Media Mentor - Alex Jeffries

Alex Jeffries was stopped in his tracks by an ad for “commuter literate” media planners. He was intrigued, went for it…and is now top of the sales tree at Profero

Describe yourself in three words
Inquisitive, rational, optimistic.

Why did you choose to work in media?
In 1995, few people chose to be media planner/buyers, as few people had even heard of them. I still remember the job ad in The Independent from CIA: "We plan and buy media across a wide range of clients. Applicants must be commuter-literate (sic)". I was intrigued, so I gave it a go.

What is the first thing you do when you get to work in the morning?
Coffee in. Computer on. Answer e-mails. Then who knows? It depends on what day it is.

What is the best piece of advice ever given to you?
"Relax Alex, it's only a job." This isn't to say that what we do doesn't matter, but rather that it's always important to keep a sense of perspective.

What has been the proudest moment in your career?
Winning the Media Business Course. I was only a year into my first job, and didn't have a clue what was going on, but it meant a lot to me.

And what was the most embarrassing moment?
I'm more used to publicising clients than myself, so probably this. But thinking about it there was also the lowlight of my second year in media: my first meeting with the Visa client. Should have been a doddle – I was well prepared and had even invested a in a smart new suit, albeit a little tight around the nethers, but you can get away with it when you're young, can't you?

On the way out of the office, I stooped to pick up my briefcase and, horror of horror, there was a tearing sound and I was the proud owner of one pair of chaps. No spare trousers or staff available so I still had to attend the meeting.

Needless to say, the client had my back up against the wall.

What has been your biggest regret?
What is the point of feeling sorrow about past decisions? It changes nothing, but makes your present state of mind slightly worse. And anyway a recognising a bad decision should decrease the possibility of repeating it.

What is the most exciting aspect of your job?
I'm lucky enough to be working at the start of a genuine communications revolution, driven by the new digital technologies. This is an idea that has lost its impact through repetition, but like all clichés it's true. And we haven't seen the half of it yet.

And what do you least enjoy doing?
Who enjoys doing timesheets? An unfortunate necessity though if we are to protect our margins. I think that it's also unfortunate that we have to spend so much time sitting at a desk typing. The reduction of most everyday tasks to keystrokes and mouse clicks may have done wonders for working efficiency, but where's the humanity? I think technology has huge potential to free up the way we work and it's such a shame when it's simply used to cram more work into the day.

What's the best lunch date you have ever had?
Gordon Ramsay's with Leah Stitson from Overture. She's a great host. Without doubt the best eating experience in London.

You are trapped on a desert island. You can take only one newspaper, magazine and TV show. Name them.
The Guardian (Saturday edition for the Araucaria crossword, but bring back A C Grayling's The Last Word please, Mr Rusbridger); Pro Cycling (I'm a Tour de France nut); Ray Mears World of Survival (for obvious reasons).

Where do you see yourself in 10 years' time?
I'm not one of those people who have a 10-year plan. My vision of the future is mostly based around vague notions of migrating to the country, starting a smallholding and making a living selling the fruits of my labour at the local farmer's market. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, I salute you.

Career path Alex Jeffries
2004 Media and planning director Profero
2001 Planner PHDiQ
1999 Marketingmanager
1995 Media planner/buyer CIA Medianetwork

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