'Learning to relish in change is a life skill'
A view from Jack Wallington

'Learning to relish in change is a life skill'

The Student Room's Jack Wallington shares his lessons from the career ladder.

My career started in 1999 aged 17, running the site and community for pop group Steps, and I’ve stayed in publishing and social media ever since. Hopping between industries – from music to TV, technology to charity and now youth and education – the principles of engaging an audience of millions remain the same. 

Change is brilliant.

"Nobody likes change" – cobblers. I love it. Teams and products must keep adapting; learning to relish in change is a life skill. Look at the internet – just when we thought it was the biggest disruptor in our lifetime, audiences switched to mobile devices.


There are more ideas than can be done. Very few people can prioritise effectively and it means making tough decisions people won’t always be happy about. But you mustn’t change direction because of it. 

Mistakes are the sign of a good team.

There was a time when marketers were up in arms about an intern making a spelling mistake in a tweet. Who cares? In good teams, mistakes happen when they’re trying something new. Repeat the good stuff, learn from the bad. 

Put young people in charge.

I’ve always found young people to have razor-sharp clarity and untainted wisdom. Listen to them and let them show you the way. 

Should’ve paid more attention in maths.

"Explore your creative side in marketing," they said. What they didn’t say was: "But you’re also going to have to understand more data than you can ever imagine." When I was at the Internet Advertising Bureau, I learned the common errors companies make when interpreting data, which helps me avoid making them myself.  

Employ people on drive, not experience.

I employ smart, driven people who will get on with my teams. Experience comes second to that. Driven teams who get on achieve more than a group of experts who don’t. 

Get some perspective.

Compete with competitors, not your colleagues. Competing with other people in the office for a promotion or pay rise limits ambition. Stay focused on making your products or service better than anything else.

Switch jobs while you’re young.

As Madonna once sung: "There’s only so much you can learn in one place." It’s important to change jobs at the start of your career. You can learn from the way every company does things differently.  

London isn’t the centre of the universe.

I live in Clapham but work in Brighton. The Student Room works with companies all over the country and only a handful in London. Look beyond the big smoke for opportunities.  

Rules are made to be broken.

Good judgment and rule-breaking creativity are an unstoppable weapon. Every day, I push my boundaries, daydream, have an idea then throw it away and do the opposite. Anything is possible. 

Jack Wallington is director of community, The Student Room; Wallington was featured in Media Week’s 30 Under 30 in 2009