Weera Saad, Regional Director of Creative Shop across CEMEA at META has been featured as one of Communicate's Women to Watch for 2023.
With over two decades' worth of experience in the creative and communications industry, you sure would’ve gathered tons of wisdom. How would you summarize your professional journey? How has your career contributed to your personal growth?
I still see myself as 1% of the way there! My journey has been full of twists and turns, with one mountain to climb after another. Just when I think I’ve reached one peak, I discover another equally exciting one and eagerly pursue it. I veered away from the conventional linearity of the career ladder a long time ago and remained open to all opportunities for learning that came my way. As a result, my cup has always been full of new experiences that taught me a lot, incredible talents I’ve had the privilege of nurturing, and legends I’ve been fortunate to partner with! On a personal level, I have never defined myself solely by what I do, nor have I compartmentalized my life into a work-life balance bracket. To me, as long as I stay true to my values, I find balance. I lead with curiosity, generosity, and kindness, which makes me not only a good leader but also a better human being!
After dedicating almost two decades to DDB and four years in BBDO, working in roles such as strategy, creative planning, and copywriting, you shifted to Meta. What motivated you to make this shift? How did you decide to transition into the big tech industry?
The shift wasn’t easy since I was already an Executive Director at BBDO, working with a great team, boss, partners, and clients. At the time, Meta offered me the title of a ‘manager’, which is considered super senior in the flat culture of the tech industry, particularly at Meta. What tipped the scale was a late-night call I received from Nicola Mendelson, Meta’s Global VP. She acknowledged that I was doing well where I was, but she posed a question: What if someone approached me right now and offered me a ticket to the next rocket ship? What if I had the chance to explore the next frontier in communication at the heart of the mother ship itself? That was the turning point for me. I put aside my title, and my curiosity took over. I decided to join the rocket ship. In the past seven years at Meta, I can confidently say that it has fulfilled my appetite for discovering and influencing the future, just as I was promised. I reached the peak as a Director, and it has been an incredible journey.
As the Head of the Creative Shop at Meta, you played a pivotal role in shaping the creative strategies for many brands. Can you share some of the most memorable and impactful campaigns you worked on during your tenure?
I would say the most memorable work for me was not a specific client’s campaign, even though my team has built numerous ground-breaking campaigns from our region to the world. Instead, it was our ability, alongside my team and our partners, to influence Meta’s strategy for Ramadan globally. From the MENA region, we spearheaded the development of the “Month of Good” campaign, which Meta adopted and executed worldwide in collaboration with creators and brands. This initiative set a precedent for other big tech companies to follow suit and it became one of the most significant occasions globally, alongside Black Friday and Christmas. To me, this was the most impactful cultural strategy I was able to build and shape from within Meta. It allowed me to elevate my region, supported by the incredible legends I worked with, and showcase a glimpse of our beloved culture to the world.
You’ve likely faced a fair share of challenges and setbacks throughout your career. Can you share a particular obstacle you encountered and how you overcame it? To tell you the truth I really can’t remember any setbacks, I only remember those moments that helped me to grow and thrive, so I can’t separate them anymore from the opportunities.
With your extensive experience in the creative industry, what are some key trends or shifts you have observed in the way brands approach advertising and marketing in the digital age? I always begin with people. If we acknowledge the revolution brought by mobile devices as a medium of communication - always in our pockets, enabling human connection on platforms designed for interaction—whether we lean in or wind down, laugh or cry—we recognize the world we need to address. The major trend I see is the value brands must offer audiences in this crowded space. One aspect is relevance, whether it’s through the resonance of their story, the moment they choose to tell it (day or season), or the different formats they employ to address the temporary motivators and barriers experienced by diverse audiences within their target group. The other aspect is curation. In a world inundated with information and with an audience-driven by a discovery mindset, especially among younger generations, brands can play a crucial role in curating the ever-present digital landscape. This is when the magic can truly happen as brands build a common ground and language, with their audience based on shared interests. We must not overlook the remarkable potential of AI in bridging the gap between brands and people. Hyper-personalization, once a distant dream, has now become a tangible tool for exploration, empowering brands to establish deeper connections. To make all of this possible, there has never been a more critical moment to revisit the foundations of our industry - to delve deep into the study of our beloved brands’ origins, values, purposes, and emotive pillars. When we unleash the always-on, co-creative, and co-owned mode upon the world (yes, that will happen), we need to be confident that we still command the essence of our story.
The creative industry is known for its fast-paced and ever-changing nature. How do you stay inspired and continuously innovate in your approach to creativity and problem-solving?
Like many professionals in the creative industry and tech field, I thrive in fast-paced and dynamic environments. I draw inspiration from continuous learning and the people around me, both those from whom I learn and those who learn from me. I am motivated by partners who challenge me and problems that require innovative solutions. These are the defining aspects of the industries where I excel and find fulfillment.
Lastly, having transitioned from the role of Head of Creative Shop at Meta, what exciting ventures or projects are you currently involved in, and what can we see you doing next? Ask me again in a couple of months. At this stage, I am still standing at the shore wondering what new doors will open up for me, which one will I finally walk through, and finally which new peak I am destined to reach next!
This piece was first published in Communicate's Women to Watch Issue 2023.