Meet Our Global Chief Operating Officer: A Journey from a Young Sports Enthusiast to a Marketing Maven
Meet the Herd brings you closer to brilliant minds behind our global, award-winning social media and influencer marketing agency. In this Goat exclusive, we sat down with Dafydd Woodward, Chief Operating Officer at The Goat Agency.
From an early fascination with sports, to now making up part of the senior leadership team at Goat, he shares his career journey and tips with us.
1. Who are you?
I’m Dafydd, I’m the Global Chief Operating Officer here at Goat.
I’ve been in the role since the acquisition. Previously, I established and grew what was INCA, the influencer business within GroupM, over the last five years. Following the merger of both companies, I moved into the COO role at Goat.
2. What does a day in the life look like for a Chief Operating Officer?
As COO, no two days are ever the same. I oversee the operational side of the business, as well as working closely with the rest of the Executive team to set and deliver the strategic direction of the business. I lead a great team of functional leads responsible for New Solution Development, Technology, People, Business Excellence, Platform Partnerships, Legal and Commercial aspects of the business.
On a day-to-day basis, I focus on ensuring that each of these functions has a clear set of objectives and I support them in ensuring they have the resources, knowledge and guidance to deliver these to the highest standard.
Overall, our goal as a team is: To ensure that Goat leads the creator industry by developing innovative solutions and excellent processes, delivered by world class practitioners.
3. Have you got any tips for anyone that wants to get into this industry?
My tips for people that want to get into the industry would really be:
Try to understand what part of the industry, because it’s massive, right?
So when we say the industry, do we mean advertising, do we mean marketing, do we mean PR? You need to think: What really interests people because you can go into it in loads of different ways. There’s a massive focus on the creative side of things. So if you have a creative background, career, personality, then marketing is an unbelievable industry to get into.
On the other hand, if you’re more data driven, you can get into the industry from that side of things.
I would say that the marketing, or communications industry more broadly, can suit anyone from any background, which is great, but ultimately it’s about understanding what part of the industry you think you might fit best into, and then really understand where those opportunities might lie.
Because if you are from a data science or mathematical background, the development of AI (artificial intelligence) at the moment is huge for the advertising industry.
It’s really about understanding what your strengths are, where you might fit best, and then look at different types of opportunities, across the industry to suit your own kind of interest and your needs as well.
4. So why did you choose this industry?
It really was when I did an MBA, over about ten years ago now. Marketing was an area that I found really interesting but hadn’t really worked in it in the past.
I didn’t go straight into advertising, but it was something that I enjoyed because it brings together all kinds of different disciplines.
Fast forward three years, I’d finished the MBA and then moved into the advertising industry.. Before starting at GroupM, my background was in transformation and strategic consultancy, so my goal was to really take that skillset into advertising.
For me it was about focusing. I knew that I wanted to move into marketing and advertising in some way, shape or form, it was just finding the right opportunity to take the skills that I’ve built up and being able to apply them. Fortunately, I found a role that kind of married these skills. That’s really how I got into it.
5. If you weren’t in this industry, what do you think you’d be doing?
If I were to swap the marketing lifestyle for anything, what would it be?
I’d be a chef…Why a Chef?
I love cooking, although some mean spirited people would say I love eating. Anyhow, I find it really relaxing.
I love the different elements that come into it. There’s a little bit of creativity that goes into it.You have to really understand the chemistry and physics around it. And everything is always slightly different every time you do it. Cooking is one of my great hobbies, and passions as well.
So if there’s anything that I could do professionally, it would be that – or golfing..
6. What has been your biggest achievement in the workplace and out of the workplace?
I take enormous pride from what we did growing the INCA business from within GroupM, which was challenging, to be able to do that. To almost come up with a kernel of an idea that you think might be good, getting backing from senior people to go ahead and actually see it start to grow.
And then within the space of four or five years, take it from literally an idea to a business across 34 markets within GroupM and WPP. That was just an enormous sense of pride, but also not so much due to the business results, but more because of the people that you take on that journey as well.
Seeing the passion that other people have for what you’re building is something that I’ve taken huge pride in.
Outside of work, I’ve taken a very non-conventional route through life as well as my career. Once I finished university, I went traveling. I spent five years away in Hong Kong and Beijing and experienced all the great things that those cultures had to offer, then came back and did an MBA. Then I worked in consultancy, and then moved into the advertising industry.
So in terms of achievements, having all picked up all these bits of information and then seeing it all come together over the last of four or five years within GroupM, that’s the achievement looking back on it all.
7. Does anyone inspire you?
I think people in general, certainly me, get inspiration from lots of different places.
The usual people that you would associate with being inspirational leaders are people like Steve Jobs or Richard Branson. Undoubtedly they are, but for me, it’s more when I see friends really set themselves a goal and achieve that goal, that really inspires me.
For example, setting up a small business, striving for success and other things like that give me inspiration because it’s a lot more personal. You can also feel yourself being spurred on by them as well.
I also get inspiration from seeing people overcome adversity, whether that’s within their career, or outside their career, within their personal lives as well.
I believe the most inspiration I get is, for instance, seeing somebody come into the business in a fairly junior position, but you see leadership qualities in them. And then they get the opportunity to unleash those qualities. People often conflate leadership and seniority. But for me, leadership really can be anywhere and everywhere, regardless of how experienced you are, how old you are, what position you hold in the company. Seeing people have the potential and fulfill their potential, that inspires me.
8. Do you have a favorite Influencer/Content Creator?
My favorite at the moment is Lagomchef. A great content creator, you know, almost like a TikTok version of Jamie Oliver.
This guy is just bare bones, you’re in his kitchen, he just got out of bed and he’s creating something. And again, like two, three minute videos, really funny and you actually learn a lot from it, and they are really engaging.
I think as a content creator, he really tapped into that, bite sized, no pun intended, genre of content that gets you really engaged. Just a little snippet of entertainment when you’re on the tube or if you’re on your way to work or something.
9. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I can’t remember a time when I thought I definitely wanted to be this, or I want to be that. When I was younger I was just absolutely obsessed with sport so probably something in that arena.
Growing up though, my uncle was a massive entrepreneur and he inspired me in the business side of things. So maybe a sports agent would have suited me. I remember when Jerry Maguire came out thinking that was pretty cool. But you know, the dream lives on. Could still happen, right?