Colin Barnard is the former Head of Retail & Google Shopping, and is now the Commercial Director of global technology company Criteo ANZ.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’ve had quite an extensive career working at Peugeot UK for 10 years as the New Media Manager before moving to Google where I was the Head of Auto then Retail then Finance and finally Google Shopping ANZ for 12 years.
What led me to join Criteo was the attraction of being part of the company’s future growth in Australia and the launch of new products. In the last 18 months I can proudly say that my team has helped Criteo evolve from ‘The Retargeting Company’ to a customer and agency-centric, open, multi-product platform.
I love the industry, am fascinated by the digital world and always love helping businesses adapt with the ever-changing technology. Providing amazing business results through hyper-relevant, impactful content is something I find really motivating.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Every day is very different but what remains constant is my goal. I aim to lead my team to help our existing clients with great customer service but also to think bigger, take risks and try new things. It’s what makes life more fun.
We work to achieve the best understanding of what people buy online and help advertisers maximise their return on investment. Every day I have to be open-minded and passionate about technology, data, creative ideas and people, and keep searching for new ways to marry up the creative with the data.
I have to know my customers and their brand inside and out, understand their opportunities and challenges and be proud to help them advertise their services. I have to admit when I get things wrong and learn quickly. These are the things that remain constant about my job.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
I think the nature of the digital marketing industry allows for quite a smooth transition to work from home or remotely. At Criteo we are working from home until the end of next June, so this shows how confident we are in our ability to work remotely.
Since working from home, I am probably more connected than ever with my colleagues around the globe and we’ve been collaborating more than before, so this has been a great aspect of working remotely.
However, managing work on/off time has been tougher. It feels very easy to keep working outside of working hours. In saying this I feel less guilty about taking an hour for lunch or doing a bit of life admin during the day. It’s about give and take.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Work-life balance is very important to Criteo. When we were in the office we looked forward to BBQs on our balcony and FIFA tournaments on the PS4. Having a workplace and team that supports life outside of work is crucial in getting the best out of anybody.
I personally have missed the spontaneous interaction with my team, the camaraderie and energy as well as the Friday afternoon beers and celebrating the week’s achievements. Same goes at home, being able to switch off, exercise or be around family more has been so valuable and extremely motivating.
Keeping healthy and being around the things you love most in your personal life pushes you to do your best in your work-life.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
With COVID I think most of our lives have been thrown out of whack. Working from home has completely changed our regular working routines and habits. I think one of the benefits of working from home is the freedom to get outdoors and exercise.
Every day I’ve been swapping, what was my regular commute time to work, to ensure I get outside at some stage and go for a walk around by the Harbour in Pyrmont.
I go to the gym three times a week to ensure I am fit and have energy to lead our business but admit that the Covid kilos have still arrived but I am shortly moving to Five Dock where the stunning Bay Walk is just on my new doorstep.
From a work point of view we meet as a team via Zoom three times a week to celebrate the wins, share the learnings and also to chat about our lives and what we are doing to keep the close connection and a sense of belonging to our work tribe.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
As my partner is Colombian I’ve been trying to learn Spanish with mixed success but I’ve been using Duolingo cards to keep learning a bit every day. I’ve also been listening to their fantastic Intermediate-level podcasts which help you learn the language but also open your mind to inspiring stories from across the Hispanic world. It’s the best of digital – free because it’s ad-funded, high quality, you can fit it into your life and it’s fun.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I don’t think I could live without YouTube and YouTube Music. It gives you a larger range of music than Apple Music and Spotify, the obvious endless video entertainment, how-to content etc and it’s either free with ads or ad-free with one subscription that covers both services.
It works on my phone, car, Google Home(s) and it scarily knows what I like and what I listen to. I love AI and personalisation so unlike some people I’m always quietly impressed when it’s bang on with my music and video tastes.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Maybe Stephen Fry. He’s clearly a workaholic and finds time to do a huge variety of different things from presenting, acting, producing, charity etc but still finds time to enjoy life, learn and be constantly amused and fascinated.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Work is keeping me exceptionally busy as we pivot our business to our clients’ changing needs and I am probably involved in more meetings than ever before with some days six to eight hours spent on Zoom!
Luckily I have a wonderful partner who is home with me during much of the day and we’ve been spending more time than ever together, having breakfast and lunch together which is fantastic.
In saying this my advice for a work-life balance would be that you should always make time for your loved ones. It will make work all the easier knowing they are supporting you through.
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