The Fishbowl: Stefanie Briec, FreeWheel
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 Stefanie Briec, director, head of sales for UK & International at FreeWheel.
Stefanie Briec joined Comcast-owned company FreeWheel in 2016. She has held previous sales roles at Criteo, auFeminin.com and Yahoo.
What keeps coming up in conversations with clients at the moment?
How can ad buyers gain easy access to good quality connected TV (CTV) inventory?
With major subscription providers now launching ad-supported tiers, buyers are navigating an increasingly diversified landscape. My goal is to demystify what’s out there for buyers and enable them to purchase premium video inventory in a way that is efficient, transparent, and increases the impact of their wider media mix.
**Peer question** Who are your role models?
My biggest role model is my former manager and good friend, Julie Selman.
Julie is a natural mentor and she put me in the best position to grow within FreeWheel. Her confidence is inspiring — she speaks openly and she is always passionate about her work and achievements.
Now that she’s moved on from FreeWheel, I’ve taken her mantle and frequently find myself thinking… what would Julie do or say in this situation? To this day, I still call her for advice and try to embody her leadership style for my own team.
** Question from Davina Barker, sales director at DCM/
**Peer question** What if anything is your business planning on doing differently in 2023?
FreeWheel is continuing to create a premium marketplace for CTV and video inventory, knowing buyers and sellers alike require one holistic view of both digital and TV. Measurement will be pivotal for making this happen.
With the current economic situation, marketers face even greater pressure to justify their media budgets to internal stakeholders. Where I’m from, we have a saying: when money is tight, you turn the dollar five times before spending it.
Marketers need assurance that spend will deliver value, so FreeWheel is collaborating with partners that provide measurement capabilities, for example brand uplift studies that quantify how CTV ads benefit brand image.
**Question from Richard Bon, UK managing director and Europe commercial lead at Clear Channel.
How many days do you go into the office and why?
I’m usually in the office three days a week, with Mondays and Fridays at home. Tuesday is our dedicated team day where I make sure everyone can connect in person and I can spend face-to-face time with the cross-functional team leads.
While I do enjoy the perks of wearing ugly jumpers on my work-from-home days, during lockdowns I found myself struggling. I thrive when I’m around people. For me, it’s the talks next to the coffee machine, the spontaneous chats, which often generate those ideas worth making a reality.
If you didn’t work in TV, which other media sector could you see yourself working in?
Since TV and digital are rapidly converging, I see myself as part of the digital sector, but if I was to make a change then I would choose print media.
In digital, we have ad impressions. In print, there are big, double-page ads in newspapers and glossy magazines. The difference that excites me is the ability to hold print media in your hands as a tangible thing. I love being at the frontier of converged TV, but if I couldn’t do what I’m doing now, I’d work in print.
If you could learn any new skill from scratch, what would it be?
If we’re talking about professional skills, then I’d continue improving my public speaking. It’s not something that comes naturally to me, but it is a highly important part of communicating with clients and the industry. Confidence is key, and building confidence is a continuous effort.
On a personal level, I’d learn how to sew. Just as I like being able to hold print media, I also like the tactile nature of crafting things from fabric. I would love to make clothes for myself and my kids especially. Everything is so expensive nowadays, it doesn’t last, and fast, throwaway fashion is a major producer of waste, so learning to sew would also let me support my passion to be more sustainable.
**Peer question** What has been your biggest, or most insightful mistake and what did you learn from it?
In the early days of my career I was more timid than I am now, but I was determined to shift from an account management position to a sales role. The head of sales at my company said I wasn’t assertive enough for a commercial job and that one comment stuck with me. I still believe my sales style is different, but I made the mistake of doubting if I was good enough.
After I landed a sales role at another business, I realised how important it is to surround yourself with people who lift you up. Wherever you’re at in your career, seek feedback from multiple people who know you and can give genuine, constructive advice. Don’t let one-off destructive comments hold you back.
** Question from James Cornish, VP of international sales at Vevo.
What are three words that people often use to describe you?
Supportive, honest, and authentic.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
My dream job used to be a vet, because I adore animals. When I was younger, I spent half a day at a veterinary practice and that was where I realised I’d need to keep my emotions in check whenever animals died, which isn’t uncommon when you work as a vet.
In comparison, the ad industry is a lot better suited to me. People don’t tend to die in advertising (touch wood).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.