Chrissy Dillon

Introducing Chrissy Dillon

Name: Chrissy Dillon

Current job: Category manager

Joined Frontline: 2010

I joined the company in 2010 as a copy planner; in 2011 I became category operations manager. I then had two kids so went on maternity leave for a couple of years and came back in as a category manager. I did a secondment in the news trade marketing team before jumping back into category management.

Copy planning is very supply chain focused, newstrade marketing is publisher focused and then category management is very retail focused so I now have a thorough understanding of the business and the end to end journey of magazines.

In my role now I unbiasedly look over the complete magazine category, providing retailers with insight and support on their strategy. To give you an idea of the scale of our work, I work with WH Smiths – airports, railway stations, service stations – there are over 500 stores, and each has a range specific to them. My focus changes daily depending upon what the retailer needs.

The magazine market may be in decline but it is still a multi-million pound industry. Magazines are a good source of information that you can trust (there’s no fake news!). There has been a 7% decline year on year for the last decade but that’s what makes this role so much more challenging, in a good way. We have to strive for something different, innovative and creative around in-store space. It’s all about the ‘£ per bay’! Conversely, this makes for a more exciting role. Plus, there are so many launches with new magazines, publishers are investing all the time, which is a really positive sign, and great to be part of.

Future ambition

I am very analytical so for me, my current ambition is all around good analysis and being able to present the results to an audience. I really enjoy this and want to do more.

Tell us about the Frontline culture

The best part of the company is the culture and our working environment. Everyone knows each other, it is like a big family; I can talk to anyone in the company. I would work for Frontline every time – the culture is so much better than anywhere else I’ve worked, that’s why I’ve been here for 10 years. It’s a friendly environment – even when pressure is on, there is still that environment where everyone pulls together.

The office itself is lovely to work in, there is space to have meetings in a booth or a break out area, and the canteen is brilliant!

Are there three words that sum up the company

Friendly, progressive, exciting.

Any advice for job interviewees

Know a bit about the magazine market, go and have a look at the magazine fixtures in local stores to you and understand difference between stores. Also think about demographics and about the challenges the magazine market might be facing.

Stuart Clark

Meet Stuart Clark

Name: Stuart Clark

Current job: Commercial copy manager, but currently seconded to a five-year project.

Joined Frontline: 2014

I have a lead role within this replenishment project and there are areas where I am out of my comfort zone, so I have some amazing steer and mentorship from the business leaders who probably know me, and how I operate, better than I know myself.

The project means I need to talk to people right across the business as well as third parties; this has been a steep learning curve in terms of how everything works together, seeing the business as a whole. But it is so rewarding, particularly when we complete a stage and move onto the next.

As part of this I’ve been put on external management development courses which I take very seriously – this is a large investment in me and invaluable.

Future ambition

We have development maps rather than personal developments reviews. It’s a new way of thinking about ourselves. As a person I’m not someone who has a job title in my head and aims for it, but I have reflected on what I want as an employee and it’s that ‘winning’ mindset and what comes of that, comes of that. So, I tell myself, ‘what do we need to do today, let’s go and do it and help people along the way, give advice, share knowledge, etc’. That is what I’m aiming for – to do my best.

What’s the company culture like

Our senior team are exceptional with some great role models in there – how they act and behave, the quality of their work, they are the industry experts. Our analysts are some of the best in the UK, they have won the awards; the experience in our logistics team is exceptional; the supply chain team know how to build relationships the right way – and all of this comes from good leadership.

There is a continual drive to be the best in the industry and we are not happy to be anything else or do sub-standard work which is great.

Three words that best describe Frontline, in your opinion

The industry’s best!

Any tips for future candidates

The best thing they can do is research the company – who we are, what companies do we work with, we are a supply chain company first and foremost, so look at who we might work with – wholesalers, printers, publishers, etc. Also, in preparing, dust off the old calculator skills and excel skills – people get phased by this, so do some practise.

