Sean Lyons, Havas Worldwide: DMN 2014 40 Under 40 Award winner

Sean Lyons
Global Chief Digital Officer, Havas Worldwide

Winning ways: If there’s one brand slogan that applies to Lyons’ career it’s “Just do it.” While working at R/GA, Lyons headed the Nike account and led the development of global platforms including NikeStore, Nike+, and Nike iD. Over the past year Lyons led a brand transformation for Havas client Keurig that included overhauling Keurig’s e-commerce site, which generates millions in sales each year. Now Lyons’ team is helping Keurig to redesign its corporate headquarters, as well as conceive new possibilities for the Keurig brewer.

Defining moment: “It was being able to shift from a technology role into a business role. I was managing the technology aspects of the Nike app, and I was given the opportunity to manage the entire account. [It was] someone having the trust in me and the faith in me to not only handle the whole technology side of the business, but then [also] be able to oversee the larger relationship.”

Words to live by: “You have to have empathy—empathy for clients, people who work for you, people you work for, the consumer.”

Head swivel: “For us, it’s remembering how we use our phones every day for everything from booking a car to buying groceries, doing email, calling family, video conferencing—everything under the sun. Those little activities are how we can engage with consumers. But that mobile device is so personal that it’s not easy to get in front of them with messages…. It makes us much more careful and considerate of how we’re going to engage consumers on mobile beyond just interrupting them with an advertisement model.”

Good advice: “Listen a lot, be curious, and ask to get involved—don’t wait for someone to ask you.”

First job: “I was a dishwasher at a pizza restaurant when I was 13. Just grit and determination—that’s definitely what I learned from that.”

On your nightstand: “One book that stuck with me…is Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson. The interesting thing about that book is that it’s about innovation and where individual ideas come from. It’s not what you’d expect in terms of having that one inventor come up with an idea in his or her workshop. It’s actually more about the environment that you need to create for good ideas to flourish. It’s really important for any agency. You need to think about the environment that you set up—the physical environment, the emotional environment, how people work together, what things you expose them to. And that environment, and obviously a larger culture, has a huge impact on where those great ideas come from.”

Favorite mobile app: “It’s probably a tie between Uber—its benefits are enormously obvious living in New York City. It’s incredibly useful and it’s also extremely relevant. I live in an apartment in Brooklyn where the train service was just cancelled for five weeks for repairs… I get an email from [Uber] two days before offering two free transfers to the next closest station. That’s amazing. They know exactly where I live because I’ve taken rides there. They’ve given me something that I needed and wanted. In addition to that, the app is just super simple in terms of how it works—not trying to overcomplicate it. I’d say it’s that or Google Now, which is also an incredible service on your Android phone. It’s predictive, so it learns over time where you work, where you live, and gives you the best transportation options. If you buy something it will track that package for you automatically. If you’re taking a flight, it’ll track that flight. It’s one of those things where you don’t have to ask for help, it’s just starting to learn more about you and it provides more assistance. Some people get scared by that, but I find it kind of useful.

Click or tap here to read the stories behind the successes of the other Direct Marketing News 2014 40 Under 40 winners. 

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