Khaled AlShehhi is an innovative marketing leader who has made significant contributions to the field of advertising and marketing in the MENA region. He has transformed the way the UAE government communicates by introducing original, creative, and humanizing content that has positively impacted millions of people globally.
Under his leadership, the UAE Government Media Office has received over 200 awards from some of the most prestigious creative and marketing shows around the world, including Cannes Lions, LIA, CLIO, ONE Show and Dubai Lynx. Khaled's unique approach to creativity has made him a sought-after speaker, sharing his story about how government creativity can be turned on.
He has earned leadership roles in various organizations, including the Global CMO Growth Council, New York Festival AME Advisory Council, World Media Group’s Brand Advisory Board, The Public Relations and Communications Association Executive Board and Middle East Public Relations Association Strategy Board. Khaled has been recognized for his outstanding contributions to the field, including winning the World Media Group Award for Content Leadership & Innovation in 2022, the Honorary Award of the 2022 Effie MENA, and being named Advertising Person of the Year at the Dubai Lynx 2023, Digital Professional of the Year 2021 by The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) and Marketing Game Changer by Campaign Middle East in 2020. He has also been featured in the Arabian Business’ 2021 Power List of individuals who are shaping the future of the Middle East.
Dominican-born, New York raised; throughout his career, Anibal's influence and leadership have shaped the strategic and business vision behind some of the most influential global brands across Latin America, the United States, and the US Multicultural market.
Over the past 20-plus-years, Anibal has served in a range of strategic leadership positions at agencies including Ogilvy, Wieden + Kennedy, Droga5, 72andSunny, JOAN, FIG, and Arts & Letters Creative Co where he has been fortunate enough to lead award-winning work for top-tier brands like Old Spice, P&G, Coca-Cola, Google, Diageo, Spotify, ESPN, Heineken, Audi, Ketel One and many more. His journey has allowed him to cultivate a diverse perspective having worked in roles across multiple disciplines from media and Comms planning to business and creative strategy in a wide range of categories.
This background has given Anibal the opportunity to lead multi-disciplined teams and steer innovative go-to-market approaches by integrating cultural strategy with UX and design thinking at the service of crafting creatively effective work that solves problems for brands.
Today, as Ogilvy’s NA Chief Strategy Officer, he is in charge of leading the vision of the agency’s North American multidisciplinary team of strategists navigating the intersection between Advertising, Experience, PR, Social, and Creative strategy.
Bediz Eker is currently Chief Strategy Officer at VMLY&R’s New York office. He is responsible for overseeing all aspects of strategy across brand, consumer experience and social in his business unit. Before getting relocated to New York two years ago, he worked as the Chief Strategy Officer in Y&R’s Istanbul office, where he had several noteworthy accomplishments. He was the strategy lead of the team that won Turkey's first ever Grand Prix in Cannes. He was responsible for leading his team to become Europe’s Most Effective Agency and the World’s 8th Most Effective Agency.
Prior to joining Y&R, he worked in BBDO Turkey and Alametifarika. But his career in advertising started in Paris, where he took his first agency job at Euro RSCG Worldwide’s European Business Development department in HAVAS Global Headquarters. Before finding an internship in the same department, he had no intention to work in advertising while planning to become a political communications consultant. It was his political communications project that helped him achieve French Government’s Scholarship – “Bourse d’Excellence” after his BA in Political Science and Public Administration in Galatasaray University and brought him to France where he had an MA in Management and Business Administration of Communications.
Today he gives back to academia as a guest lecturer in Baruch College and Fordham University. He’s also on the Advisory Board of Rutgers Business School’s Marketing Department. Since he moved to New York, Bediz has been writing a monthly column in Mediacat (Turkey’s best-selling marketing industry publication) to share his experiences abroad.
Originally from Ireland, Rory has worked at agencies around the globe in Dublin, Sydney, London and he currently leads the strategy department at Special Group Auckland.
He’s created highly successful campaigns for brands such as Air New Zealand, Guinness and Tourism New Zealand that has seen him win Cannes Lions, D&AD and One Show Pencils.
At AMV BBDO, where he was a Board member, he won over 100 creative awards including 10 Cannes Lions and two Gold IPA effectiveness awards for his work on the Guinness ‘Made of More’ campaign.
His recent work for Tourism New Zealand, saw Special Group win New Zealand’s first ever Global Effie award for the campaign Good Morning World along with a number of ‘Campaign of the Year’ titles.
Under his charge, Special Group has catapulted to New Zealand’s leading agency, recently being awarded Agency of the Year by Campaign Magazine, B&T Magazine and Campaign Brief.
Rory was also crowned Campaign Magazine’s Australia/New Zealand’s Strategic Planner of the Year in 2020.
Bastian is Chief Strategy Officer of Grabarz & Partner, Hamburg. He believes that a healthy mix of empathy, simplicity and human understanding is the most powerful basis for creating impactful ideas.
In his career he has worked for a range of international clients such as Apple, Airbnb, Burger King, IKEA, Porsche and Volkswagen, helping all of them to move people and their businesses at the same time.
