Best jobs in media

The media industry is filled with golden opportunities, but some shine brighter than others. Whatever your position, chances are, at one time or another, you’ve daydreamed about that top job falling into your lap. Julia Martin counts down media’s daydreams.

Best jobs in media
Best jobs in media

Fast-moving, glamorous and challenging – what a great industry media is to work in.

From the lowliest trainee to the most senior executive, most will tell you about envious friends who would relish the prospect of fancy lunches, private viewings and swanky parties.

Indeed, as Adam Mills, Carlton Screen Advertising's sales director, says: "Most of my mates work in law or finance and I know they would swap tomorrow."

But no matter how grateful you may be merely to get a foot in the door, there comes a point when even the most un-ambitious of junior buyers must have an eye on their boss's job – or one of the industry's other top spots.

So what are the most desirable jobs in media? We asked a cross-section of media owners and agencies what their dream roles were. While those that made the most-popular list were perhaps predictable, the results did throw up a few surprises.

Some of the more unusual picks included head bar-person at Soho House and Max Clifford's PA – for the gossip; executive producer of The Archers and manning the reception desk at Vogue House.

Indeed, Condé Nast scored more votes for various roles than any other company, with free clothes, travel and glamour generally cited as incentives. Are media folk really such a shallow lot?

But, among the light-hearted, were some more serious suggestions that were pipped at the final post. Cat Agostinho, digital account manager at Starcom Digital, has her sights set on the role of director of MSN UK: "Currently, the occupant is a woman [Gillian Kent] and she's so successful. MSN is doing so well at the moment and the company really looks after its staff."

One interesting anomaly to emerge from the many votes was that, whether you're on the owner or agency side, jobs at media owners cropped up far more often. Could roles on this side of the camp really be more desirable, or are those in agencies just too loyal to have their eye on jobs in competitor agencies?

Whichever is the truth, the final results were an assorted bunch. So, in no particular order, here are the jobs you chose as your "most wanted". Current holders best watch out.

1) Managing director, ITV sales

Current holder: Gary Digby

He says: "This is undoubtedly the best job in the business. ITV is Britain's biggest and most popular commercial broadcaster, making the sort of programmes that get people talking, and delivers mass audiences like no other broadcaster. ITV1 is the home of the most popular drama and entertainment programmes on television and when it's doing what it does best – with programmes like X Factor and Ant & Dec's Game show Marathon – it is, quite simply, unbeatable. The world is changing and that is why ITV is a fundamentally different company to the one it was a few years ago. The digital age we now operate in has created opportunities as well as challenges for ITV. We have a successful and growing family of channels and thanks to the £1bn that ITV invests in original programming and the new opportunities offered by mobile, interactivity and other new technology, no broadcaster is better placed to take on the future."

Carrie Barker, magazine sales director, Emap Advertising: "What an opportunity! I would love to inject a sales culture into an industry that is obsessed with inward-facing share negotiations. My motto is 'sell, sell, sell' – old-fashioned, I know, but it works."

James Hayre, head of creative, magazines, Emap: "Well, someone needs to do it."

2) Non-executive directors, Guardian Media Group

Current holders: Richard Eyre is one of four

Eyre says: "The Guardian is special. It is owned by the Scott Trust, not financial shareholders, so the quality of the newspaper takes precedence over profit maximisation. To achieve a financial balance, GMG surrounds The Guardian and The Observer with high-value media assets so the group is diverse. It's also a terrific board of people. Their distinctive backgrounds coalesce around a shared passion to preserve powerful thinking and analysis in the newspapers, and run a strong business around them that learns how to thrive on change."

Derek Morris, vice-chairman, ZenithOptimedia: "You get to play with that peculiar and wonderful British thing that The Guardian is. The whole purpose of the company is to perpetuate [it]. I don't know what John and Richard are committed to, but if they do 15 days a year, what a 15 days! You can be non-exec for any company, but to be a non-exec to the board that has to operate under the rules of the trust sets up a wonderful conundrum."

