The CEO Magazine's CEO of the Year 2017 has called time on a hugely successful stint at SBS, one of Australia's public broadcasters.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on July 18, 2018

Ebeid will depart from the network on 1 October 2018. He has been Managing Director since June 2011 and has overseen massive growth.

“My decision to step down has been one of the most difficult decisions I’ve made,” Ebeid said in a statement.

“Serving as the SBS Managing Director has been a real honour and privilege and I depart feeling confident that this is the right time for a new Managing Director to take the organisation forward.

“SBS is the strongest it has been in over 40 years. We are more relevant than ever and we are ready for the future.”

SBS was established in 1978 and includes a four-channel television network as well as radio and online arms. It has a charter to deliver multilingual and multicultural content to Australians.

Ebeid said that broadcasters play an important role in sharing perspectives and fostering understanding across cultures.

Ebeid was credited with securing sustainable government funding and completely turning around shrinking audiences. He also managed to raise commercial revenues while integrating new digital platforms and remaining faithful to SBS’s brief to deliver youthful, multicultural, cutting-edge storytelling.

He even somehow negotiated Australia’s entry into the Eurovision song contest.

Prior to joining SBS, he had been Director, Corporate Strategy and Marketing at the ABC and had held various executive roles in telecommunications and finance.

Ebeid wasThe CEO Magazine’s CEO of the Year for 2017

Ebeid was voted The CEO Magazine’s CEO of the Year in 2017. Judges had been impressed by his ability not just to successfully manage the network’s bottom line but to achieve a 78% engagement rate with this employees.

At the awards ceremony, he paid tribute to a cause he had long championed, marriage equality. The awards ceremony fell on the day Australia voted in favour of same-sex marriage in a referendum.

“It’s an absolute privilege to lead an important organisation like SBS and as our nation’s cultural complexity continues to evolve,” he told the crowd at Palladium, Crown Melbourne.

“CEO awards like this give people an opportunity to be their best and to strive to improve, to learn and to constantly take themselves to a new level. I think that’s really important.

“Businesses are the backbone of our economy. We need strong leaders in the country at a political, corporate and community level.

“That’s the beauty of leadership – that you can really make a difference.”

That’s the beauty of leadership – that you can really make a difference

In a wide-ranging interview with The CEO Magazine, Ebeid said one of the most satisfying moments he had at SBS was the commissioning of Sunshine, a drama about South Sudanese Australians.

“The impact that that had on that community just made me feel incredibly proud” he recalled. “But also the impact that it had on non-South Sudanese Australians – the rest of the country – was amazing.

“Those sorts of moments, being able to get the average Australian to just broaden their horizon a little bit, gives me enormous personal satisfaction. That’s why I love what we do at SBS.”

Ebeid oversaw a time of change at SBS

During Ebeid’s time at the helm, SBS re-launched its Indigenous channel as National Indigenous Television (NITV) and rebadged the SBS 2 channel as the youth centric SBS Viceland. It also introduced a new channel, Food Network, in 2015. Recently, the network’s main channel won plaudits for its coverage of the FIFA World Cup. The network continues to be seen as the spiritual home of football.

Ebeid paid tribute to his Board of Directors, executive team and employees for successfully implementing a raft of changes.

“The SBS team is the most passionate and committed that I’ve worked with in my 30-year career,” he said.

One major shift in the broadcast landscape was the growing importance of on demand content and the decline of television ratings as a marker of success. SBS On Demand had up to 30 million video views in a single month and had a registered user based of around three million.

Chairman pays tribute to Ebeid

Dr Bulent Hass Dellal AO, Chairman of the SBS Board of Directors, thanked Ebeid for his service and noted he was the longest serving Managing Director in the network’s history.

“There is no doubt that he departs an organisation which is stronger, sustainable and backed by an important and valued purpose to contribute to the ongoing social and economic development of our nation through media services which foster greater understanding and encourage social cohesion.”

Dellal also said Ebeid had been a forward-thinking Managing Director.

“Michael had the foresight to recognise early that the SBS Charter and the organisation’s commitment to diverse multicultural communities provided an opportunity for relevant digital evolution and in-depth storytelling on new and emerging platforms; a strategy which continues to serve the organisation well.

Read more: The CEO Magazine’s 2018 Executive Awards.