“As we wave goodbye to 2018, we look back at a year full of significant milestones that could not have been achieved without the trust of our success partners and loyal readers who believe in us and the value we bring. 

From all of us at Brandberries, we wish you all a happy New Years. 
Heading into 2019, here comes the timing of our annual tradition, we are excited to celebrate the new year with our list for Women To Watch In 2019 under the theme of ‘Rule Breakers’, without using pink. Here’s to the rule breakers, the rebels and the transformers”.

Hamza Sarawy, Editor in Chief

1- Aakriti Goel: Strategic Planning Director – Middle East & Africa, Cheil

Brand Strategist, Digital Marketer, Social Media Expert, Entrepreneur; Aakriti’s business cards are as diverse as the many countries she calls home.

Her journey in the industry began with a focus on establishing digital capabilities and defining social strategies for renowned FMCG, Telco, Finance, Retail, Automotive, Beauty, and QSR clients, back when a ‘tweet’ was just a sound birds made.

Aakriti Goel: Strategic Planning Director – Middle East & Africa, Cheil.

She then progressed to leading regional strategies for Nestle, Unilever, Mastercard, Arla Foods, Subway, and Sony Mobile, with FP7/DXB (part of McCann Worldgroup); awarded ‘Most Effective Agency’ worldwide, by the Global Effectiveness Index.

Currently she heads the strategy for Cheil MEA overseeing several exciting technology and digital brands – spearheading the strategy for the agency and its brands.

She has been recognized as an ’30 under 30′ advertiser to be watched by Campaign Magazine. In 2017, she joined the IAA (International Advertising Association), UAE Chapter, as a Shadow Board Member. 

2-Aicha Mansour: Creative Director, robusta

Aicha’s passion for all things design and free-spirited mind has led her across different paths from Yemen to Tunisia to Germany and finally to Egypt getting exposed to all the diverse cultures and their different creative edges. She worked and exhibited regionally and internationally with renowned names in design industry such as IDEO, Munich and ORGATEC, Cologne, which helped in shaping her design perspective and had her gain a mature sense of professionalism. In 2015 she joined robusta as Art Director, with 7 years of experience in the different design fields, where she started implementing new design concepts and practices leading the team to venture in new exciting technologies such as VR/AR.

Aisha Mansour, Creative Director, robusta.

In 2018, she led robusta’s team, as creative director, into their biggest venture yet, E-Commerce Summit, Egypt’s 1st event of its kind, presenting a unique take on the consumer, what the different brands should do to cope with digital, technology, payments and last mile delivery and much more. Aicha led the ideation and execution of the event from the very concept perfecting the finest details in branding, production, marketing and execution contributing to its amazing success. E-Commerce Summit attracted 3,000+ attendees from different industries and sectors in attendance of H.E. Amr Talaat, Minister of Communications and Information Technology. The event held 21 talks and 13 different panel discussions hosted by more than 80 speakers, who are all CEOs and senior managers in their respective companies sharing their expertise in more than 15 different industries, in the presence of over 1,500 international retailers and market leaders.

3- Asma Shabab: Marketing & Communications Leader, Watson Internet of Things, IBM Middle East, Africa & Turkey. 

Asma’s passion for communications stems from her belief that this is the most powerful industry in the world with its ability to influence the human narrative. For over a decade, she has crafted successful campaigns for a variety of subjects including products, brands, companies, countries and even politicians. Currently, she is the Head of Marketing for Watson Internet of Things at IBM Middle East, Africa and Turkey where she explores how technology is impacting the way we live and work. 

Asma Shabab: Marketing & Communications Leader, Watson Internet of Things, IBM Middle East, Africa & Turkey.

A thought leader, Asma speaks on the topics of artificial intelligence, internet of things and the impact of technology on communications and customer experience. She has won numerous awards including the highly sought after ‘ Inspirational Leader in the Field of Customer Experience Award ‘ from the Women in Marketing in UK in 2018.

