Experienced chairperson at The Hive Marketing Inc. with a demonstrated history of working in the marketing and advertising industry, Andy Krupski is a strong business development professional skilled in digital strategy, advertising, integrated marketing, strategic planning and marketing strategy. Under Andy's leadership, The Hive has grown by over 500% over the past 16 years, with a client roster that includes Coca Cola, Jack Daniels, Weston, OPG and Mondalez.
With a long and distinguished career in advertising, here he shares his accumulated knowledge on creative leadership.
Q > What was your first experience of leadership?
My first real leadership role of consequence was when I was appointed the general manager of J. Walter Thompson Toronto - the largest office in the Canadian network.
Q > How did you figure out what kind of leader you wanted to be – or what kind of leader you didn’t want to be?
When I was given the position, I was told by the then CEO of J. Walter Thompson Canada: "Congratulations and unfortunately this is the last time you will hear the truth”. At that moment I knew that I wanted to always hear the truth which meant I had to be an open accessible leader not one that led by fear and intimidation
Q > What experience or moment gave you your your biggest lesson in leadership?
When J. Walter Thompson was acquired by WPP (their first acquisition) via a hostile take-over process I knew that my role was to keep the Canadian company focussed on our clients’ needs and the culture that made the work for them market leading. That meant I had to ensure that our people saw the future as positive.
Q > Did you know you always wanted to take on a leadership role? If so how did you work towards it and if not, when did you start realising that you had it in you?
I knew early on that I wanted to be accountable for my decisions and that those decisions had to be geared to positively impact whatever organisation I was part of. In order to do that I felt that I had to be a passionate learner. I therefore sought out situations that gave me access to mentors I knew I could learn from and read and read anything to do with our industry and still do.
Q > When it comes to 'leadership' as a skill, how much do you think is a natural part of personality, how much can be taught and learned?
I believe that self-confidence is a personality trait that is key to being a good leader. You must believe in your abilities if you are to get teams of people to follow you. That said self-confidence builds with experiences both good and bad and the willingness to fail. As Quincy Jones says: “You’ll never get an A if you are afraid of an F”.
Q > What are the aspects of leadership that you find most personally challenging? And how do you work through them?
Making decisions that negatively impacts the lives of employees is in my opinion the most difficult part of leadership. While it sounds trite and obvious one must look at the cost of not making these kinds of decisions to the organisation as a whole and move forward on that basis.
Q > Have you ever felt like you've failed whilst in charge? How did you address the issue and what did you learn from it?
The key to leadership is to learn to fail fast. I have delayed decisions in the past to mitigate all negative impacts and as result still created unintended negative consequences.
Q > In terms of leadership and openness, what’s your approach there? Do you think it’s important to be transparent as possible in the service of being authentic? Or is there a value in being careful and considered?
Transparency and integrity are fundamental to lasting and successful leadership. These two characteristics are key to building trust in leadership.
Q > As you developed your leadership skills did you have a mentor, if so who were / are they and what have you learned? And on the flip side, do you mentor any aspiring leaders and how do you approach that relationship?
Having access to mentors is very helpful to honing leadership skills. Good mentors teach future leaders to learn from the mistakes they have made. I do mentor future leaders by being open and frank with them and telling them my mistakes and what I learned from them.
Q > It's been a really challenging year - and that's an understatement. How do you cope with the responsibility of leading a team through such difficult waters?
These times require leaders to be positive and empathetic. Positive in terms of what can be done in these changing times, pointing out examples of new opportunities and operating methods that can be taken advantage of. Empathetic to the new and very different challenges that employees are facing and HELPING them cope with them.
Q > This year has seen the industry confronted with its lack of action/progress on diversity and inclusion. As a leader how have you dealt with this?
Diversity and Inclusion has always been key to my leadership model. That said with the rightful increase in awareness in society with respect to these issues we have conducted a company and indeed industry wide audits on this issue; instituted custom webinars and created employee led committees to design of programs that will drive measurable impact.
Q > How important is your company culture to the success of your business? And how have you managed to keep it alive with staff working remotely in 2020?
Culture is everything to our company and to keep it alive in a remote working environment we have created a deliberate and measurable company communications plan that includes a bi-weekly employee an online survey that helps us keep track of how they feel which is reviewed at our bi-weekly at all staff townhalls. At these townhalls we also go over the state of the business, review any new work and ongoing projects. Twice a month we have outside speakers for lunch and learns on Fridays with topics ranging from diversity and inclusion to new ways of working and comedians and magicians with the simple goal of getting us all to smile and share a laugh or two.
Q > What are the most useful resources you’ve found to help you along your leadership journey?
As chairman of the ICA I have the opportunity to share experiences with other leaders in the industry. We have candid conversations about common problems, sharing our strategies and tactics very openly which I have found to be enormously helpful.