Global VP Client Partnerships: Teads
Marc Zander graduated from Loughborough University with a degree in Business Administration with French in 1990. Marc has since worked for several big brands, delivering marketing and media strategies, and now finds himself working for Teads, a young video advertising business. Here he discusses his career journey, passion for Hockey and how he plans to take his new role at Teads forwards.
The official reason is that I wanted to do a business degree with French business (not literature) and Loughborough had the best course… the real reason I chose Loughborough was that it was the best university at hockey with the best facilities.
Loughborough was great and the biggest thing for me was that I got in with the very good hockey crowd early, played lots and developed quickly. I lived in a house with Sean Rowlands who went on to play hockey in the Olympic Games, and played with some great players such as Colin Cooper, Paul Bolland and Owen Macney (well he thought he was great!). I arrived as an average hockey player and left as an international with 35 caps for Scotland (but many would say still an average hockey player!).
Hockey became my life for the next 10-15 years, and even now I meet all kinds of people who I now bump into on a business perspective as well. Some of my friends at Loughborough at the time went on to run GB Hockey (Jason Lee, Danny Kerry), and it’s great to see how well they have done.
I’m one of the VP’s of the University Hockey Team so we come up to Loughborough once a year and play against the students and donate some money. It’s really nice to come back and meet some of the students and we’re proud to say that we’ve played against the students five times now and despite the fact we are between the age of about 48 and 55 we’ve never lost to the students…yet!
Would there be one piece of advice that you would give to current or prospective students looking to study in the Business School?
From a Business perspective, the thing that is invaluable is the year out in industry gaining work experience. The breadth of knowledge and skills that people leave university with now is incredibly high but there is a marked difference between those who have had a year out. They’re more confident and well-rounded individuals who can present themselves and their ideas in a more robust way.
I started off at Nestle as a graduate trainee in marketing. The scheme involved six months marketing, six months in sales and then twelve months marketing and another twelve months in sales. One piece of advice that I would give to anybody is to get a quality graduate recruitment courses or training programmes. Nestle did a very good job at forming me and investing in me.
At the time however hockey was my focus and I was travelling to London most weekends to play which didn’t make a lot of sense, so I decided to move back down to London and was recruited by Kimberly-Clark to launch their Huggies nappy business in the UK. It was a really exciting time as they’d just invested a lot of money in a factory in Europe to take the battle for Pampers and I learnt a hell of a lot in this role. I then moved to a European role where I launched Huggies in various other European markets.
In 1998 we had our first child and decided to move to Switzerland, where my wife Carole is from. I was keen to work in the watch industry (for which Switzerland is famous) and for the Swatch Group which is renowned for its innovative marketing. I was their Regional Sales and Marketing Manager for two and a half years looking after the UK, France, Holland, Belgium, Ireland and Greece. Following this I was headhunted to go back to Kimberly-Clark and run their nappy business in Central and Eastern Europe which was fascinating both from a business and a cultural perspective.
After this I moved to manage the Kleenex brand for 6 years which was a brilliant brand and lots of fun before joining Mars chocolate.
At Mars I was the Global media director tasked with defining the global media strategy, helping my team train the key markets, developing the optimum media plans and developing the long term test and learn programs. I also ran our media relationship with Google and the relationship with our other media agencies. Mars is an amazing business with tremendous brands which invests heavily in advertising and I really enjoyed my time in this brilliant company.
What made you decide to make the move from Mars to Teads? How do the roles and responsibilities differ?
I love a new challenge and would not have left Mars to do a similar role in another big company. Teads provides exactly the type of challenge I wanted… taking on the 2 big video advertising suppliers, Google and Facebook.
Teads is a tech company that created a new way to deliver video advertising. Traditionally you could only put a video ad in front of other video (i.e. you see a video ad in front of content on YouTube). Teads developed the way to put video into written print… thereby unlocking a whole load of new advertising inventory within online press titles from Vogue to the Washington Post. Teads has agreements with all the major publishers globally and delivers more consumer reach than either Google or Facebook in every market in which we operate. And because when people read, they do this more slowly than in the thumb flicking mode of Facebook, advertising on Teads is proven to have greater engagement and impact on sales.
So Teads has a great product, great people and is growing very fast ($100m 2 years ago, $200m last year, on track to deliver over $300m this year) and an ambition to be a $1bn business by 2020.
My role is to lead the next phase of the Teads growth plan by unlocking the true potential of working with big brands (which is my career background) as well as with their agencies. For me it was really exciting to join the Board of a much smaller business but one with a very clear ambition and where there was a proven technology in place. These opportunities don’t come up very often and hence I decided to take the role.
It is very early days (I have only been in the business for 6 weeks - March 2017) , during which I have focussed on understanding the company, the different culture, the products we have and spending time in the markets with our teams and advertising partners. I am looking to reprioritise our business, focusing on delivering better solutions for a smaller number of key strategic global partners to drive mutual growth.
The thing I am loving most about the new job is the pace and lack of bureaucracy of a smaller business. If we want to do something now, we can just do it, whereas in bigger companies it takes much longer to process everything, so this role is quite refreshing in that sense.
How have skills gained during your degree assisted you throughout your career in marketing and business management?
The key thing one learns at university is the ability to think critically about a topic and to use multiple data points to help come to a point of view / solution. The social skills that one develops at university have also proved very useful from a business perspective.
To work in marketing it is not necessary to have done a business degree, however, having a greater awareness of the breadth of Business and aspects such as finance and HR can be very helpful throughout your early career. As you build on those skills, they really help to take you from role to role.
It would probably be the journey that we made with Media at Mars. We radically improved the effectiveness of the business and saved a lot of money at the same time. We gave colleagues within the business a better understanding of the media and set Mars up to be one step ahead of its competitors in planning for the future.
My hope is that when you ask me this question in four years’ time is that I will give a different answer... that I have been part of a team that helped build Teads from being a c$200m business to being a $1 billion business.