Shant Oknayan helps brands spread joy, one TikTok at a time

General Manager, Global Business Solutions MENAT, ByteDance and TikTok

Former Industry/Office: Digital Business and Technology, Dubai
Alumnus since 2011

Shant Oknayan

Several weeks into his new position at Byte Dance and TikTok, Shant Oknayan put fingers to keyboard on LinkedIn to reflect on his new role as General Manager of Global Business Solutions for the MENAT region. Although the global pandemic by the beginning of June had altered so much of the business landscape and people’s personal habits, one thing stood out to Shant: people were looking for joy in their lives, and TikTok could help them find it. “It’s clear that the culture [at TikTok] is very much one of doing what’s best for the greater good,” he said.

In a Campaign ME article six weeks later, Shant considered how brands were navigating the Covid-19 landscape. After an uninspiring early start, companies started to follow the lead of influential content creators who give consumers what they want — “to laugh, to be inspired, to be amazed.” Shant described how he and his team decided to invite advertisers to “make TikToks, not ads.”

In September, TikTok partnered with the Gritti Fund on #PitchUpInTheSky, a competition for entrepreneurs to create an innovative business pitch through a 60-second video on TikTok, which will be judged by a panel of experts. “We look forward to celebrating creativity and helping these budding entrepreneurs achieve their dreams and overcome their fears, especially during these challenging times,” said Shant.

Three months into his new job helping businesses and brands discover the benefits of marketing with TikTok, Shant appeared as a guest on TikTok’s YouTube channel “Life at TikTok.” He discussed his love for building things and solving problems, and revealed that at TikTok, he found the opportunity to do this at scale. His ultimate challenge: to change the way the MENAT region shares, consumes, and engages with content. If they can achieve this, Shant believes, he and his team will become part of something revolutionary.

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