Good Morning McCann’s “Untold Stories: The Path to Leadership”
This morning, we hosted a special “Good Morning McCann” thought leadership seminar in honor of Black History Month. Four African American leaders from across McCann Worldgroup participated on the panel, “Untold Stories: The Path to Leadership” and shared their experiences and advice on how to navigate the path to leadership. The panel included: Chioma Aduba, SVP, Group Account Director, McCann NY; Dhane Scotti, EVP, Global Executive Business Lead, McCann WG; Geline Midouin, Chief Talent Officer, McCann Health; and moderator Rahel Rasu, Director of Communications, McCann WG.
The discussion kicked off with a question about when these leaders experienced the shift from “doer” to “leader.” Geline said it was when she realized that her performance wasn’t just about herself anymore – it was about her team, which forced her to shift her mindset from “I” to “we. ” While it was a gradual process in Chioma’s experience, she singled out one instance when all eyes in the room turned to her, and she realized she was expected to be the one with the vision. For Dhane, it was about the looks on peoples’ faces when they needed something – and realizing that what they needed was less about the product and more about inspiration and guidance. “My responsibility now is more for invisible things than tangible things,” he said.
When asked about their biggest influences in life, both Geline and Dhane cited their parents. As a nurse’s aide, Geline’s mom once told her, “I always think about how I want my patients to remember me.” This stuck with Geline and, since the beginning (vs. the end) of her career, she has thought about her legacy and making a lasting impact. Dhane’s biggest influence is his father, who always encouraged him to take risks. Chioma’s greatest professional influence was a former colleague with his own leadership style. “He was a quiet leader,” she said, which made her realize that there are different ways to lead and different leadership styles. Chioma also gave a shout out to McCann NY President Devika Bulchandani for her style of leading through inspiration and culture-building.
Rahel then asked the panelists to describe what they look for in a strong team member and how they guide their team’s success. “I like to understand peoples’ stories,” said Dhane. “That’s how you get the most out of people.” Geline said she gravitates towards people who are “insanely curious” and have the courage to disagree, speak up or share an idea. In Chioma’s mind, it’s all about collaboration. A strong team member is more focused on the “we.” And, an employee is more likely to speak up or disagree when they feel like the team has their back.
Rahel’s final question was about how the black experience has influenced the panelists’ career path. As children of immigrants, both Chioma and Geline joked about how there were only two real “acceptable” professions in their parents’ minds: law and medicine. However, they both carved their own paths and followed their passions into the advertising industry – and their parents came around. Dhane said that as an African American man in the advertising industry, he did struggle with how much he needed to “assimilate” into the industry, but ultimately found the freedom to be himself. “Advertising is a way to express uniqueness, so it’s cool for me to be whoever I am.”