Cover Story


April 24 - 30, 2019

Gulf Weekly Stan Szecowka
By Stan Szecowka

A young group of talented millennials from Bahrain have joined forces and created something ‘monumental’ in the middle of the hustle and bustle of London.

From the British School of Bahrain (BSB) classrooms in Hamala to the busy offices in the English capital, the fab four have combined their ambition and drive to take the marketing and public relations world by storm.

With a specialty in digital growth marketing, Jamie Love – former BSB student, CEO and founder of Monumental Marketing – has created a multi-channel ecosystem that has allowed him to grow his team and multiply revenue by 10 in less than a year.

“Having grown up around my colleagues and having gone through familiar experiences makes for a great working environment,” said Jamie, 24.

“We can talk about the old BSB days and people we knew or even meet up in Bahrain when we all return for our holidays. It’s really nice having a familiar feeling and environment in a city as large as London. It gives us all a home-from-home.”

Although he says it was never intentional to have a Bahrain-centric team, he admits that ‘business for me is based on trust’ and that’s where Tala Nasr, Alicia Van Der Meer and Amani Moosa prove their weight in gold, or probably Bahraini pearls would be a more apt metaphor.

Like most expat children, Jamie, of Scottish and Italian descent, moved to Bahrain with his parents, Andrew and Giuliana, after his dad secured a job here. Twelve years on, his parents still live in the kingdom, and have settled in Riffa Views. His sister, Nadine, 21, has also moved back to the UK for university.

“I was a pupil at BSB for five years, there I pursued my GCSEs and A-levels,” he explained. “The thing that really stands out to me about living in Bahrain is the sense of community and the general relaxed feeling about the place. Wherever I went I always bumped into someone I knew, and life just seemed really easy!

“My fondest memories of BSB were when I first joined. At that time the school was still a mismatch of buildings and portable cabins. My year was tiny, so we all got along as well as mixing with younger and older students.

“Anyone that was in the school at that time absolutely loved it – not to mention the great teachers I had, honestly I wasn’t the most academic person but I had certain subjects that I adored, especially business.

“That was the one subject I was always excited about and had a great teacher for, as well as languages and sciences. However, my role as ‘background dancer number five’ in the school’s production of Mamma Mia is also a standout!”

After BSB he moved to Edinburgh and took a gap year. He looked at numerous university courses but none jumped out at him so he thought it would be best to just take some time out to consider his options.

Over the following months he started working in the hospitality sector and managed to work his way up as well as starting his first business called JLUK.

However, the following year he tried academia again and started a degree course in psychology at Stirling University. “After completing the first year I realised university wasn’t really for me, so I moved to London and got my first marketing job,” he said.

“I have a curious mind, so I took it upon myself to find courses to help me in my career journey.”

Every evening and weekend he studied marketing and now boasts professional certifications that entitle him to add Charted Digital Marketing Specialist to his CV.

Throughout Jamie’s experience in the marketing industry, he noticed a growing need for what he describes as ‘an honest, dynamic and results-driven solution’ for brands who are tired of ‘too many big promises and poor results’.

Monumental took a ‘deep dive’ into digital marketing to find out exactly how it worked and, according to Jamie, ‘multi-channel’ proved to be the answer.

“Our ecosystem believes in pairing channels to leverage each other to boost the overall success of marketing,” he explained. “Maximising budgets through the unique understanding of how channels work together technically and operationally but as well as understanding user journeys and behaviour.

“The focus on driving bottom-line success naturally attracted a number of start-ups to Monumental. Many started with just one channel and it wasn’t long till the results sparked an interest in adopting the full ‘Monumental’ ecosystem. Clients see their businesses, teams and revenue grow month-on-month.”

He started working in digital marketing for a fitness company but wanted to do more.

“Working with lots of agencies throughout my career I noticed that there wasn’t really an agency that could just be different, results-driven and flexible with their offering,” he said.  “I started Monumental alongside my day job and in September 2017 I took the jump to going full-time.

