Angela Tangas – Redefining Leadership in the Advertising and Customer Experience Industry

The 10 Most Innovative CEOs to Watch in 2023

Step into the world of Angela Tangas, the CEO of dentsu UK&I, as she works to reshape the advertising and customer experience landscape with a focus on purpose, impact, and contentment. With a people-centered approach, diverse expertise, and unwavering commitment to integrity and innovation, Tangas has been recognized as one of “The 10 Most Innovative CEOs to Watch in 2023.”  Join us as we explore Tangas’ inspiring journey and discover how her vision for a future where brands, consumers, and society are seamlessly connected makes her a catalyst for positive change.

Fearlessly Forging a Path to Success

When asked about her definition of success, Tangas responds, “Success is a journey of discovery that evolves over time. I seek out as much wisdom as possible, while staying true to my values.” She believes that success goes beyond personal achievements and emphasizes the importance of positively impacting others. Amidst a dynamic career and varied experiences, Tangas finds herself reflecting on whether her success has truly enriched her as a person, mother, daughter, friend, and leader. She envisions a future where her daughter can fearlessly pursue her own path with confidence. Leading with a sense of purpose, Tangas endeavors to pave a path for the success of future generations.

A Journey Defined by Beauty, Form, and Function

During the early stages of her career, Tangas’ passion was drawn towards a profession in architecture. As Tangas says, “There is beauty in form and function; in my view one cannot exist without the other. I’ve seen this in every role in my career, and I married an architect instead!”

Before joining dentsu, her professional experience was client-side, encompassing digital communications and marketing within the utilities and insurance sectors. Throughout her career, she consistently prioritized customer outcomes while achieving favorable commercial results. Tangas did this by implementing innovative partnership programs and fostering scalable and diverse revenue streams through business, product, and technology expansion. Embracing the concept of perpetual evolution, she recognized that change is a constant and enduring factor in the dynamic world of business.

Overview of dentsu and Angela Tangas’ Leadership

Under Tangas’ leadership, dentsu boasts a diverse team of more than 3,500 individuals in the UK and Ireland. With a strong people-centered approach, they seamlessly blend Japanese innovation with a global perspective, driving client growth and positively impacting society. Combining its expertise across media, technology, data, customer experience and creativity, dentsu delivers compelling strategic and commercial advantages for their clients. Working with some of the world’s leading and most recognizable brands whose needs are constantly evolving in line with consumer expectation, Tangas plays a pivotal role in continuously shaping dentsu’s evolution, fostering a culture of high performance where the business and its people become trusted growth partners for clients. Her expertise, array of talent, teams and approach to collaboration, enables brands and businesses to realise opportunities through effective solutions that deliver both short and long-term sustainable success.

Transforming dentsu and Redefining the Industry

“Since a young age, I have always been curious, specifically understanding the “why” and how to make things better,” shares Tangas, highlighting her lifelong curiosity and commitment to enhancing experiences. Her early exposure to her mother’s successful bridal business, which embraced cultural nuances to gain a competitive edge, left a lasting impression on her and reinforced the significance of building strong customer connections for business growth. Through her deep understanding of consumer behavior, business challenges and employee priorities, Tangas brings a unique skillset to her role.

Dentsu’s growth and achievements have been firmly rooted in a deep understanding of people. With 120 years of experience in problem-solving, drawing from their Japanese heritage, as well as expanding internationally through strategic acquisitions and partnerships, dentsu offers a comprehensive perspective on people and culture. Tangas aptly describes the company as: part good corporate citizen, part moonshot”.

A vivid example of this philosophy can be found in dentsu’s commitment to sustainability, which is industry-leading. Dentsu was one of the first seven companies in the world, and the first in the industry, to have a long-term science-based Net Zero target validated. The organization achieved a Gold Sustainability Rating from EcoVadis and an A- from CDP in 2022; and last year dentsu was independently verified as carbon neutral across its international operations, first in the industry and nine years ahead of target. Its dedication to social impact is similarly impressive – dentsu was ranked as a Stonewall Top 100 employer for the third year in a row in the UK in 2022 and won a Gold Award for Trans and Bisexual Inclusion. More than 1,100 dentsu UK employees volunteered as part of dentsu’s 2023 volunteering campaign – One Day for Change. And globally, more than 35,000 young people have been reached through dentsu’s global youth accelerator programme, The Code.

