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Agency Life

Putting Her People First

Putting Her People First

Michael Carnevale

Michael Carnevale

January 29, 2019

This is the kind of leader every team should have.

Alex Panousis, Executive Lead of Havas Canada, gives us the rundown of what she’s most proud of in her career, what inspires her, and the one piece of advice she tries to give everyone.

 

Do people call you Alex or Alexandra?

I was born an Alexandra and became an Alex. I answer to both. 😊

Why should everyone visit Toronto at least once in their lives?

To quote our Mayor John Tory, “We live in the most diverse city in the world.” Toronto has so much of everything. I recently discovered the urban walking paths near the Brick Works. So beautiful and so serene.

So, you have that plus Ossington, the Danforth, the Distillery, Kensington Market. Great food, great experiences, great music, and great arts. We are so lucky.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

An actress….but I couldn’t remember lines so that was out.

So, how’d you get your start in media and advertising?

Like many, I fell into the role. I had a series of administrative jobs in advertising before I moved into account planning. I have been lucky to work on the creative, media, sales, marketing, and tech sides of this industry.

Why Havas?

Havas has a unique ecosystem—it is a truly integrated agency that has a deep skill in digital. We actually make things. I love the Village proposition of Havas: core disciplines in distinct areas that come together to collaborate. Our collaboration is different: confident curiosity. It starts with an evidence-based hypothesis, which is infused with creativity. This makes the work more interesting, but we also are able to maximize performance. I believe we are ahead of the curve with this different operating model.

Tell us about your role.

I am the President of Media and the Executive Advisor to the CEO. I lead a team in two offices, help to inspire and support them, and work to better understand the needs of our clients. Each day is different and indeed like Amazon says, “Today is Day 1!”

Which work are you most proud of in your career, so far?

I have worked with so many incredible people. Watching people grow, supporting their success, learning from them. People are the key to outcomes, relationships, and business successes. Achievements are great but elusive. People matter most, and that is a lesson that I learned over the years.

How important is a media strategy for a bigger communications plan?

Media, at its core, is about understanding people. The best plans solve problems—they look at the best way to reach, influence, convince, discover, and mitigate. Every plan is different. There is no playbook.  Media requires an understanding of the human experience; it is evidence based and creatively inspired.

It used to be that creatives owned the brand and media—the consumer. Today, the lines are blurred, and I love the possibilities that are available.

How do you encourage people to think differently?

Being exposed to new things, experiencing different aspects of culture, listening, observing. Be a student of advertising and pop culture. Learn how to solve problems in different ways. Study, think, collaborate, ask questions. Do something new. Get out of your comfort zone.

How do you inspire others?

It depends. Sometimes it is a push; sometimes it is about helping others find the confidence that they’ve “got this.” My job is to take obstacles away and help teams understand there is a difference between good and great. That “great” is hard. That “hard” is worth it.

What inspires you?

I have gotten to know a Syrian family—with four kids. They came to Canada and literally jumped at the opportunities this great country offered. Watching them learn, adapt, absorb, and deal with adversity has been an amazing life lesson.

Best meal ever?

So many. I love the calamari at Mezes, the chocolate cake at Dessert Lady. My husband and I had an incredible meal at Alobar recently. Gluttony is one of my sins.

Where haven’t you visited but would love to go?

Vietnam. Stunning culture, food, markets, etc.

What is one thing that you wish you could change about advertising?

Industry collaboration and community spirit. This is a very competitive industry—at times a zero-sum game—some say a race to the bottom. We need to find things to rally behind, celebrate, and support our industry. Tide rises all boats.

The one thing that you hope never changes about advertising?

It is an ideas business. No matter what, the best idea should win.

The best advice you’ve ever given?

When you get negative feedback—suspend disbelief for a moment and assume it is true—What would you do differently? Self-awareness is so hard but so important.

The best advice you’ve ever received?

No one comes to work to “f*ck it up.” Assume the best in people, and you will tend to get it.

Alex Panousis, Executive Lead of Havas Canada, gives us the rundown of what she’s most proud of in her career, what inspires her, and the one piece of advice she tries to give everyone.

 

Do people call you Alex or Alexandra?

I was born an Alexandra and became an Alex. I answer to both. 😊

Why should everyone visit Toronto at least once in their lives?

To quote our Mayor John Tory, “We live in the most diverse city in the world.” Toronto has so much of everything. I recently discovered the urban walking paths near the Brick Works. So beautiful and so serene.

So, you have that plus Ossington, the Danforth, the Distillery, Kensington Market. Great food, great experiences, great music, and great arts. We are so lucky.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

An actress….but I couldn’t remember lines so that was out.

So, how’d you get your start in media and advertising?

Like many, I fell into the role. I had a series of administrative jobs in advertising before I moved into account planning. I have been lucky to work on the creative, media, sales, marketing, and tech sides of this industry.

Why Havas?

Havas has a unique ecosystem—it is a truly integrated agency that has a deep skill in digital. We actually make things. I love the Village proposition of Havas: core disciplines in distinct areas that come together to collaborate. Our collaboration is different: confident curiosity. It starts with an evidence-based hypothesis, which is infused with creativity. This makes the work more interesting, but we also are able to maximize performance. I believe we are ahead of the curve with this different operating model.

Tell us about your role.

I am the President of Media and the Executive Advisor to the CEO. I lead a team in two offices, help to inspire and support them, and work to better understand the needs of our clients. Each day is different and indeed like Amazon says, “Today is Day 1!”

Which work are you most proud of in your career, so far?

I have worked with so many incredible people. Watching people grow, supporting their success, learning from them. People are the key to outcomes, relationships, and business successes. Achievements are great but elusive. People matter most, and that is a lesson that I learned over the years.

How important is a media strategy for a bigger communications plan?

Media, at its core, is about understanding people. The best plans solve problems—they look at the best way to reach, influence, convince, discover, and mitigate. Every plan is different. There is no playbook.  Media requires an understanding of the human experience; it is evidence based and creatively inspired.

It used to be that creatives owned the brand and media—the consumer. Today, the lines are blurred, and I love the possibilities that are available.

How do you encourage people to think differently?

Being exposed to new things, experiencing different aspects of culture, listening, observing. Be a student of advertising and pop culture. Learn how to solve problems in different ways. Study, think, collaborate, ask questions. Do something new. Get out of your comfort zone.

How do you inspire others?

It depends. Sometimes it is a push; sometimes it is about helping others find the confidence that they’ve “got this.” My job is to take obstacles away and help teams understand there is a difference between good and great. That “great” is hard. That “hard” is worth it.

What inspires you?

I have gotten to know a Syrian family—with four kids. They came to Canada and literally jumped at the opportunities this great country offered. Watching them learn, adapt, absorb, and deal with adversity has been an amazing life lesson.

Best meal ever?

So many. I love the calamari at Mezes, the chocolate cake at Dessert Lady. My husband and I had an incredible meal at Alobar recently. Gluttony is one of my sins.

Where haven’t you visited but would love to go?

Vietnam. Stunning culture, food, markets, etc.

What is one thing that you wish you could change about advertising?

Industry collaboration and community spirit. This is a very competitive industry—at times a zero-sum game—some say a race to the bottom. We need to find things to rally behind, celebrate, and support our industry. Tide rises all boats.

The one thing that you hope never changes about advertising?

It is an ideas business. No matter what, the best idea should win.

The best advice you’ve ever given?

When you get negative feedback—suspend disbelief for a moment and assume it is true—What would you do differently? Self-awareness is so hard but so important.

The best advice you’ve ever received?

No one comes to work to “f*ck it up.” Assume the best in people, and you will tend to get it.

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