'Gaming is more complicated than people imagine'
Talking work and life with Mohannad Khallouf, Founder & CEO, Dubzplay
How do you typically start your workday?
Every workday starts the same for me: I have my coffee and spend an hour or so reading industry news. With gaming being a part of the tech industry, things change at a very fast pace, so I find it imperative to stay up-to-date with what's new.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
I work in gaming. It's the fountain of youth. Sure, it's a serious job that's more complicated than people imagine, but it allows you to stay in touch with your younger self. On a more day-to-day level, I thoroughly enjoy working on art for games, as it allows you to channel your creative self. For us as a company, it's a business; but for me personally, it's also a form of art. I find creating a world for our users' imaginations to get lost in fascinating.
In your workday, what is the one thing you cannot do without?
My Trello board - organisation is key, and I find that it allows me to organise myself, so that I can switch off after the workday, knowing that all my thoughts and tasks are waiting for me the next day.
What advice would you give your younger self, if you could?
To manage work stress better. You never really know the depths of pressure you can handle until you do something grand. We spent four years working on one product and, at many times, things seemed like they could fall apart. Through sheer will power though, we managed to make it through. I would just tell my younger self that any obstacle is really just a challenge, and that whatever challenge you face, there is a set of moves you can take to fix that so, in reality, anything is possible!
A role model as the perfect professional?
My father Dr Khallouf. He came from humble beginnings and took a chance by moving to Dubai in the early 70s, then went on to become one of the best-known doctors in the country.
Your favourite indulgence when you need a break from work.
My PlayStation. We are all gamers in the office, and nothing irons out an internal disagreement or relieves some stress more than a fight to the death in Mortal Kombat or some multiplayer Call of Duty.
What is one important skill you think every professional should have?
It is all about risk - the ability to make calculated risks but also be willing to pick yourself up if you fail. You will never grow if you don't risk something in return.
How do you maintain a work-life balance?
Fortunately, I have a very strong support system of friends and family but, that said, there were periods where I did not balance work and life. Sometimes, it's just part of the job and if you want to win in life, you have to go the extra mile. What is guaranteed though is that a strong bond with friends and family goes a long way in creating an atmosphere where you have the option to emerge from the grind to unwind. I can't stress how important that is.
Any advice for youngsters getting into the professional arena?
If you live in the UAE, opportunities for start-ups are plentiful, and the tech industry is still not saturated. Add to that government programmes that support start-ups and a nation-wide push to help the industry thrive, and you find yourself in the right place at the right time. Get thinking and take a chance on yourself and your ideas, but do so in a thoughtful manner.
- Staff Reporter