The best piece of advice that newly appointed COO at Infutor Data Solutions Kevin Dean received throughout his career came from John Healy, managing director at Deloitte Digital, as he left a role at Cendant -- "to never stop asking questions,” Dean said.
Healy recruited Dean to join Arnold Polk shortly after Equifax acquired Cendant’s data business.
It makes sense for a data expert who continually asks “why” and “what if” to cherish that piece of advice.
“I didn’t appreciate it at the time,” he said. “I thought it was a throwaway comment while in meetings, but then I realized what he was saying.”
When you’re a child you ask “why” a lot, and it could be annoying. As an adult, if someone is thoughtful about asking why, they can get to the root of the opportunity and gain better results.
“I don’t know how much it annoys people, but I do tend to ask why a lot,” he said.
Dean has more than 30 years of data marketing and information services experience. Before joining Infutor in July he worked as president and general manager of Experian Marketing Services’ targeting business. He spent 10 years in executive roles at Equifax and is on the board of several organizations, such as the IAB Data Center of Excellence, Twenty-Ten Analytics, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation -- Illinois Chapter (JDRF).
Data & Programmatic Insider: How do you do it all?
Kevin Dean: When you’re passionate about things you really believe in, it’s amazing how much time you can find.
I have a son, who about five years ago wasn’t feeling well and it turned out to be Type 1 Diabetes. My family and I decided to something about it. We became more engaged with the foundation and I deeply enjoy being on the board of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Now he’s doing quite well. He just graduated from college and is looking for his first job.
DPI: You also spent five years at Vitamix?
Dean: You’re asking me to go way back. Just out of college, I assisted the advertising and marketing department to quantify and build out ROI calculations for various marketing and advertising programs. It was a lot of direct mail and trade show ROI measures, and ultimately it led into the role of media manager, which meant building the marketing programs based on those analyses.
DPI: Go back a little further. What was your career choice in grade school?
Dean: I had two dreams. I wanted to be a major league baseball player, but I was too slow and too short. I also love history and archeology. So I was going to be a history professor.
DPI: Why did you change your decision?
Dean: When you enter college and realize you need to support yourself because mom and dad’s checkbook closes on you, you start looking at the reality of what you can do. I found early on that I had a strong affinity for math. I always did well in math courses.
The first job at Vitamix really dipped my toe into the business world, but it was a math-based job, though my college degree was in history. I really liked the data-driven marketing industry. It was fact-based and you could test hypotheses.
DPI: You joined Infutor during a pandemic and likely spend a lot of time video-conferencing with clients. What have you learned about them you might not have otherwise had the chance to know?
Dean: Most video conferences occur with their camera on. It feels like an opportunity to get to know them on a different level. Sometimes you will see sports memorability or musical instruments in the background and they really want to talk about it. It drives a deeper connection that you might not otherwise have. The pandemic is a shared experience and connecting with people on this level is quite interesting.
DPI: Your camera is on and I can see a pennant in the background. Are you still a huge baseball fan?
Dean: Yes, I’m a huge Cleveland Indians fan. I grew up in Ohio and suffered through losing season after losing season.
DPI: What is your most prized possession when it comes to sports memorabilia?
Dean: I have two. I have a Joe DiMaggio and a Mickey Mantle baseball.
DPI: What are your goals for the year?
Dean: For the first 60 to 90 days, you always want to learn more about the culture and the unwritten rules of how the business operates. As we get through December and into the next year, I want the business to have a fundamental path to identity resolution for brands. It’s about putting processes into action.
Identity resolution will become more relevant to advertisers for how the industry resolves the challenge of become more relevant to brands as they connect with consumers. In my prior roles I helped companies connect first-party data together with third-party assets. Marketers are demanding better fidelity in identity graphs. That’s what we do at Infutor.