In our interview series ‘Think with Innovators’ we explore the big topics facing digital marketers today. Here Sławomir Stępniewski, Chief Executive Officer Dentsu Aegis Network Poland & NCE Innovation, lets us in on his unique perspective at the intersection of communications, technology and creativity.

It’s not every day that you meet a person who’s both a professional massage therapist and the CEO of a powerful network of agencies – so it’s probably safe to say that Sławomir Stępniewski is one of a kind.

“I fulfill the role of CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network in Poland and I’m also responsible for the implementation of innovations within the Nordics and Central and Eastern Europe,” Sławomir explains. “But I am a masseur by profession. I think that this is a very important element in my professional career. In the era of technology and social media everybody is focused on monologue. But the profession of the masseur teaches you how to listen.”

In fact, this habit of keeping his ears open has proved vital to Sławomir’s trajectory. He remembers working in PR in the 1990s when he became aware of the emergence of an entirely new opportunity. “The time came when people flying over from the States started to talk about the Internet. At a certain moment, I realized what an incredible potential there may be from the perspective of communication.”

I believe that innovation without the creation of revenue is a mirage. Innovation should always be anchored in the business.

Sławomir Stępniewski, Chief Executive Officer Dentsu Aegis Network Poland & NCE Innovation

He decided to interrupt his promising career as a PR specialist to establish Hypermedia, one of the first digital companies in Poland. Hypermedia then went on to become one of the biggest agencies in Central and Eastern Europe. “It was madness,” Sławomir recalls. “We believed from the very beginning that communication is very important. But on the other hand, without technology and creativity it would just be empty.” A long string of successes proved the value in their approach, eventually leading to the company’s acquisition into the Aegis Media and finally Dentsu Aegis Network.

When it comes to new opportunities within the digital space, Sławomir has no doubt that we’ll continue to hear a lot about online video in the months and years to come. “Nowadays, consumers want to get everything immediately, they want to start feeling instantly. Video perfectly fits into this tendency. The potential is incredible,” he explains. “The campaign that triggers all my senses every time is “Honda Sound” – a combination of data, technology, creativity and deep emotions. As this was the tribute to Ayrton Senna, it’s a campaign that really resonates after all those years. A very deep experience, very emotional, it was a perfectly told story.”

According to Sławomir, the biggest challenge for many leaders is creating the right organizational culture. His aim is to foster an environment of cooperation and innovation where pioneering solutions can flourish. “The most important thing is having talented people who are able to bring value. No one can manage to do everything by themselves,” he observes. “What’s extremely important to me and gives me a great dose of energy is looking at various ideas, linking them and creating on that basis something entirely new.”

To hear more about what goes into building success in an agency today, check out the video interview with Sławomir here