SOCAP International

SOCAP Spotlight: Darren Pleasance of Google

The Path to Success

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Darren Pleasance leads Google’s Global Customer Acquisitions team, which is focused on helping businesses of all size discover the power of Google’s online advertising services, including Google Search, Google Display Network and YouTube. He was a keynote speaker at SOCAP’s 2015 Annual Conference, where he spoke about emerging trends that will shape the business landscape over the coming years. We also got him to talk a bit about how he got to where he is today.

Pleasance_2What are some of the major trends you are noticing in business and customer care?
We are living in an always-connected
world. Everyone has smartphones
and tablets, so it’s becoming
more and more important to be
able to respond in real time and on
a global scale.

What leadership skills do people need to be successful in business?
Being able to promote collaboration across a company is imperative, since true success requires teams such as marketing, sales and engineering to all work together to build a business and deliver world-class capabilities.

Can you discuss the impact of technology on the customer care industry? 
The biggest impact technology has had is on customer expectations. Millions of consumers expect to have constant, real time access to information and customer support. Technology is extremely important because new platforms and technologies can help companies predict potential problems and be proactive in solving customer problems, often before the customer even realizes there is an issue.

What advice helped you get to where you are in your career?
Two things. The first is to invest in authentic relationships. Go find people that you are inspired by, not just someone who can help you out in the immediate future. Then invest to get to know and learn from them, and to contribute back to them in helpful ways.

The second is to pursue a career path that you’re truly interested in and inspired by. If you love what you do, you’ll do it a lot, and end up doing it well. Too many people pursue paths purely for the sake of making money, and often end up burned out and unhappy.

Can you tell us a little bit about your career path?
I wouldn’t have been able to predict my career at all. I love aviation, so I started off as a pilot and flew for a private equity firm. That job inspired me to enter the business world, and I became an analyst for the firm.

I later went to business school and planned on staying in the private equity realm, but ended up interested in management consulting and joined McKinsey, where I stayed for 14 years. The skills I built at McKinsey ended being exactly what Google was looking for, and I found myself with the opportunity to lead a global team, building on all the skills I’d developed at McKinsey over the prior decade.