Industry Profile: Tealium ANZ managing director Chris Russell

7 April 2020

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 Tealium ANZ managing director Chris Russell.

Time at the company:
Six months.

How would you describe what the company does? 
We provide the data freedom companies need to securely collect and leverage their data in a trusted, global platform, which allows businesses to make better decisions, delight their customers with personalised experiences, and build trust by adhering to data governance and privacy regulations.

What do you do day-to-day?
I am responsible for the growth and retention of our customer base across Australia and New Zealand, and I do this with a very customer-centric approach and philosophy. I hold my team responsible for ensuring our customers receive a seamless, personalised experience on our platform, to enable them to achieve their company vision and goals. It is important that every activity we undertake is designed to help our user base continually grow and ensure they obtain incremental value from our platform and our expertise.

We have a strong culture of excellence at Tealium and I’m heavily focused on the team’s personal development and professionalism, helping make sure they have the right environment to flourish.

Define your job in one word:

I got into martech because:
I spent a lot of time advising Australian enterprises on matters of cyber security, governance and risk. This was hugely rewarding and staying secure in light of the modern threat landscape is an ever-increasing challenge.

I also have a lot of experience growing disruptive, innovative SaaS organisations in the APAC region. I felt compelled to take my skills and experience to “front of house” focused technologies that align with the strategic vision of customers. Marketing technology is only one of these aspects that we cater for. The capabilities and the expertise that Tealium and its partners bring to our customers are all about enabling organisations to stay competitive and viable.

How? Well, consumers expect to receive the right message, in the right channel, at the right time and in real time. They demand that the institutions they engage with on a daily basis provide an excellent and highly personal customer experience. This is exactly what Tealium enables and I thoroughly enjoy helping marketers empower their respective organisations with this ability.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your role?
The biggest challenge I face is that Tealium operates in a very crowded and competitive space – martech. There is a lot of misinformation and lack of clarity about what we do compared to others that claim to do the same. This is a challenge, but also presents an opportunity for us. One of our greatest strengths is our ability to be agnostic. We have a place in the architecture of every organisation that services and engages with their customers online in the digital world. Due to our agnostic nature and using tools such as our “Data-driven CDP,” we can enable any mix of marketing customer experience technology to listen to how their own customers are engaging with them, and return the engagement through relevant, personalised content and messages – all in real time. We need to articulate these assets to the industry.

What’s the biggest industry-wide challenge you’d like to see tackled?
I would like to see the industry become more informed about what differentiates a “Tag Management” company from a “CDP” company. The two are frequently thought of as the same, but this is a misconception we must address. While Tag Management automates the collection of data on user behaviours, CDPs allow brands to collate a more comprehensive view of their consumer. An in-depth understanding of these two processes needs to become commonplace across the industry.

Additionally, security and governance should be at the core of all companies that handle consumer data – especially as we move into a more governed world with respect to cyber security and data protection. The industry needs to be kept up to speed with best practices, ensuring that data handlers are secure, compliant, and effective.

Previous industry related companies you have worked at:
In various leadership roles at Symantec, I was responsible for many of the SaaS acquisitions they took on (MessageLabs, LiveOffice, Verisign and Bluecoat, for example). These were a mix of cyber security, email security, email fraud, and data backup and orchestration technologies. I also held a leadership role at Veeam Software, again focusing on data backup and business continuity, predominantly for heavily virtualised environments.

Most recently I spent three years at an Australian start-up, focusing on cyber security, governance and risk, where I spent a lot of time getting marketing teams working with cyber security teams to protect the email marketing channel from cyber fraud.

Who has been a great mentor to you and why?
I have had the pleasure and honour of working with many great sales leaders and I have learned a lot from them. My late father, however, has been my greatest mentor. A business consultant and CEO at a major international company, everything he did was with the wellbeing of his team, his customers, and the people around him front of mind. In business, he was successful, but he was equally compassionate and treated everyone as human beings. I have taken this into my own career, in addition to many of the other things I learned from him over the years.

Words of advice for someone wanting a job like yours?
Work hard, do good, be honest, live with integrity and surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and experts in their respective crafts.

If I wasn't doing this for a living, I'd be:
A professional snowboarder and musician in a touring band!

My mantra is:
Live life to its fullest, but treat everyone with respect and kindness along the way. Even in work, make the most of every day and be the best you can possibly be - you might as well because we spend a lot of our lives working.

My favourite advert is:
NFL Superbowl Ads are the best. We miss them in Australia because they aren't syndicated here. Every year, there are too many awesome ads to choose one. I remember the Budweiser ads with the three frogs saying, “Bud,” “Wei,” “Ser” were pretty great.

Music and TV streaming habits. What do you subscribe to? 
I like to have a variety of streaming content to choose from, so I can get a spread of everything available. Netflix, Stan, Apple TV movies, and Apple Music are prominent.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?
I used to be a professional ski and snowboard guide in the US and I am an avid extreme snowboarder.

In five years' time I'll be:
At Tealium, enjoying the efforts of the previous five years. As a consumer, I'll be receiving highly personalised content in every channel from all of my service providers (banks, telcos, online retail brands, social networks, and more).

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