Brandberries’ “Women to Watch” is our annual feature spotlighting women making a mark on marketing, branding, and communications in the Middle East and Africa. The list recognizes the finest women calibers from the brand sphere in the region. The theme this year is “The Eccentrics” – reflecting on the trailblazing achievements these women have made through their brands and agencies.
- Dalia Samir: Marketing Director – Laundry and Homecare, Henkel Egypt
Dalia’s first job opportunity in Pepsico’s supply chain brought her close to the world of marketing where her passion started to grow. She then landed her first marketing job as assistant brand manager for Fayrouz in Heineken and progressed up to a category manager for non-alcoholic beverages. This experience enriched her knowledge of the beverage world until she shifted away from her comfort zone and joined Henkel seven years ago, working in detergents.
Dalia joined the local team where she assumed the role of group brand manager for Home care then Laundry. She later assumed a regional assignment in the Middle East and North Africa where she took over the role of Senior Regional Manager to Laundry Value for Money then Dish wash category.
This provided Dalia with great exposure that enabled her to launch new categories in low penetration markets, get exposed to completely new market dynamics, and work on the pipeline for our region. Two and half years later, she came back to the local team assuming her current role as Marketing Director for the Egypt Market. Returning to Egypt during these tough economic conditions proved to be a major milestone in her career and her success was enabled by a great team like Henkel Egypt. Dalia and her team were able to achieve solid double digit growth, revamp Henkel’s portfolios to match the current dynamics, and successfully overcome the impact of devaluation.
2.Dara Abdul Hadi: Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, The Brand Company
Dara is a veteran of the brand world who has spent over 15 years creating, building and developing brands. Dara’s expertise stems from years of agency experience working with clients as diverse as Unilever, Palm Hills, Orascom, Magdy Yacoub Foundation, Azza Fahmy, and El Gouna, as well as bringing many start ups to life.
After receiving her BA in Economics and Mass Communication from the American University in Cairo she explored the world of employment briefly before discovering her branding passion. After joining Cairo’s fledgling advertising scene in the early 2000s she was selected among three Egyptian women to pursue a Management & Entrepreneurship Program at Emory University followed by a stint at DDB’s Seattle office.
In 2007 Dara co-founded DNA, a Cairo-based design and advertising boutique, which in 2017 was expanded to create what is now The Brand Company, a wholistic brand consultancy. Dara and her partners have already set up an operation in London to develop business in Europe and are looking to expand further ashore in 2018.
3. Dina Aly: Managing Director & Co-founder, Matter
With a passion for advertising & building brands, Dina started her career managing one of her favorite brands, Coca-Cola. Taking on various responsibilities as a brand manger & producer, she got to work on the region’s biggest and most exciting brands across various sectors. She then took a break from her career to have her two beautiful daughters, which was an intense crash course on learning to plan, prioritize and manage one’s time.
In 2012, she decided to pursue her dream of entrepreneurship and, along with her two partners Mohamed Abbas and Majd El Sherif, embarked on the exciting journey of building one of the region’s most impactful and fast growing branding agencies with the purpose to inspire. Matter, an award-winning agency, is happy and thriving when they inspire their employees, their clients, the students they work with, the industry, the skeptics and fans of branding, or anyone they engage with. Dina is proud to have grown matter, alongside a killer team, to have a portfolio that boasts over 150 impactful brands that inspire growth across the region and the world, creating game changing brands like EGBANK, FLO, Vezeeta and Imtenan among many others. It has created solid partnerships with international, regional and local giants like Nestle, Heinz, Americana and SODIC among others.
4. Ghada Wali: Creative Director, Conceptual Designer, Visual Artist
As TED Global Speaker 2017, Ghada Wali is the youngest female speaker representing the MENA region – She believes that graphic design can change the world. The multiple-award-winning designer developed an Arabic typeface that was chosen as one of the best 100 graphic design pieces in the world by the Society of Typographic Arts in Chicago. Her work has been featured in art exhibits around the world and showcased in various articles internationally such as the World Economic Forum, Quartz Africa, Wired Japan, Slanted Berlin, and many more local and global platforms. Wali’s work most recently won the Granshan competition in Munich, as well as two Adobe Design Achievement awards in San Diego. She has been awarded the AWDA, AIAP the women in Design Award in Milan, recognizing the influential women in the field.
A communications tycoon embracing life to the fullest. A few words that describe Gita Ghaemmaghami the Head of PR and Marketing Communications Manager at Sony Mobile Communications Middle East and Africa.Ever since she landed in Dubai, the vigorous Iranian lady hasn’t rested on her laurels. She has kept her shoulder to the wheel and made the most of any opportunity that came her way.
