Expat Google engineering exec Claire Southey heads home to join ecommerce marketer Rokt

- May 7, 2024 3 MIN READ
Claire Southey
Rokt engineer Claire Southey on her last day at Google. Source: LInkedIn
Data engineer and artificial intelligence expect Claire Southey is back in Sydney after six years in the UK and US working for Amazon and Google, at ecommerce marketing platform Rokt.

Southey, who collected her swipe card as senior VP of engineering this week, is one of three new hires for the Australian arm of the US-based, Square Peg-backed tech unicorn, which was last valued at $3.5 billion following a $458 million Series E round in 2021.

Sharmeen Arain has also signed on as commercial director ANZ alongside Mick O’Brien as head of commercial ANZ .

Rokt has been on a growth spurt as it heads towards a public float, expanding its New York HQ, acquiring AfterSell, a Shopify partner, and recently adding Deliveroo, ASOS, boohoo and Morrisons to its EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) client roster. Marc Allsop has also been appointed head of EMEA.

Southey spent a decade as head of tech development at Foxtel before heading to the UK to work for Amazon, initially at Prime before a couple of years at AWS, rising to global technical lead (media & entertainment), before heading to Google in 2022 as head of customer engineering in California.

“I cultivated some of Google’s most strategic technical partnerships and forged customer relationships that will endure long after I am gone,” she said as she left Mountain View last month.

“I arrived here as a first time immigrant with just a suitcase and and a few dreams and aspirations. I’m leaving as an American.”

Southey added that she’ll be closer to family “for a while”. She has an MBA and Masters of Data Science and took part in Yale University’s women in leadership program.

She’ll report to Reuben Kan, Rokt’s fellow senior VP of engineering, who praised her huge depth of knowledge managing global teams in technical strategy and software development.

“We are thrilled to welcome Claire Southy to the Rokt family. Her expertise in partner-focused delivery is a perfect match for our mission, and we are confident that she will play a pivotal role in strengthening our engineering team and driving our innovative vision forward,” he said.

Meanwhile, O’Brien and Arain will focus on business development and report directly to chief revenue officer Craig Galvin.

O’Brien has more than 20 years of enterprise sales experience local tech, most recently at EasySend, while Arain has 17 years experience working for brands like Cashrewards and Fairfax. She is known for her strong leadership skills, collaborative approach, and dedication to achieving measurable outcomes.

Allsop was in global leadership roles at American Express and Aimia and left retail customer engagement venture Ecrebo for Rokt.

Rokt is Australia’s third most-valuable private tech company behind Canva and Airwallex and is looking to IPO in the next few years. Square Peg holds around 12% of the business. Its Sydney office in Surry Hills is a base for its R&D teams.

Two appointment of two women to senior roles in the business, especially in engineering, will go some way to addressing the pay equity controversy founder and CEO Bruce Buchanan found himself in earlier this year following the release of the federal government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) report,

Rokt had the biggest gender pay gap in Australian tech at 34.9% on base salary, and 52.4% after incentives.

Buchanan posted a response  saying company’s median gender pay gap is actually 18% with just 22% of the total workforce in Australia, and the gap was “primarily driven by gender mix in engineering”. More than a third (35%) of Rokt’s global workforce is female.

“The comparison to other technology companies is not like for like as the Rokt office in Australia has more than 95% of people in Engineering, specifically focused on advanced technologies in our ecommerce relevancy area (Machine Learning, Data Science and AI),” he said in March.

“I am personally very passionate about the change required to remove structural barriers that restrict opportunities for anyone, and that contribute to our pay gap at Rokt.”

Hiring Claire Southey as senior VP of engineering should help shrink the gap.

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