Kinda Ibrahim, Director of Media Partnerships, Twitter MENA
There’s nothing more satisfying for Kinda Ibrahim than seeing her team members thrive. As Director of Media Partnerships for Twitter MENA she knows they can accomplish amazing things once they feel empowered and trusted. Plus, of course, she makes sure to provide the guidance and support she has been lucky to receive during her 11-year career in the digital world, which has included multiple roles. Staying resolute is another leadership approach that’s important for Ibrahim, who felt it was a natural progression to work in the field after obtaining a Computer Science degree.
While catching up with Ibrahim, she divulges working out, making sure she disconnects from time to time and socialising in the evenings all help her deal with the ins and outs of rapidly changing technology. The team leader, who has also worked with Microsoft and Yahoo Maktoob, also touches on the most important hurdles we need to tackle as women and strategies that can help our climb up the career ladder.
What was your dream job when you were young?
I wanted to be a part of a leading and innovative organisation that has a real impact on the world, I always saw myself assuming leadership positions in such organisations.
How did your interest in digital media blossom?
I’ve been working in the digital world for the past 11 years, and having graduated with a Computer Science degree, pursuing a career in this industry seemed like a perfect fit. Since then, I’ve held multiple digital roles that covered web programming, data analytics, project management, advertising and currently partnerships business development.
Which different kinds of challenges have you faced while working in digital media, marketing and analytics?
I wouldn’t necessarily consider it a challenge, but the industry is evolving very fast, and it’s therefore important for professionals pursuing a career in digital media to keep up with new technologies and trends in consumer behaviour to offer the best solutions for their stakeholders, whether they are users, partners or customers.
Who/what helped you along the way?
I have been lucky to have received tremendous support from managers, mentors, family and friends who made this journey possible.
When did you realise that you ‘made it’?
Well, I haven’t.. yet. At every stage of my career I have had the satisfaction of continuous learning and growth. My current role certainly provides that and also the additional feeling of making an impact.
What do you love the most about leading a team?
Mentorship and empowerment, seeing team members grow, flourish, learn new skills and apply them. Individuals feel most satisfied when they feel they are empowered and trusted to handle projects on their own, while knowing that their leader is there to support and guide them should they need it.
Name some traits women are known to have that can make them great leaders.
The following are some traits that women and men can apply in leadership:
Persistence and determination
Sense of ownership and accountability
The desire to learn and grow
What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?
I’ve learned many lessons; one of the most important ones is staying determined.
Have a clear vision of what you want to achieve, persevere and never give up. Pass this on to your team and you will have a winning one.
In general, what are the most significant barriers for women in the region who want to attain leadership positions?
The first barrier (and this is not particular to this region only) is a self-inflicted one. I think the first step for any woman who wants to attain a leadership position is the belief that she actually can. Once she overcomes this barrier the next step is for her to develop the skill set and experiences necessary for these kinds of positions.
Another barrier is organisational readiness and willingness to make that change to have more women in leadership positions, equal pay. This requires a mindset change at the top and putting in place policies and programmes to train talented women to take the leap and get promoted to leadership positions. I take great pride in working for a company like Twitter that embraces this mindset and advocates for women around the world.
The third barrier is what is referred to as unconscious bias. This can either be women biased against themselves or men biased against women. It can be overcome by more self-awareness and bringing these biases to more awareness to create more inclusive cultures at home, schools, universities and the workplace.
Which ways do millennials have it easier or harder than the generation before them?
Millennials have the advantage of having grown up at a time where access to information is almost instant, and this equips them with very important skills such as openness and being adaptive to rapid change. These are very important advantages in order to succeed today.
Can you share some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organisations?
Don’t wait for the perfect moment to take a chance. Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity otherwise it will pass you by; sometimes you really have to make the jump.
Decide on your career path and stay focused, don’t try to be and do everything at once and choose your battles carefully.
Stand up for yourself and what you believe in without aggression, and make sure you have the right support system in place.
Digital media is 24/7. How do you get through those stressful moments?
Creating a healthy balance is very important. It’s very important to learn how to disconnect and take time to relax. There will always be moments when there’s an emergency to be attended to, but outside of these situations a healthy balance is important to improve efficiency and productivity at work.
Can you talk us through your daily routine?
Once I wake up, I read the news. I tune in to Twitter to find the latest regional and international news. I aim to get my workout done early, so I can start my workday fresh. A typical day at work involves partner meetings, internal meetings with cross-functional teams, as well as calls with global teams. In the evening, I often spend time with friends watching movies and going to restaurants and cafes.
Twitter enables any voice to instantly echo around the world. What else do you love about the digital platform?
It is first and foremost the first place for people to come and find out what is happening in the world on topics that matter most to them, from breaking news and entertainment to sports, politics and everyday interests.