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7 Questions with Yencken
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7 Questions with Yencken
Name: Simon Yencken
Current title: Founder & CEO
Current organisation: Fanplayr Inc
Simon Yencken has had a lengthy career as an entrepreneur, investor and corporate executive
Currently, he is CEO and co-founder of Fanplayr. Fanplayr's mission is to make ‘behavioral data
actionable’. Its breakthrough approach consists in analyzing site traffic and providing intelligence
and real time segmentation to improve and personalize every interaction with users. Fanplayr’s
patent pending ‘Segmentation as a Service’ provides a powerful real-time segmentation engine
across the enterprise to multiple data bases & applications. The Fanplayr Service is a cloudbased
platform that combines AI & machine-learning to generate significant
uplifts to revenue by delivering real-time personalization to visitors. Fanplayr has hundreds of
enterprise customers globally in many different languages and currencies
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Time management is always important. Planning your own time, and the necessary interactions with your executive team, over the relevant period is critical. Concentrating on planned activities and therefore performing necessary tasks in the most timely way is key, as distinct from letting other people tell you what is 'urgent' such as for example by being consumed by email.
Overall I would say the most important thing as CEO is to ensure that your executive team is aligned around a commonly held or accepted mission and vision. Then putting in place a suitable communication and collaboration framework to ensure that the business is managed in the most optimal way in order to achieve the desired objectives.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
My university degrees were Science and Law. I went into the legal business initially as law seemed a ready made career. I went to one interview and was offered a job at the firm now known as Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF). I was made up as a partner at age 28, which was then the youngest age for a partner in the firm's history. I stayed at HSF for 10 years as a partner until I was offered a job as General Counsel of Reuters, by the CEO. After some years as GC, Company Secretary and a member of the Executive Committee, I requested an opportunity to move into the business and became MD of Reuters Financial Enterprise Systems, and COO of Tibco Finance, and Board Member of Tibco Software Inc. After the very successful IPO of Tibco I cofounded NextSet Software which was acquired by Razor Risk Ltd, which was in turn acquired by TMX (Canadian Stock Exchange).
I was an early investor in Aconex and spent 10 years as a Board member and 3 as chairman. Aconex was IPo'd on the ASX and acquired by Oracle 2 years ago.
I co founded Fanplayr where I am CEO to bring our expertise in ecommerce and analytics from the FinTech world to the retail ecommerce world.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Early morning exercise, usually swimming at Stanford Masters, or running. Early morning meetings with Europe, midday meetings with US colleagues, late afternoon meetings with APAC. During the day many Slack calls, Zoom calls, phone calls, chat and email.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Set up the right framework of responsibilities , measurement and accountability to allow your team to grow and perform well. Ensure there are good opportunities to get the team together, preferably in person, for alignment and collaboration.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore.
"Entering the mainstream market is an act of burglary, of breaking and entering, of deception, and often even of stealth"
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Aim to hire and nurture people who you feel could be future leaders. Try to find and hire people who you think are 'better than yourself'!
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
At Aconex, which started in Melbourne Australia, international expansion happened by 'planting flags' in geographies where there was an opportunity. Thereafter a focus on building the leading global company in construction industry collaboration ultimately led to the very successful sale to Oracle.