In a global social media industry, Snap Inc's MENA general manager, Hussein Freijeh is helping the Middle East stand out
Is there a moonshot idea that you are currently intrigued by and are pursuing?
Moonshots aren’t just about landing on Mars. For us it’s more personal. We’re reinventing the camera, but our mission is to contribute to human progress by empowering people to express themselves in the moment, learn about the world and have fun together. We continue to out-innovate the market, particularly in augmented reality. It helps that Snap is a young company and is used to a fast pace of change.
How are you pursuing diversity in your organisation?
We have a lot more to do to, but are absolutely committed to nurturing inclusion. We’ve always employed a team of up to six people to focus solely on diversity, and recently introduced mandatory unconscious bias training for all staff. After our first women in leadership summit in June, we are now starting a female leadership programme.
What makes Snapchat’s appeal unique among all the other social platforms?
When Snapchat launched in 2011, young people were spending a lot of energy curating a perfect social media image. Our first core innovation, ephemeral photos, was designed to combat this. Snapchat is free public ‘vanity’ metrics, like comments, likes or shares found on many platforms.
This is deliberate. We’re bringing back what makes communication great: spontaneity, emotion, honesty. Snapchat is about having genuine conversations every day with people you care about the most. That may be one person or 20, but it’s authentic, and full of creativity and expression.
How do you encourage creativity?
Creativity is one of Snap’s key hiring criterion. We recently began a quarterly programme called ‘Demo Day’, where new products and processes are voted on. Top vote-getters present their ideas to Snap leaders and win resources to build and develop their ideas.
What’s the single biggest challenge facing your industry today?
MENA is amongst the fastest growing digital markets globally. Naturally, that growth leads to a number of challenges. Top level, providing marketers with more tools to measure return on their spend, enhancing creation capabilities, and driving more automation are key drivers to maintain industry growth. If I would choose one, despite a lot of progress over the past few years, there is still a lot of work to be done across the industry in terms of measurement.
Do you value education or experience? The biggest determinant of a person’s progression is themselves. You can have the best education and most coveted experiences, but if you don’t know what to do with them, you’re in the same position as someone with neither.
What’s the biggest decision you’ve had to make at your company?
Accelerating automation on our platform when buying advertising. While disruptive, it added a lot of value to our partners and made doing business with Snap easier. Now, MENA is among our top three global growth regions after just 18 months of operation.