By Deema Khoury
If the entrepreneurship scene in the MENA region interests you, then you’ve definitely come across her name.
Zayna Al Hamarneh is one of the youngest & most successful entrepreneurs in Jordan and the Arab World. A well known Instagram influencer in Jordan, she is a force to be reckoned with in the PR industry, through her agency MODE.
We spoke with Zayna about her work, her life, and how balacing a hectic lifestyle alongside a successful business was possible.
1. You are known as a young ambitious entrepreneur in Jordan who made it in the competitive marketing &PR-industry. But away from work and the social media spotlights, if you would to describe yourself in 3 words, what would they be and why?
Now that’s quite tough.
Passionate: Whatever I do in life, I give it my all and do it with love. I believe my passion is my number one drive, both professionally and personally.
Crazy: I live a crazy lifestyle. I am always on the go and I literally never stop.
Loyal: No matter who or what I love, I am always loyal. From brands, to friends, family members and causes.
2. “Necessity is the mother of all inventions” and since the market in Jordan is considered considerably saturated, what are the needs that prompted you to start your business? And what makes MODE stands out amongst its competitors?
My love story with marketing started at the age of 17. I didn’t want to have a job that placed me in a box or limits my creativity. I guess I was born to create, engage with people - and sell!
I worked with advertising agencies and did internships at few. I realized that the market needed an edge even back then. I wanted to work on brands that connected with me, and made me feel proud.
The market lacked that fresh approach and that’s why MODE started the marketing through social media, before Facebook launched had even launched the 'Pages' option.
3. What are the challenges you have been facing since you established MODE and how did you overcome them?
The challenges are endless. Overcoming them is part of the challenge this journey brings. I started off at a very young age, it was always a dilemma to call my clients "Ammo", "Auntie", "Mr.", and "Mrs". People doubted me while others supported this young girl with tons of energy, plenty of ideas and passion that till now cannot be dimmed.
Giving myself a break was a nightmare. I was myself’s worst critic. I've always wanted to give my all (plus a bit more) to my work. Now, I have learned how to take a break every now and then, and understood that it is OK to have fun and not work 24/7.
Another challange for me was managing people. Knowing when to be a friend and when to be the CEO. It takes a lot of effort, lots of psychological reading and knowledge. I am still learning, adapting and trying to create my personal style of management. Let’s hope I master one this year.
4. Does your personal brand and influence on Instagram conflict in a way or another with MODE?
MODE always comes first! It is my brand, you can actually see my personality and style in details around the office, in our posts, events and campaigns for both MODE and our clients. If I was ever approached to collaborate with a brand that is a competitor of any of MODE’s clients, I apologize due to the conflict of interest. Life is about balancing and setting your priorities.
5. If you could go back in time, what would you change in your career path?
I was always into medicine, still am! But I don’t think I would be going through that path. I wont be able to study for more than 2 hours back-to-back!
6. We’re proud to see you representing Jordan in the #SheMeansBusiness initiative. Tell us more about this experience, and how it affected on a personal and professional level.
It opened my eyes to a different point of view of business and how women globally are pulling it off, and are being part of changing their economy, breaking stereotypes and empowering their community wherever they are. Such experiences humble you, especially when you get listed amongst women with so much power, success stories and those who have their own empires in various industries.
On a personal level, it gave me a sort of satisfaction and pride to be acknowledged as one of the pioneers when it comes to marketing through social media in the region, and to represent my country.
7. Since you’re a consistent planner, what are your plans for the coming next 5 years? Will we witness the launch of MODE’s sister company?
Of course. A lot has been planned, some is already in the making and others are left as part of my so-called retirement plan.
8. What is your advice for the shapers of the future in the Middle East who aim at becoming entrepreneurs?
- Follow your passion, but know what you’re doing.
- Manage your exceptions.
- Learn from your mistakes.
- Go back to your own bubble every now and then.
- Never become greedy.
- Trust your own gut.
- Learn how to delegate.
- It is not always rainbows and butterflies, it is actually lot of hard work and bad days.
- Have fun while doing it, and always remember why you started in the first place.
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