An ad exec who's been in the business for 20 years shares his best advice for any young person starting out

Unnamed 7James KiernanFox digital executive James Kiernan
, second from left, graduating college in 1997

The Fall without question is my favourite season. The weather cools off allowing for us to pull out the layers and Fall boots. As a sports fan, NFL and College Football kicks off and MLB playoffs are in full swing. And with each Fall, a new class of recent grads infuses the industry with renewed enthusiasm, energy and a welcome wave of optimism. To those of you in this category, congrats and welcome to the biz!

Now you just have 40+ years until you can sniff retirement so you might as well make the most of it. Many of you likely began your career this summer, so you’re getting your sea legs but still trying to make heads or tails of the business. As someone who can draw from roughly 20 years of experience, allow me to offer you some advice.

Have a POV

From the first day you begin earning a paycheck, you ARE considered a professional and should be both expected and encouraged to have a point of view. Too often are entry- level employees are reluctant to share their ideas, fearing that their opinions will not be heard or worse, will be outright rejected.

The reality is that good ideas can come from anywhere, including those who are right out of college. On the HBO docuseries The Defiant Ones, famed producer Jimmy Iovine talks about how it was a 19-year- old intern who was bold enough to recommend that he check out an unknown battle rapper from Detroit who ended up being Eminem. Be confident and share your point of view but also be prepared to back it up with research, data or your own personal experience.

Establish an expertise

My first job in media was as an Interactive Coordinator at OgilvyOne. Internet advertising was just getting started and the biggest brands in the world were scrambling to capitalise on the new medium. If you knew a little bit, you knew a lot and were immediately in high demand.

Headshot2FoxJames Kiernan, vice president, digital
, Fox Networks Group

With new technologies and trends constantly being introduced, there will always an opportunity to emerge as a subject matter expert. Whether it be artificial intelligence, virtual reality or the next big disruptive technology, you should invest the time and effort to learn as much about a topic and instantly become the person who people turn to for information. This will not only help to raise your profile but you’ll learn how to keep up with trends which in a rapidly changing industry is vital.

Realise you’re already an expert

With brands trying desperately to craft strategies around Millennials and now Gen Z, your own media consumption and the focus group of one you bring to the table is immensely valuable.

Think about how you engage with different forms of communication. Which shows are you and your friends talking about? Which brands do you believe are doing it right? Believe me, colleagues will find it insightful and it could help to inform a brand’s communications strategy.

Recognise that relationships matter

You’ll find that you grow up in the business with fellow colleagues, partners and clients. Some may become your best friends and be there the day you get married! One day you’re trading traffic sheets, then before you know it you’re on either side of the desk negotiating multi-media dollar deals.

Despite technology and automation playing an increasingly larger role in media, relationships will always matter. It’s through relationships where we understand each other’s business and develop an empathy for the challenges we each face. Without that, we’re simply trading eyeballs and won’t fully achieve what we’re capable of.

That’s all I got. Take it for what it’s worth and may you have a long, successful career in an exciting industry I continue to feel fortunate to be a part of!

James Kiernan is a vice president of digital sales at Fox Networks. Prior to joining Fox, Kiernan logged stints at Twitter, ESPN, as well as several top media buying ad agencies.

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