CEO at Horizon Holdings
Crowning 28 years at Horizon Holdings, Mazen Jawad has been appointed CEO in early 2022. The group represents five IPG agencies in the region: Horizon FCB MENA, BPN MENA, GolinMENA, Blue Barracuda, and FuelContent.
With a strong ability to navigate challenges and a robust track record in foreseeing the next best practices, Jawad has been recognized as a forward-thinking curator of business strategies and cutting-edge creative solutions. Among other pioneering decisions, he launched one of the first digital agencies and video content production companies before content had taken center stage. A great believer in equal opportunities in the workplace, he also appointed the first Arab woman to lead a multinational creative agency in Dubai.
How would you define leadership today?
Leadership is a never-finished journey where you have to constantly work with people to dream and make those dreams come true, for the organization and everyone who breathes in it.
What’s the most important decision you have taken as a leader?
I passed on my previous position as Head of Horizon FCB Dubai, which I valued so much, to Reham Mufleh – a person who deserved it and who continued the journey that we started together, though with constant innovation and transformation. Having architected this agency with her, I trusted her to continue and drive its evolution with a vision that we were aligned upon and a dream that we shared.
What’s the one decision you wish you hadn’t made as a leader?
My current leadership position is very recent, so I’d like to answer this question in the future.
In your opinion, who’s the most powerful leader globally today?
I would point out Tim Cook, a democratic leader who allows everyone to contribute to the success of the company. He doesn’t let executives and managers make decisions for him but surely keeps an open mind, considers the options, and drives people to follow his lead.
Who’s your role model?
My role model has been and will remain our Founder and Executive Chairman today, Rafic Saadeh. He’s the reason why I fell in love with advertising, and he guided me throughout my career while offering me incredible roles and opportunities, from Dubai to Chicago.
What’s the most important quality that every leader should possess?
There are many important qualities that every leader should have, though integrity is the one that can help you travel far and remain in leadership. This is when your people and your clients know that they can count on you today and tomorrow, eyes closed.
This comes surely on top of remaining innovative and transformational, with relevance to the business, the clients, the stakeholders, and where the future may take us.
What’s the one mistake that leaders most commonly make?
We live and work in a very demanding industry that requires constant change, transformation, and evolution. [However,] bringing people along for this purpose is critical… and the one mistake that some leaders make is complacency – becoming too comfortable and at ease while in pole position.
What’s the most critical threat that every leader in our industry should pay attention to today?
Missing on the transformation of our industry and what our clients want and need. You have to constantly be the first to make those changes that are relevant to the marketplace, and keep improving on them. I remember when we were the first multinational agency to open a video content production company in Dubai, for example – an initiative that proved very fortunate.
What’s the most important risk you took?
I started this video production company back in 2016, when the demand for video productions was still in its infancy, although the potential was and remains very promising. We immediately invested in all the latest equipment, transformed an old storage room into a recording studio, and attracted the right talent to run the show.
What resources would you recommend to someone looking to become a better leader?
To keep listening to everyone. Listen to your bosses, to your peers, to your subordinates, to your clients… Remain accessible so anyone can open up and share a thought, an opinion, or an initiative that may transform the agency or just add value. Most importantly, listen most to the people who love you and care for you.
What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow as a leader?
I am always listening and evaluating what, where, and when to go next.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve ever received?
The impact every decision would make on the people we work with or on the business. Understanding in advance the outcome of decisions from an experienced person over the years surely was a great advantage that I was lucky to have.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve ever given?
I tend to give many of the same leadership advice that I received in the past 28 years of my career, to friends and colleagues in different stages of their lives. The best leadership advice that I have given to some of my leaders is about the never-finished process of change, evolution, and transformation. You never arrive… It’s always about the horizon.
You can see the full ranking and methodology here.