Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

My Digital Hero: Ana-Maria Chitoroaga, Programmatic Director at Spark Foundry UK

Ana-Maria Chitoroaga is Programmatic Director at Spark Foundry UK. We asked who her digital hero is.

Who is your digital hero?

Throughout my career, there have been various people that have positively impacted my development and growth, but if I must choose one, it must be Alexander Cardno who is currently Director of Operational Excellence, Global at GroupM Nexus.

What has he done to win hero status in your eyes?

Alex is a visionary and recognises talent in people from far away. In fact, he was the one who hired me back in 2019, when I had far less experience in programmatic. Now, as a people manager myself, I understand how much of a gamble he took on me, and I hope it’s not one he regrets!

Alex is a remarkable leader who is also incredibly humble. I am not sure if he is aware of the incredibly positive impact and influence he has on people, but I’ve seen colleagues following his example and using tricks learned from him all the time. As my role now is quite like his back when we worked together, I often think about how he approached everyone in the team, how he led by example, drove operational excellence, created a team of programmatic superstars, encouraged creative thinking and made everyone feel valued and listened to – all positive and desirable attributes of a leader.

Often, as people step up to seniority, their leadership skills grow, whilst their operational skills can sometimes wane. However, this isn’t the case for Alex, he managed to keep both skill sets at an extremely high level and would not hesitate to roll up his sleeves and help the team at critical times. This, among many other things learned from Alex, continues to inspire me to become as great of a leader as he is, while making sure I am still close to what’s happening backstage as I navigate my role.

How has his heroism helped drive digital?

Alex strives for excellence and inspires everyone around him to follow his lead. As Director of Client Success, Alex successfully led the onboarding of EMEA markets under a centralised hub run by a single team based in London. He created and streamlined processes, trained the team and drove performance for the client. His impact in driving digital goes beyond the limited time I had the privilege of observing his work.

What are the biggest challenges in digital we need another hero to solve?

I’d say the cookieless present, with its challenges and opportunities, is still a very hot topic, but besides that, there are multiple other challenges in digital such as media fragmentation, measurement, and HFSS restrictions (for FMCG brands) amongst others.

Clients are primarily focused on driving efficiency like ROI, but focusing solely on efficiency could hinder brand growth, therefore looking at a brand’s objectives through both an efficiency and effectiveness lens is essential for a brand’s success.

What is your most heroic personal achievement so far in digital?         

I don’t know that I would classify anything I have done in my career so far as ‘heroic’, but the closest thing I would say was my involvement in onboarding one of the agency’s largest clients over a year ago, where I played a pivotal role in transitioning the client’s programmatic activity from their previous agency to us.

This involved a variety of tasks, not only related to programmatic, but also platform architecture, access, policies and new regulation, legal aspects, client best practices, etc. All this pushed me out of my comfort zone as I had to overcome these challenges and create a new programmatic team whilst still being a newbie to the company myself.