Fatcats, Language And Authenticity; The W.Media Summit And Awards

The previous year's W.Media Awards, 2021. Image Credit: W.Media

The Golden Globes. The Pulitzer Prize. The Palme D’Or. 

In anthropological terms, awards ceremonies and prizes have always been a societal focus. The fatcat equivalent of a day’s pat on the back from a satisfied employer feeds our wanting for validation, our need for admiration. Award recipients are, by the simple virtue of their selection, deemed the best in their category by either a panel of judges or by popular vote. Even if opinions are divided on the most deserving individual, a large number of people come to know successful and acclaimed people through these very award nominations and achievements. 

Beyond the euphoria and recognition felt by recipients, award ceremonies are also ideal grounds for networking and talent-sourcing, due to the very nature of attentive audiences at each event. If one is a devout believer in the perhaps, now time-honoured idea of warm handshakes and a conversation over beverage as the best medium for communication, over the efficiency, convenience and directness of online video calls, special award nights are holy events- a pilgrimage of sorts for business executives and leaders. 

Organisation heads have a real, physical platform to showcase their company brand and the values they stand for- an opportune moment to display empathy from behind a logo. Leaders are representatives, figures for the people they lead, architects of company culture. The best leaders seemingly become living embodiments of the organisations they lead, leaving permanent legacies even after moving on for whatever reason.  One can’t think of Apple without including Steve Jobs. The Chicago Bulls will forever be linked with Michael Jordan. The only synonym for KFC is Colonel Sanders. The list goes on. Organisations and leaders are synonymous and inseparable. 

“The art of communication is the language of leadership” – James Humes. 

The W.Media Awards Thought-Leadership Digital Summit 2022 and following Awards Gala Dinner represents an occasion for organisation leaders to coalesce around and discuss the different trending narratives of the data center and cloud space. The three main themes are those of sustainability, innovation and the special people of the industry, whilst different projects such as data center modernisation, energy innovation and cloud challenges will also be highlighted. Undeniably, however, it is the opines and perspective of leadership from organisation heads that will create the most brouhaha and praise on the night. 

Leading Managers Or Managing Leaders

O’Niel Dissanayake, CEO Asia Pacific, Socomec Group

O’Niel Dissanayake, now CEO Asia Pacific of the Socomec Group, has a wealth of experience as a business leader and will be one of the many insightful helmsmen present at the Awards. Speaking to him a week ago, I picked his brains on what his idea of leadership was, and of which, what were the common misconceptions encountered. 

“There is a common mistake that leaders make- they mix-up being a leader and a manager. Managers are people who delegate and get things done by their teams. Leaders, however, go beyond results. They create an environment for each and every individual to bring out their creativity and ideas. Leaders help people to discover their true potential and enable them to thrive in that (creative and idea-friendly) environment.”

He went on to explain his approach in leading his organisation; “I want to lead an organisation in Socomec where people will feel a sense of belonging. My philosophy as a leader is to build a shared sense of purpose amongst my team and I want to create a positive and inclusive workplace culture through strong collaboration and empowerment. I am a strong advocate for investing in employees’ development and I earnestly believe through such initiatives, I can create and build a high-performance team that is committed and will deliver results.”

When it comes to explaining the paucity of true leadership in any industry or organisation, O’Niel thinks of the skill as a muscle that needs to be worked, akin to cultivating the athletic ability of a sportsman through practice. “Scholars have written many books on how managers can become leaders. Leadership is natural, but it has to be cultivated through challenge, ambition and passion. If you make the choice to cultivate leadership, you need to have the skills, mindset and most importantly, commitment, to do so.”

Besides the more obvious qualities needed to be a leader such as a certain level of hard-headedness and internal derring-do, the qualities of empathy and communication share an equal pedestal of importance. Coin whichever term you want, be it ‘representative democracy’ or ‘advocate’, the basic concept remains; good leadership means having the responsibility and obligation to communicate with and find solutions to the problems your team members face.

As the Awards Gala Dinner and the preceding W.Media Awards Thought-Leadership Digital Summit 2022 approaches on the 29th September 2022, O’Niel had some parting words of advice for fellow business leaders. “The most important thing is to be authentic. Be authentic, be yourself. Share your ups and downs as a leader and include your accomplishments. How have you been able to transform your organisation and your people? What are the meaningful impacts you have been able to bring? Share those, and you’ll always be an inch closer to bringing out the best in your people.”

Come celebrate the industry’s achievements over the past year with the 2022 W.Media Cloud & Datacenter Awards. Read more and book your Gala dinner and cruise seats here.

In the lead up to the Gala Dinner, the Awards Thought-Leadership Digital Summit on 29th September promises to be thought-provoking and inducing of conversation, as hot-topics and new developments of the year will be discussed. See the agenda and register for free here.

With over 200 nominations across Asia-Pacific received, the competition this year has levelled up. Judging has commenced and all eyes are on the heavily anticipated Gala Dinner where winners will be announced on 24th November in Singapore.

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