Julia Hutchinson, director, APA: "It's a great opportunity to work on a couple of the best media brands – best in journalism and truly innovative products."

3) Secretary of State, Department of Culture, Media and Sport

Current holder: Tessa Jowell

She says: "The media and broadcasting industries are the fastest-moving, most competitive and with the biggest potential for public service around. In my four years here, we've put together a new regulatory framework for the comms world via the Communications Act. With a White Paper due in the next few months, the review of the BBC's charter is well underway. Both pieces of work have to strike the balance that all governments wrestle with; how to protect public interest while keeping intervention in such a successful marketplace to a minimum. I'm looking forward to wrestling with it for some time to come."

Neel Desor, business director, Starcom Mediavest: "Media is dynamic and exploding. I'd love to be a key person in shaping policy in this increasingly important area. It would be great to leave something to be remembered by/tell your grandchildren. I also think I'd do a better job than Tessa Jowell."

Sarah Buckley, business director, Starcom Mediavest: "I think sometimes we underestimate the impact of influence of Tessa's role. What happens with the BBC affects the commercial marketplace plus a whole load of other legislation. Finally, with the recent addition of responsibility for the Olympics, it's got to be the top job."

4) Media director, Procter & Gamble

Current holder: Bernard Balderston

He says: "I think it's a terrific job. The media industry's a terrific industry to be in, and it's got better over the past 10 to 15 years. New technology in all forms of communication makes the job more difficult but more interesting. For those people fortunate enough to work at this time, it's more exciting. P&G is a supportive company. It's got a tremendous reputation in terms of its approach to business, a great reputation as a marketing company, and it's got high-quality products. It's among the best companies you can work for from those standpoints. It's been very supportive to me and the media industry. It acknowledges that if you have in-house expertise it will be a competitive advantage. It buys into that."

James Hayre, head of creative, Emap Magazines: "It's as close as you'll get to knowing what it must have been like to be Caesar."

Eddie Adedegi, Procter &Gamble TV group director, Starcom: "The UK's and the world's biggest advertiser – exposed to all media, a great buying team to work with. I hear the salary and pension aren't half bad either."

5) Director general, BBC

Current holder: Mark Thompson

Robin Crowley, Gaydar radio station manager: "I have such admiration for Greg Dyke that I would like to carry on his progressive vision of the world's once-leading broadcaster."

Sam Phillips, group marketing director, OMD: "It's very competitive, great fun and you'd get to see great performances and nurture new talent."

6) Chief executive, WPP

Current holder: Sir Martin Sorrell

He says: "I can't think of anything else I would rather do. The best thing is the daily exposure to different clients, different disciplines and different geographies. The worst thing is getting everybody to play in the same sandpit, where appropriate. However, in my view, this is only a question of time. What is particularly interesting at the moment is trying to capitalise on the development of new technologies and the geographical shift of wealth from West to East. Starting something from scratch 20 years ago has also had its attractions."

Sarah Buckley, business director, Starcom Mediavest: "World domination – need I say more? He's an advertising magnate who seems to be effortlessly conquering the world."

7) Chief executive, Google

Current holder: Eric Schmidt

Carrie Barker, magazine sales director, Emap Advertising: "Google will take over the world at some point [and] its potential to grow profit from all types of revenue streams is almost unlimited. On the ad sales front, it hasn't even scratched the surface – and for a very large fee I would love to help the company in its world-domination quest."

Chris Johns, account manager, RPM "It's a licence to print money at the moment, so must be great."

8) Managing director, Emap Advertising

Current holder: Marcus Rich

He says: "It never fails to amaze me the enthusiasm and creativity our people put into our business. If you represented Heat, Closer, Grazia, FHM, Zoo, More!, Kerrang!, Kiss, Magic, Q, Empire and Smash Hits! you'd be pretty happy, too. The advertising world is changing. There are greater requirements on media owners to understand their audiences better to enable them to deliver stand-out solutions, which truly drive customers' ROI. Our challenge is to be the best media owner in the UK at achieving that."

