Today’s ‘Day in the Life’ features Julia Burton Brown, Commercial Director EMEA for Inskin Media.
Julia chats all about the challenges of motivating remote teams, Inskin’s focus on attention measurement, and her advice on remaining resilient in a crisis.
You started at Inskin back in 2016 – what led you to your role as Commercial Director EMEA?
I started five years ago as International Sales Director leading the International team. I was working at one of Inskin’s publishers previously so I knew many of the team already, loved the product and the culture, and had no doubt that it would be a good move.
I built up the International team and improved their collaboration with the UK team as they were initially quite disparate. I was then given the responsibility to lead the German team and following that, the UK team. We launched in the Netherlands last year and Canada this year so my role has grown to cover even more markets.
What does an average day look like for you?
My day usually starts around 6 am, not with a green juice and meditation, but racing around the house, getting the kids up and ready for school, feeding the chickens, walking the dog, ready to kick off my working day. The day often starts with an early call with the APAC team ahead of a UK sales team catch up. Then it’s a mix of agency meetings, working on various projects and pitches, catch ups with colleagues in the UK and other territories and always a daily check-in with the CEO.
What was a recent project that you took part in that you were proud of?
We launched our Attention Metric with Lumen, ecommerce formats plus partnerships with Cavai and Right Thing Media all during lockdown, so we’ve achieved a lot! I’m proud of all of them so it’s hard to pick one.
To be part of the company leading the charge on attention measurement is something Inskin should be incredibly proud of. And partnering with Right Thing Media to run campaigns to help drive social change and give back to non-profits is absolutely something to feel good about. With all these new offerings the team has had to be up-skilled and given the relevant tools to succeed. We now have one central location for the sales team to access collateral so they can sell more effectively. We are also doing much more in the mobile space, so we need to educate the team on new formats and KPIs.
What is the most challenging part of your role?
Managing people is always hard work since there’s plenty of lively personalities and dynamics, particularly in a commercial team, but that’s also the fun part. This has naturally become more challenging during the pandemic with staff working remotely. Virtual recruitment in a pandemic has also been an adjustment as it’s difficult to gauge the personalities and characteristics of candidates through a screen.
How do you effectively manage and lead a remote team?
Communication and knowledge sharing is super important with a distributed workforce so we have regular meetings and I get daily updates from the team too. Along with weekly catch-up calls, I have regular meetings with APAC and other territories to make sure we are all working together more cohesively. In fact, all the departments work well together; there’s no barriers, egos or blame – we are all working towards the same goal of driving the best possible business outcomes for our clients.
As my role evolved, I have made changes on the structure, giving more responsibility to various team members and as a result have seen them thrive in their new roles, and this is reflected in the numbers.
How do you keep motivation high and maintain team morale with a distributed workforce?
Whilst the team dynamic can change very quickly in a remote working environment, we ensure workplace culture is consistent. Arranging in-person get-togethers helps boost morale and that is critical to keep sales teams firing on all cylinders to smash their targets. It’s important to get staff back in the office with a more flexible way of working so that will be happening soon. We’re also taking more steps to look after our staff’s mental health and are about to train up some mental health first aiders with MHFAE.
How have your business and clients adapted to the pandemic more than a year on?
Like most in our industry, we had a tough quarter directly following the crisis but we bounced back quickly and stronger than ever in fact. We adapted by pulling together as a company. With staff now having to work remotely, it was important to have regular communication and trust the team to get on with their work autonomously.
Clients in verticals like B2B and FMCG have thrived during this time whilst others like travel and live entertainment have naturally struggled. My advice for clients on remaining resilient in the face of a crisis is to keep their brand visible to retain or gain market share. I think that the welcome refocus on creativity in digital advertising has been driven by brands reassessing their priorities over the last year. This has driven a renewed interest in the power of attention and there is a real buzz back in the market and brands should be more than optimistic about investing their advertising spend.