This episode we welcome our first guest. Nectarios Economakis joins us from Montreal to give us his perspective on the future of digital strategy. With experience on both the agency and client side, Nectar left his role at Google, where he was the first member of the sales team in Montreal to collaborate with partners on a new venture, the PNR, a management-consulting firm with a technology and digital focus. You can learn more about his work here.
If you haven’t had a chance to already, I strongly urge you to listen to him give his perspective on this first hand in the podcast in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud or below now, since I can’t give him his full due in writing.
Nectar highlights 3 key recommendations to those starting out in the industry:
- Get practical experience: Try to do something on your own, a passion project. Use it to build your skills in your niche. Even if you have difficulty finding a job initially, doing this will give you the experience you need to apply later in your career.
- Read up about the space; it’s never been easier to find out information from the best minds in the business.
- Create good content. If you want to be known as a thought leader it is a key component to help you stand out, even if it is in the form of a blog or something as straightforward as a twitter account.
Nectar did not set out in his career with a grand vision to become a digital strategist, but rather followed a more ‘squiggly line’. After starting in an engineering company in a role that allowed him to touch a lot of elements in marketing, he found himself gravitating towards the digital side of the industry. This led to a jump agency side to focus on ‘doing what he liked and what he was good at and where he could provide value’. He even took a pay cut in order to join the agency side. This also meant he had to ‘do the grunt-work’, however, he was now in a position to learn. His big takeaway was to focus on the learning environment since if he was looking for the biggest salary he wouldn’t have gone down that path. This hands on experience gave him a T-shaped skill set, very deep in a few areas but also broad at the macro-level. This is important since he believes that before you can become a high level strategist you have to start with something more micro. For him that was performance media. This approach to getting your hands dirty is in line with the current maker movement and makes you into an operator who can also execute. But it’s not enough. You also have to read up – you have to like what you’re doing enough that once it’s 5pm you have to go home and read and learn.
All that said, a deep understanding of digital is not enough to succeed today. The business side is equally important, and to learn that Nectar not only learned from those around him but also spent considerable time reading from the leaders in the industry, whether it was Jim Collins on the business side or Mitch Joel on the digital side. This need to know both the business and digital sides is important since the industry is still focused on the latest shiny thing, but often the business language is not there. That is why he quit an amazing job at Google to start his consultancy in order to be able to fill this gap and translate digital strategy into business language.
Looking down the line, he believes that the word ‘digital’ will slowly disappear. As technology improves it will fade into the background and we won’t have digital strategists since all strategists will have a strong understanding of digital. He gives the example of the early part of the last century with the emergence of electricity and the fact that there were ‘vice presidents of electricity’ at the time to help drive that function forward within companies. But in order to prepare for that time, it is critical to hone your skills, and that brings us back to where we started, with his 3 key recommendations for those starting out in the industry.
Next week on octopus, we will explore digital strategy as a passion project with our next guest. Please be sure to comment below. I’d love to hear from you. Please subscribe for alerts about new episodes and content. Thank you for listening to octopus. I’m Nasser Sahlool.