2019 Judges

The judges for the MENA Search Awards 2019 are as follows:


Founder, Bertey Ltd |

Dawn Anderson lectures on search and digital marketing strategy at Manchester Metropolitan University, is an international conference speaker (UK, US, AUS, IT), a trainer, and runs a digital marketing and international SEO consultancy agency, Bertey based in Manchester, UK.

Dawn has spoken at some of the leading UK and global search marketing conferences, including Pubcon (Las Vegas and Florida), SASCON (Manchester, UK), European Search Conference (Liverpool, UK), Search Leeds (Leeds, UK), Brighton SEO (Brighton, UK), SMX London (London, UK), SMX East (San Jose, US), Ungagged London (London, UK), Ungagged Las Vegas (Las Vegas, US), MozCon (Seattle, US) and State of Search (Dallas, US).  Dawn has also spoken at conference across Europe and as far afield as Australia.

Dawn has been in digital marketing and SEO for 12+ years and works with leading brands providing digital marketing and SEO strategy and consultancy across a number of sectors. She is a Northern Digital, UK, EU and US Search Awards Judge.

Dawn also contributes to leading search marketing industry publications such as Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal, The SEMPost, State of Digital and Smart Insights.

Dawn also supervises Masters dissertation students undertaking their MSc in digital marketing strategy at Manchester Metropolitan University and also lectures and undertakes workshops on search and marketing analytics teaching International Fashion Promotion students at Manchester Fashion Institute

Jim Banks


Jim has over 18 years of digital advertising experience.

Since then he’s spent in excess of £220 million buying traffic for over 1000 companies.

Jim is a keynote speaker invited to speak at industry events around the world, including Pubcon, Retail Global, Marketing Festival, Friends Of Search, Hitpath Masters Conference, a4uexpo, SES, SMX and Affiliate Summit.

Jim has been a regular fixture on the judging panel at the UK, European, MENA and US Search awards for the past four years and is a returning judge for this years UK Search Awards.

Never one to shy away from giving an opinion or pulling punches, Jim enjoys critiquing entries at the Awards and seeing what the search community thinks is worthy of winning.


Leanne Foy

Group Marketing Manager at markettiers |

Dan Barker

Ecommerce, Digital Marketing, Analytics Consultant |

Dan Barker works across digital marketing, ecommerce, fintech, and data. Across the years he's worked for over 100 brands - both on a freelance basis, and in-house. He's worked up to CMO & board level, including direct responsibility for the management & marketing of 4x large Ecommerce sites (2x £20-25m turnover, 2x £50-60m turnover).

Bryan Corbett

Director, Disney Digital International, The Walt Disney Company |

Laura Crimmons

Founder, Silverthorn |

Laura is the Founder of Silverthorn, a PR, social media & content marketing agency. Laura is a regular trainer and speaker at industry events such as INBOUND2017, Learn Inbound, UnGagged Vegas, Yoastcon, SMX München and BrightonSEO, where she has delivered the link building/Digital PR training since 2013.

She won PR Moment’s Young Professional of the Year 2017, was named in The Drum’s 2017 50 Women in Digital Under 30 and was nominated for the CIPR’s Outstanding Young Communicator 2017.

Yasser El Sarw

Regional Deputy General Manager of Digital Marketing , Nissan Motors Corporation |

With over 10 years of experience in the digital marketing field and handling over 30 regional and global brands, Yasser is an award winning digital marketing expert who knows how to put businesses on the right direction within the digital space and optimize their investments for maximum ROI. Yasser was able to manage regional and global digital businesses and lead them to achieving remarkable shifts in their digital performance, exceeding expectations at all levels.

In his latest role as Regional Deputy General Manager in Nissan Motors Corporation, he is leading all performance marketing initiatives for Africa, Middle East, India and Turkey and working closely with all digital leads to ensure adherence to the regional and global digital marketing vision for the company that drives business and brand forward


Kevin Gibbons

Managing Director, Re:signal |

Kevin Gibbons is Managing Director of Re:signal, a digital marketing agency specialising in SEO and content marketing. 

With offices in London, Zurich and Tallinn, Re:signal helps clients such as Expedia, Totaljobs and the Financial Times by acting as an extension to their teams.  Kevin has been involved in digital marketing since 2003 often speaking at industry leading conferences and writing for high profile marketing and digital publishers.

