1. Steve Hatch
"Shicklegate" would have spelt the end for some leaders. After the damaging leaked e-mail attracted such embarrassing and negative publicity to a business trading on its reputation, MEC and Group M needed a steady hand on the tiller. Fortunately, they had one. Dedicated, approachable and astute, Hatch is the embodiment of MEC, and few argued when it was voted Agency of the Decade at Media360 this year. That he is preparing for a new challenge as the head of Facebook UK should be a major concern for Sir Martin Sorrell.
2. Phil Georgiadis
Considered, passionate and full of integrity, Georgiadis is the undisputed grown-up of the media world and has been pivotal to Walker Media’s success servicing brands such as Marks & Spencer, Sony Entertainment and Weetabix since it was launched 16 years ago. His handling of clients has been the envy of his peers at larger networks. It will be fascinating to see how Georgiadis adapts to being part of the Publicis Groupe machine following this year’s £36 million buyout.
3. Dominique Delport
Delport may have a wider role, but the drive of Havas Media Group’s global managing director has been felt strongly in the UK this year. Managing the exits of the industry bears Steve Booth and Marc Mendoza is no mean feat. Meanwhile, the merger of Havas Media and Arena to create a mini-Havas Village in London played perfectly to the network’s agile positioning. The French Anglophile admits to needing little sleep – something those around him wearily confirm.
4. Karen Blackett
How Blackett finds the time to run the UK’s largest media agency on top of being a proud mum and an international role model is anyone’s guess. She has steered MediaCom through another stellar year of client retention, while new-business wins include Sony and Coca-Cola. Beyond MediaCom, Blackett has been recognised in both the Powerlist and at the Women in Marketing Awards, and is becoming something of a regular at the House of Commons.
5. Robert Ffitch
He may be an old hand but Ffitch’s 24th year at Manning Gottlieb OMD – the first as its chief executive – has been his best. After naming MG OMD Media Week’s Agency of the Year, the judges commended both the strength and breadth of its work, and Ffitch’s careful, understated management. The agency continues to grow almost despite itself, with billings nearing £500 million this year. Such success has seen the quiet man of media come out of his shell.
6. Tracy De Groose
De Groose is the beating heart of an agency all too easily pigeonholed as an efficient, clinical machine. Renowned for her sharp, strategic focus, she has been credited with transforming Carat’s culture. Anyone not familiar with De Groose’s passion and drive saw it first hand when she chaired this year’s Media360. She starts 2014 with a personal battle of her own but, this time, it’s not just Aegis but the entire industry in her corner.
7. Daren Rubins
Slick, professional and single-minded, Rubins is in many ways the consummate adman. He has been with PHD for 13 years now and has built a talented team around him since being made the chief executive in 2011. The agency continues to punch well above its weight under him and has pulled off the rare trick of evolving a strategic planning heritage while scaling up into a global network.
8. Jenny Biggam
Being a co-founder of the UK’s largest independent media agency during a time of mass industry consolidation ensures her progress will be heavily scrutinised in 2014. The7stars has built a strong reputation on the back of solid work for an eclectic and ever-growing portfolio of clients. Not your traditional leader, Biggam brings a more emotional approach to the business and seems to hit a nerve when reminding us that "not everyone wants to do all their shopping at Tesco".
9. Andrew Stephens
The Spurs fan and would-be cricketer continues to make waves as the charismatic leader of the small shop making a big noise. Goodstuff Communications picked up nearly £20 million-worth of new business this year, but don’t expect Stephens to be content with that – there is still much to do on his ambitious checklist. Being able to plug into Omnicom’s resources while operating independently is a potent mix for the man who is fond of saying "nothing is impossible".
10. Dan Clays
Clays is a man on a mission to kick-start OMD and reclaim the position of Omnicom’s number-one agency. Since arriving from Arena last year, he has set about building a new team and creating a different dynamic at OMD. Clays has made the transition from digital specialist to media leader and has plenty more to give. The talent he has managed to attract has not gone unnoticed and new business has followed, with the agency ending the year winning work from SSE, Carlsberg and Hasbro.