On today's episode, Former NielsenIQ Vice President of Strategic Alliances for North America and Fobi's new SVP of Strategy & Corporate Development Richard Lee talks corporate strategy and what it's like making the jump from a data syndication giant like NielsenIQ to Fobi.
Hear Richard's perspective on what attracted him to Fobi and possible hints about the next steps in Fobi's partnership with NielsenIQ.
The following is a transcript of the conversation between Fobi Marketing Director Devon Seidel and SVP of Strategy & Corporate Development Richard Lee.
Fobi Marketing Director Devon Seidel:
Welcome back to the Fobi Insider podcast. Our guest today is Richard Lee, Fobi senior vice president of strategy and corporate development. So Richard, have you been adjusting well to our fast paced environment here at Fobi?
Fobi SVP of Strategy & Corporate Development Richard Lee: Yeah, certainly. I've actually adjusted quite well. It's my first week. But to be honest, working in a fast paced environment is something that I've been accustomed to. Because of my previous role at NielsenIQ, I had the privilege of working with a lot of early stage and growth stage companies. And so, although I come from a business that's obviously well established and have been around for 70 plus years, I've been working in this environment for quite some time now. So the transition has actually been quite seamless so far.
Devon: That's great to hear. Now, Richard, you've joined Fobi from one of our partners, NielsenIQ. I want to talk more about that in a bit, but first, tell me about your past work experience, for example, your experience at Cadbury Adams and Craft, and kind of how working at those companies got you to where you were at Nielsen.
Richard: Sure thing. It seems so long ago, but definitely one of my most fondest memories was working at Cadbury and Kraft. And I was there during a time when it was actually a lot of changes and reorganization happening. And for those listeners that come from the CPG industry and more specifically beverage and the confectionary industry will recall the Cadbury had two divisions. One was the Schweppes, the beverage division, and the other was the confectionary business. And the beverage business was spun off and then Kraft shortly after acquired Cadbury. And in that time I played some very key roles and in these deals where I work closely with advisors preparing comprehensive tax analysis, tax planning, and of course the execution on these very complex transactions. And although my role was very tax focused, it certainly was a great experience in working on this very complicated deal.
And then as far as joining NielsenIQ, well, quite candidly, I didn't know a whole lot about Nielsen at that time, but what I didn't know was after all the changes that I went through with Cadbury and Kraft, it was certainly time for a change for me. And luckily my managers who I work with for a number of years just happened to leave Kraft to join Nielsen. And it was them they had recruited me over so. I was told at that time, the people and the culture at Nielsen had a very positive vibe and it was an organization that had a lot to offer in terms of various project work and maybe just maybe an opportunity to work in other areas outside of tax. And so, very happy that I made the move at that time.
Devon: And you said something very interesting there, because when you started at Nielsen, you started in corporate tax and you actually quickly moved into more of a leadership role in financial planning and analysis for the Canadian organization and then actually moved into business development. So my question for you is moving from that corporate tax structure to more of the business development, was that exciting for you? What were kind of the key drivers behind that?
Richard: Well, my finance role, so leaving tax, I had the opportunity to move into financial planning and analysis role, which was at the time, something that I wasn't sure I wanted to do. But with the right opportunity and just the timing and everything, it was something I obviously ended up making a decision on to do, which obviously was a little bit different from corporate tax, but happy I made the move. And then while I was in that sort of financial planning role, I had the opportunity to work on various business development activities. But my manager at the time felt that it was perhaps a good opportunity to have a full-time role focusing exclusively around partnerships and acquisitions, divestitures, and other ad hoc projects. And in order for me to be effective in that role, you kind of have to do that full time versus doing it on a part-time basis.
So that role was a new role. It was a full-time role and something that I enjoy doing as part of finance, but then I as I moved into a full-time role, there was a lot of benefit from it and it allowed me to do a lot more in terms of entering into deals. And then of course, with partners and obviously through partnerships, made some really strong relationships. And of course, ended up meeting with Rob and here we are today with a partnership with NielsenIQ,
Devon: And we're so excited to have you here. So I've seen that transition as you talked about you moving from Kraft to NielsenIQ and tax, and then transitioning to more business development. And now your newest transition from Nielsen to Fobi. How will your addition to our team strengthen our relationship with NielsenIQ, do you find?
Richard: Yes, as far as strengthened the relationship, I mean, anytime you enter into a partnership for me personally, forging relationships where it's built on trust is so important. So I obviously have that already established after being with NielsenIQ for 10 years, which is now a big plus for us here at Fobi. And just to be able to then work now directly with NielsenIQ on some of these initiatives without having to learn, without having to start from scratch quite frankly. We can go immediately into, meetings with prospective clients. And obviously I understand Nielsen very well. And now that I know a lot more about what Fobi can offer, it just makes the go-to-market and accelerating on some of the opportunities that much quicker.
