The Fishbowl: Danny Aldred, FT
The Media Leader’s interview series asks the media industry’s top salespeople revealing questions, drawn from our fishbowl. The questions will be drawn at random and contain some tricky posers set by the commercial chiefs themselves.
This week is Danny Aldred, FT global advertising director, B2C and investment.
Danny Aldred started working at Pearson/The Financial Times in 1998 as head of UK agency sales.
He moved through a range of sales and leadership positions across print and digital before becoming global trading director in 2013 and moving into his current role in 2018.
How did you end up working in media?
Totally by accident. I started work at 16 in Barclays Bank. Back then, they had just started to ask employees to introduce customers to financial advisors, and I really enjoyed it. A friend at the time worked for the Evening Standard and suggested I contact them for a junior sales role. So I did and fell in love with the media industry.
Why are you passionate about media?
I love solving things, and the media world — no matter which part of it you are in — boils back to solving something. When you get that right and see your work come to fruition, there’s no better feeling.
What is one important skill that you think everyone should have?
Humility. I listen to The High Performance Podcast, and they interviewed prominent business leader Ric Lewis. One of his corporate and hiring principles was “if you are too important to take the trash out, then you don’t fit our culture.” That really resonates with my approach.
What’s been your biggest challenge this year and what are you doing about it?
My eldest son suffered a Cardiac Arrest in Australia in October. Thankfully, he survived (he is a rarity, as only one in 10 survive). The biggest challenge has been how my family has understood this, come to terms with the frailty of life and turn it into something good.
We embarked on a fundraising crusade back in June to raise money to screen as many young adults as we can to stop people going through our experiences, and much worse. We have raised £22,000 to date and this is just the start.
**Peer question** As a sales leader, how do you prioritise how you go about empowering your team members to become great sales leaders of the future?
My priorities have been and always will be to understand the motivations and emotions that drive individuals. We are all so very different: some people want autonomy, some want parameters, some want money, some want recognition.
Once you really understand the drivers, you know how to get your teams to thrive and expand. All of our team leaders are skilled in knowing how their teams work, their drivers and that means we are able to really push ourselves out of our comfort zones.
**Question from Jem Djemal, global new business lead at VIOOH.
What’s your best advice for someone who wants to do your job one day?
Get some sleep and be careful what you wish for!
**Peer question** How is your business driving the change? Do you have any best practices or obstacles you confronted to share?
Our business is constantly evolving and never sits still. At the FT we are committed to ensuring that the world gets multi sourced, transparent and accurate journalism.
In a world of polarisation, staying true to that mission has never been more important. How we deliver that has evolved and I would say that there are many obstacles. Understanding which ones are relevant to you and your business is key.
** Question from Emma Newman, chief revenue officer EMEA at PubMatic.
What keeps coming up in conversations with clients at the moment?
AI — it’s in almost all conversations we are having with clients, colleagues and suppliers.
**Peer question** What moment (or event) was the biggest turning point in your career?
The moment my friend suggested I should do a media sales job at the Evening Standard. I found a job I loved. It also changed my personal life as I met my wife there!
** Question from Sarah Goldman, director of advertising at UKTV.
**Peer question** What is the most fun you’ve had doing this job?
The last 25 years have been a blast — I can honestly say I have enjoyed all of it. If I had to pull one thing out — learning to ski! It changed my life and my holidays.
** Question from David Wilcox, commercial director, News UK Broadcasting.
Read more Fishbowl interviews here and see what media’s top salespeople say about working in the industry and what concerns their clients. To suggest an interviewee, contact email@example.com.