Andrew joined Shazam in 2005 as CEO and in the last ten years he has transformed the company from a small music start up with global ambitions to a $1 billion advertising giant. The London-based company is credited with helping Europe become a leader in audio over the internet and currently handles 10% of all digital music sales worldwide. Here he shares with us the highs of his career, how his experiences at Loughborough helped him get there, and how it feels to have his achievements recognised with an OBE.
Work experience at 16 developed my ambition to become a general manager. I then really enjoyed studying Economics at A level and felt it offered great relevancy to my employment aspirations.
Economics touches on so many aspects of business and the world in which we live. Whilst it has specialisms, the flexibility of the course modules makes the learning applicable to a wide variety of jobs.
How often do you use your economics knowledge in your day job now and how has it helped you in your career?
I use what I learnt at Loughborough every day. I work in a global business which is significantly influenced by economic development and international trade, but I also spend a lot of time thinking about other issues such as how to attract and retain the very best talent.
We live in a data driven society where consumers expect personalised and contextually relevant products and services. Huge amounts of data have been collected for some time and the opportunity now is to turn this information into intelligence so that it becomes actionable and can be used to add value to people’s lives. Being able to interpret and utilise data will become a core skill for all business and economics graduates.
How important do you think Loughborough's research in information management and big data is in today’s digital economy?
Loughborough is pioneering the understanding of how best to utilise big data in today’s digital economy. The University’s ability to recognise the key trends and emerging themes that are so difficult to predict given the pace of innovation sets it apart from other institutions.
I knew I wanted to come to Loughborough before I even started my A levels, primarily because of the academic course and the University’s reputation for sport. I quickly realised though that there are so many more opportunities, and became heavily involved in my Hall of Residence, as well as trying out new experiences such as hand-gliding and skiing - both of which I was the worst student by far at.
My lasting memory of Loughborough is the students; their pride for the University and the great friendships that were made, that transcended your Hall, your course, your societies and teams.
You were the Chairman of Royce Hall and Treasurer of the University Hall Chairman’s Committee. Do you feel this developed a particular skill set?
I can’t help but smile when I think of all the experiences I enjoyed as Chairman of Royce Hall. I learnt how important a team is through our Hall committee and how it is more effective to lead from within a team. From counselling students who might have been having a harder time away from home, to my first experience of failed press relations - all of these experiences have helped me in my career.
What life-lessons did you learn at Loughborough that have stayed with you and helped you in your career?
I realised other people were better than me, whether that be academically or in my chosen sports, and learnt to not accept feeling dissatisfied. This led to me pursuing other things which gave me great pride and satisfaction. I realised that you can pursue anything you want to and the greatest challenge sometimes is just to recognise this in yourself.
Yes absolutely. I draw lots of parallels in being Chairman of my Hall and being a Chairman today. Loughborough also helped foster my entrepreneurial spirit and gave me the skills that I have used throughout my career.
What advice for success would you give to graduates looking to work within digital technology and enterprise?
The most important thing is to think through what aspects of technology and enterprise really excite you. Having clarity can help you pursue more specific work experience which will be hugely beneficial to both your job applications and helping you understand what you do and don’t enjoy.
You have been awarded an OBE for your services to the digital economy – how do you feel about being given the award?
I really believe the award is a reflection on everyone I have had the good fortune to work with throughout my career and what we have collectively achieved together.
Whilst the headline numbers are very flattering (my current company Shazam has reached almost one billion users) the biggest ‘wow’ moments are when someone comes up to you and says “I love what you do" and they say it with a great big smile on their face. Life doesn’t get any better than that.
I feel I have had such a privileged and fortunate career, some of which has been down to being in the right place at the right time. My specialty has been helping develop and drive the adoption of new technologies to hundreds of millions of people, and my ambition is to help others to continue to do this and encourage them to believe that they can have a positive impact on a global scale.