Leadership

The Industry Leaders Behind the Valassis Digital Name

Nowhere is our commitment to building a talented team more evident than in our leadership team. Valassis Digital’s unmatched experience, knowledge, and passion flow from its leaders, who demand only the best. Read more about our leaders’ roots, experience, and pursuits outside of work.

Leadership

Cali Tran

President

Cali has proven success in driving scaled, profitable growth by empowering high performance teams to deliver compelling and innovative digital media solutions. Prior to Valassis, Cali served as the Senior Vice President of Technology and Business Development at MacAndrews & Forbes. He is also a founder and investor in high potential, technology-enabled companies. His portfolio includes Ancestry (pre-Series A team), GoPlae (co-founding investor) and Adavium Medical (seed investor). Earlier in his career, Cali was a Principal at North Bridge Venture and Growth Equity Partners.

Cali earned his AB in history, cum laude at Bowdoin College and his MBA at Harvard. He had the privilege of serving as the Chairman of the Fund Directors of Bowdoin College from 2011-2015 and has the honor of being the Co-Chairman of the OneVietnam Network since its founding in 2009. He lives in San Francisco, Calif. with his wife, Ellen Chan.

Cindy Soremekun

VP, Media Strategy

Cindy is Vice President of Media Strategy at Valassis Digital. She brings over 17 years of digital advertising expertise and offers an expansive background in Sales Operations, Client Services and Product Management. Her career in digital started at Yahoo! which included a two year European assignment to launch behavioral targeting, mobile advertising, and an inside sales channel to being a pivotal operations leader during the Brand.net acquisition by Valassis. She has a proven track record of streamlining business processes and launching client focused products and solutions with revenue growth of over 30%. She holds a BA in Hotel & Restaurant Administration from Washington State University and found there are similarities between hotel room inventory and ad inventory. You don’t make money when either space is empty.

In her spare time she enjoys spending time in Lake Tahoe and has recently gotten the AROO bug after her first Spartan Stadium race and signed up for two more races in pursuit of the Spartan TRIFECTA.

Jay Webster

SVP, Product and Engineering

Jay Webster has over 20 years of experience working in almost every aspect of technology startups. Before joining Valassis, he was Co-founder and President of Choose Energy, where he was responsible for capitalization, operations, product, technology, business development, and media. Previously, Jay served as Chief Product Officer for Sharethrough, an innovative advertising technology company, Chief Product Officer for Quova, an IP geolocation company acquired by Neustar, President and COO of Consorte Media acquired by Audience Science, GM of Lead Generation for Yahoo!, GM of Performance Marketing and CTO for BlueLithium acquired by Yahoo!, VP of Engineering for Adteractive, Inc., as well as President and CTO for Fathom Online.

Jay also regularly serves as an advisor to startup companies. Past successes include Kefta acquired by Acxiom, Lift Media acquired by WebLoyalty, Marin Software (public: MRIN), Edgespring acquired by Salesforce, and BrandAds acquired by Extreme Reach.

Jay spends his free time as a musician and advocate for music education, serving on the board of Little Kids Rock for over a decade, and is a competitive triathlete.

Jeff Hicks

Executive Director, Engineering

Jeff has served on the engineering leadership team for Valassis Digital / MaxPoint since 2013. He began his career as a software developer at IBM, before moving to startups where he developed industry leading network performance management software and co-authored a book on VoIP networks. Prior to MaxPoint / Valassis Digital, he was an engineering leader with NetQoS and CA Technologies.

Jeff has a BS in Computer Engineering from Auburn University and a Master of Engineering (Computer Science concentration) from North Carolina State University. When not in the office, Jeff can be found volunteering with his wife and kids at their local church, following his passion for college sports (Auburn football), and playing video games on his growing collection of game consoles.

