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Under the Hood: Ryan Rolf

August 21, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

This weeks Under the Hood features Ryan Rolf, Lotame’s VP of Data Solutions! Interested in learning how his position has evolved with our company and where our Data Exchange is headed in the next few years? Read on to learn more!

  • Tell us about your position here at Lotame.

As Vice President of Data Solutions, and with over 7 years of working at Lotame, it’s safe to say a lot has changed and been a great ride! My day to day is always exciting and different. While we’ve matured as a company, I’d say the entrepreneurial mindset and spirit still runs deep given we are a small company and our teams are small relative to bigger enterprises. Any given day could include covering my own sales directly with clients, traveling to meet with clients, attending conferences promoting our brand, joining my awesome team on their sales meetings and guiding sales strategy across their accounts, and jumping in on core internal teams tasked with building new products, marketing plans and initiatives. No two days are the same, that’s for sure.

  • Has your position evolved since being here?

Yes, my position here has evolved a lot. While my position and title have changed, my goals for the company have remained the same: building the Lotame Data Exchange. Back when I started with Lotame in 2010, the market and data landscape were very different. With the incredible support from our executive team, and a little entrepreneurial spirit, I was able to test out the market and build a viable business.

When I started, the data team had 0 products and in turn, 0 revenue. One small and simple idea to start a data business, and there we were…celebrating our first revenue check from Invite Media (bought by Google) as if we had won the super bowl…I won’t say how much the check was for, but safe to say times have changed since then!

I started as Director of Data Solutions, a one-man sales and Business Development show building our data brand. Soon after my team continued growing, along with our revenue and potential to be a leading Data Exchange. Now, I am the VP of our Data Solutions team, leading an amazing group of sellers, both domestically and internationally.

Today the main change is how strategic and consultative we have to be in tailoring data solutions for our clients use cases. The evolution of selling data has changed immensely since I first started, and the biggest challenge is evolving with our clients sophisticated needs.  I hope we continue to see our Data business and DMP converge and leverage all the great talent and experience we have to help our clients grow.

  • You have a large team reporting to you. Can you describe your management style?

I try to be encouraging and strategic in my role, but not a micromanager. I have a very passionate and energetic personality, and have always been very deeply invested in my team’s individual growth. I think it came from being the oldest of 3 brothers, whereby it’s fun to succeed individually, but so much more gratifying to help and watch my younger brothers succeed; those feelings have definitely carried over into my management style. I feel the role of a manager is to be a motivational and educational leader, while allowing the flexibility for sellers to build their own confidence and relationships. My one goal is to always lead by example, never asking or preaching something that I don’t practice myself, so I’ve always worked to lead by example every step of the way.

  • Do you have any advice to other managers who are growing teams internationally like you have?

Don’t get lost in the details or the day-to-day, especially internationally when you’re not there in person all the time. It’s more important than ever to have frequent check-ins, provide support where you can, and allow lead time for the team to establish and grow within their own markets. Being a manager is more about listening and learning to your team in order to build a strategy tailored to their market vs. directing from another country.

  • How do you think Lotame separates itself from our competitors?

People & Experience. The people here are a very tight knit group, backs-against-the-wall mentality and will always go to battle for one another. You have some incredibly smart people all driving this ship forward, but from Andy (our CEO) down, there’s a personal side to this business that really builds the feeling of friendships, family, and working alongside some very close contacts. Our experience is also something that is unfortunately sometimes overlooked. We have been at this for over a decade, being one of longest standing DMPs and earliest Digital Data Exchange pioneers, and so our experience is hard to match in this space. From that lens, we can be very consultative and can understand your business.

  • What’s next on the horizon for the LDX?

Quality, Quality, Quality. It’s as pressing as ever. Reach above all else is no longer the priority for the industry. We’re focusing hard on building transparent and clear quality initiatives with respect to our data to help our clients build successful outcomes. If there aren’t benchmarks to prove data’s value, we’re going to work with partners who can help build new sets of understandable baselines, or be involved with IAB to help set data standards, and really educate the market on the fact that data is NOT a magic button inside of itself. Quality data means verified, trusted, clean data that when applied to a strong campaign strategy, yields ultimate success.

  • Tell us something we don’t already know about you.  

My Dad was in the Navy for many years, so we moved around a lot. Our longest stint was overseas in Sicily, Italy, which was a super cool place to grow up as a kid. I’m told people think I developed a lot of the emotional and vibrant personalities from my time in Italy, but I ultimately think moving around was one of the best things that my parents did for us, because we had to constantly meet, talk, and make friends with new people, and learn new cultures. Naturally, this has helped build me into a people-person for sales.