The Power of Perspective: PubForum Keynote Janelle Faulk Talks Career Development, Diversity, & Data’s Future

Janelle Faulk’s diversified career in the digital media industry has guided her to her current position as Global Head of Advertising Operations at Bloomberg Media. 

Ahead of her keynote speech at AdMonsters’ upcoming Publisher Forum in Miami, Fl., Faulk spoke with us about her career trajectory, valuable lessons she has learned over the years, and her thoughts on where the industry is headed. 

Faulk began her career in digital media at Businessweek, working in ad operations, which allowed her a holistic view of the business and an opportunity to gain experience in various areas. “Ad operations is a fascinating vantage point from which to view the changing media landscape because ad operations incorporate business needs (signaling marketplace pressures) and user needs (elegantly integrating advertising into the user experience),” Faulk explains. 

When she moved to Bloomberg, Faulk leaned into the company’s entrepreneurial spirit, which allowed her to stretch herself in new ways. As she gained experience in launching programmatic operations and building a robust pricing and inventory practice across media platforms, she contributed to many new edit and product releases. 

Now, in her role as Global Head of Advertising operations, Faulk says, “I set the vision and strategy to activate, optimize and deliver ad revenue across Bloomberg Media’s owned and operated and off-platform media platforms, such as our website, consumer-facing mobile app, streaming video/OTT, TV, radio, podcasts, print magazines and the Bloomberg terminal.” 

She and her team work alongside editorial, sales, marketing, engineering, product, and more to bring ad campaigns to fruition across the company’s media platforms. 

More than a Company: Bloomberg’s Culture

Faulk has worked at Bloomberg for 13 years in several different capacities. The company has an innovation-driven, fast-paced culture, which she says offers both a challenge and an opportunity to effect change. As well, relationships within the company are key.

“Bloomberg encourages growth within the company by actively supporting individuals in their careers. We are regularly encouraged to think bigger and identify areas we want to develop ourselves,” Faulk shares. She and her manager take time to map out her career goals and how she can achieve them using the resources available at Bloomberg (such as professional development courses, mentoring, and networking, including informal connection opportunities). 

Faulk is also passionate about people development, something she discovered since beginning her tenure at Bloomberg, where she continues expanding the size of the teams she leads. “Team members and colleagues tell me I should start a side hustle as a coach!” she enthuses. She dedicates time to developing her team member’s skills, ensuring they reach their career goals and stretch their strengths to continue growing professionally.

Valuable Experiences Shape a Career

Faulk credits some of her professional success to the guidance she’s received from mentors and sponsors. She explains the difference, “Mentors help me reframe challenging circumstances into learning experiences, while sponsors pinpoint stretch assignments and opportunities for growth.” She believes that the best mentorships evolve organically, and sponsorship comes from mentorship.

Faulk too finds value in leaning into difficult experiences and committing herself to lifelong learning. She says, “As I progressed through my career, I realized how important it is to continually use my voice to push for change.” When problems arise, she believes reaching a solution that works for all parties is important and stands her ground. 

While working for Bloomberg, she has continued to grow by pursuing new learning opportunities through the Harvard Business School Executive Education Program for Leadership Development. “The program is an alternative to an executive MBA and was transformational. Bloomberg supported me pursuing the program, which is a wonderful example of how owning your career and identifying new opportunities is extremely beneficial to your professional development,” Faulk says.

Beyond the Business, Diversity & the Arts

Faulk also looks for ways to incorporate diverse voices into her work environment. She seeks diverse mentors to broaden her perspective and previously co-led Bloomberg Media’s Inclusion, Diversity, and Culture Task Force in the Americas. 

Including diverse perspectives in the media and tech spaces can help businesses succeed, says Faulk. “As a Black woman, I consciously built a diverse and inclusive team culture. By including diverse perspectives, we can identify new business opportunities and solve problems faster, creating a culture where everyone is valued.” 

Faulk encourages empathy and active listening for those looking to create a more inclusive environment in their own workplace. Each individual has their own set of challenges and their own perspective to contribute. She believes that listening to other points of view can make our colleagues feel like they are part of a community at work. 

Bloomberg also engages in philanthropic efforts, which is something Faulk values. A storyteller at heart, she focused on Cinema and Media Studies in both undergrad and graduate school and continues to find fulfillment through the arts. 

“So often when we talk about professional development, we don’t talk about how we bring joy into our lives and the lives of others. I embrace joy and self-care through my love of the arts,” she explains. Bloomberg affords its employees cultural access, and she takes advantage of this benefit and is a member of several young patrons groups in New York City. 

First-Party Data & a Better User Experience

Bloomberg announced last October that it would end its open-market third-party programmatic display advertising on its website and mobile app beginning January 1, 2023. Transitioning to a first-party data platform will change how publishers approach data. 

Faulk says, “First-party data platforms offer publishers like Bloomberg a unique ability to offer the context and audience that advertisers need to sustain personalized advertising at scale while thoughtfully cultivating those relationships in a way that maintains the trust that our audience has in us.”

Bloomberg’s heritage is that of a data company, adds Faulk, and the self-reported information the company has from its global subscribers allows Bloomberg to understand what content is most relevant to its audience. This can then be used to tailor campaigns based on whom those campaigns are reaching. A first-party approach also offers a multi-dimensional view of Bloomberg’s audience, which helps the company create user experiences to benefit both end users and advertising partners.  

While no one knows what the future has in store for data, Faulk predicts it is almost certain that privacy will continue to be at the forefront of the discussion. This means users will need to understand the importance of their data and how the industry uses it. 

For publishers, understanding and cultivating relationships with users and creating value for them will be paramount. Faulk notes, “Ensuring our audience sees value will help us continue to gain insight into what our audience wants and deliver a better audience experience.” This value can be created in many ways. Bloomberg is experimenting with granting access via registration and offering more relevant user recommendations. 

“Overall, I envision users will have a heightened awareness, supported by technology and laws in ways they haven’t previously. There will be incumbencies on a digital property to ask, but not take, and to be clear in their practices,” Faulk says.