“If you don’t adapt and move with the times you will become a dinosaur”. Those words have rung in my head practically every day since they were said to me about 10 years ago.
I have worked in an Ad Agency for 36 years, 24 of those years at C21. I have always had a curious mind so the production side of the business is where I lay my hat. I’m the type of person who needs to know how it’s made, why it does what it does and can it be improved. I drive my husband mad constantly asking him questions. Knowing about litho and digital printing, exhibition stands, graphics, different types of paper, vehicle wraps, basically anything that has to be made is what drives me. Being asked to find somebody who can make a 2 metre statue from surgical instruments for an exhibition thrilled me – all those questions that I love – how will it be made, what will the structure be made from, how will it be freestanding, does it need to be illuminated, how will it be transported.
So, how have I gone from being a Production Manager to a Senior Project Manager? It wasn’t a career path I had considered or desired. It was the dinosaur quote that sparked it. Sadly, the print industry has been on a decline for years now. From printing thousands of brochures to printing a few hundred every now and again and budgets being cut for exhibition stands, photography, promo items, etc, it looked like my job was going to be redundant. I had to diversify, move with the times and learn new skills.
My communication skills were transferable and having always had great relationships with suppliers I relished adapting these skills to liaise with Clients. All of a sudden I was having to strategise, write proposals, present at meetings, think on my feet, be an expert in my field – all things that at first took me completely out of my comfort zone but made my heart race in a good way. My biggest hurdle was digital marketing. I’m a touchy, feely person. There’s nothing better than the smell of a newly printed brochure, opening the box and smelling the print ink, touching the brochure, feeling the paper, checking the print quality, getting giddy that what had been an idea in a Creative’s mind had been turned into reality. You can’t touch a website or an emailer. It’s all out there in a digital realm – a realm that was more of an alien than a dinosaur to me!
It’s definitely been a learning curve. I’ve always asked questions, it’s that inquisitive mind of mine, but so many questions and so much terminology to pick up. I can’t say it’s been easy for me – slowly and surely I am getting there. I’ve been involved in a number of website builds, have scoped the functionality, produced the information architecture, considered the copy for SEO and am really proud of myself. Along this path I have taken there have been moments where I have thought I will never pick this up, blamed it on my age, but with the support of the magnificent team around me who have been patient and happy to share their knowledge I know so much more about digital marketing than I have ever thought I would have and get such a buzz when a website or an emailer campaign goes live. I still have a lot to learn and can’t wait for my next digital project in this ever changing online world. So goodbye dinosaur, hello brave new digital world!