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Unveiling the Magic: A Journey with Muna Mahmoud-Samba, CEO & Founder of MagikMedia!

Her Expat Life recently caught up with Muna Mahmoud-Samba, the dynamic CEO and Founder of MagikMedia, a true innovator reshaping the world of HR with her unique vision and approach. With a blend of passion, expertise, and a sprinkle of magic, Muna has propelled her agency to the forefront of disruptive HR practices. Recognised as a LinkedIn Top Recruiting Voice and Top People Management Voice, her journey is not only inspiring but also offers invaluable insights into the future of talent acquisition and management.

Join us as we delve into the world of Muna Mahmoud-Samba and uncover the secrets behind MagikMedia’s success.

1: Muna, Tell us about your path you took to becoming CEO at MagikMedia?

That’s a long, interesting story full of twists and turns but I’ll try my best to summarise it below. I

have three degrees, with my first degree I graduated at the top of my class with a near-perfect

GPA with an honours degree in Professional Communication. It was here during the summers

that I did internships in communication and also worked in marketing, I was always trying to

essentially do something and keep busy. As soon as I finished my course, I got recruited by the

UN Office for Outer Space Affairs to be the only communications intern working in the Office of

the Director. This was an important internship and I had to leave to go to Vienna straight after I

completed my degree and then come back to Toronto for my graduation ceremony for a few

days before going back to Vienna because it was a pivotal time which was the 50th Anniversary

of the UN Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. After this, I decided not to stay at

the UN but go back to Toronto to work in corporate, I felt like I needed to try a new avenue and

experiment before deciding on what path was for me, which is what I did, I worked at a smaller

agency that got acquired by a larger PR firm and was a media consultant. Here I had the

chance to work with incredible companies including on Accenture’s Digital Innovation Hub in


I still however felt like I wanted to do more, and I needed to make more of an impact, so I

applied to the University of Cambridge to get my master’s degree in international relations and

politics. I was accepted, I quit my job volunteered in Toronto and then moved to Cambridge.

During my time at Cambridge, I also ended up being a panelist on a Human Right’s Podcast. I

was really inspired by an international law course during my Masters and applied to stay on to

do what is actually one of the hardest courses at Cambridge, the senior status law degree or

affiliate law tripos, it’s basically a full-on law degree in two years not three. After I completed

this, I rejected an offer at a management consultancy firm in London and actually joined a young

recruitment startup in the quant finance space in London which worked globally, and my main

focus was North American and UK clients. The environment was not ideal, and I spotted so

many things that were toxic within the industry as a whole and I knew I wanted to create better.

That’s when MagikMedia was formed. Leveraging all of my past experience in communications

and marketing and my experience with recruitment, I created MagikMedia. I decided to forego

three investment opportunities and bootstrap the business. MagikMedia is now a disruptive

recruitment agency with a no-commission pay as you go model that focuses on the marketing,

technology and finance space. We’re truly a millennial/Gen-z type firm and are the anti-

recruitment agency of choice for some of the best and coolest brands in the world. Marketing

and Technology positions are our bread and butter and we’re looking to explore the gaming

industry soon. Becoming CEO of MagikMedia and starting the business was truly a labour of passion. When I look back at it now, my career journey has encompassed a number of different positions and titles, each with its own advantages that have led me to be here in this moment at the exactly right time.

2: Can you provide us with further insight into your ‘Disruptive HR Agency’ - how do you define

disruptive, and what sets your agency apart?

Disruptive to me, is defined as an agency that goes against the grain of industry standards to

truly innovate on and improve existing processes. Our agency does this by solving two main problems that businesses face with recruitment agencies:

1) High commission fees and the significant recruitment cost to businesses.

2) Lack of trust and conflicts of interest.

We do this by having a unique pay as you go model that does not rely on commission. Instead, we

offer our clients, a capped hourly rate, resulting in us outcompeting the market on price, quality

and speed. It has also meant that we can serve startups and scale-ups.

3: What recommendations do you offer to startups regarding their hiring processes?

For startups, culture-add and character are absolutely critical, especially in your early hires. You

can train hungry ambitious individuals on the skills they need but what you can’t do is alter

someone’s value system and character traits. This is why at MagikMedia we employ specific

vetting processes for startups to address many of the behavioural and character traits that are

essential at a critical stage in your company’s early growth. The personality traits and career

experiences you need to look for when hiring for a startup are significantly different from what

you’d look for when hiring for a larger established business.

4: Your academic background at Cambridge University is impressive. Could you share more

details about your educational journey?

I am a member of two colleges at the University of Cambridge. Fitzwilliam college and Hughes

Hall. I did my Master’s degree in International Relations and Politics when I was a member of

Fitzwilliam College and did my Law degree where I was a member of Hughes Hall. Ironically, I

was told by a high school teacher I was one of the biggest disappointments of the year so my

academic achievements are all the more sweet now! Never give up and keep going and don’t let

anyone define your story but yourself.

