Irving Shark is head of data at Billion Dollar Boy, an influencer marketing agency.

And this is what he does with his time, including playful experimentation, idea logging, and working with Simba and Zalando.

Please describe your job: What do you do?

Irving Shark: As the head of data and technology at Billion Dollar Boy, I oversee the delivery of insights that support all facets of the business, along with the development and deployment of our proprietary tech.

The data team supports our specialist functions in driving better, data-driven decisions, maximising campaign results for some of the biggest brands in the world.

The tech unit develops and enhances our in-house tools, which we have recently started licensing as a self-service to clients – a unique offering for influencer marketing agencies.

This year we created StoryTracker. Powered by AI, it has enabled brands to download, save and analyse Instagram Stories before they disappear. It is proven to save agencies and clients significant time and money, increasing ROI. We’re really proud of what we have accomplished so far and the feedback has been great.

irving shark

Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?

Irving Shark: My team supports and services the entire network, so we don’t sit within any specific department. I report to our founder and CEO, Edward East.

What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?

Irving Shark: First and foremost, I believe the greatest skill I possess is the ability to problem solve, both analytically and creatively.

I’ve always enjoyed exploring and playing with new ideas, maintaining a proactive approach and remaining curious. I’m always thinking about new concepts for tools, what I can create, and how it can be used. And I encourage my team to do the same.

Approach tech with playful experimentation, be fearless and don’t think about failing.

Tell us about a typical working day…

Irving Shark: In a typical working day I usually find myself jumping between conversations. Whether that be discussing data and future tech projects, campaign strategy, or deliberating over our business strategy with senior management.

I also attend pitches and campaign status updates with clients. These sessions offer such great insight and feedback, which often leads to new tech and developments in our tools. We keep a log of all our ideas (no matter how good or bad) to revisit later.

What do you love about your job? What sucks?

Irving Shark: Love: My favourite part of the job is developing new tools and overseeing their implementation. It’s so satisfying watching it come to fruition, especially when clients are deploying our tools and referring their friends in the industry. So far, the word-of-mouth has been incredible.

Sucks: I find there’s a lot to do and never enough time. There’s always a bigger picture project I want to be working on, but I’m always pulled in multiple directions.

What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?

Irving Shark: I have different goals for different teams. In tech, we are working towards making the agency as efficient as it can be, with the focus on maximising output and saving time. As we are licensing out our tools, we also ensure to factor sales as a KPI to measure success.

For the data team, we’re continually striving to optimise our clients’ campaigns by feeding the best insight into our account management units. We work to our clients’ unique KPIs, so as long as we achieve their desired results, plus some, we consider this a success.

What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?

Irving Shark: I’ve become a huge fan of project management tools. At the beginning, when we only had one or two developers, we found it easy to stay on top of the project with shared spreadsheets, but as we add developers, we have found implementing project management tools invaluable. It helps the tech team stay aware of what everyone is doing, prioritise tasks and stick to deadlines.

How did you get into influencer marketing, and where might you go from here?

Irving Shark: Falling into Influencer marketing wasn’t planned. My background is in data, but I’ve also always been passionate about entrepreneurship. I was looking for a data focused role at a small company where I could get involved across the business and really get stuck in with growing the company.

I joined Billion Dollar Boy two years ago when we were a team of five, today we have thirty people globally.

I’m very excited about the direction Billion Dollar Boy is going in as we invest more in our tech. We have a lot of ideas up our sleeves and are growing our tech team to implement them.

Which brand partnerships do you admire?

Irving Shark: As much as I enjoy seeing the great content that many brands produce in partnership with influencers, I’m still a numbers person at heart. The partnerships I admire are the ones where strong results can be measured and attributed back to the activity.

Up until quite recently, influencer marketing hasn’t been under the same scrutiny as other marketing channels when it comes to attributable sales. Many brands have been investing in influencer marketing without solid confirmation that it’s actually working. This is increasingly changing as more brands are keen to prove its effectiveness and putting more effort into tracking the activity. This has been another interesting challenge.

I’m very proud of our partnerships with Simba and Zalando. They are two very different strategies but with sales at the front of mind when executing.

Do you have any advice for brands or influencers worried about transparency?

Irving Shark: My advice for brands is to pay more attention to KPIs that are harder to fake such as sales and engagement rates.

Unfortunately, fake followers are a part of the industry so we at Billion Dollar Boy are constantly keeping an eye on the topic and researching the issues. We hope to build tech in the near future that will help the industry as a whole.

For more advice on influencer marketing, see Influencer Intelligence, part of the Econsultancy Group.