So You Want My Job? Verizon Media’s Rico Chan on reimagining (and monetizing) storytelling

So You Want My Job? Each week we ask the people working in some of the industry’s coolest jobs about how they got where they are. We explore their thoughts, inspirations and processes as well as their experiences. Hopefully, our interviewees can inspire you to pursue (or create) a job that’s just as exciting. Rico Chan, head APAC sales at Verizon Media, was our interviewee this week.

What was your dream career as a kid? Does your job today resemble that?

I always wanted to be a tour guide. I thought it would be a great way for me to share my passion for exploring new places and experiences with others and also to have some fun.

My current work is about helping people connect to their passions. I use technology to empower transformative experiences that help people communicate and transact while staying informed and entertained. I am privileged to be at the forefront of cutting-edge technology driving the adtech sector forward.

I am excited about the ceaseless pipeline of new discoveries and technologies that supercharge new and existing experiences for consumers – fom AR and VR to innovative, immersive experiences that not only reimagine storytelling but also allow people to discover and try new experiences alone and with those around them.

How did your career get started? Tell us your story.

After a year in business, I sold my startup. While I was tempted, I decided retirement wasn’t an option for me (much to my better half’s relief), so I set out looking for my next big adventure.

I’ve always been captivated by internet-based companies and how these companies generate revenue. I was looking for a job with Yahoo (now Verizon Media), as it was expanding its presence in Hong Kong. This was a great way to learn about the industry and the local role was a bonus since I did a lot of travel while running the startup. Fast-forward 12 years, I’m really glad I made the move.

Ironically, my role in Verizon Media grew to include more regional responsibilities. I found myself traveling quite a bit. Perhaps the travels around the world will set me up to be a tour guide after my retirement – taking me on a full circle back. Also, thinking about it, maybe I should have invested in properties across the region considering how much time I’ve spent in these places – they would make great holiday homes when I retire.

Okay, now tell me what you do. How would a taxi driver explain your job?

Verizon Media is a technology and media company that focuses on content, experiences and commerce. I am responsible to grow business in the APAC region, which includes key markets like Hong Kong and New Zealand, Japan, India and Southeast Asia.

If I had to give a person outside of our industry a meaningful explanation about my job, this would it: I work at Yahoo! Our company also owns other popular online brands – sites like TechCrunch and Engadget – that people around the world visit to catch up on the things they love and are passionate about. These people visit these sites to get the latest news and tech news, or to follow the stock market or sports.

This business also helps companies reach potential customers online and promote to them online. These solutions are a result of technology. This is our ‘adtech’ business, and my work is mainly in this area. As head of APAC, my responsibility is to grow the business in the countries I manage. My job includes supporting our teams in these regions so that they can achieve their goals. This means ensuring they have the skills, resources, and a positive work environment so they can work efficiently and grow professionally.

Are your family/parents aware of what you are trying to do?

My family may not know the technicalities of my job, especially in the B2B world – though I’m sure they have heard me at some point mentioning terms such as ‘programmatic’, ‘DSP’ and ‘DOOH’. However, they are certainly more familiar with our consumer side of the business.

Yahoo is a well-known internet brand and a major e-commerce player here in Hong Kong. My family across generations, from my parents to my children, are great supporters of Yahoo, and it is a source of pride for them that I am employed here, especially since they don’t have to explain to friends and family where I work.

What is the best thing about your job?

It is a great feeling to be part of a company that is always evolving. We are in the midst a transformation. The past two quarters have shown that we are a growth business. Our ad platform revenue from advertisers has been a major driver of our revenue. We are always innovating to create a fully-connected ecosystem. We connect consumers to their passions while driving revenue and engagement in our partners’ businesses. With our ad solutions suite, we help publishers and advertisers unlock the full potential of their content and marketing.

Another thing I love about my job is working with a diverse team. Their diverse perspectives and ideas help us to think and act more effectively as a team.

How would someone who is just starting out in the industry get their job? What would their path be?

The way careers are evolving today, there is no longer a single or linear path to a job, so each person’s journey will be unique in the future. I would recommend that you start with both breadth as well as depth of knowledge. Make sure you spend time learning about the industry and staying up-to-date on how it is changing. Continue to learn and update your skills. Finally, be prepared to work hard – that’s something that hasn’t changed from when I entered the industry.

What advice would your advise to those who are considering entering the advertising industry at this time?

It’s a great moment to be part the adtech community, with the explosion in digital, ecommerce booming, and the entire world moving online because of the pandemic.

CTV consumption is increasing with more streaming. There are increasing opportunities for digital and multichannel buying. DOOH is expected to grow because of the increased demand from both advertisers and consumers as more people leave their homes and regions reopen. And with the spectacular rise in e-commerce, there’s an urgency to create more ease, efficiency and effectiveness in this omnichannel universe.

This moment has provided many opportunities to stand out and get noticed. Consider how your skills and ideas can be used to solve new problems and identify new opportunities in a post-Covid environment that could benefit your company or clients. Keep your eyes open for potential opportunities and be proactive in identifying them.

What do you think is the best trait for you?

Curiosity. In my role, where things are constantly changing – be it regulations, consumer preferences and behaviors, or new technologies that constantly refresh the way the industry works – I think being curious is the most important.

My curiosity is a natural part of me. I am always curious about how things work and the new things I find. It drives me to learn and challenges me in new ways.

Who should people who want to do your job read or listen?

My advice for anyone who wants my job would be to spend 15 minutes each day on the internet learning about what’s new, what’s trending and what’s on the horizon.

Also, a lot can be learned from speaking and listening to people from all walks of life and of different ages – making sure that the work we do truly reflects the needs, wants and progress of society. Particularly, I would encourage you to speak and listen to teenagers – their fresh new ideas, idealism for a better world and passion for important issues offers insight into how we can use technology to shape genuine and engaging consumer experiences that touch their minds, hearts and souls.

Finally, download and explore as many apps on your mobile as possible and take some time to think about how you could make these experiences more engaging if you were given the chance.

Last week we spoke to Laurent Simon, the chief creative officer of VMLY&R.