Full of passion and charisma, Simone Tamer belongs to the fourth generation of Tamer Frères group, a Lebanese family business responsible for global watch brands, jewellery, medical products, IT Solutions and Chemicals and raw materials.
The young entrepreneur took charge of her big dream, as she holds a Bachelor in Business Administration from the American University of Beirut (AUB), an MBA from ESA Business School and followed executive courses at Harvard Business School in Boston.
Today, Simone is an inspiring role model, she has successfully completed her academics and has taken her passion and knowledge, and done what so many young entrepreneurs strive to do and be; is today’s proud CCO of the Tamer Freres Group. Despite her busy schedule, Simone talks to A&E Magazine about her path to success and shares her entrepreneurial skills with today’s women trying to make it in a man’s world.
Tell us how was it to grow up into a family business as successful as Tamer Frères Group? And why did you choose to become part of it?
I started as a sales person at the first Montblanc boutique in Downtown Beirut during my summer breaks. Soon after graduating, I started working in a multinational company, and later decided to join our family business. Firstly, I was named the Marketing Coordinator of the group, working across several fields such as sales, training, and brand coordinator, after I was the brand manager then Department manager and eventually today 11 years later, I was promoted to CCO of Tamer Freres.
The reason why I wanted to be part of our family business is because I am very much attached to our family’s legacy and history. I was very proud of the hard work my dad has accomplished to reach the highest level of performance and the various partnerships he landed with the most successful brands worldwide.
What steps did you take to get where you are today? What keeps you motivated?
After successfully completing my academics, I trained with a multinational company and then immediately after I decided to join the family business in an entry-level position, which taught me a lot. I learned the details of every task, and did most of the basic tasks for several years. My learning experiences came from my father, my customers, from key opinion leaders, and other significant people in key positions within the companies we work with and represent. I followed training related to the watch industry, strategy training, selling techniques as well as behavioural trainings. I believe in self-motivation, I push myself to reach higher targets and always aim for new challenges. I am encouraged by success. When I fail, I do my best to learn from the situation and try to fix it so it won’t happen again. I also love what I do and I believe that love is a main trigger for motivation. I try to be always positive and consider that the fact that we can forget and move on is a human quality I adopt very often.
Tell us more about any habits you have, which helps you set up success every day?
I do my best to sleep early; I do not drink or smoke. I love to wake up and run in the morning and if I skip my morning run I never skip my afternoon time at the gym. I try to have a light lunch but always go out for dinner. I learned to ask to leave early so I wake up early and fresh, because as a discipline it is very important for me and I appreciate the people who respect that.
Knowing that you are a woman taking part in the business world, do you think women feel intimidated in business?
I think men feel intimidated by the presence of women in business! Women and men are almost equal today in the business world, key positions are reached by very successful ladies, sometimes I even feel and that’s a personal opinion that women have an advantage over men. The best sales people in my team are women! A key factor of success is to follow the business world know-how, where a woman should be dressed elegantly but following a certain business dress-code. Empathy is a key rule where a woman should know when she’s dealing with men that they might think or act differently in business and that’s why we have the general business conduct rule to follow.
What is your professional take on success for women in Lebanon?
Several key positions are reached by women in Lebanon, especially in the banking sector, the hospitality segment, the luxury business, and the marketing and advertising sectors, also key sales positions. Today recruitment and career paths are more related to performance and attitude rather than gender differences, at least in professional corporations where women’s rights are respected. When it comes to maternity or household responsibilities we live in a country where help is very accessible and makes it easy for ladies to acquire a certain balance between their job and life at home.
How do you achieve work-life balance?
I certainly cannot achieve a perfect work life balance. I try to prioritise and to find a balance between what I want and what I can do. My priority today remains a good balance between my work and my family, but also my different activities such as hunting, skiing, boxing, running, tennis, snowmobile, swimming, reading and online shopping. I am a strong believer that a woman has no reason to lose who she is in order to attain work goals. Time management, making the right choices and setting priorities are essential, well-being is key!