Guided by the Japanese principle of Sanpo Yoshi, dentsu is committed to creating outcomes that benefit individuals, businesses, and society as a whole.

Finding Common Ground, Without Compromising Values, to Solve Roadblocks

Throughout her career, Tangas has gleaned invaluable lessons from the challenges she encountered. She states: “If you start with trust, it’s often followed by understanding, and understanding leads to alignment and delivering solutions or outcomes. If you can remove the emotion, find a common ground, then you’ll likely win.”  That being said, Tangas emphasizes that winning isn’t winning if you don’t have a team, or your values have been compromised.

Growth Means Taking Risks: Courage on the Path to Leadership

Tangas embarked on her career journey by embracing bravery, understanding that growth is impossible without self-confidence.

She notes: “You can’t grow without taking risks. Getting the balance right is all part of learning, growing, and evolving as a leader. Play the ball, always.”

During her formative years, Tangas was fortunate to have mentors who played a crucial role in her growth. They not only nurtured her skills but also encouraged her ideas and provided the space for her to flourish. Although she might not have fully realized the significance of these coaching moments at the time, they deeply influenced her development as both a person and a leader.

Grateful for these invaluable experiences, Tangas is now dedicated to paying it forward by offering the same guidance and support to current and future generations. Her aspiration is to be known for fostering a culture of excellence and dedication, creating a nurturing environment where individuals can reach their full potential. Through her leadership, she aims to make a lasting impact within her organization and extend her influence beyond its boundaries, inspiring others to achieve greatness as well. Dentsu offers multiple opportunities to develop its talent, whether through free training offered to all via dentsu university or improving gender equity through a groundbreaking Women in Tech group. It is also passionate in its support for the next generation of leaders through a youth accelerator programme (The Code) and by amplifying gen Z’s voices in the organization through the Very Important Z’s initiative (VIZ).

Tangas states: “Every day is about nurturing, empowering, and enabling our people to be the best they can be.”  Creating a secure, adaptable, and inclusive environment that values transparency and trust, while also celebrating achievements, is at the core of Tangas’ leadership philosophy. She recognizes that the people within the company are its most valuable asset and, therefore, explores innovative ways to foster team collaboration and unlock new value.

She firmly believes in empowering her team and breaking down silos. By doing so, she cultivates a sense of collective success, knowing that the capability of her employees to shape growth and innovation not only benefits its clients and the company but also has a positive impact on the broader UK community.

By nurturing its staff’s growth in ways that enhance competitiveness and create uniqueness, dentsu maintains its position as a forward-thinking organization that thrives on predicting and delivering on the diverse needs of its clients. Through this approach, Tangas strives to ensure that dentsu stays ahead of the curve in its industry and contributes meaningfully to the larger business landscape.

Integrating Work and Life to Achieve Balance

Maintaining a harmonious blend of personal and professional life is of the utmost importance to dentsu’s CEO. Rather than seeking a strict balance that implies a trade-off between the two realms, she integrates them seamlessly. This approach enables her to bring her authentic self to both personal and professional endeavors. While acknowledging the need for sacrifices along the way, Tangas consciously intertwines her work with her other passions, whether it’s indulging in activities like swimming, keeping up with the latest miniseries (she recently completed John Wick), or immersing herself in novel experiences by connecting with individuals from diverse cultures, backgrounds, and interests. For Tangas: “Life is all about learning, unlearning and relearning – and sharing, always sharing what I know.”

Regarding team dynamics, Tangas emphasizes establishing clarity of purpose while cultivating an environment of belonging. She firmly believes that while the work we do must be taken seriously, life is too short to take ourselves seriously. Having fun is important. To keep her team motivated, she prioritizes understanding their needs, expectations, and the importance of feedback in the moment. By nurturing this collective sense of leadership, she inspires and motivates her team members to reach their full potential, adopting the attitude that “we all lead.”

Evaluating the Long-term Implications of Cutting-edge Technology

Tangas, driven by her passion for technology, has witnessed first-hand its significant impact on the advertising and customer experience industry. Each technological advancement brings a wave of early trailblazers, followed by a period of reflection and refinement to discover the most effective ways to utilize the technology to enhance human life and commercial outcomes.  This pattern has been observed with the advent of the internet, search engines, and artificial intelligence (AI).

