The Fishbowl: Verica Djurdjevic, Channel 4
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 is Verica Djurdjevic, chief revenue officer at Channel 4.
Verica Djurdjevic started her career in media agencies, initially as an account manager at MediaVest (now Starcom/Spark Foundry, part of Publicis Groupe) for four years before moving to MEC (now Wavemaker, part of WPP) for seven years.
She spent over 11 years at Omnicom’s PHD, starting out as managing partner in 2009, progressing to managing director in 2013 and then becoming CEO in 2017.
She made the move to Channel 4 as chief revenue officer in 2020.
What was your first paid job and why did you do it?
I got my first Saturday job at the age of 14, as soon as I was legally allowed to. I worked in a bakery and cake shop in the centre of Leicester, called Hampshire’s (it was a small local chain). It was my way of having some spending money of my own, and being able to save up for trips and holidays.
I worked there for about five years in the end, both on Saturdays and during the holidays, and ended up doing holiday cover stints for managers in the different stores around Leicester.
Claim to fame: I once sold cream cakes to Mark Morrison.
**Peer question** What has been your biggest, or most insightful mistake and what did you learn from it?
Early in my career, I got a job in a company where I soon discovered that the culture and atmosphere was really tough and stifling. I didn’t stay for very long in the end, but it has always reminded me how important cultural fit is, and to hone in on companies whose values align with your own. It’s really important to me that the culture of my workplace supports learning, openness and fun.
** James Cornish, VP of international sales at Vevo.
Who is the smartest person you know?
My sister. She is wise, funny and always has a thoughtful perspective to offer.
**Peer question** If you could work with any other media owner on a collaborative campaign for an advertiser, who would it be and why?
Oh, this is a tricky one to narrow down to one other media owner. It could be Global, who have a really innovative streak, and produce some brilliant campaign ideas.
Or Clear Channel, who have a fantastic attitude and approach to collaboration and sustainability.
Or it might be Spotify, who have such brilliant insight into their audience and the context in which people are listening.
Of course, it would mainly depend on the brief from the client; the audience and planning insight would guide the final choice!
** Question from Emma Callaghan, Reach sales and invention director
What’s the quality that people admire most about you?
I’ve been told that my optimistic outlook is a good thing. But the quality most admired is my choice of footwear.
If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?
I love spending time talking with team members and helping them to develop their skills and careers, so I am always trying to create more time to do this.
If I could squish down the other demands of my role to make more time for this, it would be great — all suggestions welcome 😊
What key thing has changed in conversations with clients this year compared to last year?
There is definitely a sense that medium-term and long-term planning is back in lots of businesses.
The shocks of the last three years have led to very short-term thinking by necessity, but it is clear that many advertisers are now thinking about how to build and protect their brands for the future.
Which deal in your career are you proudest of?
The short-term out-of-home deal for the launch of Fiat Stilo in 2002, when we bought the world’s biggest poster at Fort Dunlop. It was 132m long x 25m high, and could be seen a mile away on the M6. The media value was a cracking deal, and we had to do the site tour in a helicopter. It was probably the most media deal you could imagine.
**Peer question** What superpower would you choose?
I would choose teleportation. The ability to be anywhere in the blink of an eye would be incredible. It would make holidays more interesting, and would negate the need to sit in the roadwork jungle of London.
** Question from Emma Elford, commercial content director at The Independent.
What do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?
I hope that I will be working in an environment with lots of smart, energetic people, where I can keep learning and finding inspiration. It might be a media business, but equally, it might be a cake shop.