Kinda Ibrahim grew up in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon before moving to Canada with her family to pursue her career and graduate studies. She has been working in digital media for the past eight years, with a focus on media, at a time when digital content and video are emerging as the most engaging content formats.
She started her career about 15 years ago, analysing data in a Montreal bank’s credit card marketing department. Since then, she has dabbled in digital, from web development, analytics, data and CRM to project management, business and content management. Now, as Director of Partnerships at Twitter, Ibrahim leads the Global Content Partnerships team in the MENA region, and shapes business development around digital content.
Ibrahim says: “My career has always been revolving around digital since my early days. Even when I was doing analysis, it was always about analysing email campaigns and digital campaigns, and exploring how to grow the brand’s presence online and monetise the online space for the business. Most of my roles before Twitter involved partnering with content producers and finding alternative ways to distribute and monetise content.
“In hindsight, I definitely planned to stay in digital, but it all came together on its own. My career moves were partly planned, but I only opted for jobs that gave me opportunities to do what I was passionate about, which I believe is a key factor for success. I’m truly enjoying it.”
On her current role, Ibrahim explains: “We partner with broadcasters and publishers to help grow their reach and build new audiences on the platform, as well as find incremental sources of revenue by making their premium content available for brands to associate with. People come on Twitter to connect with what’s happening in real time, and the best way to do that is to consume and interact with premium content from broadcasters and publishers about key events and moments that people are interested in.”
Ibrahim’s work and strategy acumen display her industry and regional knowledge, her fact-based decision-making, and her approach to people and cross-functional leadership. She believes that any challenge can be overcome if you put your mind to it, give it your full attention and go at it day by day in full force, as opposed to shying away from it.
Digital technology is rapidly changing the broadcast industry, with disruption across all aspects, from distribution to content production. In an industry changing at a rapid pace, Ibrahim is hopeful that new media will be seen as not only accelerating the change, but also facilitating it.
She envisions a greater role for Twitter in the traditional broadcast industry: “Twitter at its essence works as a complement to broadcasters. This is done either by extending their broadcast content in a simulcast experience (live streaming of matches/concerts/breaking news), or publishing near-live short clips that drive further tune-in to TV, or more recently creating bespoke shows for Twitter that complement their TV offerings. Twitter offers an opportunity for broadcasters and publishers to grow their audience and to reach new digital-only audiences, as well as a chance to tap into incremental budgets and associate with new brands in new markets.”
Twitter continues to push the envelope when it comes to content production and delivery and Ibrahim has had a role to play in this. She shares the aim for 2019: “To continue to collaborate with our partners to grow their revenue and bring their best video content on the platform, with a focus on innovation. I think broadcasters will continue to converge to become multi-platform networks. We will continue to see content created for different platforms, and the successful broadcasters will be those who cater their offerings to a diversified and fragmented audience. We will also continue to see more original content coming out of the region for OTT platforms – there has never been a better time to be in the content production industry.”
Ibrahim is driven by her upbringing. “I come from a family of achievers where my parents pushed me to keep doing more. From there, it has rubbed off from people I have met across the years – especially the female leaders that I have worked with, they have inspired me a lot. I have felt their energy and drive, not limiting themselves and constantly exploring how to find their true limits.”
In terms of role models, she is drawn to the grit and determination of Arianna Huffington. “She is really inspirational, and her journey has been helpful to many. I haven’t met her, but I am looking forward to meeting her someday.”
“Twitter at its essence works as a complement to broadcasters”
Eyeing the future, Twitter is also empowering its female workforce. Ibrahim explains: “Twitter is where inclusion lives, and our company strives to ensure that our workplace and the decisions we make about it are equally inclusive. We’ve harnessed the power of our platform to develop global campaigns celebrating diversity that builds community around important issues.”
Twitter initiatives to create conversation around gender and equality include #HereWeAre and #SheInspiresMe. The former entails female leaders talking about issues surrounding female empowerment. The campaign started at the US CES trade show and then continued at Cannes.
Twitter also ran a #HereWeAre ad during the 2018 Oscars, which generated a lot of interest globally. Besides the global and regional hashtag campaigns, the firm’s Business Resource Groups (BRGs) foster diverse communities at Twitter and include @TwitterWomen.
At its offices in the Middle East, Twitter seems to be one of those workplaces where a lot of emphasis is given to work-life balance, with flexibility, maternity and paternity leave, and other benefits. Ibrahim explains: “In my view, finding balance is a conscious choice and is very much a focused effort. I believe that work-life balance is essential for anyone who wants to do their best at what they do, be it in the personal or professional space. It is about being able to prioritise your work life, but also knowing when to stop and take a break and give time and effort to the people who matter to you and to your well-being.”
She is convinced that things are looking up for young women professionals in the region. “There has never been a better time for the youth to join this industry, which is going through rapid transformations driven by the change of behaviour of how content is consumed in a mobile-first world. We need their brains and creativity in order to shape and create content for their generation. The sky’s the limit on what they will be able to achieve.”
“Twitter is where inclusion lives, and our company strives to ensure that our workplace and the decisions we make about it are equally inclusive”
Ibrahim’s confidence in the younger generation contributes to her passion for the broadcast industry: “We are experiencing an era of media and tech/digital convergence at a very fast pace through many innovations. If you want to stay relevant, you have to be adaptable and keep up to date with the rate of change.”
Changing times are heralding newer vistas for working women, especially Arab women in the broadcast industry. Ibrahim brushes off concerns about the glass ceiling curtailing progress and opportunities. “Maybe the glass ceiling did exist at a certain era, but not anymore. The number of female executives/political leaders/CEOs across different industries and geographies is increasing rapidly, and this to me is a testament that women have proven to be capable in reaching their career aspirations and realising their full potential. It is very important that women know that it is possible and not create self-inflicted barriers.”
Hinting at the broadcast industry being a catalyst of change as more women join the fray, Ibrahim opines: “There is a growing number of women in the industry, and it is not uncommon to see them in leadership positions. I think it is a natural progression of how the industry started to attract more women in both the academic and professional worlds, and many of them proved themselves and moved up the career ladder to assume leadership positions. I expect to see more of this in the coming years.”