‘Think with Innovators’ is a series showcasing the experience and insights of some of digital media’s key figures. In our latest interview, Hannah Mirza, Global Head of Media Partnerships at MediaCom, talks about the challenges of building innovative teams, and the importance of scalability.

Hannah Mirza found her way into the world of digital marketing by way of chef training, legal studies and finally a degree in business and economics. “Law and business were good for my intellect, and cheffing was good for my creativity,” she recalls, “and advertising was the perfect industry as it has a little bit of both. I think that's why I stuck with it and progressed through and made it my career.” Overseeing a diverse role at MediaCom, this range of skills and experience stands her in good stead as she manages global relationships with the likes of Google, Facebook and Twitter, as well as looking after the agency’s portfolio of startups and potential new channels.

As an experienced leader at the agency, Hannah sees team building as both a crucial part of her job, and an area where she’s able to effectively nurture a culture of innovation. “I like building things, and I think my strongest skillset is building teams,” she says, explaining that, for her, the key to creating a successful team is to first identify the problem or opportunity that needs addressing, and then recruit accordingly. “Generally I’ll find a trend that’s happening and think about how do we react to that trend and build a team behind it?”

Successful teams are a vital part of innovation for Hannah, as without them it can be impossible for new ideas to scale and take root. “A lot of great ideas don't see the light of day because you've got to consider how do you operationalise them,” she observes, explaining that unless the right processes and management are in place, new thinking can quickly fall by the wayside. In a theme echoed by many of our innovators, Hannah stresses that lightbulb moments aren’t enough - the ability to execute is what counts.

By the very virtue of it being new and untested, you may not be successful, but perhaps the innovation is the learning that comes from not being successful.

Hannah Mirza, Global Head Media Partnerships at MediaCom

Reflecting on her lifelong passion for learning, Hannah also believes that a hunger for knowledge is often the fuel for innovation and creativity. “I'm very passionate about education, and I'm always learning and reading and trying to translate that knowledge into the business,” she says. In fact, this openness to new information can really make a difference when untested ideas don’t work out as planned, with the knowledge and experience itself being a kind of innovation.

Summing up the long term appeal of the industry in which she has made her career, Hannah places innovation at the core of her experience. “Digital has been really beneficial to my career, because it's always changing, and technology is always changing, and that keeps it interesting.”