The region is full of talented marketers

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Scroll down to view second set of 10 of the 40-Under-40 marketers 2017, though not in hierarchy.

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CLICK HERE: to see 1 to 10 of the 40-Under-40 marketers 2017


Shurjil Husain, Head of Marketing and Communications, Accenture Saudi Arabia, 36

Shurjil is a senior marketing and communications executive based in the Middle East with diverse management experience in the FMCG, Engineering, IT and Consulting industries – all in leading multinational organizations. He has held marketing leadership roles in Unilever, Siemens, IBM and Accenture.

He holds an undergraduate degree in computer science from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and attended Boston University (BU) School of Management for a full-time MBA program in marketing and strategy.

Major achievements so far Worked in brand management in Unilever’s largest division (Lipton) in Saudi Arabia with over $120 million in annual sales.

Managed Siemens Saudi Arabia’s corporate communications and marketing across all sectors. Most notable achievement was managing the launch of the Siemens Energy Hub in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

Headed marketing and communications for the IBM-Mobily Alliance (a joint five go-to-market partnership valued at $280 million). This included implementing the marketing management model and establishing the day-to-day running of the Alliance. Subsequently, also led marketing and communications for IBM in Saudi Arabia.

The key marketing mantra he believes in Marketing has and is always evolving. It is a science, so it is crucial to always have a student’s mindset and proactively engage with the latest trends and methods.

Years in career so far 14.

Largest team size handled Up to 6.

If you were to change one marketing mistake you might have made in your career so far, what would that be? Always maintain focus on the big objective and the means to take you there. Don’t let smaller, less relevant things distract you from that goal. Instead view and treat them as mere hurdles.

Gasser Rayhan, Digital Marketing Specialist and Strategist – Strategy & Corporate Planning Al Rajhi Takaful, Riyadh, 31

Gasser’s journey as a marketer is quite different from other marketers in the region, as he says, he sought to understand the true definition of “marketing” from both online and offline perspective. “Hence, I have came across different industries throughout my 10-year journey. I started in small local agencies, mid-size, all the way to global agencies, and also working in the media sector, hospitality, banking and currently in the insurance industry, which is strongly booming in the GCC market, especially in Saudi Arabia,” he adds.

“Throughout this 10 year-journey, I have grasped a strong understanding of marketing and how important it is to reflect the corporate/business image to the public, which has evolved strongly through new technologies. Even the public’s demands to receive their marketing information has changed drastically throughout the years,” he says.

Major achievements so far

(a) +20 websites published online

(b) 5 international certifications, including Lean Six Sigma and Google AdWords

(c) 10 per cent GWP (Gross Written Premium) achieved in the digital platform and web sales for 2016 at Al Rajhi Takaful (Al Rajhi Company for Cooperative Insurance)

(d) Around $10,000 cost savings through Lean Six Sigma Automation Project at HSBC Bank plc.

The key marketing philosophy he believes in “Always deliver more than expected” – Larry Page (Google Co-founder). This marketing mantra always gave me the push to do more and more. Especially in the marketing world, competition is at a very high pace – everyday – as the sky has no limit.

Years in career so far 10.

Largest team size handled 45.

If you were to change one marketing mistake you might have made in your career so far, what would that be?

Throughout my career journey, even though we stumble upon several mistakes, I don’t think that there is anything to change as I consider every mistake is a challenge and something new is learnt along the way. Some might consider shifting careers through the journey is a big mistake, although in the current generation we live in, it is the right thing to do till you seek the career you are most passionate about, and that is understanding the whole concept of “marketing” when it comes to me.



CLICK HERE: to see the 21 to 30 of the 40-under-40 marketers 2017



Carla El Maalouli, Twitter’s Head of Marketing MENA region, 30

Carla El Maalouli (@CMaalouli) is Twitter’s Head of Marketing for the MENA region. Since recently joining Twitter in May, her primary role has been to leverage Twitter’s client and industry expertise to communicate its value to the marketers and agencies that the platform serves, and to establish Twitter as an indispensable partner to its clients’ business success.

Prior to joining Twitter, Carla has held both brand and agency positions across MENA in companies such as Choueiri Group, Chalhoub Group and digital advertising solutions provider Connect Ads. Carla holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Advertising from Universite Saint Joseph, Lebanon.

Major achievements so far Carla’s achievements include successfully managing media strategies that range from planning, ATL & BTL advertising, PR, events, product development and research. More specifically, she’s managed clients’ digital marketing strategies to drive online traffic by optimizing their campaigns, which led to an increase in revenue of one of the leading news websites in the region by 98 per cent in less than a year.

Moreover, she worked with a prominent European retail brand to leverage its online presence in MENA by running its first-time digital campaign across all social media platforms, with impressive results that led to the brand’s shift in ad spend from print to online.

The key marketing mantra she believes in “ You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together we can do great things” Mother Theresa.

 Largest team size handled 12.

 If you were to change one marketing mistake you might have made in your career so far, what would that be?

