The world of media has changed radically since Asiah James started at FIT in 2011. As a student intern at Ebony, James, Advertising and Marketing Communications ’15, launched the magazine’s Tumblr and Instagram accounts on her personal phone. Now, as director of corporate strategy and partnerships at Condé Nast, she needs intricate knowledge of a complex ecosystem of channels: not just print, web, and social but also podcasts and events.

In her position, James analyzes each of the global media company’s brands—Vogue, Allure, Glamour, and more—and brainstorms strategies to expand their reach and strengthen engagement. “What are people loving about it?” she asks. “What do they want more of? Are there opportunities that we’re not paying attention to because we’re so accustomed to the status quo?”

For example, Bon Appétit has long produced charming videos about cooking and dining that perform very well on YouTube. Edited down for Instagram, those clips garnered 10 times the views.

James also works with corporate partners like legacy TV networks to get Condé Nast editors onto red carpets and into green rooms for major awards shows and other events, “moments we don’t naturally own but definitely cover,” she says. She also oversees partnerships for Condé Nast “tentpoles”—major cultural moments like the Met Gala and GQ’s Men of the Year Party.

Portraits of Asiah James by Lauren Riley.

In just eight years at Condé Nast, James served as beauty marketing director, leading the relationship with beauty retailers like Ulta and Target, and worked with auto and food/spirits advertisers, “non-endemic” categories for a company focused on fashion and beauty. And as director of emerging audiences, a role she created, she cultivated advertisers who wanted to target diverse groups like LGBTQ or Black readers.
It takes creativity and a nimble attitude to thrive in an increasingly splintered media landscape. Condé Nast no longer competes just with other magazine publishers for ads; it now needs to win against TikTok, Google, Meta, and any other company with access to consumers’ eyeballs.

“When I walked in eight years ago, I assumed I’d be selling ads into a book,” James says. “I didn’t realize I’d have to be well-versed in a new language.”

And James has embraced not only the lingo of the new media landscape but also that of corporate America. “During the pandemic, when I was working from home, I would finish calls and say to my fiancé, “‘Oh, we could do something turnkey for lunch.’ He’d ask, ‘What does that mean?’ It’s part of the lifestyle!” —Jonathan Vatner