From Cadavers to a Career in Media and Learning to Embrace Change - A Leadership Talk with Ian Lynch
Ian Lynch, the Global Head of Campaign Management at Spotify, took a surprising path to his current role, as he revealed in a recent conversation with Peggy Kim, CEO, and Founder of FUTURE NOW. His journey is a testament to the unpredictable nature of life, filled with lessons of resilience, adaptability, and balance.
From Coroner to Wordsmith: Discovering His True Passion
An aspiring coroner, Lynch enrolled in the pre-med program at the University of Southern California. But, he discovered that he was much better at writing papers than dissecting bodies. So, he pivoted and became an English and creative writing major. Like many college students, Lynch did not know what he wanted to do after graduation, but—after a stint as a temp—found himself as an editor at PR Newswire, where he stayed for almost four years.
The Value of Education: Lessons Beyond Academics
From there, his career journey evolved into more operations and managerial roles at companies like LeisureLInk, YP, Amazon, ESPN, Disney, and now, Spotify. Lynch exudes a genuine passion for people and processes, and his career progression is an example of leaning into one's strengths and talents...and the joy of discovery.
Despite the seemingly unrelated nature of his degree and career, Lynch emphasizes the invaluable lessons he learned during his academic years. These lessons transcended majors, teaching him to collaborate effectively with diverse personalities and solve complex problems.
In his words, "It doesn't matter what major you're in; school helps you find the way to balance partnerships and ensure your voice is heard, without having to be the loudest person in the room."
Spotify's Global Maestro: Ian Lynch's Career at a Glance
Today, Lynch leads Spotify's Campaign Management team, responsible for ensuring that Spotify's advertising partners achieve their objectives. His team provides essential support by sharing reporting data, managing assets, and finalizing billing, among other vital tasks.
In addition, Lynch oversees the technical operations team, responsible for troubleshooting technical issues, as well as the house and labels campaign teams. House campaigns showcase Spotify's latest features, while labels campaigns introduce new artists to the platform.
Triumph Over Trials: Lessons from Adversity
Ian Lynch's journey to success was not without its challenges. In 2014, right after his wife gave birth to twins, Lynch lost his job and he struggled to find work for the next six months. Though it was a very stressful time, he reflects on it today with appreciation as it gave him a chance to be there with his children and a hopeful and positive perspective on change. Lynch shares, "You look back and think, 'I'm in such a better position than I ever was previously'… and you’re really grateful for having gone through that tough period.”
Recent graduates who can relate to the stress of job hunting will find inspiration in Lynch's story. He advises giving oneself breathing room and acknowledges that it's okay to feel upset for a day, as long as you continue to search for the next opportunity and grow.
Honesty as a Virtue: Being True to Yourself in Job Searches
For those embarking on job searches in unfamiliar territory, Lynch offers a valuable piece of advice: be candid about your experiences.
Lynch landed his first role in digital advertising at ESPN despite having no direct industry experience. He boldly admitted his lack of experience in digital advertising but emphasized his expertise in related fields and how he could bring value to the role. In his view, "There is no replacing eagerness, ambition, [and] willingness to learn and grow."
Adaptability: Riding the Waves of Change
Adaptability has been a hallmark of Ian Lynch's career. He highlights that even when things don't go according to plan, one often ends up in a better place than anticipated.
Lynch encourages individuals not to be too hard on themselves and to learn to adapt and go with the flow. This doesn't mean suppressing emotions, but rather channeling them into productive action and exploring new opportunities that arise from change.
Leadership as an Ongoing Journey: Learning from Others
To continually improve his management style, Lynch prioritizes learning from others. He believes that the most critical aspect of management is learning from different perspectives. This includes insights from managers and leaders at various levels, as Lynch explains that leadership isn't confined to a specific role but can be embodied by individuals at any level.
The Importance of Mental Health and Empathy
As a leader, Lynch strives to create a culture of support rather than judgment within his team and is open about his own mental health struggles. “In college at the time, [I] was really, really suffering from depression and probably some ADHD.”
Spotify promotes "fika," the Swedish equivalent of coffee breaks, and he goes the extra mile to be available to his team members, often meeting one-on-one over coffee. Lynch believes it helps him stay in tune with his team's experiences and be the best manager and support he can be.
Banishing the Imposter: Balancing Logic and Emotion
Despite his position, Ian Lynch admits to grappling with imposter syndrome at times. “It is very, very important to balance the logical with the emotional,” he advises.
Anyone at any level can feel imposter syndrome, and to counteract this, he encourages taking a look back at your accomplishments. “Give yourself credit for what you’ve accomplished in the past,” he said, and “be grateful, be happy, because you’re doing a great job.”
Navigating Life's Rapids: Embracing Change
In conclusion, Ian Lynch's story offers a beacon of hope to those navigating the challenging waters of life and career. He reminds everyone that periods of stress often precede success.
"Right now is the time to go out there and learn, and it's fine to fail because you learn from failure." College and post-graduation life may seem like a series of hurdles, but the key is to give yourself the time and space to adapt and grow.
"You don't need to have it all figured out right now." Embrace change and uncertainty, for they are the currents that will carry you to your intended destination.