Julian Kulkarni

After more than 20 years experience in running and scaling companies through digital marketing, transformation and growth, I am delighted to have set up Tangible Consulting to advise companies on their digital marketing and growth strategies. Tangible Consulting delivers innovative solutions to companies for digital transformation, go to market strategy, international expansion and startup development. 

Over the years many people I have had the privilege to know have contacted me to ask for advice on developing their marketing and their business - also realised that I enjoyed helping them out So I found that many companies need support of a Chief Marketing Officer, or VP of Marketing for some but not all of the time, sometimes to support an existing or growing team and in other cases to help put one in place, or focus on a specific challenge. I love the variety of my work - from Innovative Irish startups to global US corporations looking to scale post-merger in Europe!

I have access to a global team and and act as a part time or interim VP of marketing through periods of startup, scaleup and change / transformation of business.  

I am also leading marketing in two game changing startups - one in the space of Data Privacy solving the GDPR headache for SMEs and larger enterprises and one innovative fintech set to disrupt the banking sector and provide a solution to consumers. I also find time to support the Venkat Trust, providing education to disadvantaged children in India and as an advisor to the Digital Youth Council.

What has been your career highlight to date?

Starting my own business from scratch and building it to 100 people within a year when I was 26 – this was a tough learning curve but it has served me well in my career to date, with a range of companies large and small in several sectors. Reason: if you have survived in a start-up environment, you appreciate the benefit of evangelising, fixing problems and getting things done with limited resources. However, I am sure the best is yet to come, and I have enjoyed every challenge to date.

What qualities do you need to succeed in business?

I know it is a cliché, but you need a head in the clouds and feet on the ground i.e. a vision that your stakeholders can buy into combined with the ability to orchestrate resources in order to get things done. That’s what start-ups are all about. You have to think like an entrepreneur, keep on learning and transforming, and never lose your passion, drive and determination.

Just remember that you can’t do it on your own. Listen, empower teams and make sure they are heard and represented!

Who or what are your main influences?

Many – family, friends and colleagues are very important but I have built up my own virtual and very informal advisory board. Every business leader should have one, with the right mix of talents: the rational decision maker, the creative dreamer, the tough guy enforcer, the soft-skills coach and the professional mentor and a few others... I won’t name names as they might not like the labels!

What is the most challenging part of your role?

Every day I am challenged but I love this! The key is to give each client the focus they deserve and drive the best possible result. In some places it is to introduce Marketing in the company and in some it is to introduce the company to the market! Or both! But to move from start-up to scale-up you need to be marketing-savvy. You need to get buy-in for a growth strategy and motivate a lot of people to pull in the same direction.

What, in your view, is the biggest challenge facing directors in Ireland today?

I will name two. One is well-known: the huge competition for talent, and remuneration is only a part of the equation. Talented professionals want to build a career that offers a variety of non-financial rewards. The second is building Irish brands and companies that can truly scale and reach their full potential in Europe, and globally, with all the challenges of Brexit looming too!

What, in your opinion, makes a great leader?

That is such a simple question and, like most simple questions, there are many ways to approach it. If you put me on the spot, I would say that great leaders have social capital and know how to invest it wisely. In other words, they build influence and use it to steer others towards a greater good. One thing I am sure of is that leadership is not about specific personality traits. In my career I have encountered a variety of successful leaders who are poles apart in terms of their leadership style.

What do you hope to gain from your membership with the IoD?

I am a strong believer in professional development and the IoD offers both formal and informal opportunities to grow. On top of that, I think it provides a great forum for building long-lasting personal friendships.