John Jenkins

COO and SVP Finance

With 2 decades in digital media, John has served as our executive operations and finance leader since September 2014. Before Valassis, John led Corporate Development at Tremor Video (NYSE IPO). At Tremor, John was deeply involved in both strategy and M&A. Prior to Tremor, John held general management and business development positions at foundational digital media companies like Adify (sold to Cox Communications), Flycast Communications (NASDAQ IPO, sold to CMGi) and CompareNet (sold to Microsoft).

Joe received an AB Princeton University and a MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He is currently a Member of the Board of Directors for Lifelong Medical Care, a regional health care system dedicated to providing services to the underserved. When not in the office, he can be found chasing his 2 young girls or at his local Crossfit gym with his wife.

Joy Clark

SVP, Talent

Joy is Senior Vice President of talent at Valassis Digital, where she works with executive leaders to understand themselves and the impact their leadership has on their organizations. Joy comes to us with over 20 years of experience in helping leading, high-growth companies effectively build and manage their human capital. A graduate of Rutgers University, her past experience includes successful tenures at QVC, Penske, Sony Ericsson, and Cree.

In case a professional career like Joy’s isn’t impressive enough, she’s fluent in Spanish, Reiki certified, a proud mom of three, and she sings in a band. And don’t be afraid to challenge Joy with the unknown—if something frightens her, that’s her signal to take it on.

Matt Webb

VP, Finance

Matt Webb is vice president of finance at Valassis Digital. Matt has a BS in business administration and accounting and an MS in accounting from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Matt comes to Valassis Digital most recently from M*Modal, with previous tenures at Ernst & Young and SAS, where he was involved in everything from IPOs and acquisitions to business development and accounting. Matt is a lifelong business connoisseur—even in his salad days, he closely followed the trajectories of tech start-ups and large businesses alike.

When Matt isn’t reading up on the business landscape, he travels with his wife—their favorite destinations include cities of all sizes in western Europe (for the food, of course). When Matt’s stateside, he’s a keen wine appreciator with a loyalty to Napa Valley and Sonoma vintages. Matt originally hails from the Baltimore area, and is—naturally—a devoted Orioles fan.

Michelle Engle

SVP, Product Marketing and Product Management

Michelle joined Valassis Digital / MaxPoint in 2012 to lead the product management, product marketing, and user experience organizations. Michelle is a seasoned veteran of the startup and technology space with more than 20 years of experience building products at iContact, Channel Advisor, and JP Morgan. Michelle holds a BA in economics and international relations (with a minor in Japanese!) from Bucknell University and an MA in economics from New York University.

When Michelle isn’t spending time with her family and kids, she enjoys being a keen runner who loves to travel (especially for a race). Michelle spends her remaining free time volunteering with Super Cooper’s Little Red Wagon Foundation and serving on the board of the Girls on the Run of the Triangle.

Pehr Luedtke

SVP, Marketing and International

Pehr Luedtke is the SVP of Marketing and International for Valassis Digital. Pehr joined Valassis from Spotzot, a location-based mobile advertising network, where he served as CEO. Spotzot was acquired by Valassis in 2015. Prior to Spotzot, Pehr was part of the executive team at Bazaarvoice, CEO at PowerReviews (acquired by Bazaarvoice), and held senior positions at eBay and Levi Strauss. Pehr has an MBA from Stanford and an undergrad degree from Princeton. He lives in the Bay Area with his family, and loves to slow cook meats on his Big Green Egg.

Rachel Bergman

SVP, Digital Strategy and Operations

Rachel is the SVP of Digital Strategy and Operations for Harland Clarke, a sister company to Valassis Digital. Rachel works with Harland Clarke’s 10,000+ clients to grow their businesses utilizing the technology and services of Valassis Digital. Rachel has been in digital media since the late 1990’s, and recently served as the SVP and GM of Experian’s email marketing business. Rachel holds a BA in International Relations from The Johns Hopkins University. Rachel’s free time is spent with her family, or on the tennis court.

