Jhan Hancock-Rushton is the Luxury Sales Director whose career has seen him climb the ranks at some of the publishing world’s most important titles. Currently at British Vogue as Advertising Director, Jhan has previously managed key luxury accounts for Hearst and Time Inc and led teams responsible for maximising revenue in an ever changing industry. Here, our latest Creative Achiever tells us how he got to where he is and his invaluable advice for managing work relationships.
What was it that first drew you to a career in media?
I’m bilingual, and was brought up both in Sweden and the UK. Moving from one country to another somehow gave me an interest in how we communicate, how things ‘fit together’ in society, which led to an interest in sociology and I ended up taking a degree in Media and Communications at Lund University in Sweden.
And how did you get started?
After I graduated in Sweden I thought a year out working in London would be fun, so I rocked up without much more than a suitcase and, after a series of group interviews –think grad-Hunger-Games in the boardroom – I got a job at the bottom of the rung at Dennis Publishing working for a computer magazine. Not so much sociology.
Tell us a bit about the role of an Advertising Director?
It means very different things in different places and has different names (Commercial Director, Sales Director…) depending on where you work, but are you usually a coach to a team, representing your brand at a senior level, keeping ahead of the competition to ensure you maximise revenues without diluting your proposition, and you have to be inventive and always keep on top of the next big thing…
What are you doing when you’re not working?
Spending as much time in the kitchen as possible. Playing Scrabble with my husband, enjoying the East Sussex South Downs where we live with our two cats. Oh, and lately knitting- it’s very therapeutic. So, a typical media rock and roll life.
How has the publishing world changed from when you first started in your career?
There used to be about 10 of us on a team just doing one thing, now there seems to be one person on a team doing 50 things. It’s good though, there is much more variety in what you do. And I would say a big difference is in how collaborative the editorial and commercial teams are now.
What do you think it is that makes you great at what you do?
I take the work seriously, but I come to have fun.
What’s the best thing about your job?
So many things. It’s a blessing to work in this industry. Creative, charismatic people, several once in a lifetime experiences, hilarity (oh and the eating out).
Have you had any mentors throughout your career who’ve helped get you to where you are today?
Many. And all of them women, they know who they are.
You’ve managed some pretty big commercial teams in the past – what kind of leader are you? Is there one piece of advice you always give people?
That’s something that is always evolving. It’s important to be self-critical but not second guess yourself. I try and find a balance for the team between work and play. I try to remember that every person has different motivations and processes problems and situations in different ways and at different speeds. I’d never ask someone to do something I wouldn’t do myself.
In terms of advice – mostly when things get tricky in a work situation they are often about relationships within a team or an organisation, so I always say to someone who is in sales: “Treat every single person you deal with, internally and externally, like you would your most important client.” It takes the ‘personal’ out of it and it makes you focus on the outcomes you want. If you are a good sales person you can handle a demanding client, so apply all those skills and strategies you use there to any relationship and it’ll be a breeze!