In addition, these advancements have also had an impact on brand equity and consumer trust over time. Tangas explains this: “The immediate insights performance metrics offer for example, combined with the average tenure of a CMO, plus the increased pressure many businesses are facing in these challenged economic times, are all contributing to the brand experience outcome”.

Together, these factors create further complexity and challenges for brands trying to navigate the effectiveness of their overall investments, particularly if without a strong data management or customer management platform.

It’s also reinforced the importance of balance between brand and demand. Every experience matters and capturing the hearts and minds of a broader audience who can sustain the brand over time is critical to long term business success.

It’s also a core reason why Tangas is investing in Business Transformation, building on dentsu’s expertise in Digital, Data and Experience Transformations. She points out that they are all connected to achieve both great customer and employee outcomes.

At an industry level Tangas notes: “We need to take the emerging technology we produce, and work though the potential long-term implications, not just the upsides for right now.”

Technologies, like GenAI, carry the potential for significant impact, many of which are not yet fully understood. Thus, applications are to be looked at through the lens of not just brands or business, but the impact on people and society as a whole, to ensure the next generation is set up for success.

Tangas is clear on the need to innovate – with appropriate guardrails. “New technology is about possibility. If we don’t keep exploring and pushing, scoping and testing those possibilities on behalf of clients, consumers and the industry, then we all risk missing out, but we need to do this by balancing the short- and long-term effects.” By navigating this delicate equilibrium, the industry can leverage technology’s potential while mitigating any potential drawbacks.

Dentsu recently announced a private AI instance on Microsoft’s Azure platform, a global first, using Google’s Vortex AI to enable safe, private environments for its clients to utilize.

Unwavering Ambition: Tangas’ Continuous Quest for Impact and Growth

Reflecting on her journey, Tangas firmly believes that there is much more she can contribute and aims to expand her impact as her career advances. The equation of value realization evolves over time, and Tangas is committed to being a catalyst for positive change within her business and the broader industry and community. While she acknowledges that there is more to achieve, Tangas deeply appreciates every opportunity she has been granted thus far and the remarkable individuals she has had the privilege to encounter, collaborate with, and lead. As she says: “great people lead to awesome outcomes.”

Clients’ needs demand more, better, faster, more effectively

“We are already thinking ahead to 2030 – we have to,” shares the dentsu UK CEO. The modern landscape of brands and businesses is marked by extensive interconnectedness, where products, services, technologies, societies, and ecosystems converge at unprecedented levels. Clients’ expectations demand better, faster, and more effective solutions. These are expanding as the corporate UK and the global economy undergoes transformative shifts driven by rapid technological advancements and heightened environmental considerations. In such a landscape, it becomes increasingly challenging for brands to achieve sustainable growth independently.

As Tangas states: “Our aim is to be the connective tissue between brands, consumers and society. We support our clients’ people-centered transformations safely, ethically and sustainably to futureproof their growth.” Dentsu strives to provide innovative solutions by leveraging its assets, broader ecosystem, and capabilities with agility and adaptability.

Tangas’ personal goal to lead the industry’s future growth and transformation is equally significant to dentsu’s aspirations. It extends beyond increased efficiency in its supply chain to focus on greater strategic value and encompasses talent development, fostering female leadership and diversity, closing gender and diversity pay gaps, supporting the 55+ generation, and creating a workplace that prioritizes the well-being of every member of Team dentsu. The company remains committed to providing equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities, ensuring they can access necessary adjustments and resources. The doors of dentsu are open and accessible to all, embodying its inclusive ethos.

Tangas’ Message to Aspiring Leaders: Back Yourself

Tangas emphasizes that true impact requires aspiring leaders to go beyond personal aspirations and broaden their perspectives. Anticipating future challenges is an essential aspect of successful leadership. Cultivating empathy is a vital quality that enables leaders to make a meaningful and lasting impact and be a positive and transformative influence in their industry and the wider community.

Lastly, as she so eloquently concludes: “Back yourself. Belief gets you more than halfway, and impact requires us to look beyond our needs, think forward and leverage the experiences of others.”