What it takes to be a Global Leader in SEO
It isn’t easy being a Search Partner. Let alone being the International Head of SEO working alongside a network of 116 offices in 86 countries throughout the globe.
As the Head of SEO for Mindshare FAST WW, Poorani Prithiviraj oversees everything from strategic account leadership to management of the entire SEO Worldwide team.
Ben Wattenbach, Digital Marketing Recruitment Director out of Adaptive Digital’s UK office, caught up with Poorani to learn what it’s like be on the cutting edge of the Search Engine Marketing industry.
Ben: Hi Poorani. It’s always great speaking with you and I’d like to thank you for agreeing to this interview. So how did you first get into marketing?
Poorani: I moved into it by fluke. Started in IT and then fell into what I didn’t know was SEO from web development. My appreciation from the technical side helped a lot. I started very early in the industry before it was mature, and I grew up with it from there to now. The industry has always kept me intrigued as there are changes everywhere all the time.
So is that what interests you about the digital marketing industry?
Poorani: Two things really. One that it is always moving very fast, and if you want to stay on top of things you must always look for new creative ways to support your clients. Second is how the work we do impacts performance. Back in the day, it was open to the client requirements but now its about driving performance towards results. It’s all about how we drive conversion and what we can do to deliver against conversions.
You’ve been with Mindshare FAST WW for many years?
Poorani: For me personally it has been just about progression. I’ve gotten to grow with the business, and got a lot out of my work here. I originally came from the Australian market, and the flexibility to move countries was great. I’ve been able to build a very supportive, international network. The WW team is very diverse with a large-scale market which has made progression very possible and our work very effective.
Are you seeing lots of genuine innovation in digital marketing currently or is it all consolidating to a few big pieces?
Poorani: Innovation right now is embracing digital in a different way. Historically there were channels that were activated to drive a conversion or meet KPIs, but innovative marketers these days utilize the power of data to drive activation and feed back into strategy and media plans. Right now, I’m very interested in the way the data drives real-time buying.
Can you take us through your typical workday?
Poorani: Client relationships is my first priority – making sure my team understand what our clients need and make sure that we can deliver against this.
After that I’m focusing on alignment – looking at the integration of our approach with the team leads within Mindshare’s FAST (Future Adaptive Specialist Team), checking that across our teams we are collaborating at the right point, showing efficiencies my team can provide to clients. Then my time goes into broader operations management – ensuring we have the right people to do the right jobs, making sure team has the right tech, resources etc. I also work with the other channels for standardization.
However, my role has evolved – now I own P&L and my challenges is to scale the operations while maintaining quality and driving results.
Earlier in my career the daily priority was more about building client relationships, retaining business and looking after them. Nowadays I’m more involved in recruitment, but I do occasionally pass aspects of this over to my team. I prefer to recruit more collectively than in isolation.
Can you tell me a bit about the people who have been most influential in your career?
Poorani: My manager back in Australia, was the influence for staying in SEO. He showed me there is hope! Sean Rooney was also another figure. He was the manager in Sydney’s GroupM branch and helped develop me into leadership.
In the industry itself, I would say who inspires me are the great minds that have helped build the SEO community. I love seeing how they strive to make an impact with their clients.
What’s the first thing you check on your phone in the morning?
Poorani: My emails first, to see if there is anything surprising. I’m very pedantic and live by my email calendar, so I check to see what I have got on to manage my day accordingly.
Have you gotten a chance to travel in the past year? If so what was your favorite locale and why?
Poorani: Depending on the clients I do travel for training and conferences quite a bit. I did a training course called Momentum, a leadership program in the Mindshare network, and got to know more people in the network.
My favorite place? I love Germany. Berlin has such a fantastic art history, and it’s a beautiful country. I’ve also travelled lots in Asia, where I particularly enjoyed my time in Korea.
And finally, what traits would you say a person needs to succeed and grow in your position? Any specific tips?
Poorani: You have to be very passionate for this space. Putting it bluntly, it’s not incentivized like biddable, so you need to be driven but also have tech or content creativity to really thrive and enjoy what you do.
For my role, being more open to new ideas and collaboration opportunities is critical. One of the key things to avoid is falling into the trap of closing yourself off and isolating yourself as a standalone channel. Owned and Earned is foundational channel, but it is about making sure you are taking a broad-angle view and making sure you are a partner with biddable. Be part of an integrated solution rather than a silo.
As the Search Director for Mindshare WW, Poorani Prithiviraj is responsible for strategic account management and cross marketing pollunation for key clients in Search; as well as management of the SEO Worldwide team.
You can connect with her on her LinkedIn here.