Winners of The Media Leaders Awards 2021 revealed

Winners of The Media Leaders Awards 2021 revealed

Hearst’s James Wildman, MediaCom’s Kate Rowlinson and Spotify’s Rak Patel were among the winners of the inaugural awards from Mediatel

Much of the very best in media leadership over the past year was recognised and celebrated today (Thursday 14 January), as Mediatel’s Media Leaders Awards 2021 winners were unveiled during a virtual ceremony of panels and interviews.

The awards featured eight categories overall, including a ‘Judges Special Choice Award’ for which the judges nominated leaders they themselves felt were worthy of recognition.

“The quality of entrants to our inaugural awards was of the highest pedigree and I think all the winners can be justifiably proud to have beaten a tough peer group in every category,” said Mediatel Group’s CEO and chair of the judges, Greg Grimmer.

“A big thank you to our judges as well – the great and good of the industry have given up their time to reward the efforts of the best Media Leaders of today, and indeed tomorrow.”

Read on to find out which of the shortlisted nominees were crowned as this year’s Media Leaders of the Year.

Media CEO of the Year: James Wildman

Hearst UK CEO and the president of Hearst Europe, James Wildman, took home one of three grand prix awards this year, as he was named Media CEO of the Year.

Wildman is credited with acting “swiftly” to ensure the safety of staff when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country – during which Hearst UK has undergone no redundancies or furloughs – and under his leadership the business has also recommitted itself to supporting its multicultural talent by signing up to the Race at Work Charter and championing its Diversity and Belonging group, which has led to changes in recruitment and editorial policies.

In 2020, Hearst also accelerated its ecommerce business, with growth of 322% during the first part of lockdown, and has driven significant increases in its subscription business. In the summer, Hearst also launched a new state-of-the-art product testing facility, The Hearst Institute.

“Picking one CEO of the year – particularly in a shocker of a year like 2020 and amongst such an impressive line up – is no easy task,” commented judge and chair of Liberty Hive, Pippa Glucklich.

“What James has done at Hearst this past year really stood out. His boundless energy, warm spirit and genuine care of his most important product – his people – is inspiring and, importantly, has translated into strong results the whole business can be proud of.”

Mediatel Group CEO and chair of the judges, Greg Grimmer, added that Wildman’s leadership qualities should be an “inspiration” for any current or budding CEO in the media industry.

Reacting to the news of his win during today’s awards ceremony, Wildman said: “Honestly, this is a team effort. It’s been my immense privilege to lead the business over the last few years, but I have to stress this is all about the team. I’ve been amazed everyday by how talented they are.”

Left to right: Mediatel Group CEO Greg Grimmer in conversation with Hearst’s James Wildman

International Media Leader of the Year: Jerry Daykin

Taking home the second grand prix award – International Media Leader of the Year – was Jerry Daykin, senior media director at GSK Consumer Healthcare.

Daykin leads media across GSK’s EMEA region, helping to drive the continued digital transformation of the world’s largest consumer health businesses. He is also capabilities director for the Conscious Advertising Network, a voluntary coalition of organisations set up to ensure that industry ethics catch up with modern advertising technology, and last year represented the ad industry at a global United Nations Human Rights Council event in this capacity.

He also advocates passionately for diverse representation within the industry, as a director of the LGBTQ+ advertising and marketing advocacy group Outvertising, and as a WFA Ambassador. In the last year Daykin co-wrote the WFA’s Diversity in Advertising Guide and pushed for the formation of a task force with over 20 of the world’s top marketers.

The judges were universally impressed by Daykin’s commitment to driving change, both in terms of promoting good media practice and across such key subjects as diversity and ethical advertising.

Commenting on his win, Daykin said: “In a very challenging year we’ve seen so many media companies adapting, and so it’s a huge honour to be chosen amongst such great peers. I know the award doesn’t just reflect my own personal leadership but also the huge work of my GSK team across EMEA, as well as the volunteers I’ve partnered with at Outvertising, Conscious Advertising Network and the WFA.

“I hope it inspires more of us to step up and try and change the media ecosystem, and for a new wave of fresh & diverse leaders to be coming through.”

