Young Guns: John Nguyen at IAS

By AdNews | 6 June 2023

Young Gun profiles takes a look at the young talent across the Australian advertising, adtech, marketing and media sector. Aiming to shed light on the varying roles, people and companies across the buzzing industry.

John Nguyen, lead account strategist at Integral Ad Science

Time in current role/time at the company:

I have recently passed the four-year mark at IAS.

How long have you been in the industry?

I joined IAS right before graduating from university, so it’s safe to say that I have been in the industry for as long as I have been at IAS, i.e. four years.

How did you get here? Was this always the plan?

Joining the media industry was not the plan. There was no plan, to begin with. I was going through the motions in my last semester of university when I suddenly received a LinkedIn message from personnel in the IAS recruitment team. Being completely naive to how the corporate world and LinkedIn work, I initially thought it was a scam message and didn’t think anything of it, leaving the recruiter on ‘seen’ for over two weeks. I finally responded to the recruiter.

The recruiter initially reached out with a posting for a technical client services role (now technical account management), but that role had since been filled by a friend of mine, who ended up starting on the same day as me. I was offered an associate customer success manager role, and before you knew it, I was going through the recruitment process.

One of the most memorable parts of the interview process was being interviewed by my now boss, Jessica Miles, who at the time was the ANZ sales director. Talking to her was very easy and relatable, we spent half of the interview talking about our hobbies, such as mixed martial arts and boxing.

I thoroughly enjoyed the interview process and was impressed with how easy-going everyone who interviewed me was. After three years in the customer success team, I eventually moved into the sales organisation (despite being a huge introvert) under a newly created role. I have enjoyed every step of the journey thus far.

Funny how life works out; all this started from a single LinkedIn message! I had no idea what the industry was, let alone what ad verification was. Yet, here I am four years later. I will always be indebted to IAS for taking a chance on me.

Who is your right-hand person/who guides you day to day?

My go-to person who has been there with me from day one is Jessica Miles, who has an incredible ability to see the potential in people. Throughout my time at IAS, she has brought out the best in me professionally and constantly guides and mentors me. Since she is an industry veteran, she isn’t shy to voice out areas where I need improvement which I appreciate. Whenever I need a hand, I know I can rely on Jess.

What’s the best thing about the industry you work in?

I love that the industry is fast-paced and things can change at the drop of a bucket - what we talk about today may not be relevant next week. This keeps me on my toes and it forces me to learn. I find this refreshing, which adds energy and enthusiasm to my work every day.

It’s important for me, especially in my role, to keep up to date with the latest trends in our industry. This helps me confidently speak and share valuable insights with my clients and be consultative in my approach.

And the biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge would be maintaining the work-life balance. I’m sure everyone has heard countless stories from all facets of the industry such as media agencies, ad tech vendors, publishers, etc. about struggling to balance life with work commitments.

There seems to be an unfortunate stigma and expectation in our industry that everything needs to be fast-paced and people are readily available. Our industry’s struggles with work-life balance impact our mental health and our ability to enjoy our life beyond work.

I recall an AdNews article from 2022 talking about how the initiatives of companies in our industry are having positive impacts on mental health, and it’s a welcome sight.

Whose job have you set your sights on in the future?

It might sound strange but I don’t really have anyone in mind right now who has a job that I want. I’m, actually, really content with where I’m at now and will continue to be an individual contributor for the foreseeable future. Maybe one day I’ll want to manage a team, but that’s not on the horizon yet.

Where do you turn for inspiration?

I always turn to my parents for inspiration. In childhood, they had to flee a conflict-ridden country. Despite low education, they moved to a country where they did not speak the language and built a life for themselves and for my siblings — it’s powerful, inspiring stuff.

Whenever I feel down or sorry for myself, I always think about their upbringing and struggles and quickly realise that whatever troubles I’m having don’t even compare to what they faced.

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

One of my favourite hobbies (which I imagine would be viewed as very unusual) is driving at night with no direction while listening to music, podcasts or an audiobook. It’s something that I’ve been doing for most of my adult life, and something I genuinely feel is the most relaxing thing ever.

In five years' time I'll be…

Hopefully retired, just joking. I would like to eventually be in an APAC-wide role, learning and solving for the various nuances across all the various markets in the region. I think I’d probably still want to be an individual contributor rather than a manager, but I’d love to expand and elevate myself across the region.

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