General Manager MENA at Snap Inc.
In his current role as General Manager of Snap Inc. for the Middle East and North Africa, Hussein Freijeh is in charge of developing and implementing effective strategies to drive Snap Inc.’s business activities and plans in the region.
Freijeh previously was the Managing Director of Yahoo Middle East, Africa & Turkey, where he helped advance the company’s strategic objectives. Prior to that, he played an instrumental role in establishing Maktoob as one of the largest online platforms in the Middle East, which led to its acquisition by Yahoo in 2009.
Freijeh holds a BSc in Computer Science from the Lebanese American University.
How would you define leadership today?
I believe in servant leadership. Great leaders are great listeners. They are empathetic and inclusive. They communicate clearly, provide actionable feedback on an ongoing basis, and they know how to deliver results. They must also be excellent collaborators and bring a depth of knowledge and experience to help improve decision-making. Ultimately, they are responsible for building talented and diverse teams without letting individual egos get in the way.
What’s the most important decision you have taken as a leader?
When we began building our team in MENA, six years ago, and throughout the hiring process, I’ve always felt strongly that a person’s willingness to share and embrace our core values is just as important as their professional experience. This has led us to build a strong, happy, and collaborative team that delivers strong results.
Who’s your role model?
I am inspired by any leader who is able to demonstrate how diversity is a strength that manifests itself in the culture and overall business; one who is able to articulate their vision but at the same time is able to foster creativity and hunger for impact amongst their teams. Those leaders are normally the ones who are able to make an impact way beyond their businesses into the wider community.
What’s the most important quality that every leader should possess?
Empathy is one of the most important qualities a successful leader should possess. Creating the right balance between virtual and physical presence in the office, focusing on the importance of mental health in the workplace, and understanding the fundamental need to build inclusive teams are all key factors that make an empathetic leader.
What’s the one mistake that leaders most commonly make?
Diversity & inclusion is becoming a key priority for many organizations. Many leaders are making the mistake of dealing with D&I as a checkbox or a task rather than focusing on making it a philosophy while building their culture and teams.
What’s the most important risk you took?
After graduating from college with a Computer Science degree, I was applying for jobs in Dubai in that field. One day, I met the Maktoob team which, at that time, was still a very small startup. I got really inspired by their vision and the digital advertising industry as a whole. I decided to take on a role as an Advertising Sales Specialist with Maktoob as employee number three in the Dubai office. Five years later, Maktoob was one of the biggest ad platforms in the region and was acquired by Yahoo. I took on this risk because I believe that we must play on our strengths to make an impact not only in our jobs but also on the wider community.
What resources would you recommend to someone looking to become a better leader?
Our everyday experiences, honestly! Observing and being curious about everything happening around me is the most effective way to learn. On a daily basis, I am learning, listening, and observing colleagues, partners, leaders, and others around me.
What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow as a leader?
Taking on new challenges is always my favorite way to grow as a leader. In this post-Covid world, traditional leadership standards are being challenged. I believe this is an opportunity for leaders to grow as they adapt to this new era and the requirements it entails.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice that is always top of mind for me is a quote by novelist Brad Meltzer: “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” This quote is a great reminder about the importance of empathy and kindness when we are leading our team and serving both our customers and community.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve ever given?
We should always understand our strengths and capabilities, and leverage them to make a big impact. Even if this pushes us outside of our comfort zone.
You can see the full ranking and methodology here.