Any veteran of the technology industry will tell you that one of the keys to success in the space is to accept change in perpetuity. In ad tech, industry standards, brand expectations, and consumer behaviors (not to mention the tech itself) are constantly evolving, making the acceptance of change a must.
To thrive in this industry, however, you have to do more than just accept the change around you. To succeed in ad tech, you must be able to find passion in your work, play to your strengths, sharpen your skills, step outside of your comfort zone, and build a strong network of diverse connections around you.
Find passion in your work
Successful people are passionate about what they do, even if it's not the original path they thought they'd take. After college, I had a big interest in working in market research. I applied for my dream job in that industry at Gallop and didn't make it past the first round. I was persistent and continued to follow up -- this was what I thought was my dream job after all. Sadly, after much pestering on my part, the hiring manager delivered the news that I would never have the job. I was devastated, but began my search anew, looking into adjacent industries. Advertising technology was still in its infancy at the time, and I knew very little about the space. And yet during the interview process at Specific Media I was blown away by the passion and energy I felt from every person I met who worked there -- so much so that when offered a job, I accepted with enthusiasm. Lucky for me, it was one of the best choices I could have made.
If you wake up on Monday morning excited to see your team and to pick up where you left off on Friday, like I do, then you've likely found the career that suits you. In contrast, if works seems like a burden, then you're not likely to be as motivated to put in the extra time required to take you to the next level.
Play to your strengths
Playing to your strengths is another important tactic for those looking to develop a successful career in ad tech. I've held many different positions within my current organization, from operations to marketing, and not all matched my skills or learning style. That said, I kept an open mind, and communicated often with my managers about where the industry was headed. Being vocal and passionate about my industry and career path lead helped me to land jobs that previously hadn't existed as Specific Media grew to become encompass more platforms and companies, eventually becoming Viant. Don't be afraid to try new things -- and once you discover your strengths and passions, make sure to speak up about them. Know that your next job may not even exist yet, and challenge yourself to imagine what that role might look like for you and for your company.
To gain perspective, remain engaged
Never be afraid to ask questions in this industry. Ad tech is an industry with its own language, and that language is evolving every day. I've learned so much just from probing product managers at my company to make sure I fully understand a product from top to bottom and inside out. In order to be really successful, you need to understand how, what, and why you are doing something, versus just doing it because you were told to. If you don't ask questions, you won't gain perspective and you'll limit yourself to opportunities like creating new positions to explore.
There's also so much perspective to be gained from things happening outside of your own company. It helps to have contacts on the inside of other companies, and to keep your finger on the industry by following the news and regularly attending industry meet-ups and events. Reading and learning from a diverse array of experts that all have very different backgrounds and experiences from across the industry is a great way to expand your understanding of the industry at large. In particular, I stay on top of competitors and industry trends by reading trades, as well as keeping open communication with our sales team who is out in the field directly. LinkedIn can also be very helpful for catching up on recent updates or changes in the market. Keeping caught up with the news and speaking with industry friendlies can have a huge impact on your future growth and professional development.
Whether you started in tech 20 years ago or just graduated college and are looking to break into the industry, the ability to move with this ever-evolving industry is key to achieving success in the space. If you're not passionate about what you do or don't feel that you're playing to your strengths, look for another role that better suits you. Work to sharpen your skills and step outside of your comfort zone, and absolutely make sure to build a strong network of diverse connections around you who can introduce you to new opportunities. These things will make your contributions invaluable to your tech company and set you up for success. Take it from someone who looks forward to Monday mornings.