In May 1998, Leena Kewlani
received the highest academic standing of her class and took to the podium at graduation as AUD’s first Valedictorian.
The Business Administration graduate, who obtained a Double Major in Marketing and Advertising, is now putting her degree to practical use as Director of Branded Content and Regional Communications Director at MEC MENA. In this role, she is responsible for creating branded content and developing content strategies and programs for the company’s clients.
Reflecting on her career, Leena says she owes a great deal to AUD. “Everything I learned years ago about integrated marketing communications is vital to how I understand and create my content strategies for brands. I apply a lot of the consumer psychology that I learned at AUD. I always aim to keep the consumer at the heart of everything I dream, create, produce and do for a brand.
About choosing her major at AUD, she recalls: “It helped that I had Dr. Lance de Masi, President of AUD, as a teacher. He was an excellent professor who imparted a lot of real advertising agency learning, rather than the “book experience” that some professors teach. He made the world of advertising and marketing interesting, inspiring and creatively challenging, and he was right – it was the career to be in at the time I graduated.
Next, Leena’s plans involve taking the world of branded content to a strategic level across all television, digital and social platforms. She explains: “For brands, it is not about rattling off features and what the brand can do for consumers; it is about creating a strong emotional message, provoking laughter or tears, fears or courage – ultimately sparking a behavioral change in consumers, whether it motivates them to make decisions or break mind sets
Besides having a successful professional career, Kewlani has always wanted to teach art to young children. In 2011, she studied to obtain a diploma to teach pre-schoolers and is now a qualified assistant pre-school teacher.
As a self-taught artist, Kewlani also paints to raise money for a charity which provides education to girls in third-world countries: “I teach art to little kids plus I teach meditation techniques during the weekends when I have time to spare. I love reading and am a TV series junkie. I also love traveling and exploring different cultures, cities, art and architecture.
Advising AUD students, graduates and alumni on kick-starting their careers, Kewlani says: “Focus on getting a job in something that you really like to do, so that when you are working long hours, you still love what you do and your job doesn't become a chore. Also, never stop learning. The more you learn, the more you will evolve with your consumers, and your strategies will seamlessly evolve too.