Rod Strother | The Innovator 25 2016
Rod StrotherThe Innovator 25:

Rod Strother

VP, digital transformation


"Rather than give you the usual fail fast words, I'd say you should realise that you have to push from the bottom up and work the top down"


As VP of digital transformation at Singapore telco Starhub, Strother has taken on a weighty role that calls for considerable insight into multi-platform brand engagement. Luckily, in Strother, Starhub have found someone who can credibly be described as a digital marketing pioneer, dating back to his work with Grey Direct Interactive and Proximity in Malaysia and Singapore. Prior to Starhub, furthermore, Strother led Lenovo's worldwide social media marketing team, where he was instrumental in the establishment of the company's global digital & social center of excellence in Singapore as well as the development of its global analytics hub, and its pivotal work with social influencers.

How do you define innovation?

Finding a new way to do something that improves upon previous outcomes

Most innovative comms/marketing campaign you’ve seen in the last 12 months?

Sorry to say that I haven't seen anything that I've thought was incredibly innovative in the last 12 months

What brands and/or agencies are most innovative when it comes to marketing/PR?

We Are Social have done some great work from my experience.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider ‘innovative.’
Introducing the use of 'social stars' to Lenovo with the work using Ryan Higa. It was a moment where we were flying by the seat of our pants and just had to trust a 20+ year old 'kid' with a major product launch. Unprecedented within the company and it paid dividends in convincing senior management that such influencers could move the needle in sales and brand love.

In what area of marketing/PR do you see the most innovation?
Social media & online marketing, and martech.

How would you describe the communications/PR industry’s level of innovation?

About the same as other marketing disciplines.

Where do you see the greatest opportunity for marketing & PR to become more innovative?
Planning & analytics.

Who most influences how innovative a brand’s marketing/PR is?
I think it comes down to individuals. You can have an incredibly innovative CMO in one company but that doesn't determine that the CMO in the rival company will be the most influential on innovation. It should be the CMO but that doesn't hold true everywhere.

Who is your mentor and why?
In my early days in Asia — John Burbidge — because he took a wet behind the ears expat and steered him in the right direction. Nowadays my CMO who I've worked with twice now — Howie Lau — as he trusts me even when I don't always trust myself. Such faith from someone else gives you the motivation to try things you've never done and push yourself further.

How do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration from the people around me — generally the younger members of the team who have no fear of what life holds. I remember what it was like to be that age when I talk to them and check myself to maintain the pioneering spirit they display in bucketloads.

Advice for people seeking to bring new ideas, ways of doing things to their organizations?
Rather than give you the usual fail fast words, I'd say you should realise that you have to push from the bottom up and work the top down. The bottom approach will take longer but will give you a solid foundation of believers. The topdown can deliver instant results especially if you can get to the CEO and use them as your sponsor - you just won't get many chances to do that so make the most of the one or two you get.

In your opinion, what’s the most innovative place in the world?

I think innovation comes from people so it's difficult to tie down one place. The obvious answer would be SF but in my time I've seen amazing work done in New Zealand so I'll go for the Kiwis!

What’s your favorite time of day and why?
On a week day it's 8am when I get in and I have the office pretty much to myself. On a weekend it's usually 3pm when I'm waiting to play football and the referee has the whistle in his mouth.

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