A Graceful Leader

Well-known in the events and creative projects execution market, Leslie Garduque, Founder and Managing Director of Media Circuit, spoke to OHLALA about her successful company and life in Bahrain.

“We cannot break down and fall apart. Even when stress levels are high, we should be able to manage projects calmly and properly.”

– Leslie Garduque

OHLALA – You celebrate 10 years of your company Media Circuit this year. What made you start it and have you gone as far as you expected?
Leslie Garduque –
I’ve always been entrepreneurial, idealistic and ambitious. Ten years ago, after being an employee for several years, I had this burning desire to do something on my own. I’ve worked in a lot of agencies and SMEs and the questions that kept running in my mind were ‘If they can do it, why can’t I?’ ‘If they can create a brand and make it work, why can’t I?’ So, after a lot of pondering, I thought I needed to do it. I wanted to try and see if I could make it work. Was I afraid of failing? Oh yes! But I was more afraid of regrets and all the ‘what-ifs’ that would haunt me for the rest of my life. We will be entering our 10th year in April 2023 and I never expected to come this far. Like every other business owner, I hoped to thrive, but I never really thought we would still be around 10 years after opening. I’ve got to say, this was beyond my expectations!

OHLALA – Can you highlight the best moments of company life during these years? What do you think are Media Circuit’s differentials and strongest skills?
Leslie –
The company has a lot of best moments. Most of the time, these moments are linked to difficult projects that we’ve managed to complete beautifully and successfully. The greatest ones are those times when we’re all bone-tired and weary and then a client comes up to us and commends us for a job well done. Hearing those gratifying words makes all the hard work and sleepless nights worthwhile. The team is comprised of like-minded and extremely hardworking individuals who have positive mindsets and who don’t dwell much on problems but instead on solutions. After handling a gazillion projects in the last decade, I think I have to say our key role, more than being project managers or event organisers is as problem-solvers. We need to provide solutions as fast and effectively as we can to whatever problem/issue/concern will arise in the course of the project.

OHLALA – You are a woman of many talents and have done many projects. However, what are the ones you liked the most?
Leslie –
We offer a lot of marketing services but the service that I particularly love to get involved with is events. I’m very hands-on with every aspect of event management. I love conceptualising and creating event plans. And I especially love it when plans get approved and we get to execute them successfully.

OHLALA – You and your team put together amazing events and beautiful displays. It seems all glamorous, but what actually happens behind the scene?
Leslie –
Five-letter word: CHAOS (lol). People only see beautifully finished products. But behind those glamorous events or setups are tons of hard work, arguments, revisions, stress, anxiety, tears, mini-heart attacks (laugh), sleepless nights and Thermos after Thermos of coffee and power drinks.

OHLALA – Sometimes, you handle different projects simultaneously and deal with last-minute changes. Can you tell us your secret to keeping them happening successfully?
Leslie –
Three things: (1) Presence of mind. There’s a bigger reason why we’re hired to manage a project/event, it’s because the client will throw everything at us (the good, the bad, the ugly) and we’re expected to quickly cope/adjust and solve whatever was thrown our way. (2) Composure. Clients panic, we can’t, at least we try not to show that we are panicking inside too. We are there to reassure them that everything is going smoothly (even when we know our installation is running late and our caterer did a double booking). No matter what is thrown our way, we need to put on a smile and reassure the client that we can handle it. (3) Grace under pressure. We cannot break down and fall apart. Even when stress levels are high, we should be able to manage projects calmly and properly.

OHLALA – As an entrepreneur leading a company that thrives in its sector, how do you see the importance of having women leading businesses in different fields?
Leslie –
It’s great to see fellow women leading and excelling in different fields, especially in this part of the world where women weren’t previously given the same opportunities as men. I don’t think I’m a feminist but I believe in gender equality, not that men and women are equal in every sense, because I think there are things that men are physically equipped to do better than women and vice-versa. But at least equality in economic and social opportunities and resources. I think that for a society or community to thrive, gender discrimination should not be encouraged. I’m glad that Bahrain is taking steps to empower women in society.

OHLALA – You love cycling. How did this passion start?
Leslie –
Blame it on the pandemic. For the first time in the last decade, I finally had spare time to adopt a hobby. And when all that we were allowed to do were outdoor activities, I thought I’d pick a sport that I used to love, cycling. I’m not really a hardcore cyclist but I do it as my form of workout – and well, it works!

OHLALA – What do you like most about Bahrain?
Leslie –
The freedom and the convenience. Most people have the impression that because we’re in the Middle East, we have a lot of lifestyle restrictions. I used to think that until I got here 15 years ago. I then realised Bahrain is not what people thought it was, what I thought it was. It’s an open country which provides its citizens and residents with many lifestyle choices. The country is not restrictive and embraces all religions and cultures making it a mini-cosmopolitan centre. I think Bahrain is a country that unconsciously grows on you. I’m the perfect example, it grew on me.


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