The ups and downs of progressing through marketing technology

On the surface, Matt Oxley’s career path has been pretty straightforward having been with DDB his entire working career since 1998.

Although we live in a time where changing careers is often seen as a key way to gain experience, Matt highlights, this isn’t the only path:

“You’ve got 2 options, you can jump around or you can stay in one place and build relationships and meet new teams, you can drive both your career and the business forward. I’ve still picked up the breadth of experience, it just happens to be in one business.

University was the key changing point for Matt, where he had the choice to follow the natural path of going down the traditional computer science route, or satisfy his niggling desire to bring his creative side into his studies “I was really lucky to find a course that was a combination of art and computer science, it was the first one in the UK of its time”

“In the morning you might be doing life drawing and in the afternoon, you’d be programming artificial intelligence.“During my course, I got an internship at DDB and didn’t stop working!Seeing both sides of the dot-com boom and bust in London was an interesting time for Matt. A time he explains was as insightful as it was frightening.

“Seeing 70 per cent of your mates out of work was a pretty scary time. It really made those of us left, think about  – ok what do we do now? You had to really pull together.”

During that time, Tribal went from 90 people down to 15.

“Being in the company from the beginning and having a core group of people that grew the company back up again was really special.

There were 5 of us who stayed working together for 17 years  -we, with the help of some amazing staff, built the team back up to 120 again. They’re like my family.”

It was during those times where Matt took over being Head of Technology for the group, and that was a big move. Moving from development and systems integration, through to finance and management. A time he describes as a little exposing:

“Going from a Senior technical lead to a manager is hard, you’ve got to let go of a lot of things you’re comfortable with. It’s a tough year where you’re no longer a dev but you’re not a manager yet. You’re exposed – but in a good way, learning and developing.”

Tribal moved back up to become one of the top 3 agencies in the UK, they were flying but that’s when the personal side of his life called when his son was born and Matt and his wife wanted to be closer to family in Melbourne, they moved over to Australia.

That was July 2014.

The Australian adventure

Matt knew a lot of the team in Australia from his time in the London office so transferred over quite easily as the Head of Creative Technology for the whole of the Australia DDB Group.

“Shortly, the opportunity came up to be Managing Director at Tribal Melbourne, part of the DDB family. It’s not something I’d really considered, but having been through what I had in the UK and developing the business there, it gave me the confidence to give it a go.”

The team were involved with the recent launch of theTelstra flagship store

Matt explained how he joined at a time it was clear Tribal needed some new direction so  begun to go through a transition plan.

“It was reasonably straightforward to me because of my experience in the UK. I really wanted us to focus on how we build deep long-term relationships with clients through business changing ideas rather than surface level digital marketing.

“We retrained, brought in a lot of new hires, kept some great people, some people left, some went to the UK office.  We really focused on the strategic side of our clients business, through CX and digital service design, really thinking about putting people first and considering business challenges as well.

“At the same time, we’ve been automating a lot of the ‘business as usual’ work we do for our clients. Essentially applying service design to ourselves.

The last 12 months hasn’t been an easy ride for Matt, into a new country whilst driving big change, but he explained it’s opened the way for big potential in the near future:

“It’s been hard, in the last 12 months I got married, had a daughter and took on the role in between –I wouldn’t recommend doing it all at the same time, but there are never any dull moments!

“When I came in and saw the quality and diversity of the people in the building, from our data teams to customer experience – all I saw was an opportunity. The opportunity we now have to collaborate as a group is awesome.

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