“The first few months were really tough, but I chose to grow organically, slowly and steadily. Being completely bootstrapped and self-funded I could only invest what I was getting in. Early 2018 is when momentum really started to grow, we were welcoming clients to Monumental regularly and that’s when the team started growing.

“From my sofa in my living room, to the Monumental offices in Monument. This was the best place for us to base our headquarters, in the centre of all the hustle and bustle and with the branded location to match.”

The Monument, near London Bridge, was designed by Sir Christopher Wren to commemorate the Great Fire of London. It has been welcoming visitors for more than 300 years. Today, visitors can still climb 311 steps to the top of the historic landmark built in 1677 to take in spectacular views of the city.

“It’s great!” added Jamie. “London is the heart of digital marketing, so it made sense for Monumental to be here. The best thing about London is the environment, there is always something happening both social and business – one can never get bored here.”

Monumental now has a fixed team of six in the London office, as well as a team of six who work on a contract basis, part-time and as freelancers.

The BSB alumni have brought their own individual flair to the business, as well as using their expat experiences to shape the company in many ways as their unique outlooks influence their marketing work, according to Jamie.

Their roots in the multi-cultural kingdom means that they are able to approach many aspects of the business ‘from a point of view that many people just don’t have’, as well as equipping them for the diverse client base that Monumental has built globally with companies based across England, Scotland, Germany, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Canada, and the list continues to grow.

“Everything from lifestyle, to tech, to finance – our ethos is wide and results-driven meaning we are completely industry agnostic,” he said.

“Our big focus this year is to bring Monumental to Bahrain. The Monumental Marketing model has been tested in one of the busiest markets in the world and the result was success.

“Couple this with our knowledge of Bahrain and our Arabic speaking team it’s a no brainer… and I’m surprised we haven’t done this sooner! We’ll also look to continue growing in the UK and Europe, however, I don’t ever want to lose sight of who we are and what we do. We are the new age of marketing and PR – I don’t ever want to lose that.”

With a constantly growing portfolio of clients, celebrities and corporate businesses alike, the former BSB students don’t seem to be slowing any time soon with Jamie’s mantra singing in their ears ‘Create. Optimise. Grow’.

Lebanese Tala, 20, is currently in her final year at the University of Kent studying a Bachelors in Politics and International Relations and works as a marketing executive for Monumental.

She has an older sister and younger brother, who still live in Bahrain – her dad works as a business consultant in Saudi Arabia and her mum’s an image consultant in the kingdom.

“I studied in BSB from Year 7 to Year 12 then I went straight to university,” she said. “My favourite memories of living in Bahrain is experiencing the diversity and the close community – I loved the fact that wherever you went there was always a friendly face to run into.

“As for BSB, my best memories are when I founded the Debate Club, coaching delegates in public speaking for MUN, and being selected for the University of Warwick gifted and talented programme, not to mention being part of many committees. My best memories were made from being actively involved in the school’s extra-curricular activities.

“Initially I was looking for an internship that would be mentally stimulating and also help me build discipline whilst making a positive contribution towards a company.

“I found Monumental Marketing through LinkedIn and saw that Jamie had founded it. I had asked him if there were any opportunities available and he mentioned that they were only looking for marketing executives but would be more than happy to still give me a chance to apply.

“After completing the marketing and PR task that I was sent and going through the interview process, Jamie invited me to the Monumental offices in London and explained that due to my transferable skills and the potential he saw, he wanted me on the team. 

“It’s funny because we never used to talk much in school, and now we’re all wondering why. It amazing to be working with like-minded individuals, and to be able to see where we all started from and where we are now is truly motivating. We’ve built a little family and when Jamie told me that working at Monumental Marketing would not be a 9-5 and is a lifestyle, he wasn’t lying. But honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I currently live in Canterbury as I am still a student, so I commute to London for work. Working in London is very hectic because of the extremely fast momentum the city adopts, and especially in contrast with Canterbury which is a lot more mellow and quiet. However, I love it and I personally thrive under pressure so this is a very invigorating environment to be working in. The best part about London? The networking.

