One Under 30: Young Marketer Spotlight – Shayan Mahmud

Highlighting young talent in the ad world
— one person at a time.

As part of an ongoing series highlighting young talent in the industry, Branding in Asia brings you “One Under 30” – a special feature that focuses on up-and-coming talent in the ad world, one person at a time.

This week we talk to Shayan Mahmud, from Eikon7, based in Islamabad, Pakistan. He told us he got his first break in the ad world while he was doing an internship in Bucharest. It was there that he met one of his current partners, Gabriel Branescu, in a restaurant.

Shayan would later go on to become “the voice of millennials” on the Eikon7 team, where he serves as managing partner leading a team in Islamabad.


The Basics

Name: Shayan Mahmud
Age: 30
Agency: Eikon7
Position: Managing Partner
Hometown: Islamabad
Current Location: Islamabad
Education: European Business School – Bachelors in International Business and Mandarin

Seven Questions

How did you get your first break in the industry?

I was 22 years old and in Bucharest Romania for an internship where I met my partner Gabriel at a restaurant. He was a lot older (he had been running his agency ‘Badcat’ for 10 years) and we just got along from day one. A year or so later we opened our first office in Islamabad and the rest, as they say, is history.

What is your personal mantra?

It’s the same as Eikon7’s slogan ‘Mean Something’. All of us get one chance to carve out some sort of legacy. If something ‘means something’ to you, you’ll go the extra mile. You’ll put your heart and soul into it. It isn’t a job or a means to an end but something that you truly believe in.


Whenever I have a moment to reflect, I look at our clients, business verticals, and even my daily routine and ask myself does this ‘mean something’ to you?

From what person, place or thing have you drawn your greatest creative inspiration?

My mother has always been my biggest inspiration. Not just creatively but in terms of sheer willpower. She was diagnosed with CNS Lymphoma a few years ago (a type of blood cancer located in her brain), she’s been able to win her fight, against very slim odds I might add, twice. It’s that tenacity and willpower that I draw inspiration from.

It’s so hard for us millennials to wait and be resilient. To accept external factors play huge roles, and to accept that it isn’t a race, it’s a marathon.

Her ability to show up to work the day after chemotherapy or radiotherapy because she truly loves her company (she’s self-employed in an IT company) wouldn’t just inspire me but all those around her. She feels the most at ease when she’s working on what she loves. Work isn’t a job for her, it’s her safe haven. That’s how it should be for all of us who love what we do.

What do you love about the job?

The people. Since before I can remember all I ever wanted to be was some sort of sports coach or army general, any sort of leader basically. I love that moment when you’re able to inspire someone to do more than they ever thought they were capable of.

What about your job are you not so crazy about?

I’d say it would probably be patience. It’s so hard for us millennials to wait and be resilient. To accept external factors play huge roles, and to accept that it isn’t a race, it’s a marathon.

What is some work you’ve done that you’re most proud of?

I wouldn’t be able to take credit for any of the work because it’s all done by the great team that we have but I guess I’d pick one or two that ‘Mean Something’:

We produced a documentary and helped market the micro-entrepreneurship awards for PPAF and Citibank. The stories you hear and the people we met(I was fortunate enough to be on the panel as well) were such eye-openers. It shows you the true capability human beings have regardless of circumstances.

This is another one that was really important not in terms of value but impact. KKAWF produced this short film and did a campaign across schools in Pakistan against the battle on drugs in Pakistan. This is such an important topic and doesn’t get enough media coverage in Pakistan.

Operation 021’s marketing was the first-ever project done by my partners Gabriel, Irina, and myself. Although over the years the team in Pakistan and Romania have worked on much bigger projects and done remarkably well, this was where it all began.

If you had to choose another career what would it be?

That’s easy, I’d be a football manager. That was my dream job as a kid. I’d want to be a coach like Arsene Wenger or Jurgen Klopp.

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