After years in ad tech, here’s why my next role wasn’t in adland

After AdRoll cut back its Australian operations, marketing director Cat Prestipino found herself wondering what to do next. After years in ad tech, she realised it was finally time to step outside the world of advertising.

I know. Everyone expected me to show up somewhere in adland.

It seemed really odd to me how surprised the industry was that I hadn’t joined another ad tech or martech. It was the first question that both journalists asked in the interviews I gave. I’d realised quite early on in my job hunt that I wouldn’t be joining another adtech or martech. I’d grieved at the time and ultimately, moved on.

AdRoll’s Sydney offices

The reality of adland in Australia is senior marketing roles are few and far between. Both logistically and financially it makes sense to place your senior marketer in Singapore, which is also usually where APAC HQ is. While many of the ad techs and martechs I’d love to work with are hiring at the moment, they are looking for mid-level marketer to support their on the ground efforts in Australia and New Zealand while reporting to a Singaporean-based marketing leadership.

There is also still a long way to go to show the value of marketing to a business. I joined AdRoll because of the value they placed on marketing. Marketing was part of their initial hire plan for any new expansion. I began my interview process with AdRoll two months before their office launch and signed my contract the day of the Sydney launch, the fourth staff member to join the Sydney team.

I spoke to a number of ad techs and martechs who are looking to hit the Australian shores in the next six months, but marketing isn’t part of their initial hire plan. They saw local marketing coming at least twelve months after launch.

Even those who recognised the strategic value I would bring to their leadership team didn’t believe that marketing had value for their business inside the first year.

But marketing is highly transferable and, despite my love of data and technology, I am a marketer. With all this in mind, I went on a personal journey to dig into what it was that I loved about adland and where else I could find that magic. I spoke at length on how I did this at SheSays on International Women’s Day, but essentially, I realised there were two things I was looking for: technology at the heart (disrupting the world to make it better) and culture.

At my heart, I’m a tech geek. I love technology and how it makes the world easier to interact with. Being a constant traveller, I was on the first in my circle to get onto Facebook and Skype to stay in touch. Most products in my home are Apple because through one of them, I have access to all of them.

I loved ad tech and martech because it disrupted how we marketed, making it easier, more efficient and ultimately, more creative. But adland isn’t the only place where technological disruption is going on and I began to start to look at other startups with a technology focus who were disrupting their industries.

As I began interviewing, I realised how important company culture was to me. I thrive in an open plan office with a sales team constantly on the phone and music playing. I like a high performance culture where business impact and goals are more important than who’s in the office first. I like constant chatter about how can we make the product better or what we’ve heard clients say.

I’ve never been a nine to five kind of girl and work/life balance to me means a workplace that fits into my life. I want to be able to work from hairdresser, I want to be able to leave early when it’s quiet, work from home when I need to and not hide the fact that I’m still trying to fit an average of eight hours a week ankle rehab into my life.

When I met Employment Hero, I knew I had found the right place. I will never forget my adland roots – I’m already in the process of introducing my team to the benefits of programmatic advertising and the potential of account-based marketing. But for me, what I valued was about more than pure adland and I’ve been lucky enough to find it at Employment Hero.

Cat Prestipino is chief marketing officer at Employment Hero, and was previously marketing director at AdRoll. This post first appeared on LinkedIn.


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