Asma is a Fulbright Scholar and received her Master’s in Strategic Public Relations from the University of Southern California, USA. She has another Master’s in Business Administration from the Institute of Business Administration (IBA). Asma sits on the board of the CMO Council ME and the College of Media and Mass Communications at the American University in the Emirates. 

4- Dana Al-Kutoubi: Head of Strategic Planning, J. Walter Thompson Saudi Arabia

An LSE Masters graduate in social psychology, Dana chose to put her knowledge to use in the communication field. With roles in both account management and planning, Dana has been with JWT for 13 years.

Dana Al-Kutoubi:Head of Strategic Planning, J. Walter Thompson Saudi Arabia.

Her experience covers a wide range of categories, including within the banking, FMCG, luxury, retail and telecommunication sectors, leading and managing different projects across the MENA region with a specific focus on Saudi. 

In 2008, Dana extended her KSA consumer expertise by relocating to Jeddah to lead businesses telecom, technology & FMCG categories. Dana moved into planning in 2010, and relocated to the Riyadh office, where she could leverage her natural curiosity about consumers, and Saudi in particular. Within a challenging market, she has helped J. Walter Thompson Saudi Arabia establish itself as the most effective agency in the Kingdom.

5- Donya Abdulhadi, Regional Head of Strategy and Planning, Weber Shandwick Dubai

Donya Abdulhadi is the regional head of strategy and planning at Weber Shandwick Dubai, where she is responsible for integrated strategic planning activity for international clients across the region. She also oversees the development of the strategy function in Dubai and Abu Dhabi,ensuring the optimisation of strategy methodologies across all practices.

Donya Abdulhadi, Regional Head of Strategy and Planning, Weber Shandwick, Dubai.

Highly skilled in client servicing, strategy and navigating complex environments and projects, Donya has spent the last 12 years building an interdisciplinary communications career and designing internal and external brand communication strategies across a rich portfolio of local and international clients. Sectors include arts and culture, education, luxury, technology, aviation, healthcare, energy, financial services and government, with highlights such as taking part in crisis communication team for the J.P. Getty Museum in Italy, and being the lead strategist for Damas, successfully transforming it into a global jewelry brand from the region. Most recently, she became the first professional to open a Strategic Planning department in Libya and was appointed by the United Nations as a Strategic Communications Consultant to the former Prime Minister of Libya. She was the first and youngest female to hold this position and was subsequently named a Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum.

During her tenure at the United Nations, she spearheaded the launch of a digital Rumor Control Initiative to help quell conflict and fatality in the country. Donya spent the first part of her career in journalism and market research in Canada and Egypt. She earned her degree from McMaster University in Canada and is currently a candidate for Stanford University’s professional certificate in innovation and entrepreneurship.

6- Farah Moumneh – Head of Strategy & Analytics, OMD UAE

As Head of Strategy & Analytics, Farah ensures that OMD’s product and talent deliver on the agency’s promise of being strategic, performance-led and innovative partners. She also ensures the consistency in OMD’s output, leveraging data and insights to devise powerful strategies, all of which ultimately helps our clients to excel.

Farah Moumneh – Head of Strategy & Analytics, OMD UAE

Farah started her career as a planning executive and grew over the course of 9 years to become a Business Unit Director. Throughout her tenure, she has worked across multiple businesses and sectors, leading fully integrated teams and pioneering performance based remuneration models with her clients. Her hard work, dedication and strategic thinking have been recognized with several accolades across the years, including for Sustained Performance in 2009, Business Excellence in 2014, OMDer of the Year in 2015 and Internal Partnership in 2016. Her passion for building brands and producing innovative solutions have culminated in her successful growth within the agency, including her appointment as Head of Strategy and Analytics in 2016.

7Krinio Christaras: Head of Media MENAP, Mondelez International

Krinio is Head of Media MENAP at MDLZ International with over 20yrs experience in the media industry in Australia and Middle East, coupled with a demonstrated history of working in the FMCG industry.

Krinio Christaras: Head of Media MENAP, Mondelez International.

Strong marketing professional with a Business Advertising degree focused on consumer behavior, strategy and concept development.

