Abeed Janmohamed is Founding Partner of Volando Global, a growth consultancy for startups and scale-ups. A true digital veteran, he started his career at Cricinfo in 2004. He’s a mentor at Seedcamp and a board advisor at multiple companies in the sector.
Who is your digital hero?
There are two individuals who stand out to me – the first, Alex Chamberlen at Engage Digital Partners has impacted directly on my own career. The second, Greg Grimmer, CEO, Mediatel, an unsung trailblazer for the digital industry.
What have they done to win hero status in your eyes?
Alex Chamberlen gave me my chance in the industry over 15 years ago. He gave a young, ambitious, disenfranchised with the City, twenty something the opportunity to get involved in a growing digital business – Cricinfo.com.
He gave me the opportunity to cut my teeth in an industry I (at that time) knew very little about on a product I was passionate about. He believed in me and taught me everything he knew.
His leadership, resilience and ability to think on his feet, coupled with his humility and work ethic are key qualities that make him one of the best people to have worked for. Along with being a great boss, he is now also a great friend.
Greg Grimmer for being a trailblazer. He backed the courage of his conviction with Zed Media, creating a culture of collaboration between agency and media owner, whilst driving digital to the forefront of a previously traditional media business.
The house that he built created some of the best digital minds who continue to shape our industry today.
How has their heroism helped drive digital?
Alex has been a very consistent force in driving digital forwards, specifically in the sports industry. He has been heavily involved in ensuring that digital is at the forefront of major sporting events including the IPL and the Rugby World Cup.
He also plays a large part in encouraging major rights holders to consider their digital approach more strategically too.
Greg is a relatively unsung hero but has been an integral part of driving the digital agenda on the agency side over a number of years, with his significant success initially at Zed Media and then Fetch where he supported the sale and integration into Dentsu Aegis.
With his latest role at Mediatel he has taken on another project looking to provide information and education to the industry – he will no doubt do a great job here too and leave a formidable legacy.
What are the biggest challenges in digital we need another hero to solve?
None of these challenges will be new to anyone working in this industry. They have been and continue to be key areas that need the whole industry to sign up to in a bid to overcome them:
Diversity – We hear a lot of discussion regarding diversity in the industry on the gender front and that is important. We do need to move away from being a predominantly male-led sector.
I appreciate we are making inroads and there are steps in place to address this issue. But – I’d like to see wider diversity issues – including ethnicity – given similar support.
Transparency and Trust in the supply chain – It’s long been a challenge that we created ourselves. I firmly believe that building this transparency and trust needs an ecosystem approach, similar to the financial markets, to create a trusting regulatory framework.
I am hoping that the JICWEB-endorsed Fiducia solution led by Tim Brown can go some way to providing a solution – at least in the UK.
Jargon and Language – Over complicated, complex language and crazy acronyms make us sound like we have created a new dialect or language.
As an industry we need to collectively take steps to simplify this and ensure we call each other out when we get too over excited with complexity!
What is your most heroic personal achievement so far in digital?
Bringing together some of the brightest minds in the industry through Volando Global. Helping new digital founders accelerate their growth, whilst at the same time leveraging digital to help traditional businesses solve some of the complex challenges they face.
I always try to give back too to help maintain a sense of perspective and humility. I’ve been a Mentor to the Commanding Officer of the Army Initial Training Group (ITG) and sit on the commercial board of the Lord Taverners Charity – helping to give underprivileged children a chance through sport.