Q&A with Tony Effik, Google’s Managing Director for Display, Video and Creative

BY Preta Peace Namasaba September 19, 2023 7:07 AM EDT
Tony Effik. Photo Credit: Tony Effik for BlackStars News

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, Tony Effik stands out as a true trailblazer. As a distinguished 2023 BlackStars Honoree and the Managing Director of Global Display, Video, and Creative at Google, Effik has consistently demonstrated a commitment to driving innovation and fostering diversity in the tech world.

Effik’s role at Google is nothing short of remarkable. As the head of a dynamic team, he spearheads global product and sales activation for display, video, and creative solutions. His leadership has been instrumental in shaping the way we experience content and advertising in the digital age.

But Effik’s influence doesn’t stop at Google’s doorstep. He is also a visionary Angel Investor at the Black Angel Group, where he champions startups and entrepreneurs, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds. He also holds the prestigious position of Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia University in the City of New York, where he shares his wealth of knowledge and experience with eager minds. Effik is a co-founder, along with his wife, of the Black & Brilliant Advocacy Network, which is on mission to break down barriers and create more diversity in the tech world. Through their tireless efforts, they are dismantling the walls of exclusion, ensuring that opportunities in the industry are accessible to all, regardless of their background.

Effik’s journey from humble beginnings to global leadership at a tech giant is a testament to his determination and hard work. Growing up in London’s social housing projects within a low-income household, his life took a transformative turn when his mother, a cleaner, brought home a Commodore 64 computer. This moment ignited a passion for technology that would define his future. He immersed himself in the world of coding, mastering languages like BASIC, Fortran, and Pascal. Effik’s comfort around computing was not just a skill; it was the spark that would fuel his remarkable career.

Effik’s professional journey began as an International Ad Sales Executive at Kensington Publications. From there, he embarked on a multifaceted career journey, working in various publishing and advertising roles. More recently, he was Senior Vice President, Media & Connections at R/GA and Senior Vice President, Client Strategy at NBCUniversal.

In a candid conversation with BlackStars News, Tony Effik opened up about his remarkable career trajectory, the inspirations that have shaped his journey, and the invaluable advice he has for younger generations aspiring to make their mark in the tech world.

BlackStars: Why and how did you choose your current career path?
Tony Effik: I have been fascinated by technology ever since my childhood when I had an early home computer – The Commodore 64. Throughout my life I have been fascinated by technology and what it does for society and business, which is why I work in digital technology.

BlackStars: Can you share a standout moment from your career that you are particularly proud of?
Tony Effik: The first time I became a people manager was a standout moment for me. You only succeed as a manager through the work of others, so a key skill in any career is getting the best out of people. I pride myself in building high performance teams, by helping people grow to their potential.

BlackStars: What are some of the most challenging obstacles you have faced and overcome in your professional journey?
Tony Effik: Any success I have had in life came from something I call Objective Difference, which is about knowing valuable things that other people do not invest the time and effort to know. The challenge in Objective Difference is staying current and keeping fresh and ahead of the curve. It is hard work, but you have to relentlessly pursue it.

BlackStars: Could you describe a person or experience that has profoundly shaped your career trajectory?
Tony Effik: Moving to America radically changed my career and life trajectory. I was born in Nigeria, raised in the UK, but I have spent the last 13 years in America. You should be willing to travel and experience other cultures to expand your worldview, skillset, and impact your career trajectory.

BlackStars: What are three intriguing things about you that you would like others to know?
Tony Effik: I launched a start-up in 2000 that predicted many of the things we see in media today – MyAdmedia. I have been on the faculty of Columbia University School of Industrial Engineering Operations Research for the last 8 years. I started the Black and Brilliant Advocacy Network, with my wife – an advocacy group – for people of all backgrounds – united in creating a more diverse workforce. I am most proud of how we helped young Black talent join the technology revolution.

BlackStars: Do you have a personal life motto or mantra that you live by?
Tony Effik: I love this quote. It is all about being prepared. “Luck Is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity”. The quote, is attributed to Roman philosopher Seneca.

BlackStars: What is one career advice you would give to a recent Black graduate just entering the workforce?
Tony Effik: Specialize in something you believe will be the next big thing. You will need to study your industry, and then work intensely to become a subject matter expert in that discipline.

BlackStars: How do you feel about being selected for the 30 BlackStars Award?
Tony Effik: I feel seen. When you do good work you might not seen, but when you are seen and acknowledged for your work it’s very motivating and affirming. So I feel incredibly proud, humbled, and privileged that I am being recognized.

Meet Tony and many other industry trailblazers at the BlackStars Summit & Awards in New York City this November!