When you are a potboiler of incredible talent such as Saana is, it will come as no surprise that she is an accomplished Public Speaker, a champion Sales Professional, chosen to be in the 30 of major Under 30 Influencers in 2015, a Certified NLP Practitioner…the list goes on. Suffice to say, she has been there and done that. Here, in a freewheeling conversation with BrandKnew, she articulates more about herself, her vision and her passion MENA SPEAKERS.
BK. You have had an accomplished past in the area of Finance with periods in American Express, Barclays, Saxo Bank etc. What prompted your shift to MENA Speakers?
Throughout my career I have always been a public speaker and educator, from speaking at international events on the market, two Tedx Talks, to doing TV appearances and motivational speeches, so this was a natural progression for me. With MENA Speakers I am able to fully pursue my passion for educating, engaging and empowering people.
BK. What was the inspiration behind MENA Speakers? Did the inspiration come from within the family or was it external?
My values, my passion and who I am as a person, stems from wanting to educate, help and empower people.
A seed was planted already in 2010 when I found myself being the only Middle Eastern speaker at conferences in Europe. This was then further amplified when I moved to Dubai and found no centralized speaker agency but a lot of very high intellectual voices across the region with no representation. There was a real opportunity to showcase and support these speakers to the region and globally. I am particularly proud over the female voices in this region, we have some incredibly strong female leaders in the Middle East. For example, the CEO of Emirates Foundation, the Bilingual Claire Woodcraft, motivational speaker and mother of 2 Ms. Aida Albusaidy, Marwa Maziad a Middle East Media and Politics Expert, Raha Moharrak, the first Saudi female to climb Mount Everest etc.
BK. You are a Speaker/Thought Leader yourselves. What do you enjoy articulating the most about?
The art of effective communication and public speaking.
BK. Words well put together do mean a lot to you- could you exemplify some that have truly motivated you and got you where you are today?
Maya Angelou has been a significant source of inspiration for me; a woman who broke down barriers, made history repeatedly and spent her life fighting for what she believed in. She truly is a “Phenomenal Woman” and her work in helping and educating others has empowered me to do the same. She was an incredible story teller and illustrated the importance of sharing one’s story and voice.
BK. If you were to tell us more about MENA Speakers and what it does at the core, what would that be?
To educate, engage and empower people through conversation. We provide keynote speakers, corporate trainers and moderators to the market. We connect people with thought leaders, experts and powerful minds through events and workshops. Our main aim is to facilitate that interaction between speaker and different forums and to make sure that the right voice is matched to the right audience. We have 100 speakers from all areas of expertise. After every speech we aim to improve the lives of people be it either from a very personal level through our motivational speakers or through the cutting-edge business tips they are getting from the business speakers.
BK. Coming specifically to the GOOGLE CODE, could you elaborate a bit about the event and about Andreas as well?
The Google Code event is a power networking and breakfast event, featuring international speaker Mr. Andreas Ekström. TED fellow, Swedish journalist, author and digital futurist Andreas Ekström wrote a bestselling book about Google – and has since been a leading commentator on all things digital around the world. As a reporter with many years of experience covering the field, Ekström holds amazing insights in how the world of media, business and politics is affected by the main digital power players of the world. His talk – always custom made to fit the audience – will give you mind-blowing perspectives on who controls the money and true power, today and tomorrow.
For more on the event or to purchase tickets please visit: https://mena-speakers.com/events-2/
BK. What further can we expect from MENA Speakers? What is the profile of attendees that you ideally wish to be participating in these Speaker series?
Our client base is across industries and we provide training or coaching solutions to knowledge traders, event managers, HR Managers or those in a high-powered position. Reportedly 87% of employees are unengaged at work and research has shown that one productive employee can do as much work as six unproductive employees! Therefore, our attendees also consist of people looking for corporate training on soft skills such as sales, marketing, negotiations and more, as well as those wishing to hear from experts and keynote speakers on an array of topics.
BK. Is the MENA Speakers looking at only the UAE footprint or does its ambitions straddle the region & beyond?
I would like MENA Speakers to be an exporter of Middle Eastern voices to the world. There are some incredibly high-intellectual voices in the Middle East and I would love to see them giving the world a chance to meet them, hear them and show that the Middle East still has this renaissance movement of global shapers and shakers.
BK. In this ‘always on, ever connected world ‘, building a personal brand has never been more important. What is your take on that?
Having a strong personal brand is extremely important. It represents your values, your leadership and what you have to offer. Your personal brand can be your strongest asset if used correctly, and it is important to have a defined brand that is a reflection of who you are, and how people can benefit from having a relationship with you. It is also crucial to remain consistent with your personal brand, whether it is across your social media channels or otherwise.
BK. To sign off, what is the Road Ahead for MENA Speakers?
To continuously provide thoughtleaders to the Middle East and to keep supporting Middle Eastern talents to be presented to the world.