“Jamie has really invested in me during this whole experience and gave me the chance to really build myself whilst helping build the company, something I will be forever grateful for. It’s not often that you find business leaders that really invest in and look after their team the way Jamie has.”

Fellow marketing executive Alicia, 21, is part-Belgian, part-Indonesian and currently lives between London and Bahrain.

“I moved to Bahrain with my parents and little brother from Singapore due to my dad’s job,” she explained. “My family still live in Bahrain, they have been here for 11 years and counting.

“I was a student at BSB from Year 6 to Year 13. I graduated in 2015 to go on to study at university. My memories of Bahrain; I couldn’t imagine growing up somewhere-else. From getting late-night shawarmas to lounging beachside at the Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain will always be home to me no matter where I end up in the world. BSB was also amazing. We had such a close-knit community where everyone was friends with each other, so it was such a lovely environment to be a part of.”

She studied Sociology and received a Bachelor of Arts with Honours at the University of Kent.

“Jamie and I knew each other from BSB and our families are pretty close so it was bound to happen that I eventually would work for him,” she said. “It’s the most surreal feeling to be working alongside former BSB students.

“We used to see each other in the BSB hallways and now we are at business meetings with each other. But it is amazing working in such a comfortable environment surrounded by people who grew up in the same place as you, so we all get along really easily and can relate with one another in a way that would be different if we hadn’t all grown up in Bahrain.

“It is so much fun working in London too. It’s such a lively and culturally diverse city, so there is so much going on all the time. It’s impossible to get bored here.”

Former GulfWeekly intern, Leisure Guide compiler and film reviewer Amani Moosa, 23, has Scottish and Bahraini roots and is also currently in-between London and Bahrain.

The freelance visual communicator and designer was born and raised in Bahrain and only moved to the UK to start her university degree in Bournemouth. Her parents still work and live in Bahrain and her brother now works in Glasgow.

“I attended BSB for 11 years, starting in Year 2 and finishing in Year 13,” she said. “For me, Bahrain will always be my home, no matter where I live, I will forever treasure all the crazy, fun experiences of growing up there! I also have great memories of the BSB, I am truly thankful for all the incredible friendships that were made throughout the years that I still cherish and value!

After finishing school in 2014, she attended the Arts University Bournemouth in England and went on to achieve a BA Honours Degree in Visual Communication and a Certificate of Higher Education in Graphic Design.

“After moving to London, Jamie and I got into contact with each other as we both lived in the city and hadn’t seen each other for a few good years so we decided to meet and have a catch up,” she explained.

“Jamie was telling me about his journey with Monumental Marketing and it just so happened to be that he had recently got involved with some creative projects and would need designers to work on them, so I sent over my portfolio and began working a couple weeks later!

“It was most definitely a delightful surprise to have ended up working alongside people that I attended school with many years ago in a different part of the world! Everyone working at Monumental is so lovely and it’s great to be able to share some memories of growing up in Bahrain.

“It’s not very often we go to work and sit around a table with people who have shared similar experiences of attending the same school in the same country, so that has been pretty incredible!

“I have dreamt of moving to London for more than five years now, so to finally be able to say I live here is fantastic. The opportunities are endless, you meet great people and there is always something to do at whatever time of the day! The only downside is the living costs ... and the weather!”

BSB’s executive head Jeff Smith said: “It is always pleasing to hear about the success of former BSB students. There are many teachers at BSB who remember Jamie as a student and it is no surprise to them that he has already made his mark on the business world at such a young age.

“Teachers and school leaders describe him as a popular, courteous and respectful young man with ‘an air of flamboyance’ that naturally drew people towards him. His UCAS references for his UK university applications identified his enthusiasm for life, his aptitude for business and his creative mind.

“Wayne Ridgway, his tutor at the time – recently appointed head of senior school – wrote about his contributions to school and his determination to succeed. BSB is very proud of Jamie’s achievements.”

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