Sean Murphy

SVP, Analytics

With more than 20 years in software and web services, Sean is the SVP of analytics, charged with leading the performance of Valassis Digital’s ad solutions as well as analytic and data product development. Before Valassis Digital, Sean was at NeoNova, where he managed a cloud services offering for telco ISPs. Previously, at Vendavo, Sean was instrumental in growing the company from product conception to profitability, creating the market-leading pricing analytics solution. At Ask Jeeves, Sean introduced the first B2B web-based customer interaction solution suite, complemented by acquisitions worth $750M. At PeopleSoft, Sean managed a $500M product line and launched a new $40M+ start-up division. Sean has a BS and MS from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Sean is a world-class swimmer who has competed in all the major international games, including the Olympics. He was a triple NCAA individual and team champion and a five-time Masters World Record holder. Unsurprisingly, he has his own Wikipedia page. Many of Sean’s colleagues share his passion for swimming and sport—time to start Team Valassis Digital?

Susan Lee

SVP, Business Development

After four years as a member of the ad sales leadership team at Univision, where Susan successfully launched the first national television Hispanic Advanced Advertising Initiative, Susan has joined Valassis Digital as the SVP of corporate development. Prior to Univision, she developed and launched the mtvU co-branded credit card and loyalty program for Viacom/MTV Networks. Susan also held business development positions at The Walt Disney Company and AOL and was a financial analyst in the Financial Sponsors Group of Morgan Stanley investment bank. Susan has a BA in economics from New York University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She keeps busy outside work feeding her passion for health and fitness. In a brave move, Susan signed up for a triathlon before learning to swim. With only four months to hone her skills, she has put herself on a challenging path. However, if it doesn’t work out, all is not lost. She can still make use of her improved fitness!

Susan Rothwell

SVP, Digital Sales

Susan has over 25 years experience in Sales and Marketing. She began her career in copier and software sales. Susan worked with Polaroid Corporation for 14 years and was promoted to various positions including sales leadership, new business development, partner relations, training and marketing.

Susan has been with Valassis for the past 11 years. She started as a Sales Director for ADVO in the Newark, DE office leading a team of National print sellers. After the Valassis acquisition, Susan transitioned to lead the Edison, NJ team, one of the largest revenue districts in National Sales. During that time, Susan and her team achieved large revenue wins and exceeded quota performances.

After five years of leading the print business, Susan was promoted to VP, Digital Sales for the National and Team Solutions team. Her team continued to perform over quota which led to Susan’s promotion to SVP, Digital Sales in 2015. Under her leadership she has grown the team by 35%. She has added two specialty divisions: GDM and Mid-Market, launched new products, led sales enablement, and achieved YOY double digit growth.

Susan is passionate about her family, working out and women in leadership. She is the Executive Sponsor of the Valassis Women’s Network and works with the Network of Executive Women.

Susan is a two time winner of Century Club and has a BS from La Salle University.

Tobias Speckbacher

SVP, Engineering

Tobias Speckbacher is the Senior Vice President of Engineering at Valassis Digital.
Previously, he co-founded Truvie (acquired by PayPal), served as VP of Emerging Technologies of Quova (acquired by Neustar) and was Director of Engineering at PayPal. He holds three patents and a degree in Electrical Engineering from Hoehere Technische Lehr (HTL) und Versuchsanstalt, School of Engineering.

Tom Dolan

SVP, CPG and Retail

Tom Dolan is a seasoned veteran of the advertising industry, bringing more than a decade of senior management experience and knowledge from the biggest agencies in New York. Before coming to Valassis Digital, Tom spent more than four years at Catalina, helping build a $50 million in-store advertising product, leading the strategic partnership group, and launching online and mobile solutions as a member of the digital leadership team.

Tom earned his BA from the University of Notre Dame with a dual major in anthropology and pre-med. Can you say career change? He adds to Valassis Digital’s triathlon chops as an Ironman finisher, and even spent several years running his own company focused on this passion. Now, Tom’s lead hobby is changing diapers while caring for his young son and family in New York City. Get Tom talking about European soccer and you will be there for a while…

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