Bastian Grimm

CEO & Director Organic Search | Peak Ace AG |

Bastian Grimm is the CEO & Director Organic Search at Peak Ace and a renowned expert in large-scale, international SEO – managing sites of almost any size in highly competitive industries. Always eager to expand his knowledge, with more than 15 years’ experience in online marketing, technical and global SEO, Bastian currently oversees Peak Ace’s search engine optimisation as well as content marketing initiatives. 

Striving for efficiency is one of Bastian Grimm’s key guiding principles. It has shaped his entire career. His belief that understanding a target market means not only getting to grips with the language, but also the culture, has held him in good stead. Bastian leads a thriving team of expert native speakers, able to serve clients in 20+ languages, and the results speak for themselves.

A full-service performance marketing agency with a focus on “all things search”, Peak Ace has a flair for over-achieving. Having been named a FOCUS growth champion for multiple years in a row, as well as scooping up trophies at both the European Search and Drum Search Awards, Bastian is proud to lead such an innovative, ever-expanding company. His secret? Dynamic, decisive processes, a phenomenal team and going to bed with inbox zero.


Neil Hardy

Digital Director, Shearings Leisure Group |

Chris Hurst

Digital Marketing Manager, Thomson Reuters MENA |

Chris's career started with Latitude back in the UK in 2012. Having worked across a number of accounts from SME’s to multi-national corporations Chris always had the passion for search marketing and for bringing together other channels to ensure that companies take a ‘holistic approach’ to their digital marketing. Moving to the MENA region in 2014, he moved with Latitude to help expand the business over here and to help stimulate a market that was both maturing and developing at a fantastic speed. 

Current role at Thomson Reuters makes Chris responsible for their ‘go-to-market’ strategy across 14 countries across 4 business units each holding many different solutions and products. Chris's role is to ensure that Thomson Reuters bring all digital channels together and continue to increase their web presence in the region.

Mohammad Itani

Regional Executive Director, Digital for MCN Mediabrands |

Mohamad Itani has 15 years of digital media experience, spent mostly at the cutting edge of new media, technology and data innovation. As a digital evangelist, he successfully established and managed multiple digital functions throughout his career.  

Mohamad joined MCN in 2009 as Regional Digital Director of Initiative MENA where he was commissioned to establish the digital practice across key markets including UAE, KSA, and Egypt.

With MCN’s vision towards embracing innovation and benefiting from the power of consolidation, Mohamad was in charge of launching Platform5 as MCN’s performance-driven, integrated services and technology agency supporting MCN Mediabrands, UM, Initiative and Magna.  

In his latest role as Regional Executive Director, Digital for MCN Mediabrands, Mohamad works closely with the agency digital leads to craft a cutting-edge digital product that complements each agency’s DNA and strategic objectives, while providing guidance on the design of the commercial strategy.



Charlie Kalech

Founding Director, J Town Internet Services |

Mr Kalech is the founding director of Jerusalem's senior digital agency. As an expert and pioneer in cross-cultural and multi-national digital communication. Mr. Kalech has worked on projects in over 30 countries on every populated continent. By 1996, Mr. Kalech had already launched digital media in the Former Soviet Union, Europe, India, Israel and North America.

The core business of J-Town is website design and Internet marketing, optimizing business ROI and SROI by strategically unifying and integrating investments in people, processes and technology resulting in increased productivity, greater profits and a better customer experience.

Mark Knowles

CEO Pixelsilk, Inc. |

With decades of experience and hundreds of software and web marketing and development projects under his belt, Mark Knowles has an in-depth understanding of web marketing, design, development, and search engine optimization (SEO). 

His professional background includes developing technology solutions for companies such as JELD-WEN, Intel, adidas Golf, PacifiCorp and many others. And as an entrepreneur, Mark has built several technology companies into multimillion-dollar organizations. 

During the past several years, Mark's focus has been founding and developing the SEO-friendly content management system (CMS), Pixelsilk. At Pixelsilk, Mark leads a team that combines the Web CMS with SEO best practices for client websites across the globe. Industry luminaries like Adam Audette, Bruce Clay, Eric Enge, Laura Lippay, and others have publicly endorsed Pixelsilk.

