ROLAND IRWIN - SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE - ADOBE
Can you provide a short work bio – where you started, where you are now?
I started out in the research department at Pearson Education, an educational publisher. Following my geography degree, I didn’t know where to go – I just knew I didn’t want to go into writing environmental impact statements. Looking back, I was lucky enough to enter the world of publishing at an inflection point with online learning. Somehow I found myself with ownership of the online courses, and eventually their corporate website.
After that, I started at News Corp, around the time of the MySpace acquisition, as they were heavily investing in online platforms. I held a number of product manager roles across the Classified businesses, and really learnt a lot during this time. News Interactive (as it was then known) went through a massive growth from 60 to 600+ staff in just under 2 years.
Following these roles, I moved across into a start-up called MyTickets running the product team, before jumping across to the National marketing team at Toyota. I then became Country Manager for Marin Software, a US based ad tech start-up, where the company enjoyed great success over a challenging and exciting 2 ½ year period. A stint at Oakton as the Digital Director of NSW followed, which saw me working with a bunch of very talented consultants across a range of services.
Now I am a Senior Account Executive at Adobe, running enterprise sales across the Experience Cloud suite of products, working with some of Australia’s leading brands.
What is the focus of your current role?
I like to say that I am a consultant that carries a number – by that I mean that I work with my clients to solve their business challenges. All of my clients are at various stages of moving through a digital transformation, and we work with them to guide them and partner to meet their business needs.
You have worked in start-ups, led large scale consulting teams and now an award-winning SAE at Adobe, what is the common thread you see in successful teams & businesses?
Truly great leaders inspire the success of teams and ultimately, businesses. A great leader will surround themselves with switched-on people, focused on a dedicated task, driven to discover the best solutions.
We live in an ever-increasing multi-platform and highly connected world, what trends are you seeing in how businesses are (or are not) embracing this?
Constant and multi-faceted connectivity is one fundamental shift in our lives. It’s as if the population has undertaken a digital transformation. This has given rise to the importance of personal data, and its use (and abuse) to target, tailor and advertise to individuals.
When it works, we all love a personalised experience – when it doesn’t, it can be downright creepy. Finding that balance is an art.
I think the next great wave is going to be a renaissance of the creative. As businesses mature through their digital transformations and businesses deploy data driven personalisation at scale – they get to a point where content velocity becomes a real pain point. Trying to create content that cuts-through and is meaningful across a range of audiences at scale – this will be an issue just over the horizon.
Looking back now, what was a key lesson you learnt early in your career that you still carry with you today?
Great question. It would have to be the many great people I have worked with.
One key lesson that comes to mind was running through the process at News Corp and their internal business case approvals. At the time I was a Product Manager and we had the role of concept to commercialisation. It was a great role where you had to think about all aspects of the product - addressable audience, market willingness, cost of production, ROI of development, marketing, running the development and then once up and running handing it off to the ‘run team’, put that into a business case and have it signed off by an approval board. It was a great learning exercise to think holistically about business problems.
Also, keep learning and challenging yourself. When work stops being fun, try to look objectively to decide if where you are is still the right choice for you. Don’t be afraid to change or move – most times you’ll be rewarded for embracing the unknown and taking a leap.
What advice would you give to a young person looking to step into a career in media & technology?
It’s a very exciting space to work in and you’ll never be able to predict what’s just around the corner. Stay up to date with the latest trends, but don’t forget that ultimately it’s all about people.
What do you enjoy doing in your downtime?
I love spending time with my young son and my wife. I try to fit in a cycle where possible, and I’m always looking for a new opportunity to travel the world to experience new cultures and landscapes.