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An interview with our new Head of Digital

By Janica Xuereb

Interview: We sat down with our newly promoted Head of Digital here at Keen, Ricky Bugeja, to get inside know-how on all things social in a time of social distancing, and how he paved his path in a dynamic digital world.

So let’s start from the beginning, how did you get here?

I started at Keen as a social media manager. It was quite an interesting ride to get here, to be honest. I studied communications at the University of Malta and got my degree in 2011 and my honours in 2012. After graduation, I had the opportunity to work with a news outlet which was wonderful. However, Gozo was calling me home, so I decided to take on whatever job was available that would get me back on the island. After three years of selling concrete blocks later, they realised I had something more to give, and I was promoted to Sales and Marketing Manager.

I always worked hard and aimed at getting into social media, and in 2018 I decided to focus more on digital marketing and improving my skills. I did the Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing, and courses from the Facebook blueprint programme and Google partner programme in order to really finesse my digital marketing skills.

This led to a great opportunity at Keen as a Social Media Manager and with a lot of hard work and determination. Three years and many exciting projects later, I was recently promoted to Head of Digital.

Congratulations on the promotion! How do you feel your role at Keen has changed?

I guess I am now in a position where I have taken over a more strategic role in client management. What that means for me, in the day to day, is moving more away from just content creation, towards an overarching approach with regards to digital media. I am looking at strategy with an integrated approach towards the whole marketing campaign, looking at opportunities both on and offline. Digital needs to work hand in hand with traditional media to succeed holistically. Our goal is always effective communication between the client and their customer and to improve on that relationship. Ultimately we are able to do that by finding the best channels of communication.

Initially one of the main flaws in the process was that social media was coming into the discussion far too late. The strategy was being set up without the full picture being seen, and without the latest know-how and tools. So then Digital media would have to fit into an already set up strategy, instead of shaping the strategy itself. I am involved in a very early stage, I am able to see what client needs digitally, see any flaws within the expectations and budgets and provide a better overall view, in order to provide a better overall service and greater results.

This new role also allows me to be more exploratory, research more, thoroughly understand the clients’ needs and find a solution that is tailored to them. Whether that may be through social channels, paid or organic content, Google, YouTube, virality, or anything else relevant to them. I am always on the lookout for the next new digital trend and the next relevant digital move.

Did you always know you wanted to get into Social Media?

In my eyes, social media has always been the cool part of marketing. I grew up without social media, I saw the internet come into society and all of these social channels coming into bloom, and I was in awe of this concept. At the time, I could only see benefits, a great new way of communication. It was the future, a new era, new tools to understand and learn and discover. However, now I can see both sides of the coin.

These days social media is very cluttered, but what that means is that you really need to know how to close out all the noise and focus on what makes sense to you or your brand. Initially, it created a level play field for all types of businesses, allowing smaller businesses to get a whole new world of exposure. Things have changed of course, but I still really believe it is such a wonderful medium for small businesses to get a chance to be seen and provide opportunities that they would otherwise not have been able to afford through traditional media. Nothing in the history of media has ever been as effective and as targeted and cost-effective.

What drives your success?

My motivation comes from the people around me. When you have a team that supports you and perceives you as an expert in your field, it is easy to feel recognised. At Keen, what I say is given weight, which is not to say that other colleagues don’t get the opportunity to provide their ideas, since collaboration here is always key. However, as Head of Digital, I got the opportunity to push boundaries within the digital industry of the agency, such as setting up a new branch of the business that focuses more upon consultancy and training. This allows us to not only provide the client with but actually take them on the digital marketing journey and offer an educational experience that they can take and continue to apply to their business, providing a transformational experience.

When a campaign does super well, and we get results that are sky-high, that’s an amazing feeling as well of course and that just brings out hunger for the next campaign. But when you have met a client and you are able to provide them with the tools to contribute to their own digital success, and they turn around and say ‘thank you’, that is always, not just motivational, but rewarding.

My own professional success comes in the form of balance. The traditional goals do not really interest me, I am all about having balance, being happy, and doing the best work you can.

How does your role support company growth?

I feel like I am bringing something to the table that wasn’t there before. Together, as a team, we are exploring new avenues, new services, putting together elements such as the training programmes, that make the agency stand out with its unique aspects.

Everyone’s an expert in their own fields, everyone has their own niche and yet teamwork is extremely important, and you can’t have good teamwork without great communication. Intercompany communication is everything, especially when it comes to management. We have a wonderfully organised project manager and brilliant account managers that make sure to keep everyone briefed and on their toes, ready to launch into a new project.

It’s great to have a company culture that’s flexible, adaptable, dynamic, and young at heart. That creates an environment where growth is encouraged and supported. At the end of the day, not everything can be bought or measured and a company is so much more than facts and figures.

From all of us at Keen, we congratulate Ricky on his appointment as Head of Digital. We truly appreciate his wonderful work ethic and determination – ‘THANK YOU and keep it up!’