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Nadia Vinokur

Nadia Vinokur

Nadia Vinokur a Senior Distribution Manager, Digital Transition at BBC

  • Location: London, UK 

  • Corporate title: Senior Distribution Manager, Digital Transition 

  • Company: BBC 

  • Sector: Media University degree: B.A. Communication and Art History from UC Santa Barbara and M.A. Media and Communication from LSE

How does your usual day look like?

I have two types of usual days – one with and one without my son. On the former, I would love to say I wake up extra early, meditate, exercise and plan my day, but that would be a complete lie – mornings with my son are always chaotic and he has to be the centre of attention! First thing after waking up (usually around 6:30-7:00) I drink a glass of warm water with lemon juice, cayenne pepper and apple cider vinegar. When done consistently, it’s the only thing that keeps viruses at bay. I then make sure my son eats a healthy breakfast and gets ready for school while I get ready for work.

After the school run and morning rush, I usually try to take a quick pause to bring myself back to focus for the workday, with a breathing exercise, mediation, or just a quiet coffee and breakfast. On mornings when I’m alone, I use the extra time to start the day with exercise (usually yoga or Pilates class), take a walk or catch up on tasks and planning. One constant throughout my days is music, especially in the mornings. I live and breathe through music, whether I’m happy or sad, energized or tired, I use music to power me through and to shift my mood.

My job is hybrid, with more days spent working from home, which really helps with the challenges of juggling work and parenting. Days in the office are usually filled with project and team meetings, catch ups, brainstorm and stakeholder engagement sessions. When working from home, I try to organise my calls so that I have solid chunks of time to devote to work that requires deep thinking or writing. This work can often be slow and difficult, so leaving uninterrupted space is essential for delivering my best result. My team also stays in close contact over Slack throughout the day which helps us remain aligned and maintain a team spirit while working remotely.

Whether at home or office, I always make a point to eat a healthy lunch (I eat mostly plant-based) which makes a huge difference for staying alert and productive in the afternoon. I also try to find time in the afternoon to take a break for a short walk outside, usually timing it with the presence of the sun!

Evenings are also split in two types, either taking care of my son - cooking dinner, homework and chores - or socialising with friends and colleagues, attending an event, and exercise. I wrap up most days by connecting with friends or family who are far away.

What are the things you like the most about your job?

The best part of my job at the BBC is being able to contribute and help shape a unique, world-leading media organisation with a strong social purpose and impact.

And day to day, it’s being surrounded by diverse, creative and inspiring people who are truly passionate about what they do and the quality of content they bring to people in the UK and around the world.

What are some of the skills you utilise the most in your day-to-day at work?

My job involves developing distribution strategy and bringing it to life through partnerships and collaboration, so in my day-to-day work I rely heavily on soft skills – particularly strategic thinking, communication, and relationship management. However, it is also essential to produce quality output, so data analysis, strong writing and presentation skills are absolutely key.

What was one of your happiest days in your career and why?

Back in 2019, I had a unique opportunity to work with Ros Atkins to help him prepare a corporate business case for the expansion of the 50:50 Equality Project – an initiative he started in the BBC’s newsroom which proposed a data-driven approach to content production and culture change to increase women’s representation on air. I was immediately inspired by Ros’s vision and his unwavering pursuit of a challenge that nobody has really been able to crack.

By the end of the year, the project was formally adopted across the BBC and has since grown to be a tremendously successful initiative with a network of 145 global partners, and a broadened focus on shifting representation of disability and ethnicity. Being able to contribute my small part to support this work was definitely one of the happiest and most fulfilling moments in my career.

What was the toughest career decision you ever made?

I don’t think I’ve had to make one yet!

What is something you had to learn to become better at your work?

I spent a big part of my career doing work in strategy which happened completely unplanned, without any formal background or training. So I had to learn tools and techniques for problem solving as I worked on projects, usually from my colleagues, and later supplemented this with training on consulting skills and strategic thinking.

How did you get to become a Senior Distribution Manager at BBC?

I’ve never had a fixed formula or plan for my career, but I’ve always followed by interests and gut instinct. Before getting to this role, I worked in two different but related careers in market research and strategy. I found both intellectually stimulating and interesting but felt that I wasn’t tapping into my passion for working with people and building relationships. That is what led me to this role, which is 1/3 strategy and 2/3 relationship management, partnership and collaboration.

What's the career advice to your younger self?

Speak up more and don’t be afraid to express your opinion, even when you think others are more knowledgeable than you. Pay attention to the way others respond to your work and contribution – not being valued or recognised despite working hard and putting in the effort is a sign that you are probably not in the right environment. Look for work where your skills will be seen as an asset and for leaders who will support and bring out the best in you – this will help you thrive.

What makes you gracefullyBOLD?

Striving for more, but always staying grateful and content with what I already have.

How do you spend your weekend or downtimes?

Family and close relationships to me are the most important component of a fulfilling life. Most of my immediate family lives in the U.S. so my free time and weekends in London are usually split between doing activities with my son and keeping in touch with friends. I also always try to carve out time for my personal interests and passions – travel, art, theatre and music, exercise and being out in nature.

How do you deal with stress and build resilience?

This is something that is an ongoing learning process and such a big focus for me. The first and most important thing I do when I find myself in situations of high stress or anxiety is stop and take a pause, breathe and calm my mind. I then visualise the road ahead in small, sequential steps which allows me to continue making progress without feeling overwhelmed. Focusing on one step at a time gets you up the mountain and, before you know it, you’re heading down the other side. Meditation, breathing exercises, and physical exercise are also a regular part of my daily life.

What would have been your alternative career path or alternative University degree?

I am passionate about art and photography, and I studied Art History as a second undergraduate major. Early on, I thought about building a career in art – either in a museum, gallery or auction house - but have not taken it beyond a personal interest.

What are you currently learning or what’s one of the last things you learnt?

Salsa dancing – it’s a great mix of physical, social and sensory activity.

Who is a (female) professional that inspired you along your career journey?

I’ve been fortunate to have come across a number of inspiring women in my career, but I would particularly call out my most recent manager because she was exceptional at leading with empathy, focused on bringing out the best of my individual abilities, always acknowledged and credited the work that I had done, celebrated individual and team success, and turned failures into learnings that ultimately contributed to greater achievements.

What would you do if you were not afraid?

Take a chance on building my own side business.

What’s the one question we didn’t ask you, but you’d like to answer?

  • Question: What is something you’ve learned that has helped guide you through life?

  • Answer: To embrace and be proud of my differences instead of trying to fit in.

The previous interviewee left a question for you! “If you could change one thing in your professional life, what would you change?”

I would like to spend more time with people and less time at the screen.

One word answers & quick fire round. Let's go!

  • Your superpower: Kindness

  • Favourite restaurant: I could never pick one, but Humo in London is pretty exceptional

  • Favourite fashion brand: ba&sh

  • Favourite beauty brand: Caudalie Beauty Elixir

  • Favourite perfume: Dior ‘Forever and Ever’

  • Book recommendation: “Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and happy life.” Hector Garcia, Francesc Miralles

  • Next holiday destination: I would love to explore South America

  • Your hobby: Going to food markets, and trying new food and recipes

  • Favourite mantra: "My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style." Maya Angelou

  • Who inspires you? The strong women in my family

  • Tea or Coffee: Coffee in the morning / tea in the afternoon

  • Red wine or White wine: White

  • Morning bird or Night owl: Morning

  • Cat person or Dog person: Cat I respect their independent character.

Thank you Nadia for sharing your journey & wisdom with us!

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