In The Hot Seat – Wissam Younane

Team TMN catch up with BNC Publishing’s newly appointed CEO, Wissam Younane, who tells us about his impressions of the media industry, his new role and the most rewarding part of his job…

Name: Wissam Younane   

Current Job Title: Chief Executive Officer, BNC Publishing 

When did you first arrive in Dubai?
I first moved to Dubai from the U.S. in 2002.

Where did you work prior?
My career prior to media was hospitality-centric. I started working in hospitality in Switzerland and then relocated to the U.S. My move to Dubai was perpetuated by steady growth in the hospitality sector; at that time there were tons of people heading to the UAE with big career ambitions.

What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East?
In 2006, I landed my first position within the media industry here and I’ve seen it transition dramatically over the past decade. Early on, there were much higher budgets allocated and the sky was the limit in terms of marketing. My first impression of the media industry in Dubai was that the opportunities that it afforded were boundless – it inspired me then and continues to inspire me now. Especially since every sector here is continuing to grow, which means there are always avenues of business development for enterprising people.  

Tell us about your current role with BNC Publishing…
As the new CEO of BNC Publishing, I will be overseeing international expansion efforts, together with my partners. My focus on Entrepreneur’s brand presence in the Middle East will continue, but will now also involve additional verticals.

What challenges do you face?
Currently, the challenge of human capital is pervasive across the media sector. We at BNC Publishing are always looking for innovative and proactive team members, and these are becoming increasingly difficult to source. As the company grows, the senior management needs to be able to rely on suitable replacements to cover some of our responsibilities, and finding people that can ambitiously self-manage is proving to be the biggest challenge.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
There are two areas that I find the most rewarding part of my position: one is the giving aspect, and the other is the receiving aspect.

From a giving perspective, seeing startups get funded after being featured by Entrepreneur Middle East is one of the most rewarding moments of working at BNC Publishing. Also, seeing the faces of hope on some of our forums’ delegates ­– be it at the Achieving Women Forums or at the Enterprise Agility Forums ­­­– when they are told by key investors that they’d like to hear more about their businesses, it is an absolute breath of fresh air to us as well as to other attendees. Knowing that we have the trust of the biggest VCs and angel investors in the region when it comes to pointing out potential candidates is phenomenal.

From a receiving perspective, it’s when someone from the ruling families in the GCC agrees to speak to Entrepreneur Middle East exclusively, as a trusted vehicle for their entrepreneurial ecosystem initiatives and news.

What advice would you offer to someone looking to start a career in media in the UAE?
If you think you have what it takes, get in touch; I’d love to hear from you!

What do you think of the quality of media publications in the region?
My opinion on this will be a biased one, so I’ll leave it to the readers and the consumers of our market to have their say. My only advice to other media outlets is that if you want to do it, do it right.

What do you think is the secret to successful leadership?
I think the secret to successful leadership starts with surrounding yourself with honest, hardworking and likeminded individuals. This is key to your own drive and vision for the business. Secondly, keep an open channel of communication with your team and work on active listening – with these two tips, you can easily get the job done right. Your staff naturally look up to you when they join your venture, and it’s up to you to keep them inspired by giving them key motivators, incentives and, most importantly, ownership of their work and products.

How do you find PRs in the region?
There are definitely some standout agencies that we work with more than others. These agencies are two-way operations; meaning that they interact with us across different mediums. They are active on our social networks and they keep in constant contact with our editorial teams regarding content that isn’t even about their clients. The latter factor indicates that they have a genuine interest in our work and that they keep on top of our editorial directions. Naturally, this leads to stronger relationships and more collaborative work.

Describe yourself in five words…
Honest, competitive, dedicated, ambitious and a risk-taker. 

If you could change one thing about media in the UAE, what would it be?
I would reduce the usage of adjectives that are overblown. Statements like ‘most powerful’, ‘richest’ and so on… What metric are these based on? What verifications are in place? I’m all for highlighting achievements and success stories – this is the basis of Entrepreneur Middle East as a brand –but I think these things should be done with restraint.

How do you see media changing in the UAE in the coming years?
I guess it’s safe to say that many print publications won’t make it in five years – only the most trusted will continue to appear in print, and the rest might just be digital. Loyal readership is going to play a huge role in deciding which titles will stay, and which titles will go.