By: Natalie O'Laughlin on December 11th, 2012
CEO Spotlight: Alvin Bowles of Grab Media
Alvin Bowles, CEO of Grab Media has a track record of leading teams to develop innovative strategies and deliver exceptional results. With prior senior level positions at leading media brands BET, Time Warner, AOL Networks and Sony Music, Alvin shares his secrets on how he does it below.
Helios: Tell us about your passion at Grab.
Alvin Bowles: I feel fortunate to work in a business that’s growing quite significantly with the notion of technology and a digital ecosystem. When I arrived at Grab 2 years ago, we were a good company, but we weren’t crisp about our overall value proposition. We had a hard time emphasizing why were wonderful. Really that’s where my passion has been focused… understanding and developing our value proposition on why you should choose Grab. We’ve been very focused on assuring we show and emphasize the things we do well since then.
Helios: What’s the culture like at Grab Media?
Alvin Bowles: The culture is one of collaboration. We have 35 employees and we’re distributing half a billion videos per month. Therefore our delivery is contingent upon every business unit collaborating. All of our departments need to communicate to know what the left hand knows what the right hand is doing. We have to make sure at the end of the day to be constructive and celebratory of the things that are going well and not well.
Helios: How do you foster an innovative environment?
Alvin Bowles: For us, it is constant communication and being very much in tuned to where the marketplace is headed. Ensuring that we are staying on top of industry trends is something we do quite well. Video syndication, a couple of years ago, was difficult for our partners to understand. As a thought leader perspective, we ensure they understood why and how it’s important to stay on top of the trend. We keep our eye close to the street by participating in conferences, research and reading, etc. We develop a plan, touch base a quarter of the way of the plan, listen to what the market is doing and question ourselves. Are these 5 things still as important as they were when we identified them last month? We have to constantly evolve and have a strategy for our innovative ideas.
Helios: How does Grab Media stay aligned with organizational objectives?
Alvin Bowles: We stay aligned through communication and collaboration. We don’t want to have groups that are off doing their own thing. Everything we do is driven through our overall strategy and our activities are derivative of that strategy. It’s important for us all to move forward together. We do have a meeting-heavy organization, there are times when we all wish they could slow down, but we check, double check, and triple check the priorities we commit to. We are also a venture backed entity, so we have a fiduciary responsibility to make sure every dollar invested in Grab is being used the proper way.
We are a technology-enabled company, although at the end of the day our most valuable asset is our people. It’s important to have great technology, but without having great people administering the technology, it’s not going to work. We stay focused on feedback, goal-setting, and having a roadmap to evaluate the progress of our individual and overall strategy. Focusing on our people is the best way for us to achieve our overall company goals.
Helios: What’s been your biggest workforce planning obstacle to overcome?
Alvin Bowles: The biggest workforce obstacle for us is providing ongoing training and an overall perspective of where we are headed since our market moves so quickly. We understand that there is always new technology and tools that they need to be successful, but because we are small we don’t do a tremendous amount of training. So for us once we bring in the wonderful candidates, it’s our responsibility to make sure they understand their individual roadmaps which help them to understand where they fit in within the organization and what continuous improvement they need to be successful.