The Fishbowl: Jessica McGrogan, The Trade Desk

The Fishbowl: Jessica McGrogan, The Trade Desk

The Media Leader’s interview series asks the industry’s top salespeople revealing questions, drawn from our fishbowl. The questions are drawn at random and contain some tricky posers set by the commercial chiefs themselves.

This week, Jessica McGrogan, general manager of business development (brand) at The Trade Desk.

Jessica McGrogan has worked at The Trade Desk for five years, moving from senior director of business development to general manager of business development (brand).

Before that, she worked at Adobe in Canada, first as group account director then managing director of Adobe Advertising Cloud.

McGrogan has also led sales at programmatic video software company TubeMogul and held roles at Evolve Media and News Marketing Canada.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I always loved the idea of becoming a professional figure skater. The agility, athleticism and elegance displayed on the ice just captivated me. I also found myself drawn to other sports like soccer and athletics. I held on to this until my high school days and then decided to go to university to pursue a degree in business and marketing.

While my childhood ambitions may have shifted, the fast-paced action and sense of camaraderie from sports still resonate in my approach to business today. And I still actively participate in sports, so I can balance both pursuits in my life.

Why are you passionate about media?

I love the industry, especially the tech side of advertising — it’s fast-paced, there’s a ton of innovation and I have the privilege of working with brands to help them meaningfully connect with their customers.

What podcast do you regularly listen to and why?

I’m a big listener of Rich Roll’s podcast and The Diary of a CEO with Steven Bartlett.

Both podcasts feature really inspiring guests who share their unique insights on various aspects of life like health, wellness and personal growth. The discussions are candid, thought-provoking and super entertaining.

What are the three most important skills that a media salesperson needs in 2024?

1. Have a deep understanding and point of view on the macro trends shaping the industry like retail, connected TV and the evolution of identity in advertising.

2. Be a strategic storyteller. Make the most complex ideas sound simple. I am really big on effective, direct and conscientious communication.

3. Data-driven insights are key to demonstrating value and unlocking more meaningful conversations.

What was the last movie you saw at the cinema?

Barbie — and I loved it. The guitar beach scene was too real.

What are clients talking about this year that they weren’t last year?

This year, clients are significantly prioritising identity, retail media and full-funnel attribution.

While none of this is new, these topics have shifted from mere discussion points to major focuses for investment and strategy.

More so this year, the tangible progress feels very real, as there has been so much innovation witnessed in the industry that it’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue.

Peer question: As a sales leader, how do you prioritise empowering your team members to become great sales leaders of the future?

I encourage my team to think like consultants and focus on understanding our clients’ broader goals, beyond just media, so we can offer tailored solutions to help them succeed.

To do this, we need to blend in-depth technical knowledge with effective storytelling. While I recognise it’s not always easy to balance, it’s crucial that we know our product inside and out, and have a deep understanding on the macro trends in the industry, to bring the best possible value to our clients.

The more we focus on building connections and getting to the core of understanding our customers’ business, the better.

And, ultimately, you have to be someone that people genuinely want to do business with. You have to be hungry, enjoyable to interact with and add value.

Question from Jem Djemal, global new business lead, VIOOH

Peer question: In five years’ time, what do you think will be the key characteristics that will make a great sales leader?

The timeless attribute of a great sales leader lies in mastering effective communication through persuasion and logic, coupled with collaboration and emotional intelligence. You have to make the most complex idea seem simple to align your audience to a singular understanding.

Additionally, actions speak louder than words — consistent follow-through is essential to building trust and credibility. To be a great sales leader, you need a strong strategy, smart hiring decisions and clarity in empowering your team to take ownership and excel, before stepping back to let them shine.

Question from Phil Ricketts, wholesale commercial director, MarketReach

Peer question: Who are your role models?

One of my role models is my gran on my mother’s side. She immigrated to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland, with three kids and very, very little money in her pocket. My gran quickly earned a position working at Bell Canada, one of Canada’s largest broadcast networks.

And over a 40-year career, she worked her way up and, as the story goes, she never once called in for a sick day. She was incredibly hardworking. I found it super impressive that she also managed to buy a cottage in Ontario — such an achievement. My gran taught me the value of hard work, tenacity and determination.

Question from Davina Barker, sales director, Digital Cinema Media

What do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?

Am I allowed to say retired? Hopefully spending time on more creative pursuits and from a hot and sunny location. I also hope I finally have time to get a dog.

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 ella.sagar@uk.adwanted.com.

Media Jobs