Gita pursued her Bachelor’s degree at Sharjah University. Her first step in the marcomms industry was in a local advertising agency with a focus on FMCG clients. She then joined the international media company Memac Ogilvy and worked there until she travelled to the UK in 2005 to pursue her studies.
After completing a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Glasgow University, UK, Gita came back to Dubai and joined Grey Worldwide Advertising, a WPP company. She was also a lecturer at the University of Wollongong Dubai, teaching marketing related courses before assuming her current role at Sony Mobile.
6. Heba El Araby: Marketing Director, Concrete
Heba is a marketeer fueled by a passion to see companies succeed and flourish through correct planning and strategy execution. She has both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Marketing from the American University in Cairo. Heba has over 15 years’ experience in the marketing field moving from one industry to the other in order. From FMCG, moving to Education, Finance and finally at Fashion Retail by joining Concrete, a renowned Egyptian fashion brand.
Heba is currently the Marketing Director of Concrete and is the mastermind behind the brand strategy revamp and the “Concrete Icons” campaign. Through her work she has been able to reposition the brand from being a commodity to a modern lifestyle brand experience.
Heba believes that a positive outlook on life and its challenges is what creates opportunities to arise and gives stamina and motivation to move forward. “This perspective is what makes each day special and keeps me looking forward to the next day to come and open to what the coming adventure would be”.
7. Joanne Kubba: Director of Public Policy Middle East & Africa, Uber
Joanne is currently the Director of Public Policy for Uber, covering Middle East and Africa. Her core focus at Uber is to work with key governments and regulators to help define the right parameters for Uber to operate while showing the impact that the company can make in delivering economic opportunities and investment into the region. In her career, Joanne has focused on startups, entrepreneurship, and strategic partnerships across government and business.
Joanne joined Eureeca, a global crowd-investing platform, as the Head of Strategy and Partnerships with a core focus on helping startups be able to grow, scale, and succeed while empowering the crowd to participate in the growth process. A significant part of her career was spent at Google as Head of Public Affairs MENA where she focused on supporting the mission to grow Arabic content online through public policy, communications, and strategic partnerships.
Joanne completed her master’s degree in Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School in 2007.
8. Lamia Al Qadhi: Media Specialist, Saudi Telecom Company (STC)
A passionate marketer & a lover of visual beauty, and allegedly, a great storyteller. Lamia Al Qadhi, started her career in Brand Management at Al Safi Danone, with a great challenge, and a marketer’s dream; to introduce a new category to the business by the development of a new brand. Following a successful accomplishment, and the eagerness to expand her scope, Lamia joined the telecommunication industry as a Media specialist for the most valued brand in the region worth US$6.2 Billion, STC.
Handling marketing communication campaigns for a brand of this value is critical as campaigns on any level reflects on the overall brand image. With her passion to achieve and excel, Lamia kick-started her role in STC with a major communication campaign revamping one of the company’s major sub-brands “Sawa”, a success that established her presence at STC.
In addition to her role, Lamia is a member of a Specialist Development Program unique to STC, specializing in digital marketing, which aims to develop her as a future consultant in that field.
9. Maha Nagy: Chief Communication Officer, Orange Egypt
Maha has joined Orange as Chief Communication Officer by 1st of July 2017. She has earned her stripes in marketing with a rich 18 years experience in both FMCG and Telecom industries.
Majdoleen has deep expertise in branding in the Middle East having worked in multiple markets with an emphasis on design direction, retail experience, strategic planning and business development. Whilst she has broad experience in all sectors, she has particular aptitude when it comes to government clients.
Mariagrazia De Angelis is executive director of client services in Landor’s Dubai office, where she is responsible for driving project teams to deliver outstanding quality and build long-term, successful partnerships with clients.
Over the past 10 years at Landor Dubai, Mariagrazia has been responsible for a portfolio of local and international clients across various industries, including aviation, banking, arts and culture, fast-moving consumer goods, heavy industry, telecom, and government in the MENA region. She is highly skilled in managing complex, multidisciplinary and multi-country projects. She recently led the rebranding of the Museum of Islamic Arts in Doha and of TeliaSonera’s operations across 12 countries in Eurasia and the Nordics. Most recently, Mariagrazia drove the rebranding program for Alawwal Bank, the oldest bank in Saudi Arabia, successfully transforming it into the first choice for ambitious and digital-savvy Saudi millennials.Mariagrazia spent the first part of her career in international marketing positions in Europe. She is an honours graduate in economics from LUISS Guido Carli (Rome), and holds a marketing and communications MBA from Publitalia ’80 (Milan).
