A CEO and technologist, Willie Pang has a way of talking about all matters digital that makes you pause. It’s in his fervent excitement when he describes our changing digital landscape, and his profound understanding of its business and commercial aspects. His swift rise to the top at MediaCom this year testifies to his capabilities but, most of all shows how he leads an inspiring company culture.

MediaCom is one of the top three media agencies in Australia, with 300 staff across Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland. With clients such as eBay, Australian Unity, Uber and Mars, MediaCom leads the new business rankings in Australia. The agency boasts an impressive list of achievements, such as winning the Victorian Government’s Master Agency Media Services contract that successfully put it back on the map.

Willie Pang, CEO of MediaCom
Willie Pang, CEO of MediaCom

Significant disruptions

With a vivid professional history spanning the past 20 years, Willie has worked through the IT infrastructure space and the dotcom boom. In 2006, he left the safe world of IT and telcos for Yahoo!, one of the world’s fastest-growing digital businesses at the time. It was also Willie’s first foray into the media space. In late 2015, the regional CEO of MediaCom brought Willie onboard as the Chief Digital Officer for Asia–Pacific (excluding China).

In 2016, Willie and his team identified that the industry at large was being shaken up by significant disruptions from new technology, automation, competitive management consultants and professional service firms. However, they realised their business was creatively driven and functioned as a very human, capital-focused enterprise. Ultimately, MediaCom, they decided, was more about selling the services of people and the “wonderful grey matter that lives between their ears”. And so, with this in mind, the company started its transformation journey.

“We gathered together our best thinkers and set ourselves a goal to shift from being a traditional media agency, which is fundamentally made up of professional marketing investment managers, to becoming a real solutions provider,” says Willie. “And what that means for us is helping our clients grow with data, technology, content, creatives and, of course, making smarter investment decisions around marketing. Our clients want incredible diversity of thinking, so they come to us because of our personalities and capabilities. That’s a guiding principle for us.”

“Our clients want incredible diversity of thinking, so they come to us because of our personalities and capabilities.”

That was the genesis of the opportunity for Willie and MediaCom. So, over a period of six months, Willie had a hand in the largest restructure his company had ever seen, with a goal of creating a 30% efficiency in the back-office operations. This would allow MediaCom to invest in new technology and the skill sets of staff, as well as bring in fresh talent from related industries.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”

According to Willie, this incredible shift of an entire organisation would not have been possible without MediaCom’s thriving organisational culture. Working at a company like MediaCom means being in an industry that values creative thinking. So, Willie has always encouraged his staff to raise their hands to discuss challenges, opportunities, wellbeing and diversity. He believes happiness is the secret to sustainable success as it is a catalyst for an employee’s desire to improve. And for Willie, it’s what allows them to go beyond, because “culture eats strategy for breakfast”.

Every day, Willie’s personal leadership philosophy shines through. More than anything, he desires to help his staff become the best version of themselves. There are tangible features in place at the company, such as flexible working hours, wellness programs and more, creating an environment that everyone can enjoy and thrive in.

Like many organisations, MediaCom provides a comprehensive platform of training programs to develop both hard and soft skills. However, it goes a step further with its talent-mapping strategy, which is dedicated to building individual career development plans for everyone – from the most junior employee to the most senior executive. “More and more we’re focused on holistic personal development. So, we discuss the values that help people work with love, joy and peace,” he says.

“More and more we’re focused on holistic personal development.”