Carrie Barker, magazine sales director, Emap Advertising: "To run the only media company with true multiplatform brands has to be a dream job, as agencies and clients look for integrated marketing communications."

Tim McCabe, radio planning director, Emap: "It would mean the fastest meteoric rise ever (this is day eight for me in my new role at Emap).

9) Chief executive, Channel 4

Current holder: Andy Duncan

He says: "I feel very proud to be leading such a vibrant and vital cultural institution at such an interesting stage in its development. The role of chief executive is certainly challenging, but also very stimulating. I think that, coming into the job with a blend of experience from a commercial background at Unilever and a public service broadcasting background at the BBC, actually equipped me well for tackling the challenges in the modern media marketplace. I can't think of anywhere else I would rather be, and plan to stay around for as long as it takes to transition C4 successfully into the digital world."

Jessica Roberts, business director, OMD UK: "What could be better than discovering the next Jamie Oliver?"

Sarah Buckley, business director, Starcom Mediavest: "He's picked some programme corkers and a digital strategy to steer C4 on a successful course for the future."

10)Head of sales, Carlton Screen Advertising

Current holder: Adam Mills

He says: "Can magazines, TV, radio or the internet really be this much fun? Cannes, Babington House and film premieres go some way to getting me out of bed on a Monday morning, too. For an advertising salesman who loves film, it doesn't get any better." Our advertising world is always changing and the competition for the marketer's pound is getting fiercer by the day, but CSA is well placed. I have a great team to work with (including my boss, Deborah Chalet) and when all films finally go digital, CSA will be brilliantly positioned."

Neel Desor, business director, Starcom Mediavest: "With cinema, they're selling an experience. If I did a sales job, it would have to be selling an experience or an idea, not a commodity."

Media loves...Condé Nast:

Condé Nast popped up time and again. Those working in Vogue Towers in Hanover Square should watch their backs.

Nadine Young, business director, ZenithOptimedia: "It's got to be fashion editor at Vogue – loads of freebies, which would mean I could leave my Top Shop days behind me."

Emap's Carrie Barker: "Condé Nast Traveller must have the best freebies in town. Upgrades would be a way of life – what a way to live."

James Hayre at Emap: "Editor of Vanity Fair – what a Rolodex."

Laura Bennett, media planner, OMD UK: "Editor of Vogue – shoes, clothes and male models – or features editor of Glamour."


Whoever said the best things in life were free must have got wind of some of these jobs. Among those most motivated by freebies was Andy Carr, commercial director of Kerrang!, who voted for marketing director for Carling – "lots of music and beer," – the top job at Chelsea TV and restaurant critic for the Evening Standard.


Those working on the commercial side know that money makes the world go round, but that doesn't stop them from wanting to try their hand on the editorial side. Chris Goldson, business development director at Virgin Radio, fancied the editorship of Metro – "anything that's free for its customers has to work twice as hard" – and Private Eye – "it's sharp, it's fun and the tone of voice is spot on."

Among the other suggestions were: Editor of The Sun – opportunity to create the headlines and dictate to the masses.

Reviewer for Mojo – paid to listen to and write about all your favourite songs.

Other nominations:

Julia Hutchinson: "Managing director, NABS – for the need to put something back."

Carrie Barker: "Sales director of Tesco – Tesco will dominate the retail market and will only continue to grow in all sorts of sectors. The sky's the limit to become a serious 'media owner'."

Tim McCabe: "The Prime Minister's director of communications and strategy –my legacy would be 'he always told the truth'."

Jonathan Masterson: "Head of kids' programming at ITV – challenging market to work in and exciting changes ahead? Pluralist – with lots of non-executive roles, loads of new challenges and always on the move."

Our own jobs are best:

They might have aspirations for the future, but this happy lot reckon they've got some of the best jobs out there:

Carrie Barker, magazine sales director, Emap Advertising

Julia Hutchinson, director, APA

Andy Carr, commercial director, Kerrang!

Paul Beardshaw, production executive, Gaydar Radio

Eddie Adedeji, P&G TV group director, Starcom

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