PubForum Keynote Brooke Edwards-Plant on Embracing Innate Talents to Tackle Ad Ops

Despite not studying ad ops in school, Brooke Edwards-Plant has worked in the industry for over a decade. Now she is the VP, Global Ad Operations and Revenue Platforms at Condé Nast. 

Brooke Edwards-Plant didn’t initially plan on a career in ad tech – when she began her professional journey, the industry was still relatively new. However, despite not studying ad ops in school, she’s worked in the industry for over a decade. Now she is the VP, Global Ad Operations and Revenue Platforms at Condé Nast. 

The rev ops professional put her all into getting where she is today, working extended hours on the job, forging relationships with mentors and peers, and  leaning into her inherent abilities to keep her motivated. 

On August 8th at PubForum in Coronado Island, California, she will join her friend and former colleague Rachael Savage, Senior VP of Ad Operations at Hearst, in a keynote discussion about growing your ad ops career. They will focus on why hands-on experience, partnerships with colleagues, and relationship builds h Ki in the industry are essential to success.

Making a Career in Ad Ops  

Edwards-Plant’s journey to ad ops wasn’t linear. In college, she majored in International Studies with the thought of attending law school or even working as a diplomat with the U.N. However, she reconsidered law school because of the state of the economy at the time. 

“Everyone my age was going into law school, and there weren’t enough jobs for the graduating lawyers, but it was a way to hold off on making a career decision,” she explains. 

History and economics have always been interests of hers and when she began working in ad ops she noticed ad servers are reminiscent of the open market. She jokes, “It’s a market that is totally unregulated, but it’s an Exchange nonetheless, which is part of what I find interesting. I love macroeconomics, so yield, supply, and demand, all of those things that play heavily in the background of our day-to-day, are interesting to me. And they’re weirdly applicable.”

For those entering ad ops, she advises to remember to remain confident and understand that it’s okay to be wrong. The rev ops vet credits some of her most important lessons to moments when she made mistakes at work. 

Not everyone in ad ops has to be super technical. Yet, for certain positions, having the technical knowledge down is necessary, she notes. “Being resourceful will take you far. Because even if you don’t know the technical information, knowing who does and being able to get that information from that person and distill it outward is possibly a more important skill,” she says. 

Keeping the Day to Day Interesting 

Before switching to ad ops, Edwards-Plant worked in finance, but she didn’t enjoy it, and the economy also played a role in this industry’s viability. When a part-time position opened up on the SEO team at Hachette Publishing, she took the opportunity to pivot direction. 

That job began her ad ops journey, moving to Elle Decor and becoming part of Hearst when it acquired Hachette. Her tenure at Hearst lasted ten years, after which she worked at The Atlantic during the pandemic. She then moved to Condé Nast, where she was recently promoted to her current position. 

Firsthand experience has been a valuable teacher throughout her career, particularly in an industry with skills that weren’t necessarily taught at school. “Ad ops was newer when we started, and none of this stuff was innate. And while I think being resourceful is likely a personality trait of mine, this job certainly helped me develop that muscle, which has served me well long term in my career,” she shares.  

Ad ops is also well-suited for people who want to avoid boredom, Edwards-Plant notes. “It’s an ever-changing industry where you’re always busy, always moving. There’s always something new to experiment with. I’m somebody who, if I had a repetitive environment where I was doing the same thing every day, I would die slowly inside.”

Finding a Mentor Can be As Simple As Asking 

As she’s grown in her career, many great bosses and mentors have been there to coach her along the way. This guidance helped shape how she approaches the workplace. 

“It has been invaluable to be able to take the lessons that I’ve learned from my mentors and apply them as I become the person who gets to make some of the business decisions instead of the person just executing them,” she notes. 

When looking for a mentor, Edwards-Plant advises it’s important to not be bashful. Her mentors are people with whom she had an existing relationship, which made it less daunting to ask for their mentorship.

“Most people are honored when you ask them to mentor you. Also, age does not matter. Find somebody with skills you admire, and make time for them, and you’ll find that most people will make the time for you when they can,” she says. 

Hiring & Fostering Diverse Talent in Ad Ops 

Sharing your knowledge and encouraging others is important in both work and personal relationships. In Edwards-Plant’s life, she makes time to support others and pay forward what she’s been lucky to receive in working relationships. She also fosters an environment of inclusivity on her team. 

For Edwards-Plant, having a diverse team is second nature. “I’m a woman of color. And I think by nature, people tend to hire employees that they are comfortable with, are peers with, or with whom they share some understanding, right? That’s why having diverse hiring managers is important.”

She believes she looks at a candidacy pool differently than someone who isn’t a person of color. She also works to elevate the visibility of diverse team members because she knows that her investment in them can make a difference in their careers. 

“For me, it’s very important that I pay forward some of the good experiences I’ve had in my career, especially as a woman of color in this industry. I have benefited from certain mentors recognizing my talent and elevating me. I make a large effort to pay that forward and provide that same kind of space for the folks who either work with me, work adjacent to me, or who I meet in the industry,” Edwards-Plant says. 

For more thoughts on what it takes to succeed in ad ops, attend the keynote hosted by Edwards-Plant and Savage, “Growing Your Career Through the RevOps Ranks,” at PubForum in Coronado Island.