Andreas Vogiatzakis bullish about new venture amidst pandemic: A 'great time' to start up

The COVID-19 pandemic might have thrown a wrench in the plans of businesses and budding entrepreneurs but for seasoned adland professional Andreas Vogiatzakis, former CEO of Star Media Group, there could be no better time to launch his new venture AMVplus Advisory. In an interview with A+M, Vogiatzakis said the current crisis presented "a great time" for his start-up to officially kick off its operations as businesses need advice, executive coaching and training as organisations. This comes as leaders learn to recalibrate, pick up new skills, and equip employees with the necessary tools to succeed in the new paradigm and the new world.

"All standards have changed, CEOs and executives need to cope. As it gets lonely at the top, and the pressure amounts, having an advisor, a confidant to team up with you and strategise the future, a team with experience, responsibility, trustworthiness and capability is perhaps more important than ever," he explained.

Vogiatzakis (pictured), who held the role of CEO of Mindshare Taiwan when the SARS outbreak hit, also taps in on his experienced during the financial crises of 1997 and 2008, when advising clients.He recounts those moments as "good experiences [that need to be] put into good use during these trying times".

According to him, the concept of being a coach was one he had been mulling over for some time as the former CEO of Starcom, Mindshare, Omnicom Media Group and Havas Media Group has also been a certified professional coach for more than a decade, and a neuro linguistic programming certified practitioner.

"I have been managing and building teams and companies, coaching students, graduates, and established professionals to find their purpose and path for many years. And I loved it as it gave me purpose and the opportunity to add value. So when I left Star Media Group, vis-a-vis a slow market, industry and economy, I decided that it was the right time to start putting my passion into action. This is my PDA principle - passion, discipline and action," he explained.

Although the concept for AMVplus was thought up 15 years ago, Vogiatzakis said its purpose morphed over the years. According to him, his purpose for the company right now is to be a catalyst for positive change, and to be accountable for the results and changes it brings - while following through on the journey of transformation. AMVplus specialises in three core pillars - coaching, training and consulting/advisory. This breaks down to specific modules such as people development and business growth, purpose creation and leadership, organisational structure and transformation, corporate strategy and brand building, among others. He is also looking to conduct training needs analysis to assess what companies' needs are and design tailor-made programmes to suit their requirements.

Currently, Vogiatzakis said AMVplus has established partnerships with Melbourne Business School, BFM, Thriving Talents, Open Academy, Leaderonomics, LEADS, London Speaker Bureau, Life Redesigned, Enso Digital, LOL Asia, and Yefira. He has also tied up with individuals including radio presenter Freda Liu and brand image consultant Wendy Lee. The prospect of starting up his own venture during such a challenging time was daunting for Vogiatzakis, who added that it was tough to start up on his own having working in corporate for most of his life.

"You need to fully adjust, pivot and change. Administration wise, you have no support system, you need to do it all. The wonderful news is that once this is something you believe in, nothing stops you. Time stretches itself to great lengths and you can do it all with happiness. I don't think of failure, only learning and growing" he said.

Read the rest of his Q&A here:

A+M: Having accumulated a wealth of experience in the advertising industry, what do you think are some trends which will stay and some will disappear?

Vogiatzakis: What I can say is that some trends will morph and develop, not disappear. Technology will enable it so, as it always does. If I am forced to predict though, I'd say that the traditional way of media planning will become obsolete, and technology will replace the main functions, freeing time to create strategy.

AI will not replace the human intellect, at least not in the foreseeable future, but it will enable it to ideate more and become better. Zoom calls will evolve to holograms, with our good selves be present in full body and action in virtual meeting rooms, with senses, sounds, smells and feel.

Precisely targeted ads will become a norm, and wastage will be close to zero. We will live in a technologically advanced world that is fully connected and enabled. What will not disappear though, is the human touch, attention, and attitude. In fact, attitude will become even more important. And the so-called "soft skills", which I prefer to call power skills, will become even more important and critical. Power skills will determine attitude, which will connect knowledge and skill, and make the winning recipe for any individual.

A+M: What skills do you think are important right now?

Vogiatzakis: To me it always was and always will be the attitude we hold, and attitude is the hardest to develop. By attitude I refer to the positive, collaborative, open, positive attitude that facilitates teamwork, creativity, collaboration, and leads to success. I see so many times, in all my tenures in successful companies in many countries, that it is not the technical skills and knowledge that carry people forward, but their attitude.

I have seen people with the highest caliber of knowledge and technical skills being fired, and others who are willing to learn, who have the right attitude, to stay and advance. And this does not only apply to individuals, but also applies to companies, teams and organisations. And this fact, permeates time, ethnicity, culture. It is a universal true fact, and something to think carefully about. 

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