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Thursday, 16 January 2020

My Morning Routine: Dina Aly, managing director and co-founder of Matter

Dina Aly, managing director and co-founder of brand consultancy Matter: My Morning Routine looks each week at how a successful member of the community starts their day — and then throws in a couple of random business questions just for fun. Speaking to us this week is Dina Aly (LinkedIn), managing director and co-founder of branding firm Matter.

I am Dina Aly, mother of two wonderful daughters, Lela and Nedjma Abbas. I am also a passionate triathlete — a sport I started two years ago with my husband. Together we have completed Ironman 70.3 six times and Ironman 140.6 once (that’s a crazy 3.9 km swim, 180 km bike and 42 km run).

Endurance sport was also an inspiration for my second business, a healthy energy bar called Brüz. I started this business with my friends because we understand firsthand the impact of good nutrition on performance, health and well-being, and because we are big advocates of sports, adventure and an active outdoor lifestyle.

I started my entrepreneurial journey eight years ago with my two amazing partners. We are constantly pushing the envelope to be better and we love what we do. Over the years I had the amazing job of building over 200 brands across various industries, from global brands like Heinz, Pepsi and Nestle Mega to local brands like Flo and EGbank. We are in the business of transforming ideas, services and products into impactful brands that drive business growth.

I am not a morning person at all, yet my crazy schedule requires me to wake up very early. My day usually starts at 6.15am which gives me five minutes of silence before the storm begins. I get up, put on my bathing suit, and grab a “Brüz bar” (yes, I’m unabashedly promoting my own brand) to be at swim training at 7am, before heading to the gym.

My busy schedule doesn’t allow me to see family and friends as much as I’d like, so I spend the daily commute catching up with them and taking work-related calls. Being in the professional services industry for more than 15 years, I have a love / hate relationship with my phone, so for my sanity and the sake of everyone around me, I usually switch my phone to silent and return calls every couple of hours once I am out of the car.

My day at Matter involves working with different people. Internally we hold workshops, reviews, and sessions to get insights, build our processes, systems and tools. Externally we work with our clients to translate their ideas into impactful brands. There’s never a dull moment and hardly time to eat, so I always eat at meetings.

I constantly buy books but unfortunately no longer have the time to read them all. I usually read non-fiction. Mindfulness, branding, business, sports, psychology, neuroscience, spirituality are some of the topics I love. I recently read David Eagleman’s The Brain, Reza Aslan’s God: A Human History of Religion, and Letting Go: The Pathway to Surrender by David Hawkins.

Since we started Matter, our goal was to put Egypt on the branding map. We focus on building expertise, developing a strong methodology and tools to transform brands and drive business growth. Branding is often confused as a design or communication exercise. Now more than ever, branding is the translation of your value proposition into a carefully designed brand experience and culture. People do not just buy a product, they affiliate with the brand and its values.

I always joke with my team that we’re a bit like psychologists. We interact daily with many different kinds of people and organizations: Creatives, clients, startups and big corporate entities, and each is unique. We need to understand people’s mindsets, be flexible in working with different personalities, and be respectful of the different expectations within organizational working culture.

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