CEO at MCN Mediabrands
With over two decades of experience at the helm of leading organizations in the marketing services sector, Shadi Kandil is a transformational leader with demonstrated strength in championing organizational redesign to promote long-term growth.
In his current role as CEO of MCN Mediabrands – IPG’s media holding company – he is spearheading the group’s digital transformation journey and the evolution of its offering to lead in the age of data analytics and technology.
Before joining Mediabrands, Kandil served as a board member for the Montreal-based analytics startup Semeon. As chair of the board’s strategic planning committee, he led several rounds of fund-raising activities, co-authored pitch decks, funding term sheets, and setting up governance protocols. At Centennial College, he led the college’s successful bid with the Ministry of Education to launch Ontario’s first-ever graduate certificate program focused on digital marketing, transformation, and the evolution of programmatic trading.
His approach to leadership is one that embraces collaboration and openness. His practice is founded on the basis of meritocracy, institutionalizing equity, and leading with integrity and authenticity.
He considers himself a lifelong learner, committed to the pursuit of knowledge to stay relevant. His passion for giving back prompted his teaching assignment at Ontario’s Centennial College, while volunteering on the board of two charities focused on enhancing youth mental health and providing technology access to disenfranchised communities.
How would you define leadership today?
I don’t think the core definition of leadership has changed over time. What changed, however, is how we practice good leadership. In the ever ambiguous and uncertain business environment, to be successful, leaders should embrace a distributed model for decision making and stand for a genuinely collaborative, inclusive, and empathetic leadership approach.
What’s the most important decision you have taken as a leader?
It will always be decisions relating to people and it will always be in the interest of advancing collectively as a team.
What’s the one decision you wish you hadn’t made as a leader?
Again, it will be decisions about people. I think the ‘why’ isn’t relevant, it will always be circumstantial. What is more important is reflecting, acknowledging, and learning for the future.
In your opinion, who’s the most powerful leader globally today?
The notion of power is relative. I don’t know which aspect of power you refer to. There’s power in empathy, there’s power in ignorance, there’s power in intelligence, etc. And I believe different leaders exhibit different propensities on these traits.
Who’s your role model?
Different people inspire me at different times because I don’t think human beings stand still.
What’s the most important quality that every leader should possess?
I think it all starts with integrity.
What’s the one mistake that leaders most commonly make?
We are guilty of making many mistakes, not one. Again, what’s more important than counting mistakes is being conscious of these mistakes and the actions we take as a result.
What’s the most critical threat that every leader in our industry should pay attention to today?
Change (and, with it, uncertainty) has always been and will continue to be a natural by-product of doing business.
What’s the most important risk you took?
By mere definition, all risks are important as it involves a certain trade-off. What is more critical is to have had weighed the costs and the benefits against the risk, and to ensure the involvement and alignment of all stakeholders with open communication to the team.
What resources would you recommend to someone looking to become a better leader?
Too many to count here. I personally look into subject areas like resilience/grit, empathy, and what it means to be an ally to disenfranchised communities, managing under ambiguity, etc.
What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow as a leader?
Two things, really. I constantly reflect on my actions and behaviors. And I embrace learning as a lifelong endeavor.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve ever received?
This too shall pass…
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve ever given?
Take care of yourself and everything else will eventually fall in place.
You can see the full ranking and methodology here.