Left to right: GSK’s Jerry Daykin and John Moulding, editor-in-chief at Videonet

Future Media Leader of the Year: Amy Butterworth

(Award sponsored by Mail Metro Media)

With three years under her belt at Tesco, media manager Amy Butterworth was crowned as the first ever Future Media Leader of the Year – the final grand prix of the Awards – for her work ensuring best in class media planning across all Tesco marketing campaigns, as well as developing rigorous standards for digital media across social, video and audio.

The judges were also impressed by her contributions to the wider industry, where she sits on the ISBA TV & Video Steering Group, forms part of the Work Research Panel (contributing to research projects such as “Brand Gap 2″), and speaks at events and webinars.

“Amy has a passion for the craft of media, and has played a critical role in accelerating the awareness of its contribution to the Tesco business,” said Nick Ashley, head of media and campaign planning at Tesco.

“She excels in her role and is showing tremendous potential to become one of the key client-side leaders.”

Butterworth added: “I am delighted to have been named Mediatel’s Future Media Leader of the Year. It’s great to see that young talent is being recognised in the industry and I’m privileged to have been named amongst some brilliant people.

“This award wouldn’t have been possible without the stellar marketing team at Tesco as well as our agency and media partners, who have collaborated exceptionally well over the past year to help us deliver great work in an uncertain and difficult climate. I’m looking forward to what 2021 and beyond brings.”

Left to right: Dominic Williams, executive director – advertising, Mail Metro Media, with Tesco’s Amy Butterworth

Media Leader of the Year – Media Owner: Rak Patel

This year’s Media Leader of the Year in the media owner category was awarded to Rak Patel, head of sales UK and pan-EMEA at Spotify.

Patel joined Spotify at the end of 2017 as the head of UK sales, and under his leadership, Spotify has grown its UK and Ireland ad sales revenue by a significant amount.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Patel also led Spotify’s pivot away from external, experiential events and towards a completely digitised approach to entertaining, inspiring and educating clients, with Spotify Supper at Home, loveAudio: The Future of Audio is Now, and loveAudio: Culture Next.

Additionally, Patel has championed diversity and inclusivity within both Spotify and the industry and has achieved strong diversity within his own team.

Speaking during the awards ceremony, judge and founder of Media For All (MEFA) Naren Patel said: “Rak is one of the nice guys of the industry. He’s a great commercial leader and it’s great to see him getting this accolade.

“On the diversity front, a lot of organisations are talking about diversity, [but Patel] is leading that charge and as they say, diverse companies get better results – hopefully this is a great business case. Really well done to Rak.”

Commenting on his award, Rak Patel added: “Thanks to the judges and those at Mediatel. Some incredible peers were also in the mix, hats off to them for being truly brilliant. Also thank you to those at Spotify that nominated me; my guvnor Marco Bertozzi and the field marketing team.

“Finally it’s the team that gets a special shout out. As you know all too well, our success has been down to their brilliance. A huge thank you goes out to all of them and the management team across the London Hub…all providing great inspiration every day.”

Left to right: Mediatel News’ editor Michaela Jefferson with Spotify’s Rak Patel

Media Leader of the Year – Advertiser: Sam Taylor

Taking home the Media Leader of the Year award in the advertiser category was Sam Taylor, head of group commercial marketing at Direct Line Group.

Taylor, who claims that media is “a hobby” for him as well as a job, is also chair of ISBA’s TV action group, where he hopes to “reinfect energy and passion” into the industry and champion positive change. Within Direct Line Group, he has worked with CMO Mark Evans to cement a culture of effectiveness, which has been recognised by numerous awards – including three IPA effectiveness awards.

In 2020, Taylor successfully executed a new strategy to increase share of brand spend, taking pressure off short term media without impacting sales and ROI, struck new commercial media trading deals, and continued to champion total TV effectiveness.

Reacting to Taylor’s win, judge and Thinkbox CEO Lindsey Clay said: “Sam is a very public persona – everyone knows him on the media side of the industry. He sits on many different industry groups driving the agenda forward, particularly in ISBA and particularly in TV.

“He’s really added to the general collective understanding about best practice use of TV in partnership with other media. He’s always got brilliant value to add to any discussion and is a very worthy winner.”

