Young Lebanese entrepreneur, he launched two years ago, The Agenda Beirut, a «boutique academy» which offers a wide variety of courses taught by experts, ranging from art to advertising, makeup, event planning and other personal development seminars. To mark the second anniversary of The Agenda Beirut, Prestige met Tony Abou Ghazaly to discuss the challenges faced and future plans…
Tony Abou Ghazaly, tell us about your background. I come from a family of entrepreneurs, but following the ups and downs this field has experienced, I decided to follow management studies and I have chosen as specialization logistics that was booming at the time. After an internship in a transport company, I realized that I did not like at all this specialization. I researched and found a course at Marangoni in Paris regarding the management in the luxury sector. I followed this course by intuition. On my return to Lebanon, I was recruited by Chanel in Lebanon in the logistics department. It was a very rewarding experience. At some point, I aspired to grow up, I did a masters in media studies focused on advertising. Feeling the lack of institutions in Lebanon that provide specific courses on a short period, I decided to create The Agenda Beirut that provides diversified courses: art, luxury, media, society. The Agenda Beirut was born and continues since two years.
What are the difficulties you encountered in establishing your academy? The company of my father went bankrupt, I was afraid to be responsible and owner of a company in Lebanon. The second element was that with this totally new concept in Lebanon, we had to get people to trust a service, not a product.
What have you learned during these two years of The Agenda Beirut? I learned that in Lebanon, there is a need for guidance. The students come from universities, they learned many theories but they are disoriented. There is a problem in the education system to the extent that there is a lack of training. I have students around 13-18 years old who come to me to find out how they would like to specialize.
What advice would you give to young people who have an idea and are afraid to get started? I would say, «Where there’s a will, there’s a way». Do not think you need a huge capital to establish your own company. Do what you want to do, Work Smart by having a strategy.
What is the future of The Agenda Beirut? The Agenda Dubai is my second project. My goal is to establish the concept of The Agenda in all countries of the Middle East, while keeping the spirit of The Agenda Beirut in all the franchises and sending experts from Lebanon to give seminars in other countries.
What memories do you keep from your experience during these two years? The best memories are the recognition of the students for The Agenda Beirut. When students are able to find work, I feel having helped them.
How do you select the experts? I like to choose unconventional experts, they are the most successful. Some experts who come to give seminars at The Agenda are then approached by universities that ask them to teach … I see this as a good sign.
Do you have your eye on an expert who has not given seminars at The Agenda Beirut? Raghida Dargham, Marcel Ghanem and Zuhair Murad!
What was your best collaboration? Paula Yacoubian, without any hesitation. Given the number of people who registered and their quality: there were lawyers, corporate personal … In four hours she gave a seminar to fourteen persons, paying attention to each, which requires a great time management.
What are your plans for Christmas? For the holiday season, Christmas at the Villa, a «Christmas market» luxury, is organized on December 11th, 12th and 13th at the Palais Sursock. Every night a different personality will host this event, part of the profits will be discharged to an NGO of their choice. The Agenda Beirut gives you appointment on December 11th from 6 am to 9 am! Interview by MARIA NADIM