CEO at Dentsu MENA
With more than 20 years of industry experience, Tarek Daouk’s major areas of expertise include media strategy, digital, content, and client development, which he has applied to manage client-agency relationships for some of the world’s largest and most sophisticated advertisers. Having joined Dentsu in March 2018, Daouk is charged with accelerating strategic growth by leveraging Dentsu’s unique operating model and expanding the network’s capabilities to design integrated solutions for clients that are focused on the convergence of technology, media, creative content, and advanced analytics to deliver better business and societal outcomes.
Prior to joining Dentsu, Daouk spent much of his career at Starcom Mediavest Group, serving under various leadership roles, most recently as CEO MENA.
Outside of work, he is a member of the Board of Advisors for the American University of Beirut and a strategic advisor for the early-stage technology venture fund Quest Ventures. He is also an active member of the global YPO leadership community.
How would you define leadership today?
New leadership behaviors emerged as critical to navigating these times of disruption. To be resilient in the face of high uncertainty, it is critical to decentralize decision-making. I expect all [in] my team to lead in decisioning, activating radical collaboration, and inspiring people around them. I personally focus on demonstrating and encouraging these observable behaviors, while being empathetic and adaptable as we navigate storms together.
What’s the most important decision you have taken as a leader?
Deciding who to hire for my leadership team. To deliver on our strategy, I need the right people in critical roles – if I make the right decisions when building the team around me, then I can trust them to make the right decisions and free up more of my own decision-making time to focus where I am needed most.
What’s the one decision you wish you hadn’t made as a leader?
I am faced with difficult decisions every day. I try not to dwell too much on the past, but there is an occasion that comes to mind where being too risk-adverse ended up being the wrong decision. Now, I try to encourage everyone to take a leap of faith – what’s the worst that can happen?
In your opinion, who’s the most powerful leader globally today?
One of the most respected leaders who come to my mind is Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors. I recently had a fireside chat with Sharon Nishi, CMO of GM MEA, as part of IWD activations at Dentsu, and discussed the transformation of their business since Barra joined – she truly is doing amazing things in terms of societal impact, as well as successfully leading and transforming the global business.
Who’s your role model?
My mother – she’s a fighter, and she inspires and motivates me every day.
What’s the most important quality that every leader should possess?
Being a good listener.
What’s the one mistake that leaders most commonly make?
Talking too much.
What’s the most critical threat that every leader in our industry should pay attention to today?
The future of work. The pandemic led to a lot of introspection for all of us and we need to design a future that respects the work-life balance and that improves culture and engagement, loyalty, and overall job satisfaction.
What’s the most important risk you took?
After many gratifying and successful years with Publicis, taking on a new and different role at Dentsu was a career-defining risk that I am happy to say has paid off.
What resources would you recommend to someone looking to become a better leader?
Leadership journeys are very personal and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. They can be lonely sometimes. Self-awareness is critical for leaders and the most effective resources have been open-feedback conversations from peers, direct reports, and external coaching.
What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow as a leader?
I dedicate time and measure the number of hours I spend weekly on learning from external sources for subjects that I choose every month.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve ever received?
Talk less, listen more.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve ever given?
Same as above.
You can see the full ranking and methodology here.