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IAB Rising Stars Technology

IAB SEA + India: What makes a rising star?

November 29, 2019 | 6 min read

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) latest Future of Jobs Report cites creativity, originality and initiative as well as emotional intelligence and leadership as key emerging skills for the Asia-Pacific workforce. The WEF’s 2019 global competitiveness report also ranked Singapore as the most competitive economy in the world, with the Asia-Pacific region, in general, is described as a beacon for competitiveness.


IAB SEA + India: What makes a rising star?

To understand how talented members of our industry are able to keep up with the demands of such a competitive region, we reached out to our special pool of talents from the IAB SEA+India rising stars initiative.

In partnership with the Drum, the IAB SEA+India rising stars initiative identifies the brightest talent in our industry and shines a spotlight on them and their career progress so far. Being an IAB SEA+India rising star has definitely had its own halo effect, according to the stars themselves. After carefully assessing more than 50 nominations submitted, senior experts from IAB SEA+India’s Programmatic Committee selected eight who have gone above and beyond their roles to contribute to the greater understanding of programmatic outside of their purview and blaze the programmatic trail.

They reported having access to a larger networking pool, being recognised at industry events and greater exposure within their companies. Over the last 12 months, with the increased network, expanded scope and confidence, the rising stars generally report having a more holistic view of the digital advertising industry which helps them do their jobs better.

Apart from technical expertise and analytical skills which are integral to their success in the advertising and programmatic space, we wanted to know what else makes them stand out as rising stars in a highly competitive industry? The survey points to interesting insights on aspects and skills that are often overlooked by many, but are of crucial importance to furthering your progress.


Time management is one of the key skills in an industry where deadlines are ticking over your head by the minute. Prioritising tasks and workload is integral to handling the multiple pressures of being in the programmatic space. It is important to ensure effective stakeholder management and to provide complete visibility to all parties involved in potential timelines and delays. Understanding of one’s own ability and the need to bring in external skills when required will ensure effective time management. Being able to say no is a necessary aspect of time management. Our stars also strongly advocate writing down and tracking all workstreams effectively to declutter the workflow.


Creativity is what drives innovations in areas unexplored in any industry. Advertising and the programmatic space are no different. The best and brightest ideas from our rising stars are focused on changing or improving the status quo of the industry. A number of them believe that stronger and more creative training will drive stronger teams and introduce better ways of working. They are usually proud of the innovative approaches to larger projects that affect different aspects of the business.

Cristina Viscasillas believes that the challenge of an evolving environment is also a great opportunity, saying, ”Since moving to Singapore, I found that the most important soft skill to work on is adaptability. Being exposed to new roles, teams, clients and cultures has allowed me to grow in a very invaluable way”.


Many value the importance of perseverance on big projects, by conducting thorough research prior to pitching or presenting big propositions. Having a clear vision of what they want to pitch, asking the right questions and asking for feedback are critical to self-awareness and self-improvement. Some of our stars stress upon keeping all communication channels clear between all teams and stakeholders involved.

All of the IAB rising stars recognised that collaboration is the key to driving success. They value the importance of building trust within teams in order to collaborate, co-operate and work towards one goal. Information sharing and clear communication helps in effective collaboration and driving scalable outcomes.

The growing field of advertising, especially digital, is rife with challenges in many forms. While managing people and expectations are crucial, changing KPIs and an ever-evolving environment seem to be the greatest challenge according to our rising stars. They believe that being aware of the challenges and ensuring smooth communication along with expectation management are key drivers to solving problems.

Yuani Chen, one of the first Rising Stars emphasises the importance of communication as a soft skill, saying “Programmatic is a world filled with acronyms and jargon that is ever-changing and expanding. As professionals in this space, we need to distill the information and provide a clear value proposition to clients. While data fuels that programmatic world, it is the ability to communicate effectively with clients that will make the difference.”


Nothing seems like the last word on success like soft skills to make it big in an industry that has been growing exponentially. The rising stars rightly pointed to some of the important qualities that help them stand out with self-awareness as the foundation. In a global playing field, it is necessary to understand softer aspects of business such as cultural nuances and handling pressure well. Managing people - be they clients, teammates or partners - and their expectations are key to success even when you are not in a managerial position. Finally, the art of storytelling and effective communication definitely give you that extra edge over others in a competitive field. After all, everyone loves a good story!

This article was written by IAB SEA+India Programmatic Committee Members:

  • John Thankamony, Head of Programmatic Strategy CtrlShift
  • Josh Quek, General Manager, Singapore, Xaxis
  • Pritika Hemmady, Sales Director, Asia, Sojern
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