In addition, Mark speaks at search marketing conferences including Search Engine Strategies™ (SES), Search Marketing Expo™ (SMX), PubCon™ and others. He also serves as an advisory board member at SEMpdx in Portland, Oregon, and is co-chair of the annual web marketing conference, Swivel in Bend, Oregon. 

On a personal note, Mark Knowles is known for having a relentless energy and a passion for craft beer.



Judith Lewis


Judith Lewis is the founder of the deCabbit Consultancy specialising in integrated digital marketing consultancy and execution. She is a specialist integrated online marketer with skills in SEO, PPC, and Social Media Marketing as well as other digital marketing techniques. She has been doing SEO since before it had a name and has worked both in-house and agency-side. 

She has judged both US & EU Search Awards, is a founding everywoman Modern Muse and is the coordinator for London Girl Geek Dinners.  Having both an in-house and agency background, her clients have included Google, Virgin, NSPCC, Zopa, Slendertone, the Guggenheim, SAP, Amadeus, Blue Cross, & ShareThis. She works from planning through to execution, integrating her digital expertise through research & analysis, design & build through to deployment.

Judith writes for the SEO Chicks and Mostly About Chocolate as well as the Huffington Post.  She speaks at various conferences around the world and is passionate about teaching and helping businesses large and small (as well as chocolate).


Edgar Liñayo

Global Creative Manager, Bacardi |

Jason Meininger

SEO Product Manager, StepStone UK |

Working online since the original internet boom, Jason now has over a decade of hands-on experience with on-and off-site SEO programmes at StepStoneUK, the UK’s leading family of online recruitment classified sites.

With a background in web design, development, marketing, and project management, his primary focus is scalable, platform-led technical optimisation tactics, improving reach and efficiency to drive organic traffic and maximise engagement across a portfolio of large-scale generalist and smaller specialist recruitment domains including Totaljobs.com and Jobsite.co.uk.

Jason also judged the 2017 MENA Search Awards, and maintains a parallel career in London as a theatrical producer and lighting designer.


Jubran Moe

Head of Digital Marketing, Gulf Related |

Jubran is Head of Digital Marketing at Gulf Related which owns and runs different malls and hotels in Abu Dhabi, he has over 12 years of digital experience between Australia and UAE and one of the first Search marketing people in the UAE.



Luis Navarrete-Gomez is the Global Head of Search Marketing for The LEGO Group. Based in London he is responsible for all SEO and Paid Search activity for LEGO.

Luis has over 15 years’ Digital Marketing experience in helping corporations use the web to drive online visibility and generate leads that have resulted in new business online.

Zbigniew Nowicki

Managing Director, Bluerank |

Zbigniew has been working in digital industry for more than 20 years, advising to market leaders and innovators. Co-owner of Bluerank, awarded “Best Large Integrated Search Agency” in 2017 European Search Awards. Founder of BlueAlliance and DALL Int. - international business partnerships of independent agencies from Europe. A pioneer in the research of customer experience and user satisfaction, co-founder of opiniac.com platform. Speaker at digital conferences in Poland and abroad. Privately – double happy dad, ultramarathon runner, a fan of hard rock and Labrador Retriever dogs.



Akvile Pareigyte

Head of Digital Consulting, VOLTLAB |

Akvile has over 15 years of experience in ground-breaking digital marketing. Former head of global digital marketing at Jumeirah Group and Digital Marketing Lecturer & Consultant at the Digital Marketing Institute Middle East, Akvile now heads digital consultancy at a digital performance agency VOLT LAB. Akvile is actively engaged in the digital education field globally and is also a member of Google’s Digital Academy in the UK. She is Google’s Regional Trainer, Digital Facilitator at PWC Digital Academy, The Emirates Academy, University of Colombo and The Maldives Academy of Hospitality & Tourism. Akvile’s innate ability to maximize the web’s full potential has resulted in her being a sought after international speaker, trainer and digital judge.

