The Power List | Jon Slade

“The golden rule of the business hasn’t changed at all: know your customer and with that knowledge create a product those customers can’t do without…”
As we move onto the ‘Gurus’ of the Walpole Power List, The FT’s Chief Commercial Officer Jon Slade discusses the secret to his success – and his key advice to anyone looking to break into the sector.

Jon Slade oversees the Financial Times‘ consumer subscriptions business, global advertising sales and operations including How To Spend it magazine and howtospendit.com, newspaper operations and the FT Specialist division. He was appointed to the FT Group executive board in December 2014.

What is your key piece of advice for those looking to break into the sector?

Publishing is a hugely competitive industry, and the parameters of the business – the opportunities, the threats, the technology – change rapidly and dramatically. But in my opinion the golden rule of the business hasn’t changed at all (and it’s applicable to all sectors): know your customer and with that knowledge create a product those customers can’t do without. So my key piece of advice is this: read widely, network extensively, and find out – and demonstrate – what makes the customer tick. Any employer who looks that gift horse in the mouth isn’t worth working for.

How have you achieved your success?

I don’t think I can point to one thing in particular, but here are few things that have certainly helped:

I’ve been prepared to be wrong. But stuck to my guns when I felt it was right.

I’ve employed people smarter than me, and I listened to them. And I looked to work for people smarter than me (and hope they listened!).

I respected experience. But paid attention to innovation.

I took time to learn the basics of the business. But I also went with instinct on occasion.

I tried to see the bigger picture and think ahead. And I got lucky.

www.ft.com

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