From the music business to tech, Australia to the U.S.
I was recently interviewed for the ZAG blog, where I shared my career journey from managing bands to marketing information technology.
The following interview was posted to the ZAG blog as part of a regular series focused on the people that make the company great. It was a fun interview and an enjoyable opportunity to share a little about my background that you won't find in the LinkedIn profile.
For many marketing leaders, being a player/coach is out of necessity. But for ZAG Director of Marketing Robert (Rob) Collings, it’s an opportunity to never live the same day twice.
In his role, Rob serves the marketing team, who in turn serve ZAG's future clients by helping educate and inform them about the value of choosing ZAG for their managed IT, security, and application development needs.
“We do significantly more than that for clients and the company more broadly, but at its core, our job is to grow the business,” he said.
He's also the token Aussie on most of ZAG's calls, having been born and raised in Australia before moving to the Bay Area. He joined ZAG two years ago and has been working to help strengthen our mission of enabling clients to succeed.
Here, we ask him a little about what he does and how he got his start:
How and when did you get your start in the technology industry?
If playing Colossal Cave Adventure on a DEC PDP-10 counts then, well, some time ago ... I've been fascinated by the power of technology since childhood, but my "tech industry career" started about a decade ago with a digital rights, blockchain startup I founded. I also lead marketing for about 5 years at an open-source software company, and for the past two years, I have been honored to serve the marketing team at ZAG.
Why did you decide to join ZAG?
Our commitment to client success. When I was interviewing, I noticed client mission statements displayed prominently in the office. Everyone says they care about client success, but I had never seen it written large on the walls as a reminder to our team. Everyone at ZAG lives to enable client success.
How would you describe your job to a class of kindergartners?
I help people like your mom and dad make the best technology decisions for their business.
What would you be doing for a career if you weren’t in IT?
My career spans various non-IT marketing and management roles in retail, education, the music industry, and book packaging. I founded a couple of businesses. Had different decisions been made along the way (and I can remember those inflection points), I would be working in hospitality, owning some sort of restaurant, bar, hotel group in Sydney, Australia. Having said all that, I regularly pinch myself that I have a career in technology, in the United States. It very much feels like a dream come true.
What do you like most about your job?
Working with my team, without doubt. Jenna Hardie is an exceptional marcomms executive and Brittany Cruz an equally impressive revenue operations leader. I am blessed. They make my work life a huge amount of fun.
What is the best career lesson you’ve learned so far?
It is better to get to the right outcome than be right.
What is one piece of professional advice that you've received that stuck with you through the years?
It's not so much advice I received, but more something that struck me as fundamentally true at the time. Oddly, it comes from a contributor signature on an old school BBS:
"Don't believe everything you think."
It is important to question what we consider to be true and strive to understand what is real.
And for some personal insights:
What was your first job?
Paper route in elementary school. Rain, hail, or shine. Been working in some way, shape, or form ever since.
Do you have any hobbies or interests you'd like to share?
Cooking makes me happy, and travel is my favorite thing. Put travel and food together and (for me) life doesn't get much better. Anthony Bourdain had it right.
Name three words that describe you.
Grumpy. Young. Man.
What’s a fun fact about you that people may not know?
I stole an MBA.
Okay ... now that I have your attention, here's what actually happened.
When I was in college, one of the several jobs I had at the time involved working in the university's telecommunications department. At nights I worked on the conference call bridge and would patch remote learning MBA students into their evening class. I would sit in on the calls, and so I basically digested an MBA program worth of knowledge and insights (sans the group project and networking). It helped that much of the program wasn't that removed from my undergrad marketing studies.
What is your dream travel destination?
I am blessed to have traveled to many of my "dream" destinations, and being an Aussie had the good fortune to be born in what is a dream destination of others. So long as I am traveling, learning, meeting new people, cultures, and experiencing their food, I'm good.
What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
"Winners act. Winners don't wait to be acted upon."