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Thursday, 19 November 2020

My WFH Routine: Benjamin Ampen, managing director of Twitter MENA

Benjamin Ampen, managing director of Twitter MENA: Each week, my Morning / WFH Routine looks 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 Benjamin Ampen (LinkedIn), managing director of Twitter MENA.

My name is Benjamin Ampen and I'm a French person who's been working in the region for the past five years. I'm the managing director of Twitter for MENA which means I’m responsible for revenue in the region and making sure all the teams are collaborating well together. I live with my wife in Dubai and we’re now expecting our first kid. Professionally, I’ve been part of a fantastic adventure for the past five years building a team of more than 30 people — and we’re still only scratching the surface.

Twitter has been instrumental in promoting new launches in Egypt which helped deliver information about the Knowledge Hub Universities’ summer courses and the opening of its new Coventry campus over the past year. The Magdi Yacoub Heart Foundation also relied on the platform for generating awareness about its Ramadan donation drive earlier this year.

Before I start my day I try to complete my night. Sleep is extremely important to me and I try to get at least 8 hours a day regardless of when I get to bed. I'm not afraid of sleeping later if necessary, but it's really important I get a good night’s rest for my own sanity and performance at my job. A couple of years ago I read a book called Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker that had some life changing insights about the impact a good night’s sleep can have on your brain and how you function as a human being. It's something that I've really been focusing on this year since we’ve been WFH.

I don't check my phone first thing in the morning and make it a point to not have my phone in the bedroom. I start my day by getting some fresh air on the balcony where I think about the day ahead — really being present and on my own. I've been meditating for eight years now and I'd love to say that I’ve gotten it down to a strict daily routine, but I acknowledge that it can be difficult sometimes to slot it in first thing in the morning. I’ll often get my meditation done in the evening instead.

I used to head to the office on my motor bike right after my morning routine was through, which was a great way to clear my head, but we closed the doors to our offices in March, and they remain closed to this day. We’re looking at next year for a potential return date.

Overall, WFH hasn't changed our daily work. The whole team is well equipped with the hardware and skills to get their job done remotely. We had actually started exploring the possibility of remote and flexible work before the outbreak of the pandemic. It's not crazy to think that some people will want to continue working from home, at least partially, once things are safe enough for offices to reopen. Looking forward, we want to make sure we’re finding talent from around the world and start allowing people to work from wherever they are.

During uncertain times, we put people first. When it comes to management during uncertain times human relationships are crucial. During the first month of the pandemic when there were a lot of questions on what was going on with the world, I consciously made an effort to communicate with everyone from the office, even people outside my own team. The human connection, beyond just business talk, really helped us get through the pandemic. When you build a strong team where culture plays a huge role, the human aspect of the team is very important. We have revenue, marketing, research, content partnerships and public policy departments that all need to work hand in hand to keep things running smoothly, so you need to nurture that culture daily.

Exercise is just as important to me as sleep. Before covid-19 hit I was training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which is probably the worst sport to be practicing during a pandemic. I’ve been running and swimming instead which help me decompress everyday. Although I miss the mat, I've been listening to more podcasts while running. I really like the New York Times’ The Daily and France Culture Radio’s philosophy podcast.

I've been doing a lot more reading and introspection during WFH. I'm not usually a big fan of business books but I think 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman, and Kaley Warner Klemp has been a useful read recently that really captures a lot of important human and business principles I feel are worth sharing. At the start of the pandemic I read Albert Camus’ The Plague, which might be a little grim, but shows how even during the worst moments in history or life you can really find beauty and love in people.

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