SalesTech Interview with Jessica Sibley, Chief Sales Officer at Forbes
Tell us about your role at Forbes and the team you handle.
I’m the Chief Sales Officer for Forbes, which means I oversee the entire experience for Forbes’ brand marketing partners, inclusive of sales, brand strategy, program services and licensing. My team works with our clients to bring their stories to life, and connect them with Forbes’ coveted audience. We create high-touch campaigns that are unique to every advertiser and which are effective in helping them achieve their overall business goals. For example, this year we partnered with Intel to introduce “Forbes AI,” a series of dynamic digital and print publications that examine how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing global business, sparking new industries and reshaping society at large.
What is the crux of “30 Under 30”?
Celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit has always been at the heart of Forbes, and the Under 30 list allows us to showcase young entrepreneurs and leaders who are passionate, driven and already leaving their mark. Forbes Under 30 highlights young innovators and risk-takers who are leading the charge towards changing the world for the better, which speaks to the core of Forbes’ mission.
The list features 30 honorees in 20 categories, ranging from music to healthcare to technology, who are vetted during an extensive process that leverages the knowledge and authority of Forbes’ wide-reaching community, skilled reporters and expert judges. Our goal is to show the breadth of talent this community of young people has to offer, and to do our part to reward their bold ambitions.
The Under 30s are the types of individuals who many of our clients want to align themselves with because they’re bold, passionate and driven. For example, this year, we partnered with Courtyard by Marriott on a video series called “Fueled by Passion” which featured five stories of Under 30’s who are powering students potential, building careers for veterans, harnessing the sun’s power, making cities move better and helping patients through science.
Tell us about the three-layer selection process for the honor.
Producing the Under 30 list is a relatively grueling process and lasts much of the year. In fact, Forbes typically receives more than 15,000 applications annually for only 600 total slots.
To begin, our editorial team solicits candidates through open nominations, as well as recommendations by respected investors, executives, and entrepreneurs, and also through their own reporting. Over the course of the year, our reporters and editors work to select roughly 60 to 80 finalists from this group for each of the 20 categories.
From here, the formal judging begins, led by three or four independent industry experts (including some 30 Under 30 alumni) in each field. Previous judges have included Mark Benioff, Aileen Lee, David Chang, Jennifer Hyman, Steve Balmer, and Phil Knight, among countless others. At the end of the entire process, we’re left with an acceptance rate of less than 4 percent, meaning that honorees represent the very best of the best in their respective fields.
What has been the most decisive change in the way Forbes sees the list? Which segment of the business has garnered interesting results?
While the list itself has maintained the same mission since its inception in 2011, the world itself has changed significantly over the past eight years, and we’ve done our best to adapt. While some categories like music, sports, and venture capital have remained relatively straight forward, others such as consumer technology, enterprise technology, and even healthcare have gone through monumental changes due to industry fluctuations. Therefore our criteria for what makes an individual worthy of the 30 Under 30 list has had to adapt.
Each year, the list becomes more competitive, and as it gains popularity and its importance to entrepreneurs grows, our team must continually update the ways in which we look at applicants and their real, tangible impact on the world. That being the case, a standout nominee one year may not even make the short list during another judging period, simply because of the nature of their industry.
Do you think Millennial groups are as productive as Baby Boomers and elders?
Modern technology and the general availability of information has certainly made some aspects of business easier, but it has also increased overall competition twofold in every field. In order to stand out from the pact, younger generations need to drive innovation and create something new in an already saturated marketplace, which is no easy feat.
Consumers are constantly bombarded by new products, brands, and technologies on a daily basis, almost to the point of desensitization. The standouts must elevate their voice to cut through the static and make a real difference, and the winning brands are those that build a genuine connection to their consumer. If anything, our Under 30 list proves exactly how productive millennial groups can be when they are determined and work tirelessly to succeed. The list itself speaks to what can be accomplished with the right dedication and drive.
Tell us how is Consumer Technology shaping up in 2019. What kind of leadership do you see there?
Consumer technology is an area that moves very quickly and there are a lot of exciting areas on the rise from voice-activated tech to the rise of AI. If you look at brands like Amazon, Apple and Samsung- they’re successful because they create products that are hyper-focused on the user experience and that push the boundaries of digital connectivity and innovation.
The true game changers in this field are the companies are identifying what consumers want, then developing and offering those innovations at scale before we even knew they were missing from our lives. The greatest leaders in this space are building brands that are culturally relevant, and creating engaging experiences and seamless on-demand services and tools that promote health, well-being and equality, and generally, allow us to enjoy life to the fullest.
Thank You, Jessica, for answering all our questions. We hope to see you again, soon.
Forbes Media is a global media, branding and technology company, with a focus on news and information about business, investing, technology, entrepreneurship, leadership and affluent lifestyles. The company publishes Forbes, Forbes Asia, and Forbes Europe magazines as well as Forbes.com. The Forbes brand today reaches more than 94 million people worldwide with its business message each month through its magazines and 37 licensed local editions around the globe, Forbes.com, TV, conferences, research, social and mobile platforms. Forbes Media’s brand extensions include conferences, real estate, education, financial services, and technology license agreements.
Jessica is the Chief Sales Officer (CSO) at Forbes with a proven track record of success building, leading and motivating high performance multi-platform sales organizations. Creative and strategic thinker with years of experience at leading media brands with responsibilities for driving advertising revenue by developing high level relationships with marketers and advertising agency executives. Substantial experience developing new business models and revenue generating solutions from emerging media platforms.
Specialties: Integrated Selling Including Print, Digital, Video, Mobile, Custom Content, Research, Custom Events and Conference Sponsporships. P&L Management, Revenue Generation and Strategic Partnerships, Forecasting and Budgeting, Sales Strategy and Administration, Compensation Planning, Brand Positioning, Brand Strategy, Sales Programs and Policies, Solution Based Selling, Team Building and Leadership. Recruiting and Retaining Top Talent.