The Middle East Communication Network (MCN) conducted a two day Leadership Conference in Dubai on February 19th and 20th. Held at the Royal Meridien Hotel in Dubai, the conference was attended by over 70 MDs, GMs, and senior leaders from the MCN agencies, as well as by the MCN group leaders.
Ghassan Harfouche, Group CEO for MCN, led the conference – this was his first in front of the entire MCN leadership team as one group. Sessions included business reviews, sharing of initiatives, financial overviews, agency presentations, way forward discussions and hands-on management oriented workshops on growth, integration and more. The sessions were facilitated and “inspired” by guest conductor par excellence – Brad Waldron of Intelligent Inspiration, out of the UK.
Day One was clearly about MCN, and Ghassan Harfouche presented the facts, figures, vision and mission to agency leaders from across the MCN footprint in his open, easy ‘dialog’ style. MCN agencies operate in 15 cities across 13 countries. Day Two featured agency leaders presenting and discussing their strengths (and weaknesses), opportunities ahead, integration channels and areas of intra-agency cooperation and collaboration in open forums. It was two days of getting to know each other better, finding out more about business models that each agency had, their clients, their markets, their core strengths and lots of open dialog.
The sessions were sprinkled with challenging, inspiration sessions conducted by Brad Waldron – and these had quite a few “light-bulb” moments, where every one discovered, invented, realized, agreed, disagreed and then some. In one brilliant opening session, 70 different MCN key people were asked to close their eyes and point to North – ending up in a rather wide almost 360° circle of different directions. Lessons – there were quite a few.
‘Digital’ was an oft-repeated, much debated topic. CEO Harfouche had opened the discussions by insisting that ‘digital’ was no longer a specialization, not a ‘nice-to-have’ at MCN, but an integral part of the core model for every agency at MCN. Naturally, digital training and digital business focus were discussed. What emerged was the inevitability of the digital wave and its power – that digital was ‘oxygen’ and thus a necessity, a right, a way of life, and a given. Every agency, across every geography was either already there, living it, breathing it every day, or getting there by express train.
What came out clear at the end of the sessions that MCN was a “parent company” that held together a family of richly diverse agencies who led their individual fields in their own style, but united in one vision, one common goal that was underlined by Ghassan Harfouche’s mission for MCN – to lead positive change in the Middle East and North Africa’s communications (advertising, media, and PR) industry. At the end of the day, MCN’s clients’ brands would benefit from the take outs – that a proactive, well led, well managed group of agencies could work together towards a better product, better service, and a better industry overall.