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How to Turn Your Passion Into Career With Julian Zilberbrand of ViacomCBS

Every job is a learning opportunity. Even if you are not earning enough, the experience you’ll gain will pay off eventually.

Dreams come true, and even if it’s hard to believe, you can earn money and be in love with your job. But, doing what they are passionate about for many people means leaving their comfort zone and exposing themselves to failure. The universal formula for success doesn’t exist, but failure is always part of the equation. It may shake your confidence and force you to take a couple of steps back, but once you process it, you’ll realize how far you’ve come as an individual and professional. Moreover, it will set you up for new wins and lead you to achieve greater goals.

Our recent guest on our Identity Revolution podcast episode is Julian Zilberbrand, EVP Advanced Media at ViacomCBS. His career path was pretty bumpy, but he continued walking.

So, keep on reading to learn more about a boy who was in love with television and today works at one of the leading media corporations in the world.

Julian Zilberbrand’s Inspiring Career Path

Julian Zilberbrand is an example of how hard work, devotion, and a healthy degree of confidence lead to success. His family immigrated from the Soviet Union and lived in Massachusetts for a couple of years. Then, they moved to Brooklyn, New York, where Julian grew up and went to college.

So, once he finished college, Julian ran into a friend who worked at MTV. And that’s the beginning of this incredible story.

“She asked, ‘Hey, what are you doing?’ I said, ‘I’m trying to pay rent.’ She said, ‘Well, I work at MTV. Would you like a gig?’ I said, ‘Yeah, that sounds great. I’ll take it.’ So she was very kind, very sweet. I’ll never forget that act of kindness. She brought me aboard. I spent about a year at MTV as a production assistant on the website.”

From MTV to DoubleClick

After a while, Julian realized he didn’t want to work on the website; his dream was to work on TV. The reason he wanted it was because of his education. He studied TV and radio production, so he aspired to work in the news, but behind the cameras.

“So I went to leadership, and I said, ‘Hey, I’d really like to go into the TV side.’ And they offered me a pay cut to do it.”

The option MTV’s leadership offered to Julian was a deal-breaker, so he knew it was time for them to go separate ways. However, while working on the website, Julian learned HTML, which was the prerequisite for getting the next job he was interviewed for.

“So I went and interviewed at DoubleClick, had a good interview there, joined DoubleClick as a trafficker, and spent some time trafficking.

[…] And so, after some time trafficking and picking it up and getting comfortable with it and being reasonably good at it, I got promoted to some other role. Then DoubleClick moved its entire operation to Colorado. And so this is, I guess, 2001, I decided I did not want to move to Colorado because that’s not New York and I didn’t want to live in not New York.”

Working at an Agency

When he left DoubleClick, Julian spent two years working at Seismic.

“Seismic is the name today. The name 20 years ago was IBlaster, which is still in my mind, the most unintentionally hilarious name of any company I’ve ever worked at.

I still get a kick out of it, but I spent two years there, a great experience. Learning, honing my client service skills, if you will. And my responsibility was basically the agent, and I client serviced the entire agency operation.

[..] There were days where I worked 24 to 36 hours in a row and things like that, but again, still really cool experiences.”

The next company he worked at was Mediavest.

“I got a call from somebody who’s a friend of mine now, Adam Gerber. And he said, ‘Hey, we’re hiring at Mediavest. Why don’t you come over and interview?’ I interviewed over there to oversee a large CPG, the largest CPG at the time, who was a client.”

Julian got hired, and his responsibility was to oversee ad ops for Mediavest. But soon after, he transitioned to some leadership roles.

“My career started to move aggressively from there. I joined as a director from there, a couple of years into it. I was a vice president. A few years later, I was a senior vice president and so on, and I spent about a little under eight years maybe at Mediavest, and then Starcom Mediavest group.”

The Next Stop – Zenith and Then Viacom

Julian spent two and a half years at Zenith, and up until this day, it’s one of his favorite places to have worked.

“That’s a family org and a lot of the people that I worked with, they’re still there because it’s a great place to work. I spent two really quality years there and made a lot of good friends.”

Finally, he got an offer for Viacom he couldn’t refuse.

“It was a full circle. I interned at CBS in college. And then I worked at MTV as my first quote, an unquote corporate job, and then coming full circle, coming back to Viacom.

Some of the people that I had worked with 15 years prior were actually still here, and that’s a testament to Viacom and ViacomCBS as a whole, is that people come here, they work here, and they stay here because it’s a great environment and a great place to work. And I’ve been here ever since, and it’s been just a great experience for me.”

Demystifying the EVP Advanced Media Role

The merger of CBS Corporation and Viacom was completed on December 4, 2019. So, it’s one company now, called ViacomCBS. Julian’s role in the company is EVP Advanced Media.

“What I’m doing now is head up our addressable practice, specifically business development for addressable, as well as enablement and operationalizing it and so on.

[…] I also oversee reporting insights and analytics products that we call In View. That’s one of my pet projects. It’s really kind of our first foray into providing clients easy access to information, and most importantly, trying to drive value for them.

[…] And then I also oversee customer identity, specifically centralization of customer identity for org.

And then lastly, I oversee the partnership that we have with Blockgraph. […] We think that’s an incredibly useful tool specifically for the TV industry when we think about moving audiences from point A to point B to point C. And so I’ve been working with that team to enable that capability.”

We Have Something for Every Demographic

The merger of Viacom and CBS turned out to be the winning combination not only for employees, as our guest mentioned, the two companies sharing the same values and nurturing similar culture, but also for the audience and advertisers.

“We are amongst the most, if not the most diverse entertainment company there is. And I think we pride ourselves on having a big portfolio and really iconic brands.

So MTV is an iconic brand. Regardless of where it might traditionally sit years ago, it’s still iconic. And Nickelodeon, I don’t know any kid that hasn’t watched Nickelodeon in their youth.

And now, when you go to the iconic CBS, all the amazing programming that comes from the broadcast side, whether that’s programs like CSI or The Big Bang Theory, young Sheldon, etc.

We touch all audiences. And I think that makes not only what we do compelling, but it makes us able to deliver for an advertiser. How do we ensure that advertisers get the best opportunities? That’s what we’ve done. We’ve changed and adjusted our sales packaging to accommodate.”

Note: This is based on an episode of Identity Revolution, Infutor’s podcast featuring data-driven experts discussing all things marketing, analytics, and identity. We take a deep dive into industry trends, strategies, and the future of data technology.

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