Having spent a decade working in multiple markets in Europe and North America AJ has developed industry recognised work, helped international brands play a meaningful role in people’s lives and held teaching positions at two UK Universities.
Schooled at McCann UK, before a stint as CSO for McCann Bucharest AJ was responsible for the regional strategic development of mega-brands such as KFC and Coca-Cola and finding a place in culture for local players.
AJ loves finding the intersections of brands and culture and has a track record of delivering both creatively awarded and commercially successful campaigns. As CSO for McCann Canada AJ is focused on delivering powerful ideas that have a real impact across Canada and beyond. AJ’s input has helped McCann Canada pick up awards in non-traditional and social creative categories, as well as being globally recognised for Effectiveness.
IPA – Aldi Swap & Save, Aldi Like Brands
Effie inc Grand Prix + Golds - UK [Aldi, Smyths Toys, Co-Op] , Romania [Vodafone, KFC, ROM, The Coca-Cola Company, Europe [Aldi Ireland], Canada [Wendy’s, Nestle]
Cannes Lions – ROM, Vodafone, Mastercard
WARC Effectiveness Awards – Wendy’s Canada, EDC, Nesquik
Jay Chiat – Wendy’s Canada
With a background of 15 years of experiences in global and German shops likeJung von Matt, Heimat, R/GA, TBWA and as CMO for the DTC start-up Sitzfeldt, Nadine is spearheading the Anomaly strategy as as part of the core management and leadership team in Berlin.
Throughout her career Nadine had the chance to work for many prestigious clients including Google, Hinge, Netflix, Nikon, Opel, Spotify and E.ON matching her deep German and European footprint with a lot of global experience, applied across brand, cultural and communication strategy.
Besides her passion for brands and creativity Nadine is an agent of cultural and societal change. So beyond her 'day job', Nadine is sitting on the board of Klim (regenerative agriculture), is an advisor to the Berlin Founders' Fund (with particular focus on initiatives to support female founders), and engages in various diversity related projects.
Above all, her true passion for strategy stems from the ambition to help brands resonate with people through genuine and relevant cultural impact.
Simone Pratt is a VP Strategy Director at Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising Agency, working on P&G products you all know and may love (Always Pads, Tampax, Puffs Facial Tissues, Bounty and Charmin). As a Strategy Director she is responsible for catalyzing and inspiring the creative process of a brand’s advertising campaign (TV, Print, Radio, Social, Digital, Billboards etc). Her role includes: cultivating consumer and category insights, developing the brand identity and persona, positioning the brand in the marketplace, creating consumer trend reports and moderating focus groups.
Simone’s career in advertising spans 25 years starting way back at Lowe & Partners/SMS with Stephani Cook and has worked for many of the largest advertising agencies in the world from Ogilvy to McCann to Grey NY where she won a Bronze Effie. Her career also includes the premier multicultural agencies Uniworld, GlobalHue and Spike Lee’s agency SpikeDDB. She has worked on brands ranging from Walmart to Cadillac to Verizon to HUMIRA to Poland Springs Water.
Simone is a servant leader, tirelessly adding value to her cultural, civic & social impact organizations that include: local politics - serving on Community Board 3 in Bed Stuy; lifetime member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated; member of Jack and Jill of America Incorporated.
A devoted lacrosse travel team mom, Simone enjoys cooking and spending time with her family (husband and teen/tween sons) in Brownstone Bed Stuy Brooklyn (or preferably her happy place Martha’s Vineyard). But in her spare time, Simone LOVES to garden, sit on a beach or binge a good true crime documentary or series.
Tahaab Rais is the first Chief Strategy Officer for Publicis Groupe in the region.
I enjoy strategy, data, ideas, effectiveness and innovation - and develop winning teams and future leaders. The company that I lead the Strategy Office for, across MENAT, is consistently ranked among the top agencies in the world for its effectiveness and strategic thinking. And my teams are stars. I also drive the company's creative excellence ambitions through initiatives and trainings.
The challenge of finding THE right solution for businesses makes me tick. Inquisitive about people - their differences, attitudes and beliefs - and the joy of helping people and brands be happier, excites me.
I possess strategic, creative consultancy, integrated marketing, data analysis and leadership experience spanning MEAT and Asia, covering Business and Data Strategy; Brand, Content and Digital Strategy; Cross-channel Integrated Solutions; Relationship Marketing and Customer Experience Management.
Enjoying being creative, I'm practical with technology and the constantly evolving world of the web. I'm anti-theory. Making things happen excites me. And the results achieved are a testament to my drive.
