How Publicis Groupe developed programs to support young Lebanese talent and how they help the industry along the way.
Over the years, Publicis Groupe in Beirut has developed a number of student outreach programs that mentor, coach, support, and upskill creative talent from the Lebanese industry.
With formats varying from active learning experiences (such as competitions) to running courses and speaker workshops, these programs were also developed in different ways.
Here is what you need to know about these initiatives and what they aim to achieve.
How would you describe the program that you’re representing?
Malek Ghorayeb - Adopt a Creative. What better opportunity for any student to grow than being adopted by a mentor? A real mentor specialized in their field and working at the #1 network in the region? We created this program with a specific purpose: to give everyone an opportunity to be coached, helped, and taught by a professional.
Nada Abi Saleh – Bridge-the-Gap. The Bridge-the-Gap Training Center has upskilling as its core focus mission. It has recently launched “The Career Blueprint for Graphic Designers” masterclass, a free 10-day course that targets designers [aged] 20-28 who want to transition from struggling creatives to creative professionals. [It helps] them learn how to apply personal branding strategies to develop, improve, and promote their professional image, while showcasing their skills to prospective employers [and] clients, and/or creating new income streams. Leo Burnett Beirut moderated two masterclasses out of four.
Christopher Nehme - Lebanese American University Case Competition. LAUCC is a student-led initiative that Leo Burnett has been partnering with since its inception in 2018. It’s a competition designed to nurture innovation and analytical skills among top Lebanese undergraduates from all universities across Lebanon.
Carol Hanna - Publicis Groupe Creative Academy (PGCA). As the creative industry evolves continuously, there’s a need for new and creative talents to drive innovation and inspiration. While academics provide them with the foundations of knowledge and skills, a real-life experience in a creative agency propels them in an environment where they are challenged to put that knowledge into practice, push their creative thinking, and be challenged on their ideas with a framework that is specific to our industry.
Sara Harake - Publicis Groupe Delivery Academy (PGDA). PGDA is a ground-breaking program that demonstrates our commitment to developing talent within the digital and performance marketing Industry. [It] equips candidates with in-depth knowledge, hands-on training, and close mentorship, positioning them to fulfill entry-level roles within our Hub. It’s a tailored initiative that maps aspiring candidates in the field with potential opportunities [ and] is designed to nurture bright minds in Lebanon and beyond.
How was this program created? How does it work?
Malek Ghorayeb - Adopt a Creative. The idea started with a light bulb. While looking at portfolios of young [applicants], I reached out to Carol Hanna, HR Business Partner Levant, and told her we [needed] to support students with their work at university and prep them for a reality check. The idea of “adopting a creative” emerged and we reached out to many universities. Lebanese American University (LAU) jumped on the occasion.
Every year, we select two to three students from a pool submitted by the LAU Design faculty and match them with senior creatives. The mentor and the student set up weekly meetings to review the student’s final-year project and the magic happens.
Nada Abi Saleh – Bridge-the-Gap. The project was developed by the late Rudy Kamel, a passionate educator and creative at several MENA advertising agencies, as a means of addressing the issues that young graphic designers face, such as mass exodus and competition for jobs. The project challenges them to reflect on their aspirations, experiences, and the jobs/clients they are seeking. They must rebrand their LinkedIn profile to reflect their “new” brand identity and story, as well as produce a brand deck that serves as their personal pitch to a prospective employer.
At the end of the course, participants get the opportunity to network and pitch themselves to the guest speaker, who’s an industry professional.
Christopher Nehme - Lebanese American University (LAU) Case Competition. The competition is designed to challenge participants to solve real-world business problems in a collaborative and competitive environment, and is structured across six stages and three rounds of qualifications to reach the final event.
After undergoing a screening, participants go through a mentorship program and a workshop training period with all partners, including Leo Burnett. The final stage consists of the partners creating a brief to be answered by the participating teams in three days. The finalists get to pitch their proposals directly to the partners for a chance to win a prize. In our case, the reward is their enrolment in the Publicis Groupe Creative Academy (PGCA).
Carol Hanna - Publicis Groupe Creative Academy (PGCA). Our PGCA was launched eight years ago to bring together future advertisers in an immersive one-month experience, allowing them to work on real projects for existing clients in a healthy competition environment.
