B&T’s Best Of The Best Technologists, Presented By Finecast, Part Of GroupM Nexus

B&T’s Best Of The Best Technologists, Presented By Finecast, Part Of GroupM Nexus

To the chagrin of the old-school, ball-busting, hard-drinking and chain-smoking execs in advertising, the industry has never been more reliant on technology. But, by the same token, it has never benefitted so much from technology.

Adland is in the midst of a remarkable transformation as creative work becomes automated through AI and customer data can be swept up and siphoned off to meet exactly the right customer at the exact second they’re looking to buy something. Even the old-fashioned billboard is heading over to the digital world.

As a result, rather than being locked in the basement like the tech guys (and thankfully, increasingly girls) of old, these new technologists are swiftly becoming the most important people in the industry. And rightly so.

Every week on B&T, we take a different role within adland and tell you who are the 10 Best of the Best at it. Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be revealing the best people in these disciplines: Recruiter, Public Relations – Consumer, Strategist – Media, Project Manager, Mentor, Developer, Casting Director, Industry Association Chief, Experiential Producer, Social Change Maker, Journalist, HR, Planning Director – Media, and Marketer.

But, for now, here are the Best of the Best Technologists:

10) Patrick Howard
Senior solutions engineer, PLAYGROUND XYZ

Understanding and quantifying how consumers engage with advertising has never been more important for the industry — or more lucrative. When pulling together this list, Howard came highly recommended by B&T‘s industry friends for his attention to detail and deep technical knowledge. Considering his background — almost two and a half years at Playground XYZ, more than a decade at REA Group and nearly three at MediaSmart in technical operations role, none of that should come as a surprise. If there’s something worth knowing about adtech that Howard doesn’t know, it’s almost certainly not worth knowing at all.

9) Andy Holford
Chief product officer, Reprise

Holford made the jump from being the head of customer at one of Reprise’s clients to the agency two years ago and he hasn’t looked back. Joining as the chief product officer, he spent six months as the agency’s interim CEO before stepping back into his original role. During his two years at Reprise, Holford was instrumental in bringing on board clients such as OnePass and Adobe for some of IPG’s front door agencies. However, Holford is as much about empowering his team as he is getting the results himself, two of his team were shortlisted for the B&T 30 Under 30 Technology Award and Reprise was crowned the Google Honours Agency of the Quarter AUNZ for Q3 2022. Oh, and he’s also a very important judge for the B&T Women in Media awards (tickets are available here, by the way).

8) Irene Kurniawan
Senior manager, technical operations, Magnite

As with Howard, Kurniawan came very highly recommended to B&T and has largely been unheralded for her abilities. Having spent more than a decade at one of the most important firms in adtech — Kurniawan joined when it was still the Rubicon Project — her work is absolutely essential to the business and the deployment of its tech. When she’s not at Magnite, Kurniawan also sits on the IAB Standards & Guidelines Council, one of the most critical and influential bodies in the land of digital advertising.

7) Jahn Erdogan
Head of adtech and platforms, Seven West Media

Erdogan has spent seven years at Seven and has been leading the publisher’s adtech efforts for almost six. During that time, the business’ adtech arm has become increasingly important to its bottom line and to its customers. Under Erdogan’s leadership, the company has bet big on its BVOD service and has even dipped its toe into the world of gaming to help reach audiences in better ways and deliver results for its advertisers. He is also a vital member of the IAB’s Executive Technology Council.

6) Paul Luckett
Head of adtech & innovation, News Corp

Luckett has more than a decade’s worth of experience working at the coalface of adtech and joined the News Corp behemoth six years ago as a senior adtech manager before rising to his current role. Now overseeing adtech across the company’s owned and operated digital properties, Luckett has one of the most demanding jobs in Australian adtech. However, his work and passion extends beyond getting ads on sites, as he is heavily invested in measuring and helping to improve News Corp’s company culture further. He also sits on the IAB’s Executive Technology Council and regularly presents and sits on panel discussions at the body’s events. He also has two lovely dogs.

5) James Wylie
Chief information officer, Clemenger Group

Based out of Auckland in his native New Zealand, Wylie has been with Clems for nigh on 15 years, spending half of that time as the Group’s chief information officer. During that time, the business has undergone some significant changes and, with Wylie’s steady hand on the tiller, its agencies are producing some brilliant tech-focused work. LEVO, for example, recently partnered with the University of Technology Sydney and has started a technology scholarship for Indigenous Australians to get into the sector. A number of its staff picked up gongs during our Women Leading Tech Awards, a great representation of the culture that Wylie has helped foster within the Group.

4) Tim Matheson
Chief technology officer, WPP

Matheson has spent almost two decades within WPP, starting as a technical director at DT before it became AKQA. Now with an agency-wide remit, Matheson has been instrumental in building the holdco’s technology strategy, working closely with CEO Rose Herceg. Under his stewardship, WPP’s agencies have produced exceptional tech-forward for clients such as Intel and Coca-Cola. The holdco has also signed a bunch of techy partnerships with the likes of NVIDIA and Spotify. just this year. Matheson has certainly not been resting on his laurels.

3) Charles Dangibeaud
Product director, GroupM

Dangibeaud leads GroupM’s specialty agencies and, despite having only been in the role for a shade over two years, the results are already showing. Both Xaxis and INCA have been picking up awards and a number of the holdco’s staff have been shortlisted for the Women in Media Awards. With a CV that reads like a who’s who of digital advertising and media — Carsales.com.au, the Daily Mail, Essence and MediaCom — it should hardly be surprising that Dangibeaud is leading big changes at GroupM. But, Dangibeaud is also working on solving the problems that have been created by adtech. He not only sits on the IAB Sustainability Working Group but he was the architect of GroupM’s Digital Sustainability Initiative to offset carbon emissions generated by digital ads. We’re expecting even bigger things from Dangibeaud in the years to come.

2) Najla Haddad
Chief product officer, M&C Saatchi Group

Five months ago, Haddad returned from more than a decade in New York working for the likes of Ogilvy, Digitas and VMLY&R. Her new boss, Justin Graham, told B&T that she was the perfect fit for the chief product officer role with her “deep experience around customer and CX” from having worked on some of the biggest brands in the US. Now working on some of the biggest brands in Australia, that experience is already showing with M&C working on some incredibly exciting initiatives around AI and customer matching. There are big, big things in store for both Haddad and M&C.

1) Rebecca Haagsma
Chief product officer, Nine

Nine persuaded Haagsma to rejoin the network from Telstra just over a year ago. Having originally led the team that envisaged, built and delivered 9Now (among other things) Haagsma’s current role is far, far broader. As she told B&T last year, the business has a much larger tech function that encompasses everything from data to identity to web and app products, as well as streaming, design, UI and product integration. Leading all of the network’s tech efforts is far from a small job but Haagsma’s deep experience, knowledge and drive means that the business has the perfect woman at the helm. But that’s not all, Haagsma is a passionate advocate for getting more women into tech, supporting B&T‘s Women Leading Tech awards as a judge and, with a host of the network’s staff nominated and picking up awards at this year’s event, it’s clear that she is elevating those around her. Nine, and all of us, are better as a result of her hard work and dedication.

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