Leaders’ Insights: Marius Smyth, AdRoll

7 Jan 2016

Marius Smyth is the managing director of AdRoll EMEA and is responsible for managing the operations and leading the strategic development of AdRoll across the EMEA region.

Smyth joined AdRoll in 2013 to help build up its Dublin-based EMEA headquarters and drive revenue growth.

Prior to joining AdRoll he had spent eight years at Google, where he managed sales and support teams across EMEA.

Describe your role and what you do.

I manage the sales and operations at the AdRoll EMEA HQ in Dublin and am tasked with driving the revenue for our EMEA markets.

How do you prioritise and organise your working life?

It’s tough in such a fast-paced business. I tend to try and get into the office early to focus on the EMEA business’ needs and then spend time online in the evenings with my colleagues in our global HQ in San Francisco. For now, the priority is growing the business’ revenue, developing the right go-to-market strategies for EMEA and making sure the Dublin site is a great place to work. If the things I am doing don’t drive these, then they are not a priority. I also have a fantastic executive assistant, Judy, who makes life a whole lot easier as well!

What are the biggest challenges facing your business and how are you tackling them?

Two really big areas I am focused on right now are: 1) Ensuring we are making the right bets and investment in resources across the region. 2) Winning the markets we are investing in. It’s an intensely competitive market place for us and we are doing everything we can to be the best and grow and retain our customer base.

What are the key industry opportunities youre capitalising on?

Data is driving everything for our customers. Performance advertising is now reliant on the quality of insights that customers can get from data. Two years ago, when we first started here in EMEA, my conversations with customers centered on us helping them collect, interpret and make better decisions with their data. Now we are trying to help them do more than just that with their data, we are helping them optimise their data to win new customers and new business.

What set you on the road to where you are in the technology industry?

I am a sales guy at heart and worked in advertising for the past 15 years. The point at which advertising and technology intersected for me was having the opportunity to work for Google 10 years ago. I spent eight years working for one of the companies of our generation, learning about technology and developing strategies to win in online advertising. I have found that experience invaluable for my role with AdRoll.

What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?

I would say the last couple of years at AdRoll have happened at a ferocious pace. If there was anything I might change about this time, it might have been taking things a little slower. The pace of growth takes its toll on people and puts pressure on culture and development. Having said that, I think it has made us into the successful organisation we are today.

‘Data is driving everything for our customers’

How do you get the best out of your team?

One of AdRoll’s values centres on transparency. I think being open and honest with people, constantly sharing your thoughts and vision, helps get the best out of your team. I also think spending time having fun with your teams goes a long way as well!

STEM sectors receive a lot of criticism for a lack of diversity. What are your thoughts on this and whats needed to effect change?

We have been very deliberate here in our EMEA HQ to promote and try and develop diversity. I think you have to be deliberate, especially at the beginning, to ensure that everyone in leadership and beyond takes it seriously. Having said this, there is definitely a lot more we could be doing. I am confident that thinking about it, taking action on it and constantly reviewing if are you doing a good job on it goes a long way.

‘The pace of growth takes its toll on people and puts pressure on culture and development’

Who is your business hero and why?

I have studied and read a lot on leadership in business and have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by a golden generation of global business leaders such as Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, Erich Schmidt… the list goes on. However, it’s closer to home where I get my inspiration and I believe that Irish entrepreneurs such as Bobby Kerr represent real heroes in business, as they have nurtured and developed Irish brands and business to success.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

I recently finished Seven Deadly Sins by David Walsh on Lance Armstrong and just started reading a classic business publication called How The Mighty Fall by Jim Collins, as inspiration for not falling into the pitfalls that lots of big businesses do.

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?

I have an infinite capacity for emails and it’s by far the No 1 way I communicate. I have also started to adopt Slack, which is a productivity tool we are now using in AdRoll to speed up decision-making and aid communication. My calendar is pretty much crammed from day-to-day but also gives me a steer on where I need to be and the conversations I need to prepare for.