Are there specific advantages and disadvantages to being a woman in business?
If I talk about my personal experience, I can say that there are advantages and disadvantages, and both find a certain balance at the end. Surely physically we cannot deny that we are not as fit as men and we go through certain phases where we can be a bit less productive but at the end if we work on “how to get things done” we can get through the worst. Our grooming can take more time too, travelling can be harder than it is for a man but at the end when we are in a room full of men, our femininity is our biggest advantage, men respect our presence, they listen to us, they respect our turn to talk and fewer misunderstandings can occur.
What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs within the Arab region who want to follow a similar career path as you?
Start from the bottom, go in the details of the tiniest tasks, and do not be scared of challenges, to understand the specificities of each job you should perform it yourself. Do not worry about going up the ladder, even if you do not have to. Every step teaches you something new, learn and listen to everyone, choose what you retain and what you want to let go of. Make a lesson out of success and failures, do not take things lightly or personally, concentrate and focus when you have to, mix business with pleasure and love what you do. A career path is something you draw over 40 years, so do not look at the small picture, follow the right steps and in business everything you do will change your path or will stay with you till the end; your business reputation remains essential so take good care of it and choose what you want it to be.
What are the key elements that increased Tamer Frères’s exposure over time? What have you changed in the last 5 years?
Tamer Frères was internationally active since the early start of the company around 1895. I am fourth generation and our name is renowned globally for being very loyal partners to suppliers, highly professional in the fields we work in specially sales and technical after sales services. For example, today we are the only certified centre for Audemars Piguet repairs in the Middle East and this doesn’t happen without investments, trainings, high performance and the right human resources to do so. Our key success factor is the people we work with. We believe in human assets, the brains who work with us are loyal to the company, we are an employer by choice, where the culture and work environment is to enjoy and love what you do, and appreciation and motivation are the main concerns of our HR department as well as proper assessment of performance and attitude. The company culture is very strong and is growing stronger with time. In the last 5 years, we integrated a highly efficient HR department, we also integrated audit and risk controls, an external company is working on our corporate governance and family council, which is an avant-garde move that we decided to make. We are making sure all is implemented and going through a testing phase. We restructured several departments and business dynamics to reach a top level in efficiency and performance. We manage talent in a different way and we are in an ongoing quest of chasing the best human power.
What is the most courageous thing you have ever done as a young entrepreneur?
To make a change! The change we implemented was nothing more than reinforcing our roots, reinforcing our business dynamics and implementing modern ways to do so. We live in a world of constant change and to adapt to those changes is our main asset. The company reached a level where adaptation is no longer an issue but a positive challenge that our team respect with very low resistance.
Do you believe in free will or destiny?
Free will and destiny are somehow closely connected for me. I was lucky enough to find in our family business a department and products I like to work with. Starting in the luxury business for free will, but destiny was there as the department was already operating since 1968. I chose to join and chose to be part of the many challenges it came with.
If you can give yourself advice at the age of 13, what would it be?
To look at the end goal and not to worry about the hard work, also to take advantage of every second of adolescence because these days will never be duplicated in life later on. Responsibilities will grow and things get harder with time.
What is next for Simone Tamer?
I need to complete what is on my agenda, follow up on the implementations of what was already in process and somehow try to find a way of finding more time for myself.
10 Things You Didn’t Know About Simone Tamer:
1. When you face a big challenge, you… Plan, implement and test.
2. Three things that you always carry in your purse… My phone, a sunscreen, face powder and a credit card.
3. Best gift you ever received… A book: The Ultimate Gift.
4. Favourite fashion designer… Stephane Rolland.
5. Favourite phone app… Instagram.
6. Favourite vacation spot… New York!
7. One thing you can’t live without… Wifi.
8. To succeed in life you need… Perseverance, personal initiative, and team work.
9. If you could do anything else with your life, it would be… World Traveller.
10. Biggest goal for the year 2017… Finalise and implement the corporate governance of the family business
By Dana Mortada