25 years within Creative – what Kate has learned

Next up as part of our “sharing the wisdom series”: Kate Gorringe, Creative Director at Mr B & Friends.

With two decades of experience in the design and advertising industry in London behind her, Kate moved to Bristol in 2013 and joined Mr B & Friends as Creative Director. Her career to date has spanned appointments as Head of Art for AGA Advertising (now Gravity Global) and Creative Director roles at brand design agencies Finisterre Design and Philosophy Design. She has undertaken projects and major campaigns for approximately 30 per cent of the FTSE100, as well as for national charities including Cancer Research UK, RSPB, NCT and Citizens Advice.

Now, in an attempt to capture some of the wisdom you’ve gained as a professional so far, what are “5 stand-out things” you’ve learned within the past 25 years of working as a Creative?

Kate says:

Having recently got involved with the Board of Bristol Media, I’ve been thinking a lot about the dearth of women in senior creative positions, and reflecting on my own career to see what has helped me in pushing through the glass ceiling. I think I can sum this up in a few key learnings:

1. Take ownership. Don’t wait for someone to tell you what to do, or expect someone else to fill in the gaps in your work, no matter how junior you are. If you only ever do just what you’ve been asked, no one will ever think you can do more and you won’t be given the opportunity to progress.

2. Don’t limit your experience. Don’t specialise too early or get swept up in current trends to the detriment of getting as wide an experience as possible. Recently at the Creative Equals Conference, Paul Davies, Head of Consumer Marketing at Microsoft UK, told us that two-thirds of school leavers today will end up in careers that don’t currently exist. You can’t predict where you’ll end up, so don’t pigeon hole yourself. I started as a corporate identity designer, then worked as an advertising art director, and I’ve also stretched myself in copywriting – I’ve never put myself in a box. The ability to adapt to different situations and the willingness to be flexible makes you a great asset.

3. Don’t be scared of criticism. As creatives, our work is critiqued everyday, and that can be really tough on your self-worth – I’ve seen many leave the industry as a result. But it’s important to remember that it’s never personal, and our job is about constantly learning and improving – it only makes us better in the long run. Don’t get me wrong, I still find criticism uncomfortable, I’ve just learned to take it in and explore it with my colleagues. And have a strong cup of coffee!

4. Stop talking, start doing. I’ve known a lot of creatives in my time who embed themselves in the creative life, enjoying talks and networking and sharing work they’ve seen online. All of this is great but the real test is doing something brilliant ourselves. We can all do it, we just need to stick our necks out and have faith in ourselves – it’s easy to let the carefully-curated world of Instagram make us believe everyone else is better than we are. They’re not.

5. Apply for the job! I heard a horrible statistic recently – that women typically won’t apply for a job unless they can tick off 85 per cent of the job spec, as opposed to men who will apply if they can fulfill 30 per cent of the same job. This is partly the fault of those hiring, like myself, who are always looking for a shiny unicorn and over-specifying the role, but I would say to everyone reading this and women in particular – apply for the job. If you don’t get it it doesn’t matter, but you’ll never know where you could be if you self-select yourself out of the process. You can work out how to do the job after you’ve got it!

Thank You for sharing Kate!

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