Office Hours: I have 30+ years of PR experience with global corporate giants, high-growth tech startups, governments, & high-profile thought leaders. I’m the CEO & Founder of Digital and Savvy. I'm Maha Abouelenein. AMA!Featured

Hi Elphas!

I’m Maha Abouelenein, CEO and Founder at Digital and Savvy, a global communication consulting firm with offices in both the U.S. and Dubai. I work with high-profile individuals, entrepreneurs, and brands to transform their communication strategies.

During my career, I have launched some of the world’s largest tech companies in the Middle East from communications, policy, and business development perspectives - from Google and Netflix to Udacity and Careem (Uber) and more. I supported the largest IPO and the largest acquisition in Egypt’s history at Orascom Telecom. I also built sports marketing programs and strategic partnerships for the Olympics, NASCAR, the NBA, ATP Tennis, Golf, and the NFL at consumer product giant General Mills.

I am the host of the Savvy Talk Podcast and my first book, “7 Rules of Self-Reliance,” is scheduled for release on October 8, 2024. In this forthcoming book, I share experiences from my lifelong journey of learning to stay low, keep moving, and create my own opportunities.

During my downtime, I enjoy tennis, pickleball, watching Minnesota professional sports and spending time with family, friends, and my dog Coco.

Ask me anything about storytelling, reputation management, building scalable campaigns, navigating career transitions, hosting a podcast, writing a book, principles of self-reliance or anything else!