Prepare some answers and base them on examples of where you’ve worked before and done something different, for instance: solutions to problems, how you effect change.

Daniel Norcott

Daniel Norcott says hello

Name: Daniel Norcott

Current job: Commercial copy planner, Supply Chain

Joined Frontline: 2017

I came straight from University (Exeter). I was studying politics but applying statistical concepts to real life problems. I arrived at Frontline via an agency. I wanted an analytical, numbers-based role but with that element of real-world problem solving.

A typical day for me consists of reviewing our wholesale clients and their allocations. This is a fundamental check and balance in the supply chain process. I’m also training and developing two new planners and am involved in an-going project which looks at further improvements to efficiencies in allocations and stock placement.

You don’t know what challenges you are going to face when you come in, in the morning. Given the diversity of titles we work across – for instance, we might be working on a title with a print run of a million copies (TV Choice) or a bird watching magazine with an 8,000 print run – both have different issues and demands and this is what keeps you on your toes and makes the analysis work so satisfying. These are positive challenges and you get a lot out of this. Problem solving is an interesting part of the role.

Future ambition

I am looking forward to expanding my role with more project work. I’m also really enjoying the training and development and doing more of this as a routine part of my day to day work.

Tell us about the company culture

In many other companies you can be heavily micro managed with a role that is strictly defined by other people; what I find here, they strongly encourage you to challenge the status quo and if you have an idea on how things should be changed, you shouldn’t be afraid to go and talk about it.
I also have a lot of autonomy in my role; there is this in-built respect for people’s work and a belief they can do it effectively and efficiently.

Three words that sum up Frontline for you

Openness, diversity, challenge (in a positive way)

Any tips to give future interviewees

From the perspective of a copy planner, refine your excel skills!

Helen Selves

Welcome to Helen Selves

Name: Helen Selves

Current job: Commercial copy manager, Supply Chain for Seymours, looking after 3rd party distributors.

Joined Frontline: 2014

I work alongside the account managers for the publishers to decide volumes of magazines for each retailer based upon previous sales performance. Basically, I do spreadsheets every day. It might  not seem such a glamorous side of magazines, but I love it!

I joined five years ago as a commercial copy planner, was promoted to copy manager in 2017 and now manage a team of three planners. I work on children’s magazines. I regularly meet with my publisher to review how their titles are performing; it’s one of the largest categories of magazines, and is fascinating.

At this company, if you are willing to develop and work hard they will help you as much as they can. I’m outgoing and pushing myself to do things outside my comfort zone so it’s been a mutual journey to get to where I am now.

Future ambition

I really enjoy working in the supply chain so trying to gain as much knowledge and understanding and getting as much exposure at the moment is most important to me.

Are there three words to sum up the company

Fun, rewarding, loyal.

Any thoughts on the company culture

The people are the best bit about the job, everyone is really friendly and approachable. I like that the company isn’t hierarchical, for instance, if a director has a question he comes direct to us, it’s not filtered down through the ranks. Where I worked before I couldn’t look a director in the eye and that’s important to me.

I’ve recommended two people to the business and both have been a success and are currently enjoying their job. I knew they were the sort of people who work hard and would put in the work and want the same as I do.

Tips for anyone prepping for an interview

Always be honest as it will serve you better in the long run and do your research.

Agate Silina

Introducing Agate Silina

Name: Agate Silina

Current job: Logistics co-ordinator in Supply Chain

Joined Frontline: 2017

My role in basic terms is about getting the magazines to the wholesalers ready for distribution. That means speaking to printers, wholesalers, publishers and hauliers. The logistical landscape is constantly changing as magazine sizes impact on how things are packed which, in turn, has a knock-on effect on transport and delivery. This means keeping our retail partners updated and ensuring this is a good experience for them.

I have a portfolio of 30-plus titles to co-ordinate. It’s always busy, and very fast paced. I enjoy coming to work which I couldn’t say in my last job and there are people who have been here for 20 years which I see as a good sign.