I love to take risks and turn things around regardless of limited timeframes. I wouldn’t change any professional decision that I have made so far, as I have learnt from these experiences and they have helped me grow both professionally and personally.

Mustafa Dada, Head of Marketing and Communications AW Rostamani, 38

 Mustafa is a marketing and communications professional with over 16 years of expertise working with multinationals in the luxury and lifestyle industries. He is currently heading the corporate marketing and communications department at AW Rostamani Group, developing programs and building strategies that help in the growth of its real estate, lifestyle and automotive business.

Major achievements so far

He was part of an exceptional global marketing team at Vertu, during the company’s golden years, and led the regional marketing team in 2011 to achieve two milestones in the history of the brand: 1) The highest value of sales ever achieved in the ME, and 2) Confirming The Dubai Mall boutique as the second biggest selling boutique globally.

The key marketing mantra he believes in:

The customer is the hero of your story, and in that story, the hero always wins.

Years in career so far 16.

Largest team size handled 7.

Managed different types of teams since 2008, but the largest was a team of 7.

If you were to change one marketing mistake you might have made in your career so far, what would that be?

Failing to market my business with a clear and unique selling proposition – USP. When I started my retail marketing business in 2014, I did not take into consideration the importance of communicating a unique proposition that stands out against competition and attracts customers and clients. Lesson learnt.

Diego Micheletti, Head of Integrated Commercial Marketing, Microsoft Middle East & Africa, 37

Diego is 37 years old and has over 17 years of experience in communications and marketing, spreading across four continents (Asia, Africa, South and North America).

After that he also spent a few months in the United States – Microsoft Latam HQ office, before he moved on to Middle East and Africa. In Dubai, he started leading the Small and Medium Business, as well as the consumer GTM teams for two years and then took over the SMB Marketing lead role for three years. In MEA, he helped Microsoft drive consistent double-digit growth for the SMB segment, developed and executed scalable marketing engines that became worldwide best practices and has built a world class sales and marketing connection and partnership. He graduated in business administration from the University of Sao Paulo, holds an MBA in marketing and also a Master’s Degree in management from the Paris Sorbonne University.

Major achievements so far Diego re-designed the commercial marketing plan for Microsoft MEA, leading a multicultural virtual team with more than 50 people and re-aligned the marketing investments and activities towards new business. The plan and approach have been both recognized by Microsoft Worldwide as best practice and adopted by other Microsoft areas in Europe and North America. He also led Microsoft MEA to double the impact of marketing as influencing revenue and sales in the region, from 50 per cent to near 105 per cent of the target set in less than nine months.

The key marketing mantra he believes in “We are here to always provide a solution for any type of problem”.

Years in career so far 17.

Largest team size handled; 8 direct report managers + 8 indirect reports/dotted Line.

If you were to change one marketing mistake you might have made in your career so far, what would that be? When working in the FMCG in my early careers stages, I didn’t give my full commitment and energy to the company at the time, and missed a brilliant opportunity to acquire deeper knowledge of such an amazing industry and business.

George Baaklini, Marketing Director, American Express Saudi Arabia, 37

After finishing the Bachelor business administration degree in Lebanon in 2003 (Holy Spirit University), George received in 2005 his Masters Degree in Marketing from the “Universite de liege” – the Belgium affiliate of the French renowned business School (HEC). He started his career in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where he assumed the role of assistant marketing manager at a General Motors dealer. Adding a “D” to his career, George moved from the cars business into the cards business, and in January 2008 George joined American Express Saudi Arabia and climbed the ladder to reach his current position of marketing director, handling product management, brand strategy and communication.

Major achievements so far 

Move to Sharia, done in 2016. The challenge: Move all the portfolio from conventional interest-based module to Sharia fixed-fee module. Solution and results: “This was one of the biggest challenges faced so far in my career where we had to move all the portfolio to the Sharia fixed-fee module,” he says. With this major shift in product offering also came the risk of losing the cardmember, but through comprehensive planning, insightful customer communication and strong retention program, the customer attrition and negative publicity was kept to practically zero.

The blue card – From 1 per cent cashback to membership rewards program in 2015

The Challenge: The blue card value proposition of 1 per cent cash back became costly and uncompetitive with other issuers having stronger cash back proposition in market, which was drastically affecting the cardmember engagement. Solution: Move the full portfolio from the 1 per cent cashback to the membership rewards program. By doing so we created a benefit differentiator for this product in the market, adding more value to both existing and potential cardmembers. The campaign was very -successful with very few attritions (seven cases in total) out of the full blue base, engagement increased by around 35 per cent within the target base.

The key marketing mantra he believes in “It is not what you say, it is how you say it”.

Years in career so far 12.

Largest team size handled 5.

If you were to change one marketing mistake you might have made in your career so far what would it be?

Life is a learning curve, I learn everyday something new… mistakes happen I learn from them and keep going.

