Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

My Digital Hero: Maria Cadbury – Julia Smith

The redoubtable Maria Cadbury has over 20 years’ experience in the industry and is the founder influencer marketing company of We Are Spring.

Who is your digital hero?

The legendary Julia Smith who rose to fame as the commercial lead at the Mirror in the ‘90s, to managing a portfolio of clients in her consultancy, Digital Trading Consultancy.  There is merit in telling the Julia Smith story, from my experience and a few other advocates in the industry.

What have she done to win hero status in your eyes?

I first met Julia Smith as one of the judges for the Vibrant Award, a notable award of its time, over a decade ago and our moral compass aligned.  Julia’s pace is fast and she has continued to be in the spotlight in terms of judging, panel and conference presenter.  She’s also instrumental in a few networking groups and an all-round go to for advice, support and opinions. 

For me personally, she covered my first maternity leave and helped steer the ship on course and keep the team in place and morale high.

Not only I, but many others support her, such as Niki Stoker, COO MillionAds and Victoria Usher, Founder, GingerMay who talk eloquently on Julia’s heroism from a knowledge and passion viewpoint.

“Julia is hands down a total hero; she’s always knowledgeable, always passionate and always happy to go out of her way to help or advise you. She is the queen of connecting things together in the best way possible, says Niki.  

“Julia is a rare breed. As a veteran of the industry, she has the knowledge and expertise to take a complex issue and distil it into the salient points, so her audience are better educated and informed as a result.   She is passionate about innovation, and she has her finger on the pulse of what is current and meaningful. Julia truly deserves the title of Maria’s Digital Hero,”  said Victoria Usher.

Paul Hood, Digital Marketing Director, The Sun, continues with  “Julia is a formidable force, deeply knowledgeable, extremely energetic and passionate about all things digital. Expect positive transformation when Julia gets involved with a brand.”

Others echo Julia’s brilliance on the events landscape with Andrew Buckman, COO at Sublime talking about her involvement in Cannes.  “In every aspect that I’ve worked with Julia I’ve always been impressed by her energy, dynamism, network, technical knowledge and joie de vivre!”

The all-round meaningfulness Julia brings to so many aspects of digital is summarized wonderfully by Mark Wrighton, CEO at Huddle.

“Julia is my digital hero because she brings a significant weight of experience, personal network and wholehearted sincerity to everything she does. Julia’s ability to rally key industry peers around a project / industry initiative and tackle it with a no-nonsense approach is both refreshing and effective!”

How has her heroism helped drive digital?

Julia is a very interesting character; she wears many hats and what’s notable is that she absolutely emulates the businesses that she represents. She has deep focus and expertise in her areas.   It’s often said your net value is your network and this could not be truer than the story of Julia and her net-worth.  

Julia’s effervescent personality and working style has a deep knowledge of the adtech and martech world.   She has an innate ability to simplify and sell a proposition that’s more complex for any founder to quantify, than the readers of her work.  Yet when we talk about heroism and how it has helped drive digital, it isn’t the sophisticated communication skills that Julia creates value from;   it is her ability to bring together digital minds and encourage people to build upon this network for the benefit of all.

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

Ad fraud and brand safety are more rife in today’s advertising ecosystem than ever before. Today we’re helping brands to avoid appearing  alongside inappropriate content that’s associated with paedophiles, racism, terrorism and hate speech and reporting on fraud activity in the  influencer space.  

That’s real progress that will help renew trust in our industry.

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

Just one?  I created the first Facebook Group with the O2 campaign — it won more awards than any other campaign (at last count in 2010).  The business architect for Evolve’s TheStudio.LDN — what fun to come up with an idea for a business and get to build it.  

I have also founded We Are Spring — a leading influencer marketing business which I am incredibly proud of as we are helping to ensure that the influencer model performs for our brands.  Finally, I was involved in working with Channel Factory on its Brand Safety Launch in the UK and am excited about the potential of truly affecting change.