Taylor added: “It is amazing to be recognised in what has been a monumental year for the media industry; with events changing the way our brands are consumed and forcing us to re-evaluate the way we connect with our customers. With the media landscape continuing to evolve as new channels, platforms and tech companies emerge. And with the introduction of new measurement initiatives that will transform the way we plan and trade media in the future.

“And I must say a big thank you to my friends and colleagues at Direct Line Group and at our agency, Mediacom. I’m incredibly fortunate and grateful that they are as curious and motivated as I am to challenge and reinvent the way we approach media and continuously improve the effectiveness of our marketing spend.”

Left to right: Mediatel News’ editor Michaela Jefferson with Direct Line’s Sam Taylor

Media Leader of the Year – Tech & New Media: Dara Nasr

Dara Nasr, managing director at Twitter, was awarded the Media Leader of the Year award in the technology and new media category, having evolved Twitter’s UK business to drive continued financial growth, retained company culture with everyone working from home, and continued his mentoring role in the wider community.

Initiatives Nasr has implemented to ensure staff wellbeing over the past 12 months have including introducing a coach to help staff cope with mental health issues, enforcing a maximum of 30 minutes for all internal meetings, introducing a virtual, weekly Friday afternoon #TeaTime for the UK office, and introducing days of rest for all employees on top of paid time off.

Nasr has also served as a mentor with The Media Trust’s Hidden Talent programme, and is a founding member of Media For All (MEFA), a mentoring group set up to help build ethnic diversity in the media industry.

Commenting on the award, judge Stephen Woodford, CEO of the Advertising Association, said: “Dara can always be relied on – he always turns up. He will always be there to contribute to the industry and to make his voice heard and I just think he’s an extraordinarily worthy winner in a very competitive field.”

Left to right: Mediatel News’ editor Michaela Jefferson with Twitter’s Dara Nasr

Media Leader of the Year – Agency: Kate Rowlinson

The winner of the Media Leader of the Year – Agency award was Kate Rowlinson, CEO of MediaCom UK. Rowlinson has been dedicated to supporting female talent both within MediaCom and the wider industry, and sits on the Stella Advisory Board – WPP’s women’s leadership group set up to increase the number of women in senior executive roles across the group – while also acting as a mentor on GroupM’s 50:50 programme.

In her first year as CEO of MediaCom UK, Rowlinson has increased client satisfaction scores by 7%, championed inclusivity, ensured mental health support during a particularly stressful year for most, and led the agency to £134 million in new business wins.

Speaking about Rowlinson’s win, judge Paul Bainsfair, director general of the IPA, said: “This was a difficult category to judge, as they all were, but at the end this is about people and if you spend any time in Kate’s company, it’s immediately obvious that people are front and centre of her mind and her job.

“It became clear to me as we looked at the submissions that if anybody was the people’s champion, it really was Kate, and for that reason mostly I felt that she was a deserved winner. I can’t think of a better reason for someone to be given this award than for the love and care of their people.”

Rowlinson added: “I just want to say a big thank you to everyone at MediaCom as well as everyone at Mediatel for this great honour. But the people at MediaCom especially, whose efforts are obviously acknowledged in this awards, and a nod of recognition to the other leaders on the shortlist as we head into another year in which we will no doubt be using the word ‘unprecedented’ quite a lot.”

Left to right: Mediatel News’ editor Michaela Jefferson with MediaCom’s Kate Rowlinson

Judges Special Choice Award: Christopher Kenna

Finally, the Judges Special Choice Award was presented to one of the four industry figures nominated by the judges themselves. This year’s award went to Christopher Kenna, CEO and founder of Brand Advance, a business which connects brands with diverse audiences globally through insights, media and creative that aim to authentically engage with these communities.

He also created and launched two global sister companies in DECA, a media consultancy helping to leverage the diversity media landscape, and Sentiment, a platform that uses AI machine learning to provide contextual tagging across every article on the Brand Advance Network. He has also launched a global publication, ChapterZ magazine.

Additionally, Kenna is the director of diversity and inclusion at Outvertising, the LGBTQ+ advertising and marketing advocacy group, a member of the WFA Diversity Advisory Board, and is a strong advocate for diversity and representation within the wider industry.

