Tracy Watchorn joins 117Live

Dubai-based entertainment company 117Live, part of Al Ahli Holding Group has appointed Tracy Watchorn to the role of Director of Sales and Marketing. With over ten years of experience in the sports and entertainment industry, Tracy previously worked with Dubai Rugby Sevens, FIFA World Club and most recently with Flash Entertainment. In her new role, she will play a vital role in upgrading the in-house sales, marketing and digital team as well as overseeing the PR strategies of the company. She will also work with Al Ahli Holding Group’s other business units to ensure synergy between its sister companies as well as contribute to broadening the commercial reach of 117Live’s concert venue and secure new partnership deals.

“With my experience, industry knowledge and strong regional contacts, I hope to further elevate the brand image of 117LIve and expand the portfolio of clients and partners,” says Tracy. “I look forward to working with the dynamic team and continuing to deliver the best that the industry has ever seen.”

In The Hot Seat – Stefanie Fernandez

LinkedIn’s Head of Sales Solutions MENA, Stefanie Fernandez tells TMN about her current role and what she thinks about the sales industry as well as the concept of social selling in the Middle East…

Name: Stefanie Fernandez

Age: I just celebrated a milestone birthday, but you’ll have to guess which one!

From: I was born in Germany, but brought up in an English and Spanish household in Birmingham, UK.

Current job title: Head of LinkedIn Sales Solutions MENA

When did you first arrive in Dubai?

I first visited Dubai in 2014, before moving here officially in 2015.

Where did you work prior?

Prior to joining LinkedIn, I worked with Cisco Systems, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Verizon Business. In 2011 with an aim to change my career direction, I joined LinkedIn and worked in several roles including Senior Account Executive – LinkedIn Talent Solutions, Sales Manager-Talent Solutions – SMB – UAE Territory, and most recently Head of Sales – Search and Staffing Division MENA.

What were your first impressions of digital sales in the Middle East?

My first impression was that there was a preference for the more traditional methods, but there were also plenty of forward-thinking organisations that were open to having conversations and looking at alternative routes. Being in the Middle East is like a form of education, but it also provides an opportunity for us at LinkedIn to educate others.

Has your opinion changed much?

My opinion has continued to change as I see the acceptance of the digital landscape change, which is happening fast. You have to be versatile, adaptable and open to change.

Tell us about your current role…

After six years of working with our flagship product line, Talent Solutions, I decided to diversify in terms of experience at LinkedIn and move to our newer brand, Sales Solutions. The MENA team was launched in 2015 and has steadily grown to a fully-fledged end-to-end sales organisation that covers the entire MENA region. My role is to ensure that social selling becomes more than just a concept in this region and more the norm for selling.

What challenges do you face?

The sales cycle can often be longer with a lot more education required than in more established geographical regions, but because the concept of social selling is still relatively new in the MENA region, and compared to the conversations we were having two years ago, we are seeing a faster take-up rate with some significant logos on board.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Definitely working with the immense talent we boast of in our workplace. Particularly watching people who are still fairly early in their career start turning into highly skilled, well-rounded professionals.

How would you rather be contacted at work?

That’s a difficult one, but I would say the classic channel – email.

How has digital media impacted media buying and selling today? Does print still have any role?

In traditional markets such as the Middle East, there is still a place for print, but it will continue to reduce. Targeted information, which is delivered online especially through mobile, is the direction in which the world is heading now.

Why do you think the Middle East market has become a target for an increasing number of international retailers?

It is recognised as a central hub and widely known as an area where trade is successfully completed. It is also extremely central from a geographical point of view as we see business in the East increasing.

Is traditional sales methodology still effective today?

I would say it is less effective. Social selling is what I predict most successful sales organisations will end up with. Customers are less likely to pick up the phone these days for unscheduled conversations and most people have never reacted positively to cold calls, especially now and in this region where many people have multiple phones as well as various ways of fielding how they receive their information. LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator solution allows companies to make meaningful connections with their target audiences by the means of warm introductions and relevant insights.

How can salespeople be more effective in the region?

Have a strategy that ensures that you know exactly when, how and to whom you will be reaching out to, and use tools that allows you to utilise tactics that ensures you’re not shooting in the dark, but rather making a deliberate, well-informed approach.

Are social platforms enough to source talent in the Middle East?

I prefer to talk about sourcing the best talent that will be a long-term asset to your organisational culture and success. Social platforms are not the only way, but they are real-time and consumption of information through these channels are steadily on the rise. Could an organisation build their entire talent acquisition strategy based on social? Definitely, yes!

Who inspires you?

