By Kevin Gray
At the intersection of leading-edge health care information and the cutting edge for its delivery, Todd Zander ’96 thrives in a profession with no red lights and no speed limits. Things are constantly in motion and moving rapidly.
Zander is vice president of mobile and emerging media for WebMD, New York, N.Y., the top-ranked website for comprehensive health care information. With 15 years of technology and media sales, business development, and digital distribution leadership, he was previously vice president of digital distribution for Discovery Communications. There he led development of the MythBusters app to coincide with the launch of Apple’s iPad. The app, which captures the show’s use of science to confirm or debunk popular “myths,” features episode-based mini-games and integrates Twitter. It received a People’s Voice Award during the 15th Annual Webby Awards.
Zander credits Lafayette with giving him the tools to mine technology gold.
“I learned to look at things from many different perspectives, collaborate with others, and make tough but good decisions,” says Zander, who majored in international affairs and government & law. “Critical thinking was the biggest thing that I gained from my Lafayette experience. The ability to look at things from many different perspectives, collaborate with other people, and make tough but good decisions is very important in this business. Those skills were developed at Lafayette.”
The current shift from media consumption on home PCs to mobile devices–including the booming tablet market–is at the heart of Zander’s responsibility. He leads the effort to position WebMD’s consumer division at the front of this shift.
Zander says that while the normal scenario for a mobile device in this capacity is accessing the Internet from a phone while waiting to pick up the kids from school or in line at the coffee shop, a large amount of access occurs at home during primetime hours.
“People are on their couch, see a drug ad on television, and they want to look it up on WebMD,” he says. “More times than not, they’re choosing to look it up on their phones rather than getting up, going to their PCs, and logging on.”
“Tablet consumption will replace PC consumption more so than smart phone consumption will,” forecasts Zander. “As more people are using tablets, publishers are thinking more deeply about what constitutes a tablet-optimized experience.”
Zander, who holds a master’s in international policy from Monterey Institute for International Studies, says Rado Pribic, Williams Professor of Languages and Literatures and co-chair of international affairs, was his most valuable mentor. He took interim-abroad courses with Pribic in Russia and Germany, and says the professor taught him a great deal both in and out of the classroom.
Zander is an advisory board member for Pulse Interactive and City 24/7. Prior to Discovery, he was associate director for V CAST video at Verizon Wireless. He and his wife, Jessica Idstein Zander ’98, live in Summit, N.J.