Only you can drive your career, says Adbrain's chief marketer
A view from Ed Chater

Only you can drive your career, says Adbrain's chief marketer

Ed Chater, Adbrain's chief marketing and strategy officer, shares his lessons from the career ladder.

You’d be surprised what can happen in four years. You can graduate from university, serve a term as US president, even travel to Mars and back.

For me, the four years since I was inducted into Media Week’s 30 Under 30 have been very busy. I migrated to the US, got married, bought a house and went from the mobile agency world to pioneering customer identity technology.

I now work at Adbrain, a tech company that helps marketers identify their customer across devices, channels and platforms. I have moved up the career ladder a few rungs, going from senior management to the C-suite. I’ve been incredibly fortunate in my career progression, but it has not all been plain sailing.

But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and I’ve worked with some great leaders and received some first-class mentorship along the way.

Campaign asked me to boil down my top career tips, so here they are.

Take responsibility

Only you can drive your career. Sure, other factors will be at play to determine if you are successful, but what’s critical is to take control.

Other people will help you and you can use them as a resource, but it’s down to you to make the decisions and take action.

Focus on your strengths

Focus on where you deliver outstanding work and feel alive while doing it. Don’t focus on improving your weaknesses – just manage the consequences of them.

That might mean building teams that complement your strengths or finding a different role. This is the best advice I ever received and was given to me by Mike Pegg. Check out his online resources.

Clarify and deliver the picture of success

Get clarity on what the concrete results are that you are trying to deliver. If you don’t know what success looks like, then how will you achieve it?

Once you have a clear idea of what you need to deliver, focus relentlessly on making it happen.

There are no right decisions, just choices and consequences

Sometimes it can be tempting to agonise about what the right decision is. Understand that, in business, there is rarely – if ever – a perfect answer.

There are just choices you make and consequences that come from those choices – both good and bad. Weigh up the choices and score the consequences to help you decide which will get you closest to your picture of success.

Context is key

It’s rare that decisions are made or people behave randomly. Nine times out of ten, there is contextual information that can rationally explain that situation.

Context doesn’t excuse behaviour or outcomes but can help you better understand them. You should be using context to be more considered and ultimately proactive in your decision-making.

Work hard and smart

Often you’ll hear people say that you need to work smart, not hard. The premise of this statement – think about what you are working on rather than just mindlessly working – is spot on. However, don’t underestimate how putting in the hours is still imperative to success.

Read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point if you are not sure what I mean.

Ed Chater is the chief marketing and strategy officer at Adbrain. He was featured in Media Week's 30 Under 30 in 2012.