Portland Profile: Maïssane Lahmar-Savage

Portland Profile: Maïssane Lahmar-Savage

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career so far?

I think the advice I received the most from my managers as a young professional was, “don’t be afraid to speak up, be confident about yourself”. Paradoxically for someone working in comms and public affairs, it took me a while to realise you only get your messages across when clearly expressing them without showing you need to apologise for anything, whatever the audience may be (clients, colleagues, stakeholders). I’ve learned with experience this does not come naturally, especially as a young woman. As a manager, this is now one of the messages I try to pass on to younger colleagues.

What is your favourite part of your job?

It is difficult to choose one thing when your job is mainly about discovering new fields, finding creative solutions and being flexible. But the one part that strikes me the most is people – colleagues, clients or other individuals we get to meet or work with as PA professionals. This industry is mostly based on what people make of it, how they interact – this is even more true in a multifaceted environment such as Brussels. I feel lucky to be able to learn from people with so many diverse profiles and backgrounds.

What is the biggest mistake you’ve learnt from in your career?

There are mistakes I’ve made here and there as I learned how to adapt more quickly to changing demands, large projects and last minute deadlines. I am rather optimistic so I tend to forget about more negative things, but I think the most important is to learn from those mistakes and try to make something out of them. It looks a bit “cliché”, as we say back home in France, but it is also how you grow professionally.

What advice would you give your 20-year-old self starting out in comms, or to someone entering this field of work?

Be confident, do not hesitate to ask questions and seek guidance, but most of all, don’t be afraid of trying out something you’re unsure about. The way we are educated does not always push us to think out of the box when this is one of the most important skills in our industry. I would add that it is not because you are young and have less experience than your colleagues that you cannot bring any added value. When I started working, I thought you had to work at least 10 years in the same field before feeling comfortable at what you do, but I realised you are never fully settled – particularly in our field, you get challenged every day and this is what makes the job all the more exciting!

What do you do to switch off from work?

As I am sure a lot of people of my age do, I enjoy going out for a drink or for dinner with my friends – something I surely missed these past few months. I am also passionate about music. I always try to end the day with a good 30-minute-or-so music session, to practice singing or simply listen to any songs that make me feel good.

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