#BlogfromtheArchive - What does it take to be successful in the creative industries?
29/05/2012

We ask some of Manchester's finest what they think it takes to be successful in today's creative marketplace.

How well-suited are you to your current role? Do you have the right attitude and skills to achieve all of your career ambitions in the creative industries?

We all go through moments of wondering whether our career is on the right track and how far we can go in our chosen profession. But what if we simply don't have what it takes? Or, perhaps, we're just lacking one or two attainable ingredients that could drive us on to big things in our career.

Agency bosses and department heads have gained years of experience in hiring staff to help bolster their teams. They've seen individuals come in and fade out of the industry, and they've seen them go on to achieve amazing things. But are there a set of common attributes that make someone more likely to achieve success in the industry? Is there a particular temperament or tolerance? And what about skill-sets and experiences?

According to Kirstie Buchanan, creative director of digital agency Reading Room, it's often boils down to an ability to learn. "You need to be a sponge," she says. "In other words, absorb everything around you as you never know when inspiration will take hold. "It also takes personality, strength in mind, and an inquisitive mind that's always challenging. You can't think black and white - it should always be in glorious technicolour."

Colourful characters are littered throughout the industry - from junior live-wires, right through to chief execs and managing directors - and there's little doubt that the best agencies have these individuals in abundance. But is that enough?
Vivid managing director, Rachel Emson, believes determination and true passion are also integral ingredients if you want to go all the way.
"You need that zest to deliver key messages in a way that will most appeal and resonate with the audience," she says. "Being flexible, adaptable, empathetic and resilient are an absolute must. While key skills such as expression and a keen eye go a long way."

But what about for specific job types? While these attributes cover some of the core personality types to be well-suited to the sector, are there specific characteristics that are important for the different roles within an agency?
"Absolutely," says Nicky Unsworth, managing director of BJL. "Planners need to be insightful, strategic and analytical; creatives need to be creative (of course), imaginative, challenging and uncompromising; and client-facing teams should be bright and ordered, with strong interpersonal skills - and at BJL they need strategic skills, too."

Mark Lester, founder of design agency Mark Studio, suggests there are a number of attributes that can help a 'creative' succeed in the industry.
"They need to be passionate, enthusiastic, intelligent, resilient, observant, open-minded and chaotic. Oh, and it doesn't hurt to be slightly insane."
That the same personality type would also suit someone plotting to take over the world, should not go unnoticed. The creative industries are no place for shrinking violets and it's the bigger characters that tend to succeed - even if they lack other important attributes.

Steve McDermott - a former agency creative director who has since carved out an impressive career as a motivational speaker - is a prime example. I had the good fortune to attend one of his seminars a few years ago and he openly explained the key to his success. He claimed the creative director post ahead of colleagues he admits were more talented than he - and why? Because of his ability to present and sell his ideas.
There's no question having fantastic ability will stand you in good stead for a top career, but having the right personality is equally as important. Our industry is dynamic and it's the people who mirror this facet that will undoubtedly have the best chance of succeeding at the highest level.

Do you agree? Do you fit the profile? We want to know what you think...


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