Kerim Ozbakirci, Senior Marketing director, adidas MENA, 38

Kerim started at the MSN division of Microsoft in Australia as a software engineer back in 2000, but shortly after moved into product marketing. He has led the initiatives around the acquisition and growth of some of the world-renowned brands, such as MSN, XBOX, Internet explorer across APAC, CEE and MEA. More recently he took on leading the brand and product team for adidas in MENA. “I pride myself on being a consumer-obsessed marketeer who also doesn’t lose sight on commercial outcomes,” he says.

Major achievements so far “During my time we have doubled the market share, revenue and profitability of Xbox (can’t disclose country numbers),” he adds.

– Built the consumer marketing engine in MENA and launched some of the biggest consumer campaigns in the region that was awarded as worldwide best practices.

– Has won a numerous internal and industry awards in Australia, Turkey and Dubai for planning and executing world-class campaigns. One of my campaigns was featured in Forbes.

The key marketing mantra he believes in We have to be bold on letting go of practices that might have worked brilliantly, but are totally irrelevant for the new generation.

Years in career so far: 17.

Largest team size handled 65.

If you were to change one marketing mistake you might have made in your career so far, what would that be? Traditionally we used to assign too many KPIs and expect multiple objectives as an outcome for a campaign. As I gained experience in my career, I became more conscious of prioritizing our outcomes in the order of customer and business value.

Claudia Schmidt, Head of Brand & Digital Marketing, Virgin Mobile UAE, 35

Claudia has over 10 years’ experience in brand and marketing communications across consumer, business, regional and local area marketing.

Major achievements so far Magme – Vancouver, Canada: Achieved a 15 per cent product uptake within the key target audience in the first quarter, exceeding the initial targets; Virgin Mobile – Dubai, UAE: Launched the first ever digital app based mobile service in the UAE.

Years in career 12.

The key marketing mantra she believes in Marketing is no longer about saying stuff, it is now all about doing stuff.

Largest team size handled 7.

If you were to change one marketing mistake you might have made in your career so far, what would that be? The key learning for me is to listen to the voice of the customer and identify the customers’ challenges quickly.

Housam M. Joumaa, Head of Digital Marketing and Customer Loyalty Programme at Alhokair Fashion Retail, KSA

Housam has more than 12 years of intensive experience in Saudi Arabia through leading and launching major retail chains. He led B2B negotiations and business exhibitions in Lebanon, KSA, Qatar, China, Indonesia, Turkey, Spain, France, Holland and the UK. He led key initiatives and formulated strategies to meet changing customer needs and expectations, resulting into a high level of customer satisfaction with an increase in market share, sales volume and added bottom-lines.

Major achievements so far  “As the head of digital marketing and customer loyalty programme at Alhokair Fashion Retail , I’ve been directly involved in the bellow matrices,” he says. He drove the development and implementation of Alhokair Loyalty Programme that includes more than 75 international brands. As the director, brand development and merchandising, at RPM sports marketing, he successfully led negotiations with the Paris Saint German Football Club and with the merchandise licensee of FC Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

The key marketing mantra he believes in ‘ONE’ Customer endorsement is 100 times more effective than a sales or marketing pitch.

Years in career so far 15.

Largest team size handled 17.

If you were to change one marketing mistake you might have made in your career so far, what would that be? To me it was always about business priorities, but how many times we align our business priority with our customer’s priority? Organizations define its priorities and employees are expected to drive organizations’ priority. Slowly this approach becomes the way of doing business and we all start forcing our priorities on customers and that was one of the biggest mistakes that anyone could do.

Ibrahim S. Al-Bawaliz, Digital marketing Manager, Jawwy STC, KSA

Ibrahim is a digital marketing consultant and trainer, with eight years of experience in digital media, four of them with the top telecom companies in KSA. (Mobily, STC).

Digital marketing expert with comprehensive digital marketing capabilities from e-commerce, media planning, digital performance, social media advertising, Google Adwords, PPC, SEO, SEM, to other online trends.

Major achievements so far In April 2015 Mobily wanted to leverage FIFA World Cup passion among Saudi youth to strengthen brand preference. He was managing the Mobily world cup campaign using very advance and complicated targeting techniques.

The results: The campaign generated 24 million views and over 113 years of watch time. “Mobily became the global leader among telcos in YouTube subscriber base,” he says. Launched and managed the digital marketing department for the first digital telecom company in MENA, Jawwy from STC.

The key marketing mantra he believes in Don’t trust a digital marketer who didn’t experience managing the campaigns with his own hands. Digital marketing spend in MENA will exceed traditional in the coming years, start now and become a leader instead of a follower.

Years in career so far 8.

Largest team size handled 6.

If you were to change one marketing mistake you might have made in your career so far, what would that be? We live in a very dynamic and competitive world and when it comes to online marketing, it is even faster and harder. I regret that I didn’t start learning and working in online marketing while I was studying, as the earlier you begin the better results you will get. I advise all students to start now and become the winners in the real life, and remember that experience is not about the quantity, but the quality, so make sure to be very selective in learning and implementation.


CLICK HERE: to see the 31 to 40 of the 40-under-40 marketers 2017