CxO of the Week: Ben John, Chief Technology Officer, Xandr

CxO of the Week: Ben John, Chief Technology Officer, Xandr 26 years of experience and founded company while still in school.

Ashok Pandey
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CxO of the Week: Ben John, Chief Technology Officer, Xandr

CxO of the Week: Ben John is responsible for the company’s global technological development, which includes overseeing its architecture, product development and all other technological innovations.


Ben was named CTO of Xandr after holding several technical leadership roles at AppNexus including CTO, where he transformed the engineering organization and managed platform scaling to enterprise standards.

Previously, he worked as an engineer for some of the most illustrious names in business, including Sun Microsystems and Citi.

What is your top priority while making decisions to improve tech infrastructure in your organization?


While building the best possible technology is always top of mind, I am constantly thinking about what motivates the talented engineers in my organization to get up for work every day and open their terminals to start building great software. Based on my experience, it's all about giving them the opportunity to solve complex problems in a fun and educational environment. Whether it's applying machine learning and data science techniques with large data sets and business-driven use cases or building global platform solutions for the world's largest advertisers, publishers and agencies, I strive to create a high-performance culture of collaboration and learning.

What challenges do you face in driving digital transformation?

For an organization like Xandr, which seeks to provide innovative solutions, building teams composed of people with varying backgrounds, experiences and styles is critical to the development of more rich and complex insights to inform short and long-term strategies.


Building diverse teams in industries like technology which are traditionally thought of as male-dominated fields is always difficult, however, we recognize the value of diversity across all workstreams and therefore make it a priority to build a diverse tech team as we continue to build a premium marketplace for advertisers and publishers. Whether it’s our work with non-profit organizations, internal community groups, or our hiring processes, our most important business decisions are made through a diverse lens.

Do you feel that new employees in the industry come with only basic knowledge but don’t have the right skills to fulfil job requirements? If yes, your suggestion to students and colleges?

At Xandr, our employees are constantly learning. With the speed at which our industry is evolving, it’s nearly impossible to walk into our company as an expert on our business and technology. With that said, our hiring process is more about finding candidates with the right experience, attitude and outlook to quickly learn about our business and how we operate.


We also work with several organizations to create pathways for future generations of diverse talent. For example, our work with organizations like Girls Who Code, High School Office Field Trips & Workshops, and Code Like A Girl equip students with skills needed to succeed in the global advertising & technology economy while giving us the opportunity to engage candidates for Xandr internships and junior-level apprentice programs. Reaching candidates at a young age has helped us obtain top-tier talent at all levels, and it’s something I highly encourage other companies in the field to do.

What’s your mantra to become successful in life?

Resist the instinct to play to your strengths and instead lean into unfamiliar territory. In order to lead an entire organization or department, you must focus on the big picture, rather than prioritizing, even unconsciously, the areas you know well.


What would you like to give back to society?

I am always looking for opportunities to give back to the community. Just one way I contribute is through my executive sponsorship of Xandr’s Tech for Good program, which pursues positive social impact by building scalable technology and partnership in the non-profit sector, leveraging our Xandr engineering and tech resources. The initiative encompasses our PSA program, which serves Public Service Announcements for non-profits through our technology platform, as well as our work with the Federation of Internet Alerts, which uses Xandr’s ad serving technology to deliver critical safety information from government agencies and non-profits to the public.

Your favorite book and what are you reading now?


I’m extremely passionate about exploring new leadership tactics and applying them to my own organization. With that said, my favorite book is Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft's Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone by Satya Nadella. It’s truly amazing to read about someone who has made such a large impact on a company’s culture. After reading Satya’s book I’ve been able to leverage certain aspects of the style he’s used to catapult Microsoft into a trillion-dollar company. Currently, I’m reading Great Leaders Have No Rules: Contrarian Leadership Principles to Transform Your Team and Business by Kevin Kruse.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

In my spare time, I find it valuable to meet with as many people from different cultures and backgrounds as possible. In doing so, I gain new perspectives and can better understand the experiences and challenges others have faced which has allowed me to become a better leader and mentor.


I also enjoy doing special projects where I can apply my hands-on tech skills, and of course, spending time with my two daughters, engaging with them in games, studies and travel, is always a priority.

Achievements (Awards & Recognitions)

• Accomplished my PhD in the year 2016 in the areas of Open content social learning, and big data mining by applying machine learning algorithms.

• JBoss innovator of the year award in 2018.

• OMMA award for Best Use of Artificial Intelligence partnering with FIA in 2018.

• Continue enjoying multifaceted roles in addition to my day job as CTO – charity, faculty, journal reviewer, mentor and father of two middle school girls.


While still in school, I launched a software company, and ran it for more than five years. The experience taught me valuable lessons in leadership and prepared me to take on roles at companies like Sun Microsystems, Citi and Kaplan. In these roles, I lead the transformation of education and learning experience through technology and helped develop some of the first artificial intelligence bots for the financial industry.

I joined AppNexus, a leading independent adtech company, as VP of engineering in 2013 and soon after was appointed the company’s CTO. Following AT&T’s acquisition of AppNexus, I’m now the CTO of Xandr, AT&T’s advertising and analytics company, where I am responsible for the company’s global technology organization. This includes overseeing its architecture, product development, and all other technological innovations, infrastructure and operations.

Founder: Computer Tracks


Ben holds a Ph.D. in computer science, specializing in machine learning and big data mining, and is thrilled to continue learning from his colleagues and customers every day.

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