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Sun 18 Aug 2019 02:16 PM

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The talent hunter: Ali Matar, head of LinkedIn MENA and EMEA Emerging Markets

Few people understand the shifting job market scene as well as Ali Matar, head of LinkedIn MENA and EMEA Emerging Markets

The talent hunter: Ali Matar, head of LinkedIn MENA and EMEA Emerging Markets
Ali Matar, head of LinkedIn MENA and EMEA Emerging Markets.

What’s LinkedIn MENA’s story?

We launched the office in October 2012 with four employees. Today, our team consists of more than 90 people and our MENA member base has expanded to 31 million. We have high engagement levels and see shifts in using LinkedIn to develop new business and entrepreneurial initiatives. We are also witnessing exponential growth in opportunities for employment and start-ups, leading to economic empowerment of the large youth demographic in the region.

What’s the biggest challenge facing your industry in the region today?

There are two equally important challenges: access to top talent and learning how to seize the opportunities of the Artificial Intelligence era.

What do you enjoy the most about working at your company?

The fact that our vision can quantified and measured. Our insights allow us to assess it by understanding for example the number of hires we impacted and influenced.

Where do great ideas come from in your organisation?

There is no cookie-cutter approach for brainstorming ideas; we are quite nimble: we are a flat organisation and ideas fly around in all directions. There is something to be said for our inclusive culture – we still have a bi-weekly ‘all hands’ meeting for all employees, even now that we have more than 14,000 employees globally.

When faced with two equally qualified job candidates, how do you determine whom to hire?

I think it is nearly impossible to have two people that are an exact match for the job. But if they’re close, I would refer to what the job requires and evaluate the timeframe: if we need immediate impact, I would go for the candidate with the proven track record. If the job can withstand gradual progress, I would hire on the merit of potential.

Can you name a person who has had an impact on you as a leader?

At LinkedIn, James Raybould has showed me new ways of thinking to make decisions. Fadi Ghandour, one of the Middle East’s leading businessmen, has been more of an official mentor. We had regular meetings where he would offer advice. I reach out to peers in the market and industry experts, in the hope that I continue to expose myself to perspectives I might have missed.

What would you say to a new employee about the culture of your organisation?

It is real. If you had negative experiences in the past, leave them at the door and enjoy your time at LinkedIn. You are as key to keeping this culture alive as the CEO.

What are three characteristics that you believe every leader should possess?

Fairness, excellence, compassion.

What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?

I cannot sleep more than 6 hours a day. I wake up before the alarm goes off almost every single morning!

What’s one productivity tip you wish everyone else knew?

If you can action things immediately, do it!

Quote to live your life by?

Hard work beats talent every time.

How do you manage a large company and still find time for things like family?

I cannot say I mastered this, but I’m making progress. The key here is to set expectations, deliver on promises and be present in the moment with full undivided attention.

Finish this sentence, “the world would be a better place if only….”

“Everyone understood the full extent of how our actions impact others.” 

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