Krinio is skilled in marketing management, digital strategy, integrated media planning. 

Krinio has also been on judging panels for Effies, Warc Awards, Festival of Media and Crystal Awards. Also a certified life coach.

8-Maïa Maatalani Fayad: Head of Group Marketing Communication, Byblos Bank

Maïa Maatalani Fayad has over 20 years of experience in the marketing and communication fields. During that time, she has held a number of key positions in high profile agencies and companies such as: Account Director and Country Ambassador for Lebanon at DDB Worldwide Communications Group; Marketing Manager at Lebanese luxury retail giant Aïshti, handling communication for the group and monobrands including Cartier, Dior, Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana, Ermenegildo Zegna, Gucci, Chloe, Roberto Cavalli, Celine among others. Her role contributed to the positioning of Aïshti as one of the leading luxury retail chain store in Lebanon and the region. 

Maïa Maatalani Fayad: Head of Group Marketing Communication, Byblos Bank.

In 2007 she joined Byblos Bank, Lebanon’s third largest bank, as Head of Marketing Communication for the group. During her tenure, many of Byblos Bank’s campaigns reaped international awards including: 7 Midas Awards in New York in 2018 – A first for a Lebanese Bank -; an Effie MENA Award for The Makers Account campaign in 2016. Byblos Bank was also named Middle East and Africa’s third most effective financial services brand and marketer in the 2018 Global Effie Effectiveness Index. That same year, Maïa was selected as one of the members in the judging panel at the MENA Effie Awards in Dubai. 

Maïa graduated from the Lebanese American University (LAU) with a degree in Communication. She is a marketer by heart fueled by passion for what she does, but she also strongly believes in a healthy balance between work, her personal life and her volunteering work. Indeed, she has been a committee member of Heartbeat NGO, which treats children suffering from heart disease, for the past 12 years. 

Maia believes that every day is a new challenge and a new opportunity to grow and press forward to success. As Socrates said, “employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings to that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for.”

9-Molly Peck: Chief Marketing Officer, General Motors Africa & Middle East

Molly Peck was named Chief Marketing Officer for General Motors (GM) Africa & Middle East in April 2017. In this role, Peck leads the marketing and customer experience strategies for the Chevrolet and GMC brands across the region. She is responsible for departments handling brand communications, advertising, digital marketing, retail experience and customer engagement. 

Molly Peck – GM

Peck has over 20 years of experience with GM and was recognized in 2012 as one of Advertising Age’s “Women to Watch.” She also has won two EFFIE awards, including the coveted Gold EFFIE, for the Cadillac ATS launch campaign in 2012.

Throughout her journey at GM, she filled a variety of roles including Director of Marketing for Buick North America, Director of Advertising for Chevrolet, Director of Advertising and Sales Promotion for Cadillac and Chevrolet’s National Advertising and Sales Promotion Manager.

Peck has a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Indiana University Bloomington and a master of business administration from the University of Michigan. She is married, has two daughters and enjoys running in her spare time.

10- Nada Zagallai: Director of Marketing Middle East and Africa, Uber

Nada is the Director of Marketing for the Middle East & Africa at Uber, working across markets to develop the company’s brand strategy and contributing to the continued growth of the business. Her work spans across research, acquisition and retention efforts, focusing on designing customer-centric campaigns and initiatives aimed at building a meaningful experience with the data-driven brand.  

Nada Zagallai: Director of Marketing Middle East and Africa, Uber.

Previously, she held the role of CEO at www.glambox.me, a subscription commerce startup venture that was awarded Forbes’ 25 “Most Promising UAE-Based Start-ups” twice during her tenure. With a Master’s degree in media management and a stint in luxury retail, Nada joined the tech/start-up space in 2009 and spent 7 years understanding the digital business landscape in the region.

Her grassroots experience as an entrepreneur meant doing everything from packing and moving boxes to fundraising and building technical capabilities, a journey which she often describes as her “real life MBA” that shaped her success in the industry.

Her vast experience has qualified her as an expert in strategic planning, investment & growth, digital marketing & business development across various verticals in the technology sector. 