I've worked on Finance, Insurance, Telecommunications, FMCG, Luxury, Travel & Tourism, Retail, Automotive, Petroleum, Entertainment, Real Estate brands across MEA and Asia-PAC., such as HSBC, HSBC Amanah, Coca-Cola, Emirates NBD, Emirates Islamic, Mastercard, Sony, Nokia, J&J, Kraft, Nestle, Kit Kat, Reckitt, Dettol, Unilever, OMO, Knorr, AXE, Jif, Lipton, Ford, Arla Foods, Babyshop, Home Centre, L'Oreal, Nike, Harvey Nichols, UAE Government, Majid Al Futtaim, ALDAR, Microsoft, AstraZeneca, al hilal bank, Babyshop, Home Centre, Ferrari World, Qatar Petroleum, Shell, Egypt Tourism Authority, Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Jawwy, SABB, SABB Amanah, Ooredoo, Aspire, Orange, Boubyan Bank, Bank Muscat, Meethaq, Castrol, Hindustan Petroleum, Exide, Marico, Atlantis and Taj Hotels, among others.
The work has enhanced the agencies' reputation across Cannes, Effies, D&AD, Andy's, Clios, Jay Chiats, WARC, Dubai Lynx, One Show, Loeries, London International Awards, Webby's, New York Festivals, Gerety, Caples, AdFest, AdStars, AME, among others. My strategy team members are some of the most awarded ones in the world for strategy, and I'm the most awarded CSO from MENAT.
Besides being a CSO, I'm also a globally awarded film director and songwriter, and you can view my work on: https://vimeo.com/tahaab
Aside from work, I create ideas to help solve societal problems as an individual through my own personal non-profit venture. And I speak worldwide on creativity.
Joe Smith is a Strategy Partner at AMV BBDO in London. Joe started his marketing career in 2007, just before the global economy collapsed, but maintains that correlation is not causation. He has since worked in strategic roles across multiple categories, including not-for-profit, sport, telecoms, auto and FMCG. Joe joined AMV BBDO in 2018 and now leads the agency’s global strategy on Guinness, working across multiple markets, from Ireland to Indonesia.
Joe has worked on many effective and award-winning campaigns for brands including Guinness, CALM, O2 and Art Fund. He is most proud of the work that has left a mark on popular culture as well as helping the brand or organisation to grow. Most recently, this has included CALM’s ‘Invisible Opponent’ campaign and ‘Black Shines Brightest’ work for Guinness in Africa.
Outside of work, Joe has recently moved to Yorkshire in the north of England and is trying in vain to beat his dad and brother at fantasy football.
Aki (he/him/his) lives and works at the nexus of consumer culture and connected technologies. He applies data-centric, and radically-collaborative sensibilities to build creative solutions that provide value for people.
As the new Chief Strategy Officer at Cashmere/LA, Aki marks a return back to culture-driven strategies and ideas for brands (having started his career in music marketing). At Cashmere, Aki is charged with honing the agency’s strategic processes for scale & growth – and ultimately linking into the broader Media.Monks and S4 Capital “API” of services.
Previously, Aki was Chief Strategy Officer at Leo Burnett/Chicago, where he helped update the strategic approach for brand, digital, and data integration at one of the most storied agencies in the world. There he introduced innovative forays in AI, Web3, and Multicultural Intelligence for brands like Kelloggs, Jim Beam, Bank of America, Samsung, Messenger, US Cellular, and more. Aki co-led a strategic resource and accelerator for all the creative agencies across Publicis – to operationalize 'general market' teams who are increasingly-challenged with how to become more culturally-fluent in an era of an increasingly-diverse mass market.
Aki leaves Leo Burnett having helped the agency achieve 2022 Agency of the Year at One Show, ADC and Clios, Best in Show at One Show, Addy, Communication Arts and AICP, Titanium and Grand Prix at Cannes – and more proudly – a wealth of gold, silver and bronze strategy and effectiveness awards across 2022 Effies (incl 2nd Most Effective Agency Network – Leo Burnett Worldwide), WARC Awards for Effectiveness, ARF Ogilvy Awards for Research, and Jay Chiat Strategy Awards.
Marialejandra is Chief Strategy Officer for Dieste, US. She oversees Dieste planning group in Dallas, New York and Los Angeles.
Marialejandra leads all data, insights, cultural intelligence, and research efforts at Dieste. Her experience working around Latin America and with the U.S. Hispanic consumer gives her a broad vision of the diversity of Latin cultures and their specific nuances. Her passion for understanding humans and their relationships has led her to pursue a Master’s in Social Anthropology.
With more than 25 years of experience in strategic planning, Marialejandra has been involved in the development of marketing communication for companies in various industries including 3M, Chiclets Adams, Ford Motor Company, Mattel, Nestle, SAB Miller/AB InBev, The Coca-Cola Company and Warner Lambert.
Marialejandra was included in the Advertising Age Women to Watch list for Colombia, and her insights and contribution to the Demobilization Humanitarian Program of the Colombia Ministry of Defense campaign led to recognition not only for its creativity, but also as the first and only Grand Prix in the region from IPA (2011). This campaign has also been awarded for its strategy and effectiveness, winning a Grand Prix APG, the Jay Chiat Grand Prix 2011 and Grand Prix El Dorado Effectiveness 2014 as well as more than 10 Gold Effie Awards.