ME Bank’s Candice Ayad: Leaders Of The Future Must Show Empathy, Vulnerability

ME Bank’s Candice Ayad: Leaders Of The Future Must Show Empathy, Vulnerability
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine

Candice Ayad has worked with strong, powerful women leaders. But they lacked two fundamental qualities in their leadership, which, she says, will be critical within businesses going forward.

The Women in Media Awards, presented by Are Media, are just days away, with the best of Australian media set to be recognised and celebrated for their courage, innovation, and leadership.

A nominee for this year’s ‘Rising Star’ category, Candice Ayad is ME Bank’s digital marketing manager, who advocates to change how people perceive leadership.

Because to Ayad, the leaders of the future will need to show qualities that haven’t always sat alongside ‘power’, like empathy and vulnerability—two traits, she says, which have been brought into the foreground during 2020.

“I think businesses are hungry for this new way of leadership,” Ayad tells B&T. “Although some aren’t consciously aware that they are just yet.”

Candice, is being recognised as a professional working in the media important?

I don’t think there’s as much importance on being recognised as a professional working in these industries, as much as being recognised for the work we do within these industries.

In any field of work or industry, recognition is important. It’s a little boost of motivation and confirms the value behind the work we do and how it’s impacting businesses.

How will you leverage your recognition as a Women in Media finalist as a force for good?

Being recognised as a finalist is truly humbling, but more importantly gives us a platform to share our ideas and create some meaningful conversations with those within our industry. That’s exactly what I plan to do!

I want to challenge this industry and the systemic perspectives we hold around what great leadership looks like. This gives me the chance to create those conversations to not only drive more awareness but to also showcase the importance of having empathetic and vulnerable leaders within industries.

Do you work for a living, or work because you love what you do?

When I first got into media, my sole focus was driven by the common notion, “you have to work to live”. It was the thing to do, go to university, graduate, and find a job. I accidentally fell into digital marketing and have never looked back—I feel in love.

Ever since then, I work because I love what I do. Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been the smoothest ride fighting the ‘digital’ fight against mainstream media, but it has kept challenging me, pushing my perspectives and driving me to innovate. I haven’t fallen out of love with what I do just yet—when that day that comes, and I am sure at some point in my life it will, I’ll pivot on to my next adventure.

What aspect of your industry, or your role, would you change for the better?

Something I am truly passionate about is redefining the perspective we have around what a leader looks like across all industries. Over my time working in media, I have worked with strong and powerful female leaders but in reflection, these leaders lacked something that I think is highly underestimated and fundamental within businesses—empathy and vulnerability. A topic that has become more prevalent recently, given the focus on mental health within the workforce.

I believe we need to change how people perceive leadership. To challenge our perspective on empathetic and vulnerable leaders, because it’s were the future needs to head. I think businesses are hungry for this new way of leadership. Although some aren’t consciously aware that they are just yet.

As author Brené Brown says, there is power in vulnerability. And I want to elevate this message through my own leadership and within the industries around me.

Do we have a right, as media professionals, to advocate, to influence, and to change people’s behaviour?

I think this is highly dependent on what type of behaviour we are trying to change. As media professionals, we do have the tools and the platforms to advocate and influence. However, I don’t believe its right to use these tools for self-serving objectives.

Just like with anything, we all have the right to voice our perspective, to advocate for something we are passionate about—without forcing anything upon those around us.

In shaky and uncertain times of change, will playing it safe, and falling back on tropes, get businesses through?

Changing a tactic has the ability to open doors to new opportunities and efficiencies; those doors will remain closed until we are ready to not play it safe anymore. That’s the thing though, during these uncertain times some businesses won’t be ready to change tactic. Playing it safe might be the thing that saves them.

It’s about looking at the big picture and seeing where you have the opportunity to challenge the market. Every brand, business, industry will now face different challenges. Some will need to play it safe until waters settle, others will need to change tactic to drive growth.

As marketers, it’s our job to notice when our opportunity arises and if you’re going to take the risk and leave your safety net—take the leap, and if it doesn’t work, recognise that fast.

Sometimes playing it safe won’t get you to where you need to go. Knowing when to leap forward will probably be the biggest challenge businesses face in this climate.

Where is your industry’s biggest opportunity? And where is your industry’s biggest danger?

From a digital marketing perspective, digital consumption has increased dramatically over the past six months—providing a massive opportunity for digital marketers to really step out of their comfort zone to test, learn, challenge, and optimise.

Digital platforms are now for the masses and the consumption of digital channels will continue to strive, as our social fabric adapts to this new way of communicating and consuming media. The biggest danger is those businesses who are being left behind, unable to adapt quickly and not evolving with this ever-changing landscape in the world of media.

The Women in Media Awards will be held on Wednesday 28 October 2020, at Doltone House (Jones Bay Wharf).

If you’d like more information about the event, head to this website.

You can also check out who made this year’s shortlist, here.

Thank you to all of our incredible sponsors for making the event possible!

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