11-Najla Aleisa: Branding & Marcom Department Manager – Marketing Division, Zain Kuwait

Najla Aleisa is a Marketing and Corporate Communications professional with over 16 years of experience in leading organizations in Kuwait, skilled in blending strategic insight and sharp planning skills to manage business operations and meet objectives. She is currently associated with Zain Kuwait as a Branding and Marketing Communication Department Manager, responsible for the overall direction, coordination and execution of all marketing communications programs.

Najla Aleisa: Branding & Marcom Department Manager – Marketing Division, Zain Kuwait.

She also has 10 years of experience in the Banking and Finance industry, having led the Marketing Communications Department at Gulf Bank, Kuwait’s second largest and fastest growing commercial bank in Kuwait.

Najla has a BA Degree in Journalism and Mass Communications with a specialization in Integrated Marketing Communications and a minor in Psychology from the American University in Cairo. Outside office, she is a mother to three children and an experienced equestrian. 

12-Nermeen Bedeir: Chief Client Officer, Kantar Insights, North Africa

It was pure coincidence that resulted in Nermeen’s long career in Research, “the AUC employment Fair, I was standing at the right place and the right time in front of a booth of a company called Merac that was to open its doors in Egypt as the first Market Research agency”! Long years after, in February of 2018, Nermeen was appointed as the Chief Client Officer of Kantar Insights, the world’s leading research, data and insights brand and what a dynamic and fantastic career it has been and continues to be! “I literally can’t think of a single Global or Local brand that I haven’t worked on at some point, contributing one way or another to the growth of that brand. After all, that is the one thing clients really want from us”!

Nermeen Bedeir: Chief Client Officer, Kantar Insights, North Africa.

The development and growth of key client relationships, is the core of Nermeen’s role and everything about Kantar is committed to that one important objective! The role of CCO at Kantar was created in 2017 in recognition of the strengths and the passion that some people across the business have for building meaningful relationships with clients as people. All our technology, the agility of our diverse portfolio of tools and solutions and importantly the experts that exist in the business, all that is geared to serve that one purpose. That, with a lot of ambition and all the discipline it needs to convert our experimental learning, into insights, then into actions for the clients we work with. “When I am asked why I do what I do, I really think it is because I meet new people every day and I believe that we do impact them as people and therefore as companies and as brands through this discipline and ambition”.  

Before February 2018, Nermeen was the Managing Director of TNS Egypt. Now that Nermeen gets to work, still across the TNS brand, but also across the Millward Brown brand, she’s built expertise across innovation, strategic communication, shopper activation, customer experience, advertising effectiveness, media and brand equity research.

Nermeen is also part of Kantar’s “Empowering Growth for Women” initiative. One of Nermeen’s other passions is to drive the Inclusion and Diversity agenda, to create fairness and equality in developing ALL talent regardless of gender and to build skills and explore tools that can help women be more influential and effective. “I am thrilled that the organization I am part of fosters that D&I culture and and I pray am able to put my years of experience, both professionally and personally to help younger women I work with and meet every day on that agenda”.

13-Nibal Dahaba: General Manager Sanofi Pasteur Egypt, Sudan & Eritrea

Over 118 years of solid experience in Marketing , Governmental Relations, Business development, market access ,managing teams, commercial negotiation, Business excellence, Key country metrics follow up, Corporate Communication, PR, regulatory affairs &policy.

The exciting challenge of dealing with ambiguity and complexity of a constantly changing environment in emerging markets especially the key markets Egypt, Gulf, Saudi & Levant were always her domain

Nibal Dahaba: General Manager Sanofi Pasteur Egypt, Sudan & Eritrea.

 Coming from a continued multinational back ground Nibal was holding her most recent position as Corporate & Public Affairs Director Middle East, Africa & Pakistan in AbbVie   Pharmaceuticals where she was responsible for setting the strategy and vision for dealing with all public markets and governments within the scope of more than 30 top revenue generating countries. 

Prior to that she was heading the governmental & communications department for Merck sharp and dome Egypt affiliate.