The company wants you to develop and get better. When opportunities open up, they want you to step up and grow yourself. You are encouraged to better yourself which is a real positive for me.

Future ambition

I want to stay with a company that looks after me which Frontline does. I want to develop within my role to make sure I’m 100% able, then talk to my manager to see what is the next thing. I could possibly jump into the export space as obviously we distribute abroad too; I’m learning all the time; Christmas, for instance, throws up its own challenges, and there are new titles coming on board all the time. Two years have flown by, I’ve never stood still, so it is a great place for me to grow.

H2: Which three words best describe Frontline

Ever moving forwards.

What’s the Frontline culture like

We have canteen catch-ups and supply chain catch-ups, it’s clear the company has a plan in place and this makes you feel really secure about your own role and knowing things are going to grow.
There’s lots of flexibility – it’s about give and take and a good work ethic.

Tips for interviewees

Be yourself. When I came for an interview I was interviewed by managers but it didn’t feel like they were. I hate interviews but this one was very free and relaxed, it wasn’t as daunting as I expected it to be so my advice is to relax and be yourself.

Danielle Barnes

Hello from Danielle Barnes

Name: Danielle Barnes

Current job: Newstrade Marketing Manager

Joined Frontline: In 2016

I joined Frontline as a Retail Marketing & Planning Executive. After a year I moved to the Newstrade Marketing team as an executive before being promoted to a Newstrade Marketing Manager.

I never thought I would be working in the magazine industry, I fell into it and I absolutely love it.

You just accept that magazines are on sale in the shops but you don’t understand how they get there, and that’s where Frontline come in.

My team manage the client relationship and portfolio for Conde Nast titles such as Vogue, GQ, House & Garden and Tatler. We sit between the publisher and the retailer and manage the budget and retail marketing deals and promotions amongst other things! We are constantly analysing performance and reporting.

No two days are the same, it’s a varied role, challenging in a good way, it pushes me every day.

Future ambition

I really enjoy working for Frontline so I see myself working here and becoming the best I can in my current role.

Pick three words that describe Frontline

Fun, friendly, forward-thinking.

Tell us about the culture

First of all, it’s great to be working for a market leader in this industry. They are head and shoulders above any company I’ve worked for previously. Everyone is approachable, it’s a friendly place, it’s the Frontline way which might sound silly but that’s the case.

Top tips for interview prep

Research the company, it is really important you are interested and show you care and have a passion because that’s how we are here.

Laurence Hoefling

Meet Laurence

Name: Laurence Hoefling

Current job: Commercial accountant, Finance

Joined Frontline: 13 years ago

I never get bored, every day is different, from a finance perspective that’s a good thing. I like to be pushed; I never drive to work and dread the day, I think ‘what am I going to achieve today’.

We always want to expand and develop the business and challenge the status quo so there are always new ideas and projects running – it is for us as a finance team to make sure we can support that. I work across all our other subsidiaries so can be in London one day.

I now manage a team of five people and they are a great group of people and provide a safe pair of hands. I started in admin (data entry, scanning, etc) having completed one year in college doing my accountancy qualification. I came to Frontline and the company paid for my training to continue, so I became fully chartered and now I can do anything across finance. Next on the agenda – the company is sending me on a two year Masters Degree in Leadership.

Future ambition

I see my career here for the long term and I want to be running a subsidiary business or this business. When an opportunity becomes available, I’ve jumped at it; as a result, I feel like I’ve been able to achieve a lot in the last few years. It’s flown by, it still feels new and fresh.

Three words that sum up Frontline

Focussed, driven, adaptable.

What about the culture

We always try and help each other out; if something goes wrong it’s not pointing a finger, it’s how can we help improve and stop it happening again. We actually enjoy each other’s company, we choose to socialise out of work, not because we have to but because we want to.

Tips for applying for a job at Frontline

Do your research before coming for an interview; and a good cover letter goes a long way!