The judges who nominated Kenna noted that he has not only launched his own business, but a business “that makes a real difference to the world”.

“The combination of his entrepreneurship with his championship of diversity and ethical media is unique and sets him apart from all other contenders for this special award,” the judges said.

Reacting to his win, Kenna commented: “It is an absolute honour to have been awarded the Judges Special Choice Award – Mediatel is one of the most respected voices in the industry and it means a lot to me that they have chosen me from such an amazing shortlist.

“The work that I – and my teams – are doing to further diversity globally in media spend & advertising representation is business critical; change that must happen. Awards like this show we are making progress – thank you.”

Left to right: Brand Advance’s Christopher Kenna with Mediatel Events’ head of events Steven Scaffardi

Mediatel Group CEO Greg Grimmer was joined in the judging by 14 industry experts, including: Pippa Glucklich, former CEO of Amplifi UK and chair of Liberty Hive; Naren Patel, founder of mentoring network Media For All; Tony Effik, managing director – global display, video and creative at Google, and founder of advocacy group Black and Brilliant; Lauren Ogúndèkó, head of response and board director, PHD Media, and member of MEFA; and Michaela Jefferson, news editor at Mediatel News.

Representatives of the industry’s main trade and marketing bodies also joined the line up, including Stephen Woodford, CEO of the Advertising Association; Lindsey Clay, CEO of Thinkbox and president of the global TV group; Phil Smith, director general, ISBA; Paul Bainsfair, director general, IPA; Lucy Barrett, client director, Radiocentre; Jo Allan, managing director, Newsworks; Sue Todd, CEO, Magnetic; Jon Mew, CEO, IAB UK, and Fredrik Borestrom, president of the IAA UK and head of agency, international at LinkedIn.

The 2021 shortlist and winners

Grand Prix: Media CEO of the Year

James Wildman, CEO, Hearst UK & President, Hearst Europe – WINNER
Rachel Forde, CEO, UM UK
Kate Rowlinson, CEO, MediaCom UK
Gurman Hundal, Global CEO, MiQ

International Media Leader of the Year

James Brown, Head of International, Magnite
Kris Tait, Managing Director – US, Croud
Alex Green, Managing Director, Amazon Prime Video Sport
Jerry Daykin, Senior Media Director, GSK Consumer Healthcare – WINNER

Future Media Leader of the Year (Sponsored by Mail Metro Media)

Jay Richards, Co-Founder & CEO, Imagen
Gemma Spence, Chief Commerce Officer, PHD Media Global
Amy Butterworth, Media Manager, Tesco – WINNER
Rob Hudson, Senior Agency Partner, Mail Metro Media

Media Leader of the Year – Media Agency

Rachel Forde, CEO, UM UK
Nadine Young, CEO, Starcom UK
Sannah Rogers & Jon Stevens, Joint Managing Directors, Zenith UK
Kate Rowlinson, CEO, MediaCom UK – WINNER

Media Leader of the Year – Media Owner

Rak Patel, Head of Sales UK & Pan-EMEA, Spotify – WINNER
Dallas Wiles, Co-CEO, JCDecaux UK
Dominic Williams, Executive Director – Advertising, Mail Metro Media
Jane Wolfson, Chief Commercial Officer, Hearst UK

Media Leader of the Year – Advertiser

Nick Ashley, Head of Media & Campaign Planning, Tesco
Sam Taylor, Head of Group Commercial Marketing, Direct Line Group – WINNER
Jerry Daykin, Senior Media Director, GSK Consumer Healthcare
Sarah Mansfield, Global VP Media, Unilever

Media Leader of the Year – Technology & New Media

Damon Reeve, CEO, The Ozone Project
Karen Nelson-Field, CEO, Amplified Intelligence
Lou Nylander, Global Marketing Director, Unruly
Dara Nasr, Managing Director, Twitter – WINNER

Judges Special Choice Award

Christopher Kenna, Founder & CEO, Brand Advance and Founder, Chapter Z – WINNER
Ali Hanan, Founder & CEO, Creative Equals
Cephas Williams, Founder, 56 Black Men & The Black British Network
Harriet Kingaby & Jake Dubbins, Co-Founders, Conscious Advertising Network

Media Jobs