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7 Questions on Leadership with David Mahbub

Name: David Mahbub

Title: Chief Strategy and Revenue Officer

Organisation: MACH9

David is a seasoned marketing leader and strategist with over 20 years of experience in various commercial roles across 42 markets. He is the Chief Strategy and Revenue Officer at MACH9 Digital, a world-class technology and digital firm that helps brands and companies achieve 10x growth through data-driven insights, digital-first strategies, and innovative brand development.

He is also the creator of the Marketing Model®, a revolutionary concept and methodology adopted by over 2,500 brands and companies, from startups to global FMCGs, to develop and implement long-term strategic plans based on a deep understanding of consumer behavior and needs.

He is a recognized authority and disruptor in modern marketing as a Forbes Business Council Member, a TEDx and keynote speaker, an EXMA Certified Speaker, and an advisor to executive boards and venture capital funds. His motto, "Successful brands are the ones that keep their promise and build relationships with their consumers," reflects his passion for excellence and his vision for transforming brands into industry leaders.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope David's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

The fact that you have to read all the personalities of your team members and adapt on an individual basis and as a team. It is about empowering people to get the best out of them, push them to believe, and make it happen. Sometimes you need to let them fail, and sometimes that means to lose a project or jump in to support when things are not going well.

However, leadership does not only apply to my team but also to lead projects with business partners and clients.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

We are all leaders in a way. We all have a family or kids; we all manage and give impulses to someone. Leadership is about inspiring, and we all do it. In my case, it was a process, and it was a series of scaling it up as time and experience came in. When it hit me, it was a moment a senior executive told me before entering a massive event that I needed to watch out for every move I made since people there were expecting me and trusted me. That if I told them the sun was rising in a certain place, they would all turn and wait for it there. Then it hit me, and since then, I have done my best to be a leader not only with words but with actions and getting in with the team.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I structure my week; this has been more efficient for me than day by day since some things take time or do not rely 100% on me. Daily, I set up the 2 or 3 things (maximum) I need to get done, from sending a mail, making a call, or solving a project. I focus on the things I can only do or manage and trust my team to do their end.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

People surprise you. You need to give people the benefit of the doubt, and they will deliver with the proper guidance and freedom. Not each team member is the same; some need you to be closer than others, but trust them and let them do their process. Their process can be different than yours, so let them try it.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

The Ride of a Lifetime by Bob Iger. He explains how his journey to becoming Disney's CEO was and how when he was appointed Disney's CEO, the challenges he faced, and the decisions he needed to make, from re-establishing the relationship and partnership with Steve Jobs to merging with Pixar, Marvel, Lukas Fils, and Fox. This is all based on leadership.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Don't be afraid to fail, and recognize your mistakes. Being a leader is not always right, and it's also about recognizing that you were wrong or that others may have a better idea or build upon yours.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

When I got an offer from a major company to buy and merge with my company, business-wise, it was a no-brainer; at least all my advisors said that, and I believed it as well. However, I needed to not only lead my team to this transition but also gain the trust of the new team and become a leader for new people in an organization that I did not start and had its own culture and success. It was not easy; year 1 was challenging, probably the most important one of my professional career in leadership, I had to bring in all my learnings from all my previous roles, kind of blend them all in, and let time and results do their magic.

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