Devon: We look at companies such as Nielsen, they're really big consolidators and provide trends and insights back to brands and companies. But the key piece that they're really missing is real-time data and at Fobi we always talk about real-time data as being our core piece of something that we provide over everything, whether it be connection, insight, and engagement. So for our listeners, how do these types of businesses operate first of all? Just so they can understand a little bit more about IRI and Nielsen and these larger companies.
Richard: Yeah, I'll talk sort of at a high level. It's no secret that these companies are leveraging data to probably market and consumer insights to help brands and marketers make critical decisions about their businesses. These companies are third party, unbiased companies wanting to help really the CPG ecosystem. So there's not one particular client, or company, or retailer. They work across the board and that's the position that they put themselves in the marketplace so that they can really help various retailers and CPG manufacturers. They source the data in a number of ways, but it is anonymized and no PI is ever use. And they basically take that data, but they're sourcing it and licensing that to the brand manufacturers. So it's a very simple concept, but there's a lot of expectations from clients to get the most out of the information that they're subscribing to.
Devon: And who would their customers be? So we look at everyone wants data these days, but these are all obviously large companies with a lot of consolidated data. Are they looking at their customers being other large retailers or do small businesses also benefit from their services as well?
Richard: Yeah, I would say it's across the board. You're obviously helping some of the bigger CPG manufacturers because they have obviously the bigger budgets, but it's also helping the smaller, medium business enterprises, the companies that are a bit more niche, because they want to go toe to toe with some of the bigger guys. So everyone is looking for data, everyone star for data, and it's not just data itself, but obviously the right kind of information. And a lot of these companies have the right infrastructure, the technology to work with large, small, and medium enterprises.
Devon: So as the world moves towards more an automated data approach in these companies and their customers start building their own data infrastructures, what is the future look like for these larger companies?
Richard: I think the future is honestly is still very bright. All of these companies are starting to involve themselves by leveraging technology and finding new ways to capture data. However, these companies are not necessarily always wanting to build everything themselves and oftentimes they're partnering or acquiring companies to help them keep relevant or maintain some sort of competitive advantage. And this is where I think Fobi can really help and be a game changer for a lot of these companies, especially those that are willing to partner and or collaborate with versus trying to build stuff on their own.
Devon: And how specifically do you see Fobi helping them with this future that they're moving towards?
Richard: That's a great question. I mean, what I love about Fobi is it has a hardware and software component to it that can enable digital receipt capabilities, automated marketing, personalization, targeting, and activation, and of course in real time. Not to mention with the ability to understand every transaction that goes through each till, we can start to measure attribution and ROI and various marketing programs. And the hardware component is very important because there's still a lot of retailers today that don't use modern POS systems, which make POS integrations very difficult. So the Fobi device can connect to antiquated systems and provide the same capabilities as if they had more modern systems. So not only can we help retailers directly, but we can certainly help other vendors that are working with retailers by leveraging our technology. I think our technology represents an end-to-end solution capability. And so whatever the case may be, whatever the needs that some of these companies might have, we can play a role to help fill gaps across various processes within their product and solutions.
Devon: And as SVP of strategy and corporate development, I know you've just joined the team for a week now. Kind of what is your initial focus with the product or with the company moving forward?
Richard: My initial focus will be to start learning the business in a more intimate way where I can have a deeper understanding of the product, our solutions, on how we operate, the business strategies. And then from there, to help Rob and the management team to develop a corporate strategy where we can be more focused, where I can help prioritize, ensure where we're allocating the right resources. And last, but certainly not least to provide support on the M&A and partnership front. So it's, obviously going to be a very busy year and I'm really excited to get going here.
Devon: So, Richard, what are the key pieces that got you excited about Fobi before you joined the team? And then now that you've joined the team and got to see a little bit more under the hood and the things that we're working on?
Richard: What got me excited about Fobi is first and foremost, the company's leveraging technology and what we're not just data insights and or analytics company. Secondly, it's industry agnostic. Every brick and mortar retailer that have large chains or franchisees can certainly benefit from the technology because every retailer can utilize our digital capabilities and everything I mentioned earlier about personalization targeting and activation. And using a wallet pass platform where from a shopper perspective, it makes the whole shopping experience very seamless. Every retailer in every industry has that same objective. And to me, that's certainly exciting. And what I've seen so far, what's been impressive to me is just the amount of engagement that's going on right now. A lot of the projects that we're having with various pilots across various regions.
And for me, it's about trying to get up to speed quickly and really learning in terms of where we are in those stages. So I can quickly help to contribute, from based on my experience and my learning and really starting to see some of the project work and the pilots really convert to long-term contracts. So that's obviously something that we're working towards and we're really excited about.
Devon: And I'd like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule today. As you said, there's lots of planning and lots of strategy going into what you're doing and especially moving the Fobi team forward. I'm personally excited to have you join the team, and I'm sure our listeners will get to hear again from you very soon on the podcast in another episode. So again, thank you for joining me today, Richard.
Richard: Thanks for having me.
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