Antoine Challita, general manager, UM Dubai*
*At the time of writing this, Challita was the GM of UM Dubai but has since left and is currently head of CPG in MENA at Snap Inc.
A 14 years industry veteran, Challita led a team of 100+ individuals at UM Dubai while helping clients unlock better business outcomes leveraging data, insights, and creativity. He played a key role in the successful turnaround of client relationships spearheading data-driven marketing initiatives and retaining decade long businesses such as The Coca-Cola Co. and L’Oréal in the Middle East as well as winning new client businesses. His work across UM’s client portfolio has won the agency several industry awards and led to business growth resulting in a current standing of over one billion dollars in billings in Dubai.
His current role involves helping CPG clients to connect with Snapchatters in the Middle East and North Africa and drive ROI.
Challita completed his executive MBA from the Columbia Business School and the London Business School in 2018 while being on the job at UM Dubai.
What’s the best advice you have received in your career?
I wish I have the wisdom to limit this to only one. best advice. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to meet with a lot of amazing and smart people. It has allowed me to learn a lot from these relationships. Two advices I think shaped my career and the successes I have today:
The first advice I was given is to be conscious of the impact my job has on me and on others. I was told to think about my job as a purposeful contribution to my workplace, my community, and the people I believe the work I do will have an impact on.
The other advice I was given is to understand what my values are and write them down. Whenever I felt that I was under pressure and that my judgement was clouded, I should pull up that paper and read what is on it.
What’s the best advice you have given in your career?
I have recently transitioned into my role at Snap Inc. leaving great talent at my old employer, UM Dubai. Accordingly I decided to share my thoughts on how each individual can be better at what they do.
My advice to them was the following:
• Be who you are – stay true to what you believe in, stay true to your values. Write them down and live by them.
• Be curious – explore, expand your knowledge, and listen; different perspectives will enrich you as individuals.
• Be ambitious – constantly create new horizons so that you cherish the journey toward your destination. Think about the end game while enjoying what goes on around you.
What’s the most rewarding thing about your job?
The most rewarding aspect of my experience is related to interactions with others and the contribution to their successes. Having had the opportunity to work with others and enabling and creating positive momentum for people around me was a significant driver in my role. Seeing colleagues and peers succeed and contribute effectively in their roles is very inspiring. Along the same lines, seeing that the work we do delivering a clear, positive impact on our client’s businesses is a tremendous win. This is a very fulfilling part of the job.
What’s the most frustrating thing about your job?
Two things that I think people do not focus enough on: time and health. I strongly believe that these are two topics that are quite important in our industry – how to best manage time effectively and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Mental health is a very important topic that is really undermined in the business and much attention is needed toward it. A lot of companies are catching up on these topics and I believe a lot needs to be done toward it.
If not this, what would you be doing?
I would strive to be a college or university professor, teaching communication and marketing in business. I always believed that there is a lot more that can be done in this field in terms of orientation and knowledge transfer. We owe it to the next generation to be very clear on what success is and that there is a lot of opportunity in this industry.
If you had ten million dollars, what would you do?
I would open a restaurant next to a farm with some of the money and start my teaching career. With the rest of the money, and that should be a lot, I would invest in the start-up community in the region.
Finally, why are you (still) in this industry?
Our industry is at the intersection of data, technology, and creativity and I believe that this is at the heart of business success and in a big part why I have been in this business for so long. Facilitating and creating communication opportunities is something that I hold dear; it helps brands grow and people create special moments. Additionally, I believe that our industry houses tremendous talent and brushing shoulders with smart and intelligent people is a very rewarding aspect of our day to day. I can simply say that you never get bored in our industry.