Thanks so much for joining us @mahaabouelenein!Elphas – please ask @mahaabouelenein your questions before Friday, April 12th. @mahaabouelenein may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
Hey Maha –Thanks for sharing your time with us! What's the most challenging reputation management situation you've encountered in your career, and how did you navigate it?
Hi Maha! In your experience with global tech companies, can you share a standout example where strategic storytelling significantly changed a brand's perception or market position? How did you approach crafting that narrative?
The UAE, Qatar, KSA are all investing massively in tech/venture/innovation partly for diversification purposes. For someone in the US seeking investments or opportunities to be in the Middle Eaast, what's the best way to build relationships? It seems that LinkedIn is not as used there as it is in the US or maybe part of Western Europe? Any tips?
Great question - my biggest advice if you want to do business there is go but go with a plan. Find a big event that you can attend - that way you can network and build valuable relationships and insights by being on the ground. Dubai and Saudi host some of the biggest events in the world. LEAP is the signature tech event in Saudi and there are so many in Dubai - Gitex, and Step Conference are some of my favorites. When it comes to Innovation - don't miss the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival and when it comes to Venture - don't miss Abu Dhabi Finance Week in the UAE and FII in Saudi Arabia. Another tip is to post on your LinkedIN page that you are looking to connect with people who have been or done business there - you would be surprised how many respond to posts like that and might know someone they do business with. They use LinkedIn in the Middle East but not as much as the Western World, you're right!
What advice would you give to a communication specialist about incorporating storytelling in tech? I find the average messaging to be quite samey and sterile, and would love to know how you feel tech can best tell stories (I'm a copywriter, by the way). Thanks for the AMA Maha.
I love copywriters - you make everything better! Storytelling can be simple if we just think about how we actually consume information - we want to be informed, inspired or entertained -- keep it simple. What about showing behind the scenes on how something is made? That is a great tech story that can captivate people and build an emotional connection to your business/brand. What about featuring the founders or team members - they are your greatest ambassadors and representatives - highlight what they do, a day in the life and how they make the magic happen! Another fun way to incorporate storytelling into tech is to ask your audience what they are curious about - a simple question shows you care AND you get insights on what they want to actually see from you when it comes to storytelling! Hope this helps!
It's so easy to overcomplicate things, so I'm glad your advice is to keep things simple Maha. Showing how something is made, or the people behind the business, reveals stories that AI content and copy can't touch. "What do you want to know" is such a great approach to content creation with the audience in mind. It feels like we'd lose a LOT of the noise on social media if more businesses started from here 😀Thanks for your insight Maha - appreciate it.
Hi Maha, you have a very inspiring background! I'd love to learn more about the following:1. As someone who has worked with high-profile individuals and brands in transforming communication strategies, what advice would you give to someone aspiring to grow into an executive role within the tech industry?2. Given your experience in launching tech companies in different regions, what key factors should one consider when contemplating starting their own business, particularly in a new country? I'm interested in eventually moving to Spain and perhaps starting a business there. I currently live in Toronto, Canada.3. Your upcoming book sounds intriguing! Could you share a key principle from your book that you believe is particularly relevant for individuals looking to excel in their careers, whether as executives in tech or aspiring entrepreneurs?I'm currently at a crossroads debating whether to continue a career in tech and achieve an executive position, or to start my own business. Your answers will be very helpful! Thank you!
Thank you Diana for this question! 1. If you want to grow into an executive role within the tech industry - focus on three things! First putting in the effort to deliver in your current role and step up to take initiative and try to get as much experience as you can to learn, grow and contribute. Second, networking is key - attend events, participate in events, reach out to colleagues you can learn from, bring them value and show up by giving value you first. I talk alot about this in my upcoming book "7 Rules of Self Reliance" (You can pre-order on Amazon). I share the playbook for how to do this effectively. Lastly, start investing in your personal brand. This is your reputation! Having a strong personal brand is going to help you demonstrate your knowledge, your skills and shows that you are intentional about communications and your brand and relationships. Its the #1 thing people overlook. Personal branding is not about self-promotion its about leadership - its about idea promotion and your reputation. Leaders understand how reputation works and they focus on building and protecting it. Again I have a big playbook for this in my book and follow me on social I share tons of free tips (@mahagaber on IG).2. If you want to branch out into new markets and countries - think about the hidden costs - labor laws and rules, licensing rules, taxes and what you are required to pay to set up your company and what the labor laws are and requirements for employees! The world is abundant -- meaning there is so much business out there - that entering new geographies is really smart if you understand the requirements for setting up, operating and managing there!3. I love this question - a key principle is learning how to create value for other people to make you invaluable to them. I want to train everyone on how to create value for others. Its the "IT" factor that you can own and when you create value for others - you ultimately create value for yourself. THANK YOU!
Can you share insights on opportunities to work in innovation, organizational change, product management in the Middle East. What do aspiring candidates need to know about business culture and networking?
What's the first piece of advice you'd offer a middle-aged woman looking to transition from leadership at Starbucks to the tech field? With a degree in project management and certification in software development, I believe I bring a wide and valuable skill set to the table. However, despite actively searching for six months, I've had no luck. Any insights or guidance would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
How did you position yourself and your personal brand to navigate our career changes? How did you show that you were ready (and qualified) for something different? Thank you!
Hello Kaitlin! thank you for this question - your personal brand = your reputation. So when you think about your career and the ebbs and flows of different activities you do - think about what was common across all experiences? What are your values and what do you consistently find yourself passionate about doing or saying all the time. I used that as a barometer whenever I had a job or role change to navigate my career. How did I show that I was ready for something different? I focused on letting my work do the talking and letting that be what got noticed or attention. I always tried to bring value to my roles to position myself as a value creator and I worked hard to bring new things to the role - which not only challenged me, but helped me grow everytime I took on a new role. Many people thing personal branding is about self promotion - its not -- its about idea promotion and thought leadership. Try to build new ideas and bring thought leadership to your roles! Hope that helps!
This helps! Thank you!
How does the tech scene in the Middle East compare to that of the US? What advice do you have for people considering work in the region or work with organizations based there?
The tech scene is similar - fast paced, innovation driven and competitive! If you want to work with organizations there spend time getting to know them and do a lot of listening and bring value to them - all business is personal so invest in your relationships before getting down to business. Another thing to consider if you want to work with the region is to - start following key organizations and leaders there in tech- look at attend big events so you can build relationships and learn from them- subscribe to news orgs that are there to learn and absorb about the market and their news!