Industry Profile: Finder CMO Malini Sietaram

By AdNews | 22 January 2019
Malini Sietaram

Our Industry Profile takes a 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 speak to Finder chief marketing officer Malini Sietaram.

Time in current role: 
Nine months

How would you describe what the company does?
Finder is one of Australia's leading comparison sites that empowers Australians to make better decisions at virtually any moment in their life. 

What do you do day-to-day?
There’s no such thing as a ‘usual’ day at Finder; one minute I’m talking to Google about voice search, the next I’m reviewing scripts for our new TVC. I lead a talented team at Finder across the marketing, publishing, editorial, analytics and public relations functions. 

Define your job in one word:

I got into marketing because:
My love for the customer. I started out in hospitality and I have always strived to exceed customer expectations. From working the front desk at a five-star hotel to creating an Adwords campaign, I’ve learnt you only have a brief moment to make a connection with your customer, and first impressions matter.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your role?
Being a high growth company, we need to stay focussed on our biggest bets which sometimes means we have to say ‘no’ to great ideas.

What’s the biggest industry-wide challenge you’d like to see tackled?
I would love for governments across the globe to better understand technology. It made me cringe when Google CEO Sundar Pichai had to explain there wasn’t a “little man sitting behind the curtain figuring out what we’re going to show the users”.

Previous industry related companies you have worked at:
I worked at eBay for nearly eight years, mostly at the Silicon Valley head office where I was lucky enough to be part of the re-branding team. In my last two years there, I worked as the global head of content and social media strategy. Before that I worked in fashion, publishing and hospitality.

Notable ads you have worked on.
One of my favourite ads I worked on was eBay’s 2012 Holiday commercial. We flew to Universal Studios and shot the ad at the house from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. We used a pony in the ad and we actually had to get three different ponies; I guess the term one-trick pony is true! An unfortunate production assistant had to paint two of the one-trick ponies to match our hero pony.

Who has been a great mentor to you?
I’ve had many great mentors throughout my career, but Richelle Parham, former eBay CMO, stands out. She was one of the first women of colour to break through the tech C-suite. Working for her was the first time in my career where I saw someone similar to me doing the job I aspired to have, and she wore Chanel everyday. Her personal investment in me still humbles me to this day.

Words of advice for someone wanting a job like yours?
In the words of J. Cole “There is beauty in struggle and ugliness in the success”. Do the hard yards and focus on mastering your craft instead of trying to find a short cut to the C-suite.

If I wasn't doing this for a living, I'd be:
Owning a hip hop bar.

My mantra is:
Work hard, play hard.

My favourite ad is:
Being born and raised in Amsterdam I might be biased, but I’d have to say the Heineken ads. I think the late Freddy Heineken is the best marketeer from the last century. His idea to tip the “e” in the logo so it looks like the “e” is smiling was genius.

I love the Heineken invention ad. It’s based on a true story and many people don’t know that Heineken actually won the Grand Prix at the World Expo in 1889 - it wasn’t the Eiffel Tower. 

Music and TV streaming habits?
I subscribe to Netflix, Stan, Spotify and NBA league pass.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?
I went on tour with Three 6 Mafia.

In five years' time I'll be:
Proud that we will have significantly improved the financial literacy in Australia and beyond, especially for those who need it most.

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