Up close and personal with Bill Marks: DPDK’s new Chief Technology Officer
On November 1st Bill Marks, DPDK’s newly appointed Chief Technology officer, joined our growing team of creative professionals. To celebrate the occasion, we thought it would be fun to get to know Bill a bit better. What better way to do this than with an exclusive interview?
Let’s start with a quick background first: Bill is a subject matter expert in IT, data and everything digital. He has over 20 years of experience in the technology industry and has worked for KNMP, one of our clients, the past 10 years. Before KNMP he fulfilled different technology roles at the Dutch Ministry of education, culture & science, ANWB and KPN.
Curious to know more about how Bill got to know us, what excites him about the digital industry and where he turns for inspiration? Then keep on reading!
First of all, congrats on your new job! We are happy to have you onboard. What led you to DPDK?
Thank you, very happy to be here! I learned about DPDK when I met Pim during a study more than 10 years ago. He sat next to me in class and showed me all kinds of cool DPDK creations on his laptop. We kept in touch and one day I asked him to pitch for Apotheek.nl. DPDK won the pitch by a landslide and the rest is history as they say.
Since 2012 DPDK has built and facelifted nearly all digital products and platforms from KNMP. I’ve always enjoyed bouncing ideas off Pim, Paul, Michael and other creatives at DPDK. So in my mind there is nothing cooler than jumping over the fence to you guys. Let’s go!
We can imagine that you are eager to start. What are you looking forward to the most in your new role?
I’m looking forward to meeting everybody and learning how DPDK operates on the inside. I’m especially keen to learn more about DPDK’s competitive edge. I like building teams and sustainable growth will be one of the goals I’ll be focusing on. Assessing what capabilities are already there and what needs to be improved on, is one of my favorite aspects of my work.
What do you expect to learn from the current tech team?
I’m more of a generalist than a specialist, so the team might need to brief me on the technical details now and then. I actually silently enjoy that because I learn a lot about people from how they talk about their work.
I’ve always been looking at technology from a client perspective, not an agency one. I’m excited to dive into the processes, framework choices and architectural philosophies of the team. I’m all ears. Well, I have two ears, but you know what I mean.
If you had to define your job in one word, what would it be?
Artichoke? Penguin? I’m sorry, one word can’t describe this cool position!
What do you find one of the most challenging aspects of working in the technology field?
Well, let me start by saying that I love the digital industry, from data to transformation and everything in between. But, of course there are challenges too. Solving real-life problems is one of them. Having the latest tech is all fine and dandy, but if it doesn’t solve real customer pains, what’s the point? Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the process.
Another challenge that pops into mind is the need for instant gratification. Everything has to be great and instantly available. End users are relentless in adopting your work or not. This keeps us on our toes, but at the same time makes it hard to always be brilliant. Take a step back regularly and look at the direction you’re going, speed alone doesn’t win a race.
What’s exciting you about the digital industry right now?
I particularly like data and predictive analysis because it feels like having your own crystal ball foreseeing customer behaviour. I also enjoy tailoring services and experiences through the customer experience.
What I find exciting are the discoveries you make in an endless stream of repetition. Every time you think it’s all been done before, it turns out it hasn’t. Somebody woke up one morning, uncovered something that wasn’t there before and wrote history. This to me is powerful and inspiring.
As you know, tech talents are hard to find. In your opinion, what does it take to attract and retain them?
As you said, finding and nurturing talent isn’t easy and requires constant work. I’d say the way others talk about your organization is a good measure for people wanting to come work for you. I also think that a motivation for someone to join is the prospect of adventure, guidance and growth. It’s about working with people that challenge you and help you excel.
DPDK definitely offers this and has the potential to take it up a notch. The “DPDK feeling” is something I experienced as a client and was one of my main drivers to join the company.
Where do you turn for inspiration?
I believe you can find inspiration everywhere. For me it can be videogames, old school sneakers, spielberg movies, logo design, pop culture, science fiction, comics, you name it. I also like to look and learn from (former) giants, not to copy but to get those sparks going and get inspired.
My 9 year old son is a big inspiration to me as well. I enjoy seeing the world through his eyes and learn more about what he is thinking and doing. The younger generation is the future after all. We also share a mutual love for playing Fortnite (even though he thinks I’m noob).
What do you enjoy most when you’re not working?
Spending time with my family, I’m always looking forward to playing board games with them. I also enjoy fast-paced sports like indoor soccer and squash and love listening to music, especially during a bike ride. I don’t make enough time to fiddle around with my drum-machine and tools from Ableton, but my dream is to one day make my own beats and produce a full blown track.
Last but not least, what are the secrets to your success in making positive connections with customers?
Spoiler alert, those secrets are actually not that secret. Simply being honest and saying what you do and doing what you say has always been a principle I follow for successful and transparent collaborations. Clients want greatness but without surprises.
The quality of your work is a criterion in itself, but clients also look at how others talk about you, either through stories and references or previous work you did for others. It’s a small world, your name and credibility will eventually catch up with you.
Finally, building a great partnership goes both ways. You need to be able to look at things from a client perspective and show that you understand their culture and pain points. At the end of the day, positive connections have everything to do with finding common ground and common language.