What I've Learnt: Daniel Clayman, VP of Northern Europe at Xandr

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo
Daniel Clayman, Xandr

Xandr helps clients buy and sell consumer-centric digital advertising. The AT&T division provides data insights, premium content, powerful technology, and direct-to-consumer distribution to make advertising more effective.

Daniel Clayman joined the organisation while it was known as AppNexus in 2012, becoming VP, Northern Europe in 2018. Before AppNexus, Daniel held a number of senior roles at Jellyfish.

We heard from Daniel about the things his career has taught him.

Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?

Every morning starts with a fixed routine of nappy changing, nursery drop-off and caffeine inhalation. It’s a well-rehearsed routine; the caffeine in particular helps ease me into the day. 

What's been your luckiest break?

The 2008 Economic crash (see below)... 

What's your best failure?

My best failure is a combination of this question and the one before. Upon graduating from the University of Hull in 2008 where I earned a degree in Marketing and Economics, I applied for a number of graduate positions in finance roles in the City.

At this time, most graduate schemes were cut due to the recession and I didn’t get on any. Before I knew it, I was back at my bar job at the local golf club until a good friend of mine who worked at Jellyfish, a digital marketing company in London, suggested I apply for an open role there. I did and I got the job; the rest is history! 

What is the best investment you've ever made, either financial or time?

Financially, my best investment would be the Rockit baby portable baby rocker. For any new parents, this will change your life - it uses a gentle rocking movement to soothe your baby and certainly comes highly recommended from me and my wife!

However, my best investment would be the time I spent onboarding at AppNexus (now Xandr) in 2012. It didn’t go brilliantly the first time around and there were a few moments where I had to decide whether moving to AdTech was the right choice for me. I stuck with it, knuckled down and spent time learning.

I’m glad I did, because I now have a great career in an industry I find fascinating. 

How would you describe your work/life balance?

I have two young children (two years and six months old), so It’s important for me to have balance. Xandr has always promoted this through various policies such as flexibility around working from home, and working closely with returning parents to ensure they are empowered to take the time needed at home with their children. 

Which book would you recommend others to read and why?

Ben Horowitz, 'The Hard Thing About Hard Things'. It actually helped me through my onboarding at Xandr!

What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

To embrace technical or complex challenges; play to your strengths and your weaknesses will naturally improve.

It’s important to remember you can’t be everything to everyone and it doesn’t mean failure if you admit you don’t know something or need time to learn or develop a particular skill. 

Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?

From a professional perspective, I’ve worked with some really inspiring people in my career. One man in particular stands out, and that's Rob Pierre, CEO at Jellyfish. 

Rob taught me to never let age be a barrier to professional development. Through him and his broader management team, I learnt how to grow and develop talent, the importance of strong leadership as well as how to be a good leader myself. Rob and his team nurtured a great culture at Jellyfish which was felt by everyone across the business. I look back with fond memories of my time there.  

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

My wingspan is wider than Michael Phelps. I carry zero other physical attribute similarities though!

What does success look like to you?

In the same way I learnt a lot from the management team at Jellyfish when I started my career, success for me comes from watching individuals realise their full potential.

Reflecting regularly is really important for this, not only to inform strategic direction but to relive the accomplishments of the teams throughout the year.

We work in a fast-paced environment, one that is growing significantly, so capturing the moments of success that develop both our business and our teams is something that not many businesses do too often, but is something we should all double down on.