Getting Ahead: Carey Bunks

If only there was a way to make typing on a mobile keyboard as easy as on a PC

Name: Carey Bunks
Company: Yell Group
Job title: Head of Yell.com Mobile

What made you want to get into brands/advertising/media/marketing?

I’ve been involved in the development and delivery of new media products and services since before the introduction of broadband, and have been closely involved in efforts to invent new marketing approaches that would be effective in this space. SEO, UGC, SEM, viral distribution, forums, the blogosphere and social networking are all part of today’s face of online marketing, however, initially, these techniques were championed by technologists and product managers. It has only been in the past few years that they have been fully embraced by marketing communications, advertising, and brand managers. I was drawn into this latter domain of marketing as a natural evolution from roles I held in new media product development.

How did you get into the industry (including relevant qualifications and professional training)?

As mentioned, while developing new media products, marketing seemed a natural progression. Most of my training has come through on-the-job trial-and-error, and a keen observation of what other players in the market have tried.

What was good and bad about your first job?

The best parts of my first job in marketing were the opportunities for inventiveness. New media breaks rules, and is a gold mine for anyone who loves to think out-of-the-box about new ways of delivering products to markets. The bad thing is that new ideas often encounter resistance, and a big part of discovering the new world was the struggle to win over the hearts and minds of other stakeholders who, perhaps, did not understand the future impact of what we were trying to do.

List your jobs to date

In reverse chronological order:
• Head of Yell.com mobile, Yell Group
• CTO, Webraska Mobile Technologies (satnav, LBS, and online mapping startup)
• VP Engineering, Netquartz (digital rights management software startup)
• Senior Scientist, BBN Technologies (internetworking and defense technologies)
• Project Manager, Total (Oil industry giant)
• Research Engineer, I.N.R.I.A (French national research agency)

What were the best and worst, and why?

My best job is the one I’m working in now – simply because the mobile services sector is about to explode – it’s very exciting! As I’m typically a glass half full type of personality, I always feel that my current job is the best.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Harold Goddijn, the CEO of Tomtom, successfully charted a navigational path through a highly disruptive and competitive period in the market, succeeding in becoming the number one supplier in the GPS satnav space. The Tomtom brand is the best known, and the most trusted satnav product… and the icing on the cake? He and his team accomplished this as a startup without the support of venture capital – a remarkable feat of vision, strategy, and execution!

Who in the industry do you most admire?

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com for his brilliant approach to online, intent-based marketing. Amazon.com’s features such as Better Together, Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought, editorial and customer reviews, ratings, ratings histograms, favourites lists, sales rank, and so on were novel ideas in consumer marketing. He shaped an industry, and never stopped innovating.

What is your biggest achievement to date?

My biggest achievement to date is the vision, conception, execution, and marketing of Yell.com mobile, the most innovative and easy-to-use source for local businesses information in the UK. You can download it by texting mobile to 80248, or by visiting www.yellmobile.com.

On what do you base your success so far?

New media is a complicated area where the rules of the games seem to be changing daily. There’s no longer much room in this space for on-the-job training, slow execution, or misinformed conceptions about what works and what doesn’t.

I would say that the most important factor in the success I’ve had to date is due to the expertise, the engagement, and commitment of my team. I’ve been very fortunate in being able to attract a uniquely competent team.

Together we have an in-depth knowledge of the marketplace – of what works with consumers and what doesn’t – and perhaps most importantly what can be feasibly delivered. This has been the deciding factor in our ability to cost-effectively develop top-notch products, and to get it right the first time.

What are your ambitions?

To provide significant contributions to consumers’ lives and, in the process, make a difference to my company and to the world.

Change one thing about your job

I can’t think of one thing. It’s the greatest!

Change one thing about your industry:

If only there was a way to make typing on a mobile keyboard as easy as on a PC…

Change one thing about the world:

Sir Isaac Newton, one of the greatest scientists of all time, qualified his own contributions to science with the quote “We are but dwarves standing on the shoulders of giants.” In this way he recognized the importance of the foundation laid by his predecessors. In so many ways, the digital revolution has butted up against the inconsistencies of intellectual property law, which in my opinion does not sufficiently measure how much so-called new ideas build upon the contributions of past giants. Intellectual property law has got out of hand, and if I could change it I would rein it in. I wouldn’t eliminate it, but would greatly limit the scope and duration that most IP currently enjoys. I personally embrace the philosophy of openness, and, I myself have published two books under an open publication license, and have participated in the development and promotion of two major open-source software products.

What is your favourite brand?

Ivory Soap (P&G): my grandmother used to keep it under the sink in the kitchen, and when I was 5 years old I loved the packaging, the smell, and the way it felt.

What is the next big brand in your view?

Did you know that 90% of all UK businesses have fewer than 5 employees? Or that small and medium size businesses generate half of the UK’s GDP? With the internet has come an increased democratization of access to markets, and small brands are making headway against bigger ones. For me, the next big brand is local business – small business.

List your media diet:

In decreasing order by hours spent per week:

• Email
• General web
• MP3s
• Printed novels
• Internet radio news
• Broadcast radio
• Social media
• Printed newspapers and magazines
• Movies in cinemas or on DVDs

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