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March 25, 2019

5 questions with Caroline McGuckian, CEO at Meshh

In another life I’d Be… Fred the donkey

By CBR Staff Writer

Every Monday morning we fire five questions at a C-suite tech industry interviewee. Today we’re pleased to be joined by Meshh CEO Caroline McGuckian

Biggest Challenge for your Clients?

For our clients, measuring and understanding human behaviour is key to developing powerful insights that can help them get the most out of their experiential marketing and events. The role of data in this process is undisputed and uncontroversial. What is more challenging, and arguably more interesting, is making sense of that data – disentangling it and interpreting it so that it becomes meaningful.

Caroline McGuckian, CEO, Meshh

I find myself frequently having conversations with clients about what a given dataset means, and then how to apply that information for business advantage. This is not solely about telling a story from data – it’s also about making it impactful and applicable to their business. The data serves no purpose to the client if it can’t help to strengthen their own operations or develop a better understanding of their customers.

For example, Formula One, one of our clients, is heavily invested in the live fan experience. By monitoring footfall at some of their events, we were able to develop a better understanding of how visitors behave at the circuit. These insights led to F1 amending their event strategy, including changing the position of fan activation zones to maximise awareness and engagement at the events, as well as supporting the F1 Megastore with retail satellites around the circuits.

Technology that Excites you Most?

At the moment, I’m particularly intrigued by voice technology – and not just because I find it amusing when it struggles to work with my Northern Irish accent, or indeed my husband’s! The technology is at an interesting point where it’s beginning to climb the ‘uncanny valley’ to feeling like an ordinary part of our lives. This is where the human element comes into play – how voice technology will begin to pick up on emotive cues and subtleties in our language and voice tone, and adequately respond to those.

As the technology is adopted more widely, so it will also shift consumer expectations as we become more accustomed to the instant gratification of a digital assistant. This could have wide implications for a variety of businesses, from supermarkets delivering groceries to search engines fielding queries.

There are also complex regulatory issues – we recognise speech as a verbal contract in many instances and having devices all around us that can record and understand it could have legal consequences. Beyond this, there are all the privacy concerns that the technology surfaces. I’m intrigued to see if adoption will simply continue in much the same, relatively quiet vein that it has up to this point, or whether we’ll reach a moment where consumers suddenly come face-to-face with all these difficult issues.

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Greatest Success?

My greatest success is not a single event, but simply something that I feel has sustained my working life and taken it to new and exciting places. This is my continued passion for entrepreneurialism – in the widest sense of the term. This drive has taken me down a multitude of different paths where I’ve been able to lead interesting ventures, whether that’s as Managing Director at DigitasLBi Italy or Chief Interactive Officer at VCCP. Joining Meshh enabled me to take this passion further in a startup environment.

A lot of people want stability and structure. However, I thrive off this lack of structure and unpredictability that I get at Meshh. It keeps my working life dynamic and fluid and I have a lot of fun doings this way. There’s something rather Peter Pan about working at a startup – it’s sometimes very manic, and there’s the opportunity to get your fingers into a lot of pies. Ultimately, it’s about growing a business and developing individuals and teams, and for me that is incredibly satisfying.

Worst Failure?

Dyeing my hair red?

In all honesty, there are many. But one in particular stands out.

I once moved to a new country to take up a role. I knew within 2-3 weeks what the issues were and what needed to happen next with the business: we needed to make changes to the management team and the business as a whole. However, at the time I was keen to follow the textbook managerial methods, and this led to me spending too long trying to fix something that was already broken before getting to the main issue, by which time we had been set back by about a year. This experience taught me the value of listening to your intuition and acting decisively on it – the only thing you can’t do is nothing.

In Another Life I’d Be…

Fred the donkey at the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary. He’s actually my donkey – my husband and I sponsor him. He gets lots of carrots and lives in a field with all of his friends and he is clearly enjoying his twilight years. Fred always looks very happy.

See also: Five Questions with… Sonatype CTO Brian Fox



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