Regional General Manager at Amazon Ads MENAT
Filip Jabbour joined Amazon Ads in 2019 and is responsible for advertising sales solutions, attracting local, regional, and multinational advertisers to promote their brands on and off Amazon.
A 27-year veteran in the advertising industry, Jabbour previously was CEO of GroupM MENA, where he was responsible for scaling the group’s presence in the region and helped build digital products and services, particularly in programmatic, performance, and e-comm. He led the introduction of proprietary audience-based and inventory-scaled trading products and solutions for agency clients, and developed a proprietary data management platform to support the group’s ability to reach audiences across MENA.
Prior to this, Jabbour spent over two decades at Publicis where he held various account management and senior leadership roles. He was appointed as CEO for SMG MENA in 2010, managing all MENA operations spanning nine offices and 17 markets. He then became Executive Vice President, Global Business Development Director, overseeing global new business growth, based in Chicago and reporting to the global SMG CEO.
How would you define leadership today?
Leadership has evolved from the need to keep knowledge to oneself, defining the leader’s power and competitive advantage, to creating an inclusive and facilitative knowledge-sharing environment that empowers the leader’s team to leverage each other’s strengths while feeling uniquely and collectively responsible for the vision that the leader sets them out on.
What’s the most important decision you have taken as a leader?
A leader is not defined by one decision and each circumstance presents its own set of challenges. In my opinion, the success of any leader is generally characterized by the strength of the team supporting them. I realized this early on in my career and decided to focus on my team; recruiting the best and enabling them to flourish. This is something that has stood me in good stead for my current role with Amazon Ads.
What’s the one decision you wish you hadn’t made as a leader?
Although teams look to leaders to be right a lot, this does not eliminate all errors in judgment. We are all human and I have learned to accept faults, learn from them, and apply that learning when I need to tackle the next decision.
In your opinion, who’s the most powerful leader globally today?
We often mistake power for strength or levels of aggression – who shouts the loudest. To me, a great leader influences the world around them to make it a better place.
The two global leaders that have impacted my life are Sheikh Mohammed – for the vision he set out and the dedication he exhibited in relentlessly persevering to make Dubai home to many expats while turning it into a global and regional hub; and Jeff Bezos – for redefining the way we transact on a daily basis and setting out key leadership principles, such as ‘customer obsession’ or ‘invent and simplify,’ with his team that guide him through all his initiatives within Amazon and beyond.
Who’s your role model?
On a personal level, it has always been my grandfather and father. They taught me that true success is not selfish and that you are remembered less by your accomplishments than by the way you touch other people’s lives.
What’s the most important quality that every leader should possess?
Although you are required at times to lead the charge and tackle the obstacles ahead of any other member of your team, a leader should be able to, as comfortably, lead from the back and guide the team in the right direction, trusting their skillsets and judgment calls.
What’s the one mistake that leaders most commonly make?
The reason any leader assumes a position is based on the promise or ambition of how that leader will drive success in a new role. Many leaders make the mistake of thinking that their journey ends with their appointment to the role. It doesn’t and, as we say at Amazon, it’s always Day 1.
What’s the most critical threat that every leader in our industry should pay attention to today?
We are continuously experiencing one of the fastest rates of change in consumer behavior, technological impact, and sustainable business practice in history. The minute that we assume our past successes will carry us through the next set of challenges and stop being curious to learn, we begin to fail as leaders.
What’s the most important risk you took?
I have tackled multiple challenges throughout my career, whether in my early development years in assuming bigger assignments than my experience allowed at the time, or when I moved to the US to take on a global role. Each situation carried a certain level of risk that I needed to be comfortable taking, trusting that my instincts and capabilities would carry me through. If you want to bet on anything in life, the safest bet should be on yourself.
What resources would you recommend to someone looking to become a better leader?
Surround yourself with people that can challenge you while wanting the best for you, and as Albert Einstein said, “Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution.”
What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow as a leader?
I am humbled by the amount of information I don’t know and embrace the challenge to continue learning. Every day at Amazon presents new opportunities, and I count myself lucky that I get the chance to continually think of new ways to help our customers.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve ever received? What’s the best leadership advice you’ve ever given?
I combined both answers. It is one that I learned early in my career and continue to impart to others today still: Avoid presenting your manager with a problem without proposing a solution. Even if the solution is sub-optimal, the manager will appreciate your thought process and effort, and at the very least have a threshold to constructively work from, to ultimately work with you to reach a more effective solution.
You can see the full ranking and methodology here.