The Fishbowl: Tom Armstrong, New York Times
The Media Leader’s interview series asks the media 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 is Tom Armstrong, VP global advertising at The New York Times.
Tom Armstrong started at The New York Times as vice president of advertising APAC in 2017, and because VP global advertising in 2019.
Previously he held commercial and leadership roles at Fairfax Media, Viacom International, Discovery Networks Europe, Two Way TV and MTV Networks Europe.
How did you end up working in media?
During my final year at university, I spent my holidays meeting people from different industries to try and figure out what I wanted to do.
I met with the head of sales operations at MTV Networks who was working on launching local MTV channels across Europe. It sounded like such an exciting project & an amazing team and I just knew I had to work there. After a lot of hounding I got a role in the commercial team and ended up working there for 12 years.
Why are you passionate about media?
I have always been inspired by great content but for the last 10 years, my passion has been for ensuring independent, high-quality journalism can continue to thrive and be supported by a viable business model. Helping fund that journalism is one of my big motivators.
**Peer question** Who would you say had the most influence in your media sales career? and why?
Dave Sibley at Viacom International. He created a fantastic environment at work for everyone. He inspired us, encouraged & challenged us & set high standards. He helped me develop as a commercial executive and opened up a lot of doors for me.
**Question from Jean-Philippe Amos, managing director EMEA & global brand partnerships Mediabridge
What one thing would you change when dealing with media agencies?
Continue to improve our ability to be more visible and more engaged with them.
What are clients talking about this year that they weren’t last year?
How AI impacts talent in advertising — where will it automate and standardise, as well as how can it empower people and make them more effective.
**Peer question** What is it like to work with you?
I try to create the right conditions for people to thrive and do their best work. I want my team to love coming in to work everyday and know exactly what they are supposed to be doing and clearly understand how their roles connect to our overall strategy.
**Question from Seth Hart, SVP sales at Footballco.
**Peer question** What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there for opportunities, try new things and take risks.
Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t work out, but make sure you reflect on what lessons you learned and keep moving forward.
**Question from Ed Couchman, now head of sales for Northern Europe at Spotify.
What is one non-work related goal that you would like to achieve in the next five years?
Be there to watch the mighty Arsenal win the Champions League.
**Peer question** Would you recommend your son, daughter, or another young person in your life to get a job in media and why?
Yes, media has always been one of the most dynamic, enterprising and creative industries and with all the tech innovation on the horizon, will be an even more exciting place to work for future generations.
**Question from Clare Turner, sales director at Pearl & Dean.
What is one of your greatest achievements?
Raising four kind, fun, compassionate and spirited children.
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.