12. Meryl El Afifi: Creative Director, Momentum Egypt
Within the continuous evolution of the creative industry, Momentum Egypt (part of McCann Worldgroup and MCN), has relaunched early in 2016 to the positioning of a Total Brand Experience Agency, becoming a full solutions provider to its Clients, and expanding its scope of operation. Meryl partnered with Momentum Egypt at the time of the relaunch, as the leading Creative Director, embarking on that new challenge with full heart and soul.
This came after a long journey in the advertising industry that has extended beyond 17 years. It has started in Saatchi and Saatchi in 2001, passing through JWT Cairo – formerly Bonus Euro RSCG, Strategies – part of BBDO Network, FP7/CAI, part of McCann Worldgroup. It also included a period of going independent, where Meryl co-found the homegrown Boutique Agency 622 (2013-2015).
Across her trip, she worked on a very rich and diverse portfolio of clients including; Etisalat – The Egyptian government (Egyptian environmental affairs agency – ministry of state for the development of civilization and slums) – Orascom El Gouna – United Nations (UNDP – UNHCR) Nestle (Nescafe – Nido) Mansour group MMID (Palm Hills Developments – Crédit Agricole) – Unilever (Lux – Lipton – signal) – Cadbury (Cadbury Dairy Milk – Cadbury Biscuit) – Nile Radio Productions (Nile & Nogoom FM Radio Stations) Procter and Gambel (Ariel – Pampers) – Paints (Pachin – Jotun) – Shell – Financing Solutions (Contact Cars – Alianz Insurance) HSBC – Vodafone
Meryl now takes the lead on a pool of international and local brands within the new Momentum Egypt set up, such as Emirates NBD, Arla, Juhayna and L’Oreal. And the most exciting homegrown brand such as Orascom (El-Gouna), and Alma.
13. Nada Enan: Senior Manager Consumer Marketing & Communications, LinkedIn MENA
Nada has more than twelve years experience in managing Communications and Marketing. She has worked in dynamic markets (Stockholm, Cairo, Dubai), handled local as well as global roles, managed communications in tough times (The Arabic Spring in 2011) and exciting times (Launching new products and expanding businesses). In addition, she is a certified Leadership Communications Trainer – coaching leaders into becoming efficient communicators. All which have given her a unique and solid experience in the MarCom field.
Nadine Chahine is an award-winning Lebanese type designer working as the UK Type Director and Legibility Expert at Monotype. She has an MA in Typeface Design from the University of Reading, UK, and a PhD from Leiden University, The Netherlands. Nadine’s research focus is on eye movement and legibility studies for the Arabic, Latin, and Chinese scripts. She has numerous awards including two Awards for Excellence in Type Design from the Type Directors Club in New York in 2008 and 2011. Her typefaces include: the best-selling Frutiger Arabic, Neue Helvetica Arabic, Univers Next Arabic, Palatino and Palatino Sans Arabic, and Koufiya.Nadine’s work has been featured in the 5th edition of Megg’s History of Graphic Design and in 2012 she was selected by Fast Company as one of its 100 Most Creative People in Business. In 2016 her work was showcased in the 4th edition of First Choice which highlights the work of the 250 top global designers practising today. In 2017, Nadine was selected by Creative Review to their Creative Leaders 50 which aims to celebrate, educate and inspire those who are leading creative businesses, organisations and teams in the UK.
15. Nancy George: Account Director, Lunar Jetman
Nancy George completed with distinction both her BA in communication and MSc in strategic marketing, in the UK. After various internships in London, including at DPP and its Bafta award-winning sister agency Don’t Panic London, she returned to Egypt to pursue her career in advertising and branding.
Currently Account Director at Lunar Jetman/ljhatch – Nancy is truly excited to be part of the ever-growing and changing landscape of the branding field. Working at Lunar Jetman on local and foreign accounts has provided her with the opportunity to work on exciting projects on a global scale. Aiming to always present the partners (clients) with authentic and dynamic branding – Nancy believes that passion backed up by research & strategy should be turned into action providing impactful and valuable content. Taking pride in her work is her biggest accomplishment.”
16. Nancy Villanueva: Managing Director Middle East, Interbrand
Working with top-tier professionals throughout the region is the most satisfying and tremendous learning experience. Nancy is confident that the best-in-class work they’ve done at Interbrand are co-creating with clients in the ME is a clear reflection of the firm’s combined passion to create true life-enhancing brand experiences that elevate these brands and the businesses they represent. These past two years working in the region have been truly exhilarating, to say the least.
