We go behind the scenes to see what life is like at the FT
The Financial Times holds a big seat in journalism both in the UK and Globally. Established in 1888, the newspaper has seen and documented everything from the man’s first step on the moon to the fall of the Berlin Wall. A while back, we had the pleasure of meeting an interviewing Virginia Stagni of the Financial Times. We met Virginia at the FT Office in Southwark for coffee and asked her some questions about her job and working for the FT.
Q: Tell us what the average day duties at the FT looks like in terms of your day-to-day duties.
A: I currently work as a Business Development Manager here at the FT. To be honest, no day is the same here at the FT! Lately I’ve been looking at business models and how we are shaping our business model to one that is concerned with saving the quality journalism and information. I think it is really important to give business and economic sustainability to information and to be able do this, we need to make people understand the importance of paying for quality news. My job revolves around finding new projects or new products that enhances the shaping of our business model.
On a more day to day basis, I get into the office at 9am and I look at emails from when I’m awake in the morning. As a business development manager I have to help the FT think strategically and long term about how to grow our business i.e. how can we work with other tech companies, make partnerships with the likes of YouTube, Google, and other big players in the market. My role requires me to liaise with potential partners, and overall find creative solutions to help our business grow and stay profitable.
Q: What do you enjoy most about working at the FT?
A: Well firstly, I love the media industry. I’ve been fascinated by the news and the power of journalism from a young age! What I really enjoy is the opportunity I have to work on strategic projects; the strategies I help build are really meaningful for the future of FT and the media industry on the whole. I feel so lucky to be able to look and work on the big picture.
Q: Describe the working culture of the FT.
A: The working culture at FT is quite unique. Working culture is all about people and the dynamics between people at an organisation. And I feel that the culture at the FT is one that is very listening, people are also very welcome to work and think independently. In addition, entrepreneurial thinking is accepted and encouraged.
There is a common perception that the Financial Times is targeted towards older white male professionals who work in the City and people automatically associate that with our working culture as well. This is not the case. The FT is doing a lot of work in terms of diversity & inclusion, social mobility and giving space to people of varied backgrounds. I think it’s important that people are made aware of this.
Q: You are an entrepreneur yourself, tell us a bit about that.
A: 3 years ago, I started work on Logos. It is a very small product and we currently have just a small team working on it. Logos is a box designed to change your interactions with smartphones. Whilst charging your phone, Logos rewards you for being free of your device through an innovative system that values time as a new currency; to change your interactions with smartphones. Logos to me in a social innovation product, its purpose is to encourage people to be more independent from technology.
Q:What is the most challenging thing about your everyday role at the FT?
A: As a business development manager, I have to connect the dots of various parts of the business. This can be quite challenging at times, getting everyone on the same page about things can be tough as well as the FT is such a huge organisation. However, it is all part of the learning experience and despite being challenging, I still enjoy doing those things.
Q: How were you able to break into the media industry? What kind of opportunities
have you had which have helped you get into media?
A: I did a master’s at LSE in media and communications, and I wrote my dissertation on how business models and business modelling can help save quality journalism. I used the FT as one of my business cases in the dissertation and to support my research, I visited the FT building to interview members of the commercial team. Once my research was published, the people who I interviewed at FT saw it, were impressed and offered me in my first role here.
When I was at university in Italy for my undergrad, I founded an art blog which went on to become quite a successful online magazine with over 80 writers from around the world. The magazine served as an online art and culture platform. My involvement with the magazine showed me how the media business worked. Also the passion I have for journalism has been my driving force to get into media, I saw journalism as a tool to improve freedom of speech and that is very dear to me.
Q: What advice would you give to a novice with regards to breaking into the media
A: Be curious, don’t get overwhelmed easily. Be patient but always have a strategy for what you’re doing. Think about your journey and where you’d like to see yourself in the next few months as opposed to a few years. It is really important to read a lot as well,
ready about many different topics from many different sources. It is very important to be proactive even when you are at university, reach out to meaningful people in the industry who can give you more insight and maybe even help you with regards to your career.
Q: If you could give your teenage self any advice, what would it be?
A: I never really had much anxiety or concerns about the future when I was younger but I would tell myself to focus on the bigger picture, to map out my goals from an early age and work towards them.