They are grouped in teams, representing the various capabilities of an integrated creative one, and are coached by a business and a creative lead. They are briefed on the agency workflow, campaign development process, and planning. Throughout the month, our leads prepare them for the final presentation which takes place with the client and the agency leadership team.
They also enhance their soft skills and learn how to lead, collaborate, argument, and present to a professional audience, ensuring a well-rounded preparation for their upcoming professional life stage.
Sara Harake - Publicis Groupe Delivery Academy (PGDA). The program came to life in 2019 with the primary goal of supporting our huge staffing needs [across] all areas and verticals within our Digital Marketing Hub.
PGDA is gatekept by the Head of PGD from a strategic perspective and brings onboard the best talent [team for] a smooth and pleasant experience. Our leads are profoundly invested in monitoring, assessing, and nurturing candidates.
Upon completion of the program, successful candidates become certified and are considered for full-time roles after [an] internal assessment from both technical and behavioral perspectives.
The PGDA also equips mentors and trainers with the skills to share their knowledge, monitor progress, and shape new minds, creating a community of well-rounded professionals that contribute positively to the digital marketing industry.
Which goals does the program aim to achieve?
Malek Ghorayeb - Adopt a Creative. Feedback is given with a coaching approach, directing, guiding, pushing ideas or executions to another level [in] a constructive discussion.
From being “lost” in the first two sessions to “Can I stay with you all my life,” students get a reality check and often fall for the industry. Under no circumstances do we make them feel like students. They feel the effect on their work, on the way they start doing the work, and most importantly on the importance of crafting.
It’s a beautiful initiative that benefits both sides. The students get free coaching sessions on real university projects based upon which they will be assessed by their instructors during their final year. We started this initiative six years ago [and] to date, four ‘adopted’ students landed their first job with Publicis Groupe.
Nada Abi Saleh – Bridge-the-Gap. Most graphic design students can create but are they able to land their dream job? This course allows participants to better market themselves and be ready to face a fierce and competitive professional environment.
Christopher Nehme - Lebanese American University (LAU) Case Competition. Overall, the LAUCC provides participating students with an opportunity to develop their problem-solving skills, showcase their abilities, and gain exposure [to] potential hiring professionals. The desired outcomes include the development of critical skills among students, preparing them for the transition from academic to professional life. This program also provides a platform for companies to identify and recruit top talent and make a positive social impact in the Lebanese community.
Carol Hanna - Publicis Groupe Creative Academy (PGCA). The thriving community of young Lebanese creatives is characterized by a strong sense of collaboration and innovation, and constantly explores new forms of expression. They are also persistently defying the harsh environment they live in and ride on their own creativity and entrepreneurship to design an environment they want to live in. You can imagine the wealth of ideas that can emerge when you bring together creative souls from diverse backgrounds, and leverage their expertise and authenticity to create a unique aesthetic that resonates with local and international audiences.
As a group, we are committed to fostering and cultivating that community of bright creative minds and developing the next generation of talents in Lebanon. The PGCA is meant to nurture that new generation and give them a chance to learn from experts, while opening up for them exposure, development, and recognition opportunities. The academy is today our primary source of recruitment for entry positions in our creative agencies.
Sara Harake - Publicis Groupe Delivery Academy (PGDA). In alignment with our mission to create opportunities that meet our staffing needs, this initiative has evolved from a short-term solution into a thorough educational program that is now recognized globally within Publicis Groupe.
Today, it not only provides a bench for our current and future roles but also fosters knowledge sharing, internal education, exposure, retention, and drives growth. The initiative has been driven by our long-term vision and aligns perfectly with our goals while significantly contributing to our talent pipeline in all our markets.
We take great pride in our agility and ability to stay up to date with the latest industry trends and practices within our PGDA. Working closely with the Education Team, our dedicated facilitator, and our leads, we ensure that the PGDA remains relevant and effective, being the primary source for entry-level roles in all markets. By continuing to grow PGDA and developing top-tier talent, we are excited to witness the remarkable achievements of our candidates and the positive impact they will have in the digital and performance marketing industry.