Joe Ayache: ‘Facing adversity with a positive attitude’
Posted on 2022 Feb,25

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Lebanon has been in a state of emergency since late-2019, pummeled by a crisis after another. On top of everything came the devastating explosion that rocked Beirut on 4 August 2020 followed by an economic crisis that keeps worsening. ArabAd talks to Joe Ayache, MD/Partner, A&A Porter Novelli to know how they thrived throughout such a tumultuous 2021 year.


How would you describe in one word the year that past? 


Were you able to find certainty despite all hardships and adversity crippling businesses in the country? 

The only certainty was the uncertainty of the future. The biggest and most difficult answer to this question, was how deep this crisis is? There appears to be a descending spiral that never seem to hit its bottom. So, we are held hostages of a situation where you are unable to set a recovery strategy, because every time you implement a plan, immediately you need to modify it and adapt it to the new situation, which is usually worse.

Did you feel at risk at some point of getting pulled out of the game? And what helped you reinforce your team’s belief in Lebanon and strong commitment and dedication to sustaining the business? 

From the first day of the crisis we engaged into a crisis mode plan, whereby all expenses lines were revised, all treasury measures were undertaken and all client relations and services were adapted to the situations. By doing so we ensured that the Lebanese operations had a lifeline for a 12-18 months. As the days passed the business gradually came back, shyly I admit, but the fact that we stayed in the game allowed us to pick ourselves up when the opportunities were there.

How have you managed to channel your energy into keeping up? 

Energy is an attitude, and with a positive attitude you face adversity. Add to that business experience as well as a solid determination to stay on our feet and insist and persist, you create your own motivation and energy.

What have been the most important thing you’ve learned over the last 12 months? 

Continue to believe. Stay healthy.


“We are held hostages of a situation where you are unable to set a recovery strategy.”


Has your passion and energy remained intact in such a gloomy climate? 

Absolutely never doubted a moment, despite few incidents that marred this deep self-belief.

The Lebanese crisis —and the global sanitary crisis —have challenged managers and marketers to rethink the way they do business and plan the future of their organizations. Where the biggest opportunities lay mostly for you? 

Of course. Firstly, you needed to adapt to the low-income flow by looking at all expenses’ lines, no expense no matter how small was overlooked. Secondly, you needed to keep the morale of your colleagues by catering for their social as well as financial needs. Thirdly you over service your current clients so that you help me get healthier financially, because your lifeline depends on them doing well in the market place. Fifthly you seek markets outside your borders so that you diversify your income stream.

What are the shifts that you foresee taking place in the year ahead? And what do you think will be your biggest challenge in 2022? 

Income streams from outside Lebanon will continue to be the main source of business. Full dollar payment in fresh banknotes will be the only norm. Some business will be made redundant or obsolete because of the deepening crisis and inefficient agility in adapting to a rapidly worsening economic models.