Chris Andrews is head of advertising technology at Wake The Bear. In a 15-year career, he has previously worked at companies including m/SIX, Bountiful Cow and Accenture.
Who is your digital hero?
It’s a tricky one to narrow down, but I’m going to embarrass a couple of former bosses. One is from (relatively) way back and that’s Rob Foster, my boss at Manning Gottlieb OMD from 2012-16 when I was a Digital Account Manager, and more recently Gill Bell, who was Director of Digital Services here at Wake The Bear until 2022.
What have they done to win hero status in your eyes?
I’m not sure I’m alone in thinking there’s been a tendency of gatekeeping that can creep in with a lot of digital conversations, which seeks to take a complex subject and to make it more complex. I’m inadvertently very guilty of it myself.
Both Rob and Gill have always sought to practice the opposite – democratising access, cutting out the jargon and encouraging learning and engagement. In doing that they’ve improved the knowledge of colleagues, clients and other partners over a sustained period of time – and I include myself in that!
How has their heroism helped drive digital?
That encouragement of learning and engagement has undoubtedly driven adoption of tools, platforms and methodologies that might have otherwise fallen by the wayside. And it’s been driven by encouragement and education, giving the tools for clients to influence difficult conversations in their organisations.
In doing so, it’s helped to bring the benefits of digital to advertisers who might have been reticent, which in turn has delivered growth and development both at an individual and institutional level.
What are the biggest challenges in digital we need another hero to solve?
For me it’s unavoidable that the greatest industry challenge (at least the one partly within our gift) is sustainability and tackling climate change. There’s undoubtedly a load of amazing work going on to quantify and reduce emissions in the supply chain, but it’s crucial that we spread that work around and embed it as standard.
That’s far from the job of one single hero or band of them. It’s a job we all need to undertake as a collective, for collective social benefit, while still seeking to drive sustainable growth for our clients and businesses.
What is your most heroic personal achievement so far in digital?
I feel too self-effacing to call out anything I’ve done as heroic! I define my role as one that empowers growth and solves business challenges through the application of technology, and that means taking a lead in service of the team here at Wake The Bear, as well as our clients.
So I guess if I apply the logic of why I’ve called Rob and Gill out as such, it’d be consistently trying to make knowledge out of a sea of information, and bring clarity to the benefits of digital and marketing technology so that the agency and our clients are able to feel the full effect.
But as I said above – there’s more to be done at a much bigger scope and I’d like to look back in one/five/ten/twenty years and have done – and be doing – far more personally to tackle the thorniest challenges we all face.