Industry Profile: Adobe managing director ANZ Suzanne Steele

Josh McDonnell
By Josh McDonnell | 14 August 2018

Our Industry Insights Profile takes a weekly look at some of the professionals working across the advertising, ad tech, marketing and media sector in Australia. It aims to shed light on the varying roles and companies across the buzzing industry. 

This week, we spoke to Adobe managing director ANZ Suzanne Steele.

Time in current role/time at the company:

Seven months (Dec 2017)

How would you describe what the company does?

At Adobe, we are changing the world through digital experiences.

What do you do day-to-day?

In my role, I’m responsible for driving the ANZ business to new levels as well as helping customers realise their mission of delivering exceptional experiences.

Seven months in, I still spend a lot of time getting to know new facets of the business, and continue to build relationships with my team and customers, which is one of the best parts of my job.

Define your job in one word:

Experiential!

I got into advertising/ad tech/marketing etc because:

Specifically pertaining to Adobe, the company’s transformation to the cloud is just one in a series of significant transformations Adobe has undertaken in its 35 years.

The possibility of being part of the next phase of Adobe’s story really drew me in and got me very excited about being part of the team.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your role?

It can be daunting at times to guide a customer even further in their digital transformation journey than they imagined.

When you see a customer reach their full potential and really maximise the value out of each and every one of our tools and our relationship, it’s absolutely worth the journey.

What’s the biggest industry-wide challenge you’d like to see tackled?

We see disruption happening all around us, and leadership across all industries should not fear it, but embrace it.

New technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning enable us to create more experiences at a faster scale.

These new technologies take care of the mundane and time-consuming tasks, and free up time to focus on what matters the most.

At the same time, the rise of these technologies does not replace human skillsets like emotional intelligence, creative problem-solving, curiosity and flexibility.

Leadership need to recognise this, not resist it, and guide their teams through the change from the top down.

Previous industry related companies you have worked at:

Experian, Visa, CACI and Morgan Stanley

Who is/has been a great mentor to you and why?

My mentor was a business leader at a start-up and gave me a chance at a very early stage of my career.  He was an authentic leader that used his terrific coaching skills to guide me into a leadership role at a very young age.

He also let me fail (and fail often) and taught me on how to learn from those failures.  He has been a close and trusted advisor ever since.

By giving me a chance early on, and seeing something in me I didn’t see in myself at the time, I gained the confidence to succeed as well as the confidence to fail.

Words of advice for someone wanting a job like yours?

Find a mentor. Mentors have played a big role in shaping my career path by giving me opportunities and guidance when I needed it. Most people have untapped potential, and our jobs as leaders, or people managers, or friends, is to help others unlock that potential.

If I wasn't doing this for a living, I'd be:

I’d like to think I’m a good cook, so probably a chef!

My mantra / philosophy is:

Trust your gut! The fear of failure and not acting on your intuition is what stops people from making bold moves, when in fact, failure is just one more step to success.

My favourite advert is:

The Tourism Australia 2018 Superbowl Dundee Movie Trailer Ad.

It was Tourism Australia’s biggest single advertising campaign in 30 years, and the 60 second spot aired to an estimated 110 million people during the Superbowl.

It was such a clever concept, so well executed and a great way to capture the attention and engagement of an international audience.

Music and TV streaming habits. What do you subscribe to?

I have a Netflix subscription, and an avid viewer of The Crown series. Admittedly have fallen behind in watching some of my favourite shows!

I’m also a big fan of Spotify, not only from a customer perspective but also from a business perspective. We recently announced that Advertising Cloud added Spotify as a premium inventory source for digital audio, display and video ad formats.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?

I had a strong interest in criminal justice early on in my career, but after seeing there were no female chief inspectors (Police) in the UK at the time I decided not to pursue it.

I applied myself to become a court magistrate for about five years part-time, and really enjoyed both the training and the application of the skill set.

In five years' time I'll be:

Hopefully finishing off the book I promised myself that I would write detailing my own leadership journey….whilst still enjoying a great career at Adobe!

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