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40 under 40: No. 18 – Farhad Miah

40 under 40 2019

40 under 40: No. 18 – Farhad Miah

Farhad Miah, group director – media, Starcom

Farhad Miah has spent over a decade consulting leading brands on how to achieve success in the digital age. Specializing in performance media, Miah made the move from Publicis London to Dubai in 2013 to play a leading role in Publicis’ performance media brand Performics as director of its UAE operation.

As the regional industry developed, Miah wanted to explore the opportunity of bringing performance media thinking to traditional media channels. He now leads a portfolio of client businesses within Publicis’ Starcom consulting tier 1 brands on innovating their approach to offline media to bring more sophisticated planning and measurement models to ultimately deliver greater ROI.

What’s the best advice you have received in your career?

If you only get to know two things, know your product and know your client. Everything else is detail according to the first boss I ever had, the managing director of a Paris-based technology startup that had opened its London office only 12 months before I started. I have followed that ethos ever since; he believed, as I now do, that knowing how the products we offer service the businesses of the clients we serve, is the best possible method of growing our client’s businesses and in turn, growing ours.

What’s the best advice you have given in your career?

You are only as valuable as the value you add. If you want to take value out, you must first put value in. There is so much focus today on the next promotion or the next pay rise… young talent is so focused on these milestones in their careers that they actually overlook the importance of being significant to an organization. Adding value every single day is the best possible method of achieving key career goals.

What’s the most rewarding thing about your job?

For me, being responsible for shaping the careers of the members of my team is an absolute privilege. I remember being an ambitious young graduate determined to succeed, and am grateful for the various mentors I have been fortunate to have had. My goal is to play a memorable role in the success of anyone and everyone who spends time working on my team.

What’s the most frustrating thing about your job?

The recent negative PR around the transparency of the agency business model. Having worked agency-side from the age of 22 and seeing all the energetic, hardworking young talent who often work 12, 14, sometimes 18 hours a day in order to add value to their client’s businesses, often driven by the passion of creating and innovating, I think it’s time to remind ourselves what great work agencies do and have always done for their partners. I salute the over-nighting creatives, the passionate client service leads and the relentless performance media experts. And of course, the business leads that bring them all together (slightly biased there…).

If not this, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t doing what I am doing today, and finances were not an object, I would focus the time I have adding value and helping solve some of the macro problems of today’s world. Access to education, affordable medicine, climate change, the wealth gap divide and general humanitarian topics are just some of the items that desperately need attention. We all have a responsibility to speak for those who are all too often unheard.

If you had ten million dollars, what would you do?

I would buy 10 million more dollars. What I mean is, I would scale my favorite hobby, which private equity investments. I would build a full-fledged private equity business, using some of the profits and the time it unlocks for me, to follow through with my passion of helping solve some of the problems of the modern day world. Naturally, I would inject significant amounts of capital into the ad tech market.

Finally, why are you (still) in this industry?

The fast paced environment keeps me on my toes, and has always done so. I love working across verticals and adding value to many different client businesses. Working on a massive new business pitch one day, and solving technical ad-serving challenges the next. My job is varied and every day is different. Keeps things interesting, to say the least.

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