Rebels, Misfits and Innovators:50over50 – Tom Jenen

We think it’s time to recognise and celebrate the true talent in our industry, the creatives, technologists, founders and leaders that are really driving our industry and shaping society, who just happen to be over 50. 50over50 is a series of interviews, shortly to become a podcast, with our most influential and inspiring industry leaders aged 50 and over.  

Tom Jenen is an adtech veteran. Since launching AdMeld in Europe before it sold to Google, he has served in senior roles at a variety of leading adtech companies.  He was recently appointed global MD for United for News (unitedfornews.org), a joint venture between Internews (internews.org) and the World Economic Forum. Tom also co-founded WomenPresent, a platform to help increase the number of female speakers at event.

What is the biggest mistake companies – brands or the industry – are making in their attitude to age today?

50 is the new 30, not the new 40. We’re pretty much all going to live to be 80 or 90, so stop thinking people are frozen in their thinking, behaviour and talents. Every minute that goes by we’re older and more experienced than we’ve ever been.

Everyone, no matter what age, are all still learning as we go along, and we’re proud of how we continue to evolve and reinvent ourselves for the future.  

What one thing are you proudest of in your career?

Always pushing for growth and change, despite the seduction of the easy.

What creative heights are you now capable of that you wouldn’t have been able to achieve at the early or mid-point of your career?

My network is broad enough and deep enough that I can find opportunities and answers quickly, and that lets me have a greater, faster impact on the problems I want to solve.

What gives you the most satisfaction in your role today?

Having the opportunity to work with so many new and interesting people and technologies, while still making time for my family.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your career?

Say yes. Good things come from helping others, whether it be career advice, support in business, or making connections between two people who really should meet. Unless it’s clearly spam or a phishing attempt, then definitely say no.

What advice would you give your 25-year old self?

Stop trying to be a big agency ad copywriter – they’re a lot cleverer than you are.

What are you most excited about in your industry over the next 10 years?

The growing diversity in our leadership and creative effort. There are more women and ethnic minorities developing ideas, technology and companies today than ever before, and that will transform our priorities and the solutions we develop.

What is your biggest regret about the industry today?

A tendency to short-sightedness due to the pace of technology development. When things change so fast, it takes a special effort to look ahead and push for where things should go, rather than the quick return – and we’ve not always made that effort.

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