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Financial Times Marketing

The Shiny New Object Podcast: five things I learned from The Financial Times' Fiona Spooner

By Tom Ollerton

March 1, 2020 | 5 min read

Interviewed in the latest installment of the Shiny New Object Podcast by Automated Creative’s Tom Ollerton is Fiona Spooner, global marketing director, B2C, at The Financial Times. Here are five things Ollerton found out as a result of the conversation.


The Shiny New Object Podcast: five things I learned from The Financial Times' Fiona Spooner / FINANCIAL TIMES ADVERTISING CHARTER

Pay your own money to experience your industry

Spooner is fortunate in that The Financial Times (FT) has always funded tech for its team, so when I asked her what she’d spent her own money on that had benefited her work, it wasn’t obvious. She settled on something pretty insightful - subscription services. Whether that’s Ocado, Amazon Prime, Hello Fresh, magazines - for someone who works in the subscription business, experiencing the service you receive as a paying customer both inspires and informs her. She singled out Ocado as a company that’s really nailing it when it comes to a holistic approach to its business - its consistency across all touch points is something to aspire to.

Flexible working will reinvigorate the workforce

Spooner’s Shiny New Object is getting parents - mums in particular - back into work. It’s something she’s incredibly passionate about and cites the lack of flexible working opportunities as one of the key factors preventing this. I was impressed to hear that despite it being a large global organisation, the FT’s attitude is incredibly progressive - as long as you get your work done, it doesn’t matter where you do it. She believes we need to see more of this in the marketing and advertising industry - and not just words on paper from HR teams. We need real, tangible actions and examples, leadership teams setting the standard across businesses, companies - agencies, in particular, looking for innovative ways to make flexible working a reality.

Shit happens - learn to forgive

Most people have had a stand-out catastrophic moment in their career. Spooner’s took place early on, when by bcc-ing a vast list of email addresses, she crashed an entire media company’s email system. She said she’s learned a lot from this. Firstly, never to be afraid to put your hand up and own your mistakes - people do tend to be forgiving. Secondly, shit happens, and it happens to everyone. When others around her make mistakes, looking back on times like this helps her to be more empathetic.

Careers are becoming fluid - dip your toe into more

We’re going to be working for a really long time. Far too long to be doing something that we’re not particularly interested in. Spooner recognises this - her advice to young people getting started is to be curious. Jobs are going to be more fluid and flexible in the future, so be interested, be willing to adapt and move more easily across teams and industries. She describes going on mini secondments at the FT - a day a month or a meeting here and there, to understand how other parts of the organisation work. Having a well-rounded picture of business will make you better at your job, and potentially help influence future career decisions.

Get 'overwhelm' off your chest

As you can imagine, as someone in a global role, with small kids at home, Spooner has a pretty full-on schedule. She says she does experience overwhelm but has a tiered system of how she deals with it. If it’s a piece of work she has to crack, she shuts herself away at home or in a room until she’s dealt with it. If it’s a bigger issue, she finds someone to talk to about it - for her, saying things out loud is the best way of sorting out problems. If she needs total headspace she heads for a forest walk - it’s her form of therapy. She’s also having a bash at piano lessons, though don’t expect Mozart any time soon - her son’s challenged her to learn, of all things, Bohemian Rhapsody.

Listen to the episode in full below.

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