Nancy insists on the importance of Strategy and Design working in unison to deliver Interbrand’s mission: creating and managing brand value. Her objective with every client is to assure they benefit from inspirational and creative design that is perfectly aligned with insightful and strategic thinking. When this integrated cross-discipline process is carried through, truly successful world changing brands come to life.
She is a firm believer in successfully managing internal teams as well as client relationships so that every project the firm undertakes guarantees the high quality standards (both strategic and design) and professionalism for which Interbrand is known.
17. Noha Saad: External Communications Senior Manager, Vodafone Egypt
Noha Saad has a wealth of knowledge in Communications, with more than 20 years of experience in Corporate Communication, Corporate Responsibility, Marketing Communications and Public Relations. She has been heading the External communications department for Vodafone Egypt since 2012, her role has been mainly focusing on Crisis Management, Public Relations and Media Relations.
Noha has joined Vodafone in 2001 and worked in different roles in Marketing & Corporate communications before assuming her Role as External Communications Senior Manager. In addition Noha is one of the leading corporate responsibility practitioner in Egypt and public speaker advocating for corporate responsibility in the region, sharing best practices from Vodafone Egypt. Noha has a strong public speaking and communications skills, as she has been a public speaker at international & regional forums, and participated in the G8 Conference in the UK (Women in Arab world), CSR Summits in Dubai, PR Summit UK , Dubai and Qatar. Adding to Noha’s role in Vodafone, she is an active member in the business community in Egypt, member of the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM), member of British Egyptian Business Association (BEBA) and Board member of the National NGO fund established by decree from the Prime Minister and chaired by the Minister of Social Solidarity.
18. Samar Akrouk: Group Director of Production, MBC Group
Samar Akrouk, a Palestinian American, was raised in the Unites States in New York. She received her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service graduating with a B.S in International Affairs and Law.
Samar kicked off her career with ARA Group International- MBC’s holding company in 1995 at the Washington DC office; she later moved to join MBC Group’s US branch – ANA Radio and Television, a media company targeting Arab-Americans, as Assistant Director in 1996. During that period, Samar worked on several productions addressing the Arab-American community in which she gained exposure to the world of TV & Entertainment Production.
In 2001, Samar relocated to Beirut, Lebanon to establish the first main office for the Group in the Middle East, even prior to MBC Group’s relocation from London to Dubai. While Head of MBC Beirut Offices, the number of productions grew substantially to become the main hub for MBC’s entertainment programs and productions – the first of its kind in the region. Over the course of her 20+ years with MBC, Samar has played a pivotal role in establishing both MBC’s foundation and its exponential growth.
19.Sara Shabana: Regional Head of Brand Communications, Souq.com
Sara has more than 9 years of experience in managing communications and marketing for leading global brands with focus on strategy development, insights and research, customer experience and omni-channel experience. Her main driver is building and seeing things coming to life, especially when inspiring others along the way. Obsessed with technology and digital media, and the magic they can bring to business.
20. Sherine Moneim: Personal Care Marketing Director, Unilever Egypt & Sudan
Sherine Moneim leads the beauty and personal care category as the marketing director and is an executive board member EXCOM Unilever Egypt and Sudan.
Her marketing expertise goes back leading most of Unilever’s key Portfolio across Beverages, Foods, Home care and Personal Care. Formerly, She was the marketing director for Home Care, Foods and Beverages business leading Lipton and Knorr, two Unilever mega brands. She worked on steering the business towards profitable competitive growth in a VUCA environment.
Sherine’s contribution went beyond Egypt and Sudan, her influence went across 7 countries in the MENA region because of her focus on building passionate leaders with powerful consumer insights and digital capabilities who can win in a connected world.
21. Zeina Gazzaz: Brand Executive, The Brand Bees
Zeina is a hotelier turned marketer. After achieving her Bachelor’s Degree from the Glion Institute for Higher Education in Switzerland in Hospitality with a specialty in Events Management. She found her calling interning in the Four Seasons at the First Residence in Cairo in the Sales and Marketing Department.
A true artist at heart, Zeina never seizes to use her creative thinking in building brand strategies at The Brand Bees as a Brand Executive. She is a calm and contended professional, a natural multi-tasker. She has proved her branding capabilities working with multinational conglomerates, as well as, large prominent family businesses in diverse fields. Zeina helped create new brands for small local companies and start-ups.
22. Zhila Shariat: Head of Retail, Careem
Zhila leads Careem’s newly launched retail venture Dukkan Careem. An MBA graduate from Columbia Business School, Zhila has a background in product management and business processes, working with some of the leading tech companies, from her time in the States. She moved to the Middle East in early 2017, when she wanted to be closer to her home country Iran and do something meaningful for the region. Zhila has a love for culturally-inspired fashion and an eye for design.