The Digital Talent Crisis: A Call for Integrated Digital Thinkers - Shane Steele - MediaBizBloggers

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MediaBizBlogger Shane Steele has recently joined Yahoo. Please read details below.

Last week I attended the iMedia Agency Summit in Austin, TX, where keynote speaker and Starcom CEO Lisa Donohue called for a “new optimism” in the post-recession era digital advertising industry. She offered a number of great suggestions for tackling the downturn and keeping pace with consumers, but also cautioned that we are suffering from a “talent crisis” in marketing.

Certainly if the media and advertising industry is going to fully recover and grow in the future we must invest in talent. That begs the question, where is the talent coming from, particularly with the skills and experience needed to keep up with the radical pace of change in the digital age?

One year ago I was invited to join the Board of Directors of a new digital education program called Boulder Digital Works (, a school with the ambition to produce the world’s best digital creative, business, and technology talent. BDW was formed by the University of Colorado in partnership with MDC Partners, Microsoft, and a number of other companies to address what its founders saw as a pressing need for digital talent and leadership in their own businesses. Their goal – build a digital boot camp to groom educated workers and leaders who move comfortably and intelligently across the disciplines of technology, creative, and business.

Starcom’s CEO and the BDW founders are not alone in their concern about the talent crisis, and the concern is not limited to the advertising community. According to talent advisory and recruiting firm Heidrick & Struggles, "There is a digital talent emergency in publishing companies as they transform into full-blown, digitally-oriented media companies," says Lynne Seid, Partner in the Global Consumer Marketing Practice. "With 4 million people expected to own iPads within the year – on top of tablet devices coming from HP, Dell, and others – there will be a major reconfiguration of what will be necessary to serve these users."

The introduction of new digital technologies will inevitably lead to the creation of jobs that haven’t previously existed, with highly specialized skill requirements. But beyond these specialist type roles, the talent crisis is much broader. In fact, I would argue that all business talent needs to evolve by attaining a broad spectrum of digital skills, and more importantly a digital way of thinking.

At BDW they refer to this type of talent profile as “T-Shaped Talent,” or an “Integrated Digital Thinker.” It means that no matter what your specialty (base of the T), be it copywriting, media planning or flash design, in order to be most effective in the workplace today, employees must complement their subject matter expertise with a broad and holistic understanding of how digital technology impacts their business (top of the T). In other words, today’s talent must be fluent in at least one language but also literate in many.

According to BDW Executive Director David Slayden, “There are only a few dedicated digital programs in the U.S., and while they offer excellent educational opportunities, they tend to focus on individual specialties, such as advertising, business, design, or technology. In real life — at leading advertising and digital agencies, start-ups, and software companies — business, creative, and technology people work in an integrated setting and are expected to be multi-disciplinary thinkers and problem solvers. BDW was born to meet this challenge through a broad-based educational program that covers the spectrum of digital disciplines and media.” One year after its inception, to celebrate the school’s anniversary and promote enrollment for upcoming programs (BDW offers both executive workshops and a 60 week program with enrollment happening now), BDW will be hosting an event during Internet Week on Monday June 7 in NYC. If you’re interested in hearing about how you can evolve your own skills and think digitally, and how BDW can help, come check it out (details below). I’ll be there to discuss how digital thinking has shaped my experience as a marketer, and the latest evolution of my own career: As of May 24, I have joined Yahoo! as VP Global B2B Marketing, so please note my contact info has changed.

BDW Evolve! An Introduction to Integrated Digital Thinking

Hear from Boulder Digital Works speakers and board members and find out how they are evolving their careers and their companies to stay relevant in the digital age, and how BDW can help in this role.

Event is free; online registration required -

• David Slayden, BDW & Winston Binch, CP+B - intro
• Ben Malbon, BBH
• Ed Boches, Mullen
• Matt Howell, Modernista!
• Scott Witt, Apple
• Shane Steele, Yahoo!

The Art Directors Club
106 West 29th Street, New York, NY 10001

June 7, 2010
6:30-7:00 pm cocktails
7:00-8:00 pm presentation
8:00-9:30 pm cocktails

Shane Steele is a media and marketing executive with 15 years experience in digital media and brand marketing. She is currently Vice President, Global B2B Marketing at Yahoo! where she oversees global trade marketing communications and operations. Prior to joining Yahoo!, Shane was Vice President Marketing at Tremor Media, the leading video advertising network and monetization platform, where she headed up all marketing efforts for the company including branding, communications, pr, sales marketing, events, research, and product marketing. Before her role at Tremor Media, Shane was the Director of Emerging Media & Online Advertising at Coca-Cola where she oversaw interactive marketing for the Coca-Cola North America brand portfolio. In this role, Shane was also responsible for evaluating new technology and media partners across the evolving digital landscape to direct the company's innovation and research investments in emerging media areas such as social media, mobile, gaming, and advanced video platforms. Shane began her career at Sapient and Accenture, where she was responsible for leading large scale web strategy and development initiatives for Fortune 500 clients. A graduate of Cornell University, she currently resides in New York City.

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