Tej Rekhi is VP of product strategy at wayve, a SAAS ad platform. We spoke to him to find out how he navigates the complex world of ad tech.
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Econsultancy: Please describe your job: What do you do?
Tej Rekhi: As VP of product strategy, I have one foot in product and the other in commercial, which gives me the required understanding to bring successful products to market. Additionally I oversee wayve’s marketing and PR activity.
E: Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
TR: I’m part of the wayve leadership team, guiding the company’s strategic direction and how best to meet to our clients’ needs. Because my role extends across two areas, I report to two people — the commercial director, Shirley Smith and the CEO, Jamie Evans-Parker.
E: What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
TR: Succeeding in this job requires flexibility and being able to wear multiple hats; from developer, to creative consultant, data analyst or sales and marketing. It’s vital to have a broad knowledge base that covers both product and the ever-evolving advertising ecosystem so that wayve’s proposition is always ahead of the market.
E: Tell us about a typical working day…
TR: As a young, nimble company, the culture is very hands-on and tasks can change in an instant depending on what clients want or which commercial activities are needed.
I always check my calendar the night before to make an effective plan for the day and avoid wasting time. To give you an idea of the average day: I usually start early – my baby is a good alarm clock and I try to snatch a bit of time with him before heading out. On my journey to work, I’ll be reading emails to see what’s happening with internal development and the wider market.
When I get to the office, it’s straight into juggling my two core roles. On the commercial side I’ll look at how we are doing against targets, how we can drive revenue and grow our clients, as well as meeting with new and existing clients.
On the product side, I’ll focus on what we need to achieve on that particular day, and how the product is progressing against both short and long-term targets. The central focus of each day is to keep the two sides balanced. Not easy, but possible.
E: What do you love about your job? What sucks?
TR: I love the industry – I’m a workaholic with a creative mind and I’m always looking for opportunities to innovate, which are never far away in the ad tech sector. I don’t believe in the status quo or playing it safe, I want to be challenged and to challenge people.
It can be frustrating when people don’t share your vision or understand the need to go beyond the norm. Often people want to adopt industry-first tools with instant benchmarks and case studies, which don’t go hand-in-hand. This means a lot of time is spent on education, but it’s worth it to keep progression moving.
E: What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
TR: We are a creative technology company that is committed to innovation. We are solving several problems in the space by presenting clients with quick, amazing creative, and making their workflow process far more efficient.
Revenue is, of course, a central metric but there are many other ways to measure our own success. For example, the number of products we’ve brought to market and how we’ve launched them are good indicators of development. On the commercial side, there’s the volume and productivity of our partnerships; wayve works with high-level premium publisher partners, The FT, News UK, Daily Mail, Economist and Bloomberg, to name a few.
wayve trafficker ad tracking platform
E: What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
TR: I rely on Evernote to record ideas and make them accessible on whichever device I’m using. I also speak at a lot of industry events and need to immediately grab audience attention, which makes tools like Keynote essential for creating presentations that bring our vision to life for the audience. For daily tasks, Slack and Gmail are invaluable.
E: How did you get started in the digital industry, and where might you go from here?
TR: I started out as a creative engineer for Eyeblaster (later Sizmek) back in 2005. It was a lucky break for me – although I was a developer I didn’t know the industry that well.
I learnt quickly though, thanks in no small part to my mentor, Anant Joshi, who was tough but fair and taught me well. I think it’s really important to learn the industry from grassroots level.
Right now, my main objective is to make wayve as successful as possible.
E: Which brands do you think are doing digital well?
TR: One of the most innovative campaigns has to be British Airway’s The Magic of Flying digital-out-of-home (DOOH) campaign. It placed billboards in Piccadilly Circus and on the M4 to Heathrow, and for each plane that flew over, its destination flashed up on the screen. This is the sort of advertising that captivates consumers.
One of wayve’s key focuses over the next year is working with brands and creative agencies to help them produce cutting-edge DOOH campaigns.
E: Do you have any advice for people who want to work in the digital industry?
TR: Passion, creativity and a clear idea of where you want to be are crucial. Don’t lose sight of what drives you and the goal you’re aiming for. There’s a lot of waffle about how to succeed in the industry, but my advice is to learn from the bottom up.
Work hard as you go through the ranks and build a strong foundation of diverse skills and experience.