The Business Year

Hoda Younan

LEBANON - Telecoms & IT

Tapping Talent

Country Manager Lebanon and Neighboring Indirect Markets, Microsoft


Hoda Sleilaty Younan took the helm of Microsoft Lebanon in October 2012, as Country Manager of Lebanon and Neighboring Indirect Markets (Iraq and Afghanistan). Younan concentrates her efforts on five main areas, including empowering SMEs through innovative Microsoft technology, cloud computing, inspiring digital lifestyles, enabling educational institutions and governments with technological platforms, and contributing to the growth of the Lebanese IT sector.

TBY talks to Hoda Younan, Country Manager Lebanon and Neighboring Indirect Markets at Microsoft, on exporting services, the importance of education, and the regional situation.

How would you evaluate the importance of Lebanon to Microsoft in the context of the company’s global reach?

Lebanon is a gateway for innovation in the region and a base for talent. Lebanon has proven to be resilient and even with the current geopolitical situation, we are growing year after year compared to other countries around us. Lebanese IT companies have been successful in taking their services not only to the Gulf and Africa regions, but to Europe as well. Microsoft is helping the country keep a leading edge when it comes to technology and innovation, and empowering its citizens, businesses and educational institutions with programs like TechDays, Imagine Cup and MACH (Microsoft Academy for College Hires). Microsoft is pioneering the next generation technology in Lebanon.

Could you tell us more about Microsoft’s relationship with the Lebanese universities?

Education is one of Microsoft’s main pillars. We work closely with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education in Lebanon as well as public and private organizations to drive transformation in the school and faculty experience through technology. The well-established education system in the country is fertile ground for Microsoft to achieve our overarching mission to help students and educators realize their full potential through strategies and programs such as Microsoft Global Forum, Microsoft Partners in Learning, Imagine Cup, IT Academy, Student Advantage, and DreamSpark. We also support entrepreneurs and start-ups through programs tailored specifically for them like BizSpark, TechDays, and DevCamps.

Considering the country’s solid education system, how would you assess Lebanon’s potential to become a regional technology hub?

Lebanon is an incubator for talent; add to this the rock-solid education system and the people with the right exposure and ideas, and you get a country full of potential and possibilities. Microsoft is working closely with government entities, individuals, businesses and educational institutions to help establish Lebanon as a technology and innovation hub in the region.

What makes the Lebanese market unique and which of Microsoft’s products generate the most sales in Lebanon?

Although a continuing economic slowdown is being reported within the context of the adverse spillover effects of the regional conflict, the analysis of economic sectors report an increase in productivity of small and medium enterprises flourishing under these circumstances compared to bigger enterprises: small and medium business and entrepreneurs are the hope of the country. This is how we build a thriving local partnership ecosystem that is at the core of our support for the local IT economy. The right tools and partnerships can help people connect to valuable skills and new jobs, help businesses grow and secure future stability for the country. Large enterprises and SMEs alike are all moving towards the cloud. Many of our partners in Lebanon started out as young startups and we helped them develop their businesses and take their offering outside the Lebanese borders to the whole Middle East, North Africa and even Europe.

How would you describe the success of Windows 8 in the region and specifically in Lebanon, as well as the adoption rate in terms of both users and software developers?

Windows 8 was a complete transformation for people to adopt. Windows 8.1 came after we really listened to everyone and made a lot of changes to adapt to what people wanted. Here you have to divide between consumers and enterprises when it comes to adoption. On the consumer side, the adoption is much better because in general, Windows 8 is coming with new tablets that have touch capabilities. On the enterprise side, the adoption is gradual because you have more testing and compatibility that has to be done, but I believe it’s progressing in the right direction.

What other steps is Microsoft taking to enhance its competitiveness in the local market?

We are in the process of introducing Windows 10, which is currently available for review, with a wide range of experiences designed to usher in a new era of more personal computing. Windows 10 will be delivered as a service to offer a safe, innovative and updated experience for the supported lifetime of the device. As the world’s first holographic computing platform, Windows 10 enables new ways to communicate, create and explore that are more personal and human.



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