Khalook Al-Yassin ’12 advises the region’s up-and-coming content creators at YouTube.
Massage rooms, gyms, sleeping pods, cafes and restaurants aren’t typically what one would expect to find in a workplace, unless, of course, that workplace is Google, which is where Khalook Al-Yassin ’12 has spent the last three years working at YouTube, the social media giant owned by Google.
“A lot of people ask if I used any connections to get the job, and every time I say, ‘I just Googled a role and applied for it,’ and they say, ‘Ah! That’s too good to be true!’” says Al-Yassin. His journey into this dream job, however, was not the typical transition that his contemporaries might have experienced.
Before joining the workforce, Al-Yassin was studying marketing at the University of Strathclyde, Scotland. While his British passport-wielding peers pursued highly competitive graduate schemes, a difficult option for him given his visa status, Al-Yassin knew he had to find a niche in order to work in the United Kingdom. This led to a startup in London that worked on virtual reality technology and was looking to expand into the MENA region, which made Al-Yassin the perfect candidate.
“Because it was a startup, it required me to put on many hats,” says Al-Yassin. “Sometimes I was a business developer, and other times I was a content strategist or tech solutions advisor … and most hats I didn’t know how to wear, but I just had to go with it.” Al-Yassin’s perseverance paid off during a visit to Saudi Arabia for one of their clients, the Public Investment Fund (PIF). It was on this trip where he met his mentor, an employee from Red Bull, who would take him under his wing and help him with everything from CV writing to job hunting, skills which got him to where he is now.
Al-Yassin started at Google as a strategic partner manager for YouTube, working with a portfolio of over 70 content creators in the MENA region.He describes the process as “using the West as a reference point, but with a localized touch.” One such content creator was AboFlah, one of the largest gaming YouTubers in the region, whose subscribers grew from 800,000 to an impressive 14,000,000 within a year, under Al-Yassin’s guidance.
While proud of the success of his clients, Al-Yassin believes that content creation in the MENA region still has a long way to go. “We don’t have a lot of icons or public figures to look up to like they do in the West,” he says. “I want
to see well-educated, well-presented individuals appearing on social media that are moving away from just gags and comedy, and moving towards actual change, speaking to the youth.”
As for any aspiring content creators in the region who wish to be a part of this change, Al-Yassin’s advice is “be brave, don’t listen to the noise, and be consistent. I would compare a content creator’s work ethic to that of an athlete. When people see them create a video they go ‘Ah! Anyone can do that,’ but it’s actually very difficult to churn out that success week in, week out.”
It is this consistency that eventually led to Al-Yassin’s promotion to community partner manager for YouTube Shorts, the newly introduced feature of YouTube that supports short-form content. Becoming the face of YouTube Shorts in the UK and MENA regions, comes the sensation that many young professionals experience with success: imposter syndrome. However, Al-Yassin treated it like anyone else telling him he can’t do something, quoting renowned YouTube vlogger Casey Neistat: “Do what you can’t.”