The Fishbowl: Kate Tovey, JCDecaux UK

The Fishbowl: Kate Tovey, JCDecaux UK
The Fishbowl

The Media Leader’s interview series asks the media industry’s top salespeople 10 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, it’s Kate Tovey, director of customer engagement at JCDecaux UK.

Kate Tovey started her career as a Red Bull ambassador for two years.

She joined JCDecaux in 2006 as London trading manager and worked through a series of business development and sales leadership positions.

Tovey became director of customer engagement in 2021.

Why are you passionate about media?

Tell me another industry that’s as fun, creative and innovative. There’s rarely a dull moment.

I’ve always had a curiosity about culture, communication and community (back in the day, I studied hispanic studies), and I find it fascinating to understand what makes people tick — I hope I never lose that inquisitiveness.

When did you last change your mind about something?

I’ll be honest: some of these questions have seen a few answer variations!

Ultimately, though, I’ve tried to treat it as a reflective exercise, being honest about the amazing highs of the media industry as well as the challenges along the way.

What one thing would you change when dealing with media agencies?

We (the media industry) are a community of neophiles. We are so quick to move on to the next opportunity that it can be challenging to prioritise feedback.

I’m always grateful to know what we are doing well and where we need to be better. Oh and more time for the fun stuff too.

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

Econometrics is back in a big way. Our approach to measurement in OOH is unrecognisable from even a few years ago.

It’s a tough topic to tackle, but it’ll have a huge impact if we can embrace media mix modelling and more robustly prove the effectiveness of our channel.

What’s the bravest thing you have ever done?

In 2012, I was diagnosed with a health condition that seriously impacted my life. In 2016, I was given the all-clear.

Overcoming my illness was the hardest, bravest thing I’ve ever done.

Who’s the best media salesperson you know (other than yourself)?

Some of the best salespeople I know work agency and client side.

I’ve been fortunate to work with the best of the best — genuinely too many to mention — so I’m pleading the fifth on this one…

Peer question: What interview question do you always ask anyone looking to join your company and what answer are you looking for?

When did you last professionally fail at something and what did you learn?

An individual’s initial reaction to the question can be very telling. Their response gives a lot of insight about self-awareness, their approach to feedback, openness to learning from failures. And it presents an opportunity to discuss future development.

Question from Dan Durling, managing director, Alight Media

Peer question: From a work perspective, what were you most proud of last year?

My incredible and talented team — last year, we developed and hosted a series of mini educational Matters events around key industry hot topics such as sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion, measurement and programmatic digital OOH.

Our Community Matters event trained 650 agency planners how to use life-saving CPR techniques in celebration of our digital six-sheet defibrillator street furniture.

Question from Kelly Williams, managing director, commercial, ITV

Peer question: What has been your biggest or most insightful mistake and what did you learn from it?

When I started my media career, the world was a very different place and there were very few women in senior commercial roles that I could look up to.

While I had some amazing managers and mentors, it took me quite a long time to find a professional voice that felt authentically “me”.

I gained a lot of confidence through coaching — so much so that it inspired me to train to be a coach in 2019 and I feel more empowered now to support others on this journey.

Question from James Cornish, vice-president of international sales, Vevo

Adwanted UK is the trusted delivery partner for three essential services which deliver accountability, standardisation, and audience data for the out-of-home industry. Playout is Outsmart’s new system to centralise and standardise playout reporting data across all outdoor media owners in the UK. SPACE is the industry’s comprehensive inventory database delivered through a collaboration between IPAO and Outsmart. The RouteAPI is a SaaS solution which delivers the ooh industry’s audience data quickly and simply into clients’ systems. Contact us for more information on SPACE, J-ET, Audiotrack or our data engines.

Media Jobs