Regional Director MENA at Meta
Fares Akkad is the new Regional Director of the MENA region at Meta. In this role, he designs and leads the commercial growth of the company and its portfolio of apps, services, and businesses across the region.
Akkad was most recently the Director of Media Partnerships for News in Growth Markets at Meta, supporting journalists and publishers in embedding a sustainable business model in the digital age.
Prior to Meta, he led digital business development and distribution for MBC Group, which he joined after over a decade in management consulting in both the region and the United States.
Entrepreneurship remains a passion for Akkad, who started, funded, and exited several startups in MENA and the US. He remains an active advisor and investor in the startup scene.
How would you define leadership today?
Leadership for me is about being a catalyst that drives a business forward, but also about fostering an environment that affords people every opportunity to create, succeed and grow.
Leading from behind – enable team, give space.
What’s the most important decision you have taken as a leader?
Moving back to the Middle East and North Africa region from the US. I was quite settled in the US but always felt I could have more impact on people and create a difference with my work in the region that I am so firmly rooted in.
What’s the one decision you wish you hadn’t made as a leader?
Early on in my career, my approach was to manage people like I like to be managed. As the teams got larger and the world more complex, I realized that the spectrum was not enough; that what was needed was a realignment of my leadership approach/style, especially with the onset of a global role.
In your opinion, who’s the most powerful leader globally today?
It depends on how you define powerful. In terms of people’s support and track record, you have Mohamed Bin Zayed, because he has the resources but also the track record, longevity, and people’s trust and support in the region. For impact on critical issues, you have people like Bill and Melinda Gates.
Who’s your role model?
My father, because he managed to ground me with the right principles, without necessarily giving me the answers but empowering me to find them myself. It gave me the opportunity to grow in a global setting, without forgetting my roots. It instilled in me a work ethic and grit that allow me to face any challenges.
What’s the most important quality that every leader should possess?
What’s the one mistake that leaders most commonly make?
They think it’s more about them than the greater good.
What’s the most critical threat that every leader in our industry should pay attention to today?
Change – if you’re not prepared for change, you become irrelevant.
What’s the most important risk you took?
I started my own company – it was important to understand the business from the ground up, every aspect of it. It paid off in the end – one of the most enriching experiences of my career to date.
When it’s your business, your money, it’s different; you have to understand the ins and outs of it.
What resources would you recommend to someone looking to become a better leader?
Getting a professional coach that can help them with introspection and understanding themselves and their decision-making algorithm.
What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow as a leader?
I stay curious, always learn, and continue to put myself in challenging situations. This new role of a regional director for MENA is a prime example of that, as it challenges me to go out of my comfort zone.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve ever received?
When things are going well, stay cool. When things are not going well, stay cool.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve ever given?
People overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in ten.
You can see the full ranking and methodology here.