She is the winner of a number of global awards like the  emerging market award for diabetes control across the ME region , global  IP award for IP protection and fighting infringement project in Egypt & Saudi   , Middle East & Africa breakthrough award for increasing the vaccination coverage thus allowing more kids protection across the region , and finally the best marketing campaign award which is one of the most prestigious marketing awards for the Hepatitis C campaign in Egypt which led to having Virus C eradication as a top governmental priority in Egypt.

In addition to her curricular activities Nibal have always been passionate about the public domain and she started serving that passion since 20 years ago , recently   she was the Executive board consultant for  Zewail City a top R&D institute inaugurated by the Nobel prize winner Dr Ahmed Zewail  , in addition She is a permanent member and founder for a large number of eminent NGOs and councils that works basically on elevating the standard of living for the unprivileged population covering multi scopes as health , education , unemployment and many others. 57357 , national youth council , national women council , national human rights council , US embassy in Cairo exchange alumni NGO are a few examples.

Nibal is a Cairo university faculty of pharmacy graduate and holds her post graduate diploma from George Washington University in DC.

14- Preeti Mundhra, Head of Marketing & Partnerships, Liv

Preeti Mundhra is passionate about all things marketing and brand-related, with over 14 years of experience in creating winning brands, spearheading digital marketing strategies, and crafting rewarding customer experiences.

Preeti Mundhra, Head of Marketing & Partnerships, Liv.

One of her most exciting accomplishments to date is helping build and launch Liv., the UAE’s first digital lifestyle banking proposition. Launched by Emirates NBD in early 2017, Liv.offers a differentiated digital experience for a new generation of customers, empowering them in their daily lives, learning and adapting to their individual preferences, and providing a mobile-based banking platform that is intuitive and simple to use. The brand has scooped up several prestigious awards in its first year, including the Asian Banker Award for Best Digital BankDubai Lynx Gold for Innovationand more. 

In her role as Head of Marketing & Partnerships at Liv., Mundhra helped deliver a spectacular first year of launch, with Liv. beating acquisition targets by almost 5X. This successfully showcased that banks can acquire customers digitally, at a fraction of the conventional costs of sales.  It is no surprise, then, that Liv. was named the Most Disruptive Digital Brandin the region by MIT Sloan Review and Khaleej Times. 

In addition to her work with Liv., Mundhra has been the driving force behind several of Emirates NBD’s successful propositions for high net worth customers in Priority and Private Banking as well as Business Banking. She is deeply passionate about customer experience and helmed several initiatives such as Moments of Wow, proactive servicing, and incentive management to drive up customer satisfaction scores to highest ever levels. She has also led award-winning campaigns such as ‘Hey Future Me’ and ‘When You Are Not Around’ to drive the insurance and wealth management services. In addition, Mundhra helped develop Emirates NBD’s award-winning Emirates RISE platform for Business Banking, which connects and inspires entrepreneurs through thought leadership as well as networking opportunities with the Emirates NBD Global Business Series for SME owners, Emirates NBD Classics, a series of elite classical music concerts with renowned global artists round the year and many others. 

Prior to joining Emirates NBD, Mundhra worked at ITC Ltd, India as Assistant Brand Manager for Sunfeast Biscuits in the Foods Division. She holds a MBA (Marketing) from the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade in Delhi, as well as a bachelor’s degree in Economics from St. Xavier’s College in Kolkata, India. 

15Racha Makarem, CEO, Starcom MENA

In her role as Data Science Practice lead at Publicis Media, Racha’s role was to lead and develop the group’s data, tech & measurement capabilities in the MENA region. She is passionate about building brands and strongly believes in the power and role data plays in transforming businesses, driving brand relevance & inspiring creativity. She currently leads on data strategy for McDonald’s, and works closely with the client leads on creating and delivering a data framework & roadmap, that is customer centric and results oriented. 

Racha Makarem, CEO, STARCOM MENA.

Throughout her career Racha has worked closely with industry bodies to enhance & set measurement guidelines and principles. She is currently a board member at IAB MENA, and was a technical consultant with JIC for audience measurement in the region. 