The people I work with every day. I have the luxury of working with some of the brightest talents globally and they make sure I stay on my toes.

What’s your most overused saying?

I’ve been told that I say ‘literally’ a lot.

Five things you can’t live without.

Music, my cat who I adopted a year ago, being able to stay in touch with my friends outside of Dubai, my fiancé and Kate Spade handbags!

What’s the most exciting thing that has happened to you in your career?

Moving to Dubai and changing roles three times in three years. So representing the dynamic nature of this city!

If you weren’t in your current role, what would you be doing?

On a boat in Southeast Asia working with a marine conservation project, rescuing seahorses from extinction.

What is your favorite form of media?

TV! I remember many seminal TV moments watched at home on the sofa with my family and then talking about them the next day at school or at work.

What’s your most used social media platform?

LinkedIn, obviously followed by Instagram. I love taking pictures and most recently set up an Instagram account for my cat – she’s way more popular than me!

How do you see the sales industry changing in the Middle East in the coming years?

It will continue changing as fast as sales organisations adopt more technology and with the concept of social selling. If we do everything right here at LinkedIn, I would hope that our contribution to the social selling cause will be of significant value.

Arab News launches new Hajj App

Saudi Arabian-based newspaper, Arab News has launched new smartphone application, Hajj App. Officially sponsored by the Muslim World League, the Hajj app aims to provide comprehensive coverage of the Hajj pilgrimage and will offer the latest news updates from Arab News as well as live broadcast service. The application will also include features such as an optional pilgrim tracker function to enable users to switch on and share their location, follow family and friends in real time, get emergency call number and a list of all embassies and other important services during Hajj.

“This Arab News and Muslim World League cooperation is an ideal and practical example of a media outlet working with a non-governmental organisation for the public good,” says Faisal J. Abbas, Editor-in-Chief, Arab News. “Launching this app is part of Arab News’ digital transformation and provides readers and English-speaking pilgrims added value and a very useful service.”

ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller wins big at the Stevies 2017

ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller has been awarded the Grand Stevie Award at this year’s International Business Awards (IBAs). The awards, known as the Stevies aims to honour and recognise the achievements and positive contributions of companies and working professionals worldwide. This year’s awards saw ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller win five gold, 14 silver and nine bronze across the PR and marketing categories earning them the Grand Stevie Awards for their record. The awards ceremony and gala dinner will take place in Barcelona, Spain on October 21, 2017.

“I am delighted to see our work recognised at the global level, with our best ever performance at the IBAs,” Sunil John, Founder and CEO, ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller. “Winning 28 awards across so many categories demonstrates the depth and breadth of our expertise, and underlines the sterling work we do for all our clients across all practices.”

Omobono makes new appointment

Dubai-based creative and technology agency, Omobono has appointed Helen Rankin to the role of Senior Digital Strategist. With 20 years of experience in digital transformation and marketing, Helen previously worked with LG Electronics Middle East and Africa (MEA) as Regional Digital Marketing Manager, and most recently with M&C Saatchi as Chief Growth Officer. In her new role, she will be responsible for leveraging digital innovation and behavioural design to create effective strategic solutions for Omobono’s portfolio of clients.

“In the Middle East, quality writing for thought leadership and just-in-time marketing to achieve digital transformation are in high demand, especially in Saudi Arabia and the UAE where the national agenda is driving government agencies and enterprises to act with speed and confidence,” says Helen. “My goal is to support our clients to meet their strategic objectives and I’m delighted to be working with such a diverse and challenging portfolio.”

LinkedIn’s new video feature launches

LinkedIn has launched a new video feature that allows users to record upload and post native videos directly from their LinkedIn mobile applications to their feed. The new addition to the platform would be available to users globally and would enable them to start conversations, and share their professional knowledge as well insights through videos. To record a video or upload an existing video, users can click on the share button and tap the video icon directly from their iOS or Android devices to start recording or uploading a video to post on their feed.

New Snapchat show launched by CNN

CNN has launched new Snapchat show, The Update globally. The new daily show will provide a rundown of the biggest news from CNN’s anchors, correspondents and reporters from around the world to be published throughout each day and time zone as well as feature rolling updates as breaking news segments. The show will be featured on Snapchat’s shows section and would be accessible by Snapchat users and subscribers of The Update.

“In today’s news environment, people are hungry for news and they want a quick update of where things are at within one tap of their phone,” says Samantha Barry, Executive Producer for Social and Emerging Media, CNN. “So, we’re serving that up, speaking their language and delivering it in beautiful, vertical, mobile friendly video.”