Industry Profile: Isobar head of technology Christian Brenner

4 May 2021

Our Industry Profile takes a look at some of the professionals working across the advertising, adtech, 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 Isobar head of technology Christian Brenner.

Time in current role/time at the company:
Nearly two years.

How would you describe what the company does?
Helping our clients’ customers get the best digital experiences possible, and helping our clients get the most out of their digital solutions.

What do you do day-to-day?
I usually split my time between operational, strategic, client-facing and people-leader responsibilities, but my background in development and leading a small digital agency has meant I’m happy to get my hands dirty on multiple levels. This includes running architectural workshops, providing technical consulting and specialist expertise to our clients, and even doing content author training. I provide technology leadership to the broader Isobar team and work closely with the client service team to deliver quality outcomes for our clients. Needless to say, no two days are the same which makes keeps things fresh and exciting!

Define your job in one word:

I got into tech because:
When I was younger, I always wanted to be an author, but I also enjoyed computers and being a realist, I did a degree in software engineering instead.

I became an accidental web developer when I got my first grad job at a web development company in the dotcom boom. Two people I worked with in that role later went on to start their own digital agency, and I joined them shortly afterwards as lead developer to deliver their first Sitecore project.

Time passed and eventually my role evolved into a leadership focus, which is also something I’ve always been passionate about.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your role?
Trying to ensure that every client gets a great experience and the best advice, every time.

What’s the biggest industry-wide challenge you’d like to see tackled?
Shortage of skills. When I started as a web developer, there was no “course” to take that could teach me to do what I ultimately had to learn on the job – there still isn’t.

As a result, real talent in the digital industry is in short supply; this has driven up salaries, which has increased project costs, and reduced the quality of outcomes (because budgets no longer stretch as far).

I’m passionate about creating an industry academy of sorts that attempts to bridge the gap between university-taught and industry-learned skills.

Previous industry related companies you have worked at:
I’ve worked at digital agencies almost exclusively: Web Development Group (who rebranded and became Next Digital, then APD), Areeba Solutions, NOW Digital (the company started by two of my colleagues from WDG), AKQA (as principal architect/head of tech for their largest client Bunnings) and now at Isobar, first as the national Sitecore practice lead, and now head of technology.

Who has been a great mentor to you and why?
I’ve had a few role models and people I’ve looked up to over the years, but probably the first person who fits the definition of mentor for me has been Tom Ashmor, my boss at Isobar until mid-2020. He was the first person that I really felt saw a future for me that I might not necessarily have seen for myself.

Words of advice for someone wanting a job like yours?
The thing that separates good from great is detail. Pay attention to the details. With that and a great attitude, you can go just about anywhere in this business.

If I wasn't doing this for a living, I'd be:
Back in high school I had a near miss with joining the Army full time, so I’d probably be there.

My mantra is:
Do the right thing, even when no one is looking.

My favourite advert is:
I really like the Aldi ads for being irreverent and self-deprecating. I believe in being able to laugh at yourself.

Music and TV streaming habits. What do you subscribe to?
At the moment I’m streaming Spotify, Netflix, Prime, Disney, Kayo and Audible, but not really watching that much of it (and basically zero free TV). A by-product of the Melbourne lockdown and having two kids, I suppose.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?
Once upon a time I had hair.

In five years' time I'll be:
I’m not really sure, to be honest. This industry moves so fast and there are so many different paths in front of you no matter what stage of your career you’re at, I feel like anything could be possible even now.

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