under process along with second and third branches in Qatar and KSA. We’re trying to acquire more countries so wish us the best and stay tuned!
Best piece of career advice you received?
I believe it’s the ones you give to yourself. For example: Stay true to who you are. Also, the all-time cliché: Find a job you love so that you never have to work a day in your life. It’s mainstream but true and I’m lucky to be one of the few to have found it.
What are some of your hobbies?
Besides eating? I gym, I swim and I watch too many series and movies. I’m starting to question my sanity!
Where do you holiday?
Home – Lebanon, my favourite country.
Your message for us at CP magazine.
Make me look good in the pictures! And I love your initiatives and what you stand for, keep at it!”