Tarek Reda

Head of Digital, bfound.io |

When he's not rocking out on his guitar, Tarek is a well-versed digital marketer currently heading the digital team at bfound - a local digital marketing solutions company. His career started over 10 years ago back in Cairo before he acquired his masters degree in Digital Marketing from London. Tarek has always had a passion for Search Marketing. Having ran paid search campaigns for companies across MENA, Sub-Saharan Africa, UK and USA with monthly budgets ranging from $50 to $500,000, Tarek has a proven track record of implementing performance marketing campaigns. Tarek also lectures on digital marketing topics including Paid Search, Paid Social, and more. 

Mayer Reich

CEO & Founder, RankAbove |

Mayer is the CEO and Founder of RankAbove, TeamUp, and Adulting Health. Prior to foundingRankAbove in 2007, Mayer was Founder and CEO of ITS, a search marketing firm, where he noticed a common need among his customers: they struggled to manage the colossal task of optimizing their websites, often comprised of thousands to hundreds of thousands of pages. Mayer eventually sold ITS so that he could work towards filling this need for sophisticated SEO technology.

Two years later, in 2009, RankAbove launched its proprietary SEO technology, the RankAbove platform. Mayer is also the founder of TeamUp a real estate venture as well as Adulting Health a health technology company. 

Manny Rivas

CMO, Aimclear |

Manny Rivas is a marketer, entrepreneur, speaker & seasoned pit-master. He came to Aimclear® as employee No. 3 and now serves as Chief Marketing Officer. In his nine years with the company, Manny has helped establish Aimclear as an internationally regarded marketing company. Aimclear notched three 2016 US Search Awards, including Best Large Integrated Agency, while Manny was VP of Client Services. He was twice honored as a "Top 25 Most Influential PPC Expert." 

Credits include Uber, eBay, Airbnb, Dell, LinkedIn, Eurail, Firestone, Amazon, Quest, 3M, InfusionSoft, Siemens, The Washington Post and numerous others. A respected clinician on the international marketing conference speaking circuit, For years Manny has schooled dozens of international search & social marketing conference audiences, from Sydney to Berlin, San Francisco to London. 

Manny’s foundational work deconstructing YouTube (for thought leadership & profit) impacted marketing tactics globally. He has nearly a decade of search, display and social marketing experience, handling media spend investments from massive to brilliantly frugal. Manny is the guy smart companies trust with their media spend. As an entrepreneurial ambassador for Aimclear, he drives a substantial percentage of Aimclear’s retention & new business revenue. 

Manny loves cooking, world travel and fishing Minnesota’s pristine waters.



Ant is the founder of digital growth agency Pure Optimisation and the former Head of Search and Social at FTSE 250 listed AutoTrader UK. As a previous UK Search Awards winner Ant has extensive technical and hands on expertise delivering integrated campaigns across SEO, Social Media, PPC & Conversion Rate Optimisation.

Ant is a keen advocate of data lead decision making and the integration of the silos that often exist between the primary digital channels.

Mansour Salameh

Head of Omni-Channel Retail, Facebook |

Gilad Sasson

digital marketing expert & CEO of nekuda Web Marketing Solutions |

Gilad Sasson aka algoholic is a digital marketing expert and the CEO of nekuda Web Marketing Solutions, a one-stop shop for all digital solutions, from search engine and social media marketing to creative, branding and everything in between.

Gilad has been chasing search engine algorithms since the late 1990s, and is equally annoyed and intrigued every time Google gets smarter. Before founding nekuda Gilad was a copywriter, Photoshop editor, a content manager and an affiliate marketer in pre-Google search engines. During his work with the Israeli yellow pages and at affiliate marketing phase he discovered search engine marketing, and when Google took over online search and the term SEO was coined, he was already hooked.

In his 20 years' experience in the search marketing industry, Gilad Sasson has planned and built search engines for corporates, optimized and promoted websites for both local and global search engines; managed the internet arenas of Zap Group (the local version of Yellow Pages), and was a VP manager at InterLogic, an international gaming company.

In his position as a CEO of nekuda, Gilad is responsible for managing large-scale digital projects for various companies, startups, non-profits and government organizations. Gilad is also an online marketing consultant for companies and startups, a member of advisory boards in several organizations and a recurring speaker and presenter in industry events and summits including SMX, TNW, Israel Digital, Sphinconn, GoMobile, Amsterdam CAC, DMIExpo and more.

You can also follow Gilad Sasson on Twitter and LinkedIn.  

