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Julian Brewer, Head of digital marketing, global, Schroders

Path to power

 

I’m a seasoned digital professional who got in on the ground floor with over 20 years of digital marketing experience, leading the establishment of teams within financial services organisations and their digital and data-related transformation programmes. It’s always been about the marriage of data and digital and the cultural shift to allow this to drive bottom line performance. Most notably, I led the transformation of Barclays’ retail marketing into a frontline digital sales team and then helped built and establish the digital function within TSB. Recently, I’ve moved across to the B2B world at Schroders to champion digital, data innovation and optimal customer experience in over 50 countries. Data was never in my title at any of these organisations, but always core to how I’ve understood the end-to-end processes, customer needs and the opportunity to unlock competitive advantage. Having moved across to B2B, it’s fascinating to see the rapidly changing data and insight journey afresh…A dream seat for anyone with a genuine passion for leveraging and innovating with data! In my real life, I’m Kent “born and bred” where I still live with my family and my road bikes.

 

What has been the highlight of your career in the industry to date?

 

There’s lots of highlights and they’re rarely the awards or big projects, but invariably the point at which a team starts to believe in the digital and data processes that they’ve built and the value that they’re adding to customers and the organisation. At Schroders, I’m excited as we’re nearing that point with the digital and data base that we’ve now established. We’re just at the early stages of driving business outcomes in multiple countries enabling us to lead and leverage digital, data-driven and customer-focused experiences. Bring on 2019!

 

If you could give your younger self some advice about how to progress in this industry, what would it be?

 

Definitely be impatient and follow your gut to try things early. Invariably you will fail, but you’ll learn so much in the process. Take people with you on the journey and jointly take risks - there is too much conformity.

 

Did 2018 turn out the way you expected? If not, in what ways was it different?

 

I was expecting more change and innovation than we saw, in particular more “plug and play” AI/machine learning to drive customer experiences forward. The popular hype has still not lived up to reality in the digital experience space. The GDPR deadline came and went and it felt a little like Y2K (for those that remember!)

 

What do you expect 2019 to be like for the industry?

 

Fast-paced as increasingly B2B relationships and business are conducted within the digital and not the physical world. This will drive a focus on data and insight within B2B organisations that will begin to rival that seen within B2C organisations. I expect B2B to focus on areas to help fuel this change and follow this move to digital - clean and consistent data, a full view of the customer interaction across all touch points and linking these interactions to revenue drivers.

 

Talent and skills are always a challenge to find - how are you tackling this in your organisation?

 

It’s often difficult even for established talent from outside of B2B to break into these roles and so I look for individuals and business partners with curiosity and a passion for pushing positive change. For me, attitude and potential for digital and data are the cornerstone - the rest will follow naturally.

 

What aspect of data, analytics or their use are you most optimistic about and why?

 

I’m most optimistic about the journey we on to own our personal and business data. Legislation tries to force this change, but I think it will happen naturally as we require more personal experiences to run our lives/businesses and more robust security to protect it from abuse.

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