Previously to leading Data Science, Racha was managing the Insights & Analytics practice for the group, working on building capabilities & products that puts insights, measurement & ROI are the heart of driving growth for client’s business. Her 15 yrs of experience in media spans various sectors including travel, telecommunication, luxury goods, automotive and FMCGs, and comprises a plethora of collaborations with the industry’s key players to innovate & adopt tech led solutions. 

Racha has been recently appointed as the MENA CEO for Starcom. In her role, Racha will be driving the marketing & business transformation for clients, working together with the talent at Starcom to deliver against the increasing demand for data and an actionable people-based ecosystem.

Racha holds a BA in Economics with a Minor in Liberal Arts from the Lebanese American University (LAU) in Beirut.

16-Remie Abdo: Head of Strategic Planning, TBWA\RAAD

Remie crafted her first marketing strategies in Paris for Orange Telecom, BNP Paribas, and French Football Federation. After her Parisian adventure, she moved to Dubai and entered the agency world where she created brands, differentiated them, located them in culture, and drove their business.

Remie Abdo: Head of Strategic Planning, TBWA\RAAD.

A firm believer that advertising is about creating a better future, and an advocate of Disruption®, her work always positioned clients for success, helped the agency attract new business, and allowed her to collect a series of awards before moving to the judging side of things.

Her approach to strategic planning is different. Apart from the disruptive work she produces, she implements an unprecedented teamwork approach, and follows an unconventional recruitment process.

Remie holds a Masters degree in Marketing Strategy from the reputable Sorbonne University in Paris.

17-Sara Abu Zahra, Head of Strategic Media Partnerships for Entertainment in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, Facebook

Sara Abu Zahra is the Head of Strategic Media Partnerships for Entertainment in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey at Facebook. 

She oversees the strategic partnerships team and coordinates with media companies— wherein she works closely with several digital natives, content creators, celebrities and social media influencers, such as Khalid Al Ameri and Huda Kattan to name a few. 

Sara Abu Zahra, Head of Strategic Media Partnerships for Entertainment in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, Facebook.

During her time as Head of Strategic Media Partnerships for Entertainment at Facebook, she has led the delivery of a number of large-scale projects.

She has also guided the organization by working closely with media partners to help them grow and discover new and engaging ways to tell stories on Facebook and Instagram. Sara has been influential in the implementation of ultimately enhancing user experiences on Facebook.  

Prior to joining Facebook, she served as Head of Branded Content at Choueiri Group. Through this role, she worked on various international brands, including, Arab Idol, The Voice, The Voice Kids, Arabs Got Talent, Project Runway and Top Chef. 

Before joining Choueiri Group, Sara was a freelancer where she produced a short film, “Abu Rami”, which won several awards in different film festivals across the globe and was additionally screened at the Cannes Film Festival. Additionally, Sara has also directed few TVCs in the region, which were shortlisted at Cannes Lions.

Sara completed her undergraduate studies at the American University of Beirut and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration: Marketing and Advertising. 

18- Stacy Fisher: Head of Digital Transformation, Hearts & Science MENA

Stacy Fisher is the Head of Digital Transformation for Hearts & Science MENA. Over the past 13 years, she has worked across a range of sectors including retail, entertainment, FMCG and more. Her career has spanned various disciplines across Chicago, New York and Dubai, giving Stacy a unique insight into how to drive business results for clients. Having worked in a more advanced market like the US has enabled her to help clients in this region adopt digital at a faster pace.  

Stacy Fisher: Head of Digital Transformation, Hearts & Science MENA

She is passionate about brands adopting innovation through new technologies and wants to inspire marketers to focus on people and their habits, not media channels and their audience.

Due to Stacy’s past experience with CRM, people-based marketing and e-commerce as well as her love for digital transformation, she sees a real opportunity to use the data brands have access to. As an agency with digital and data at the heart of everything we do, she loves helping these brands embrace their engaged audiences to create tailored and personalized experiences.