Neil Walker

Digital Marketing & SEO Consultant |



Nick has worked in digital marketing since 1998. Moving to Russia in 2003 he specialised in multilingual search and broadening his knowledge across digital channels, content and PR. During this time he contributed to the Russian digital startup community; working with Yandex, the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and the US State Department.

Returning to the UK in 2011, Nick then built and led marketing teams at Arena Media, Havas Media Group and the Dentsu Aegis Network. As the technical SEO lead at Vodafone Group since 2014, he has improved online performance and customer experience across 22 international markets. 

As an advocate for raising standards in online marketing, Nick judges the UK Search Awards and EU Search Awards. He enjoys speaking at conferences on the topics of mobile/data-first marketing, cross-channel campaigns and technical SEO. Outside work, he enjoys cycling and taking part in Prince’s Trust cycling events.

Colin Woon

programme director, CV-Library |

Colin has been in the digital/search industry for 13 years working in both agency and client roles in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Currently leading the Organic Search and SEO department at CV-Library as programme director, Colin is vastly experienced in digital marketing integration and transformation and has been a regular speaker in the industry over the past 5 years speaking in Rome, Portugal, Czech Republic as well as across the UK.

Colin is a strategic SEO specialist who is has built many global strategies for enterprise brands such as Barclaycard, and Telefonica, Michelin & William Hill. While being highly skilled and very passionate about the technical and creative origins of search, his enterprise-level digital integration strategies demonstrate his detailed background.



Murat Yatağan is an SEO Consultant with 10+ years of expertise on SEO and UX, of which 5 years derives from his Senior Product Analyst role at Google Search Quality Team (aka. Trust & Safety) in Ireland. During his consultancy career he built expertise on technical SEO, high quality content creation strategy, outreach and international SEO throughout managing 65+ clients globally from various business verticals.

Currently, he works at Brainly as VP of Growth in Poland. Before joining to Brainly, he worked at Global Savings Group as a Senior SEO Manager with a specific focus on technical SEO and offsite quality between 2017 and 2018 in Germany.

He is a member of Advisory Board at a San Francisco based startup Indisera focusing on growth strategies and technical consultancy. He has been a Judge for UK Search Awards, MENA Search Awards and European Search Awards since 2016, and he also became a Judge for US Search Awards in 2018. He's also an Ambassador of OnCrawl.


Peter Young

Managing Partner / Head of Content, Wavemaker |

Peter has been actively involved in the Northern agency scene for nearly 20 years, working for some of the biggest agencies in the North including MediaVest (now part of Dentsu Aegis Group), Brilliant Media, Amaze, MediaCom and more recently as Managing Partner of WPP stablemate Wavemaker , supporting clients ranging from Expedia, GE, Thomas Cook, Lexus, DFS through to comparison behemoths such as Compare the Market.

Peter has also been hugely active in the Manchester digital scene having started the original Manchester SEO conference, and more recently as co-founders of both SasCon and Bidex.

In his current role, Peter leads Precision Marketing across the business, delivering data-centric strategies for clients across Programmatic, Paid Search/Social, SEO, Data Consultancy and Analytics – ensuring these are integrated completely into the wider channel offerings within the Wavemaker product.



SEO Consultant |

Lukasz Zelezny is former head of organic acquisition at uSwitch, a UK based price comparison website with offices in London. Leading his team, he was responsible for the uSwitch.com brand’s organic visibility, conversion rate, traffic and engagement. Lukasz is a hands-on person; he spends lots of his time keeping up to date with the changes in the technology of online marketing. 

Lukasz started his career in 2005 and has since been responsible for the organic performance of a number of companies including HomeAway, Thomson Reuters, The Digital Property Group and Fleetway Travel.

 He is a graduate from the Silesian University of Technology with a BA in Marketing.

In 2015 he traveled 75,000 km speaking at many SEO and social media conferences including ClickZ Shanghai China, ClickZ Jakarta Indonesia, SiMGA Malta, SES London in United Kingdom as well as conferences held in Europe; Marketing Festival in Brno, Brighton SEO in Brighton, UnGagged in London. Every year he is actively participating in 10 to 20 events as a SEO/Social Media keynote speaker. Additionally, he organizes workshops where he is sharing tips around SEO, Social Media and Analytics.

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