5: Could you discuss the significant challenges you’ve encountered both personally and


I believe that the universe is always conspiring in my favour and I’m deeply into practices such

as meditation so I truly honour every moment in my life and I’m grateful for both the good and

the bad. When I was a teenager, I struggled with anxiety and severe depression, I’ve spoken

about this with very few people, but it was a dark time in my life. I was also extremely shy (most

people can’t believe that now) but I was so shy that my school teacher even told my parents. I

worked immensely on improving two things, my sense of self-worth and my confidence and I

became obsessed with personal development. I delved into all of the books and my goal was to

achieve a deep sense of inner fulfilment and security within myself. I also struggled with binge

eating in my last years of high school and really low body image, that was after two years of

being diet obsessed, starving myself and overly working out to get super skinny. So there was a

lot of internal work I had to do. I lost my uncle in my last years of high school which was a

difficult time and I left school for two weeks and then found it really hard to catch-up. I tried

starting a business in my last year of high school in fashion styling which failed. Before I

transferred to Ryerson for my honours degree, I studied at AUS and almost got kicked out my

first semester because I was convinced I was going to be an entrepreneur and didn’t show up to

classes or put in effort. I found the recruitment industry really tough when I started, and I didn’t

like how it was structured and there were many times I wanted to leave. Now running

MagikMedia, although we are profitable, as with running any business, there’s constant ups and

downs and I have to navigate that and manage the scaling process. I’m grateful however

because I love every second of it.

6: Could you describe the experience of being a female CEO, including the challenges you’ve

faced and how you’ve addressed them? Additionally, what defines your approach as a CEO?

It’s a beautiful experience because I’m able to inspire other women to take charge of their life

and go after their dreams and it’s so wonderful meeting other female business owners and

forming that sense of community. There are definite challenges, I’m oftentimes underestimated

or even ignored, I have people mention my husband to me in conversations about my business

which I am the sole owner of and started myself, I have people just assume that they can

underprice me or communicate with me disrespectfully and I have to constantly be proving

myself. However, I choose to see this as a positive as well because this makes me stronger, I’d

rather be underestimated and take over than assumed to be a threat. As a CEO I’m pretty much

all about setting the vision, defining the landscape, being bold in my communication and very

clear with what I want and really being hands on at this point because of the early stage of the

business while also trusting my team to do the best job possible.

7: What do you perceive as the primary challenges within the recruitment industry, and how do

you intend to redefine its landscape?

In a few years the industry will have to change rapidly because there are SO many problems:

  1. It’s over-saturated with everyone trying to make a quick buck, there’s high fees but low quality

  2. There’s a lack of trust with businesses and agencies with many choosing to hire internally rather than using an agency

  3. There’s high turnover within agencies because of the toxic old-school sales culture and lack of leadership development.

Our simple business model tackles all of these issues, no commission and a pay as you go capped hourly rate means our clients don’t need to worry about high costs and our firm can then also focus on quality as we’re paid for the hours worked. The pay as you go model means our agency acts as an extension of in-house teams serving to build trust, we also don’t make commission so there’s no conflict of interest with our agency prioritising higher-paying roles, you can rest assured that every role no matter how much you’re paying the individual will be prioritised and we’re focused on being people-centric and paying people well, as we scale we won’t be focusing on low salaries and

commission but instead base salaries that are adequate with company-wide bonuses.

8: What key advice do you have for aspiring female entrepreneurs or those seeking to pursue

their entrepreneurial endeavours?

Trust your intuition and just go for it. You learn by trying new things and getting stuck in the

deep end. Don’t look for validation outside of yourself, leverage existing business ideas, solve a

problem, find a way to innovate on the old to create the new. Take constructive advice but be

very careful of whose advice you listen to.

9: Your professional journey has taken you to diverse locations, including roles at the UN Office

in Vienna and in Canada. Could you share your insights and experiences as a female expatriate

in the workforce?

It’s wonderful because you get to experience new people and places, make new friends, form

new bonds and enjoy different cultures but it can also get lonely if you don’t try to go out there

and make connections, so I would say be proactive, embrace it and enjoy the experience of

getting to work in new places and with new people.

10: Lastly, what guidance would you offer to women aiming to progress in their careers while

working abroad?

I would say to advocate for yourself, make sure that you ask for what you want in the workplace.

Keep tabs on all of the work and impact you’ve had and make a note of it. Use this the next time

you need to have leverage to ask for a promotion. Learn cultural nuances and incorporate this

understanding into your networking. Form connections based on the value you can give and

make an effort with people.

Connect with Muna:

Instagram: @notjstaprettyface

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