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Rob Colley

Career Path: Director, Plump
Location: York, UK

I grew up in Cheshire and was always more creative than academic. During my summers, I used to work for my Dad's marketing agency and actually worked on the first website they sold as a commercial product. I always wanted to do something that involved design and technology and I was very lucky to have the opportunity to absorb a lot from people who were working in design, building CD ROM applications and early websites. The A-levels I chose were Design & Technology, IT and Art - very focused on creativity, problem solving and technology. Studying Multimedia Design at Northumbria felt like the natural progression as I knew I wanted to work in that field. The course was relatively young but it stood out as being the best opportunity for me to progress into my chosen career.

What are you doing now?Rob Colley

I set up my own digital agency nearly six years ago with one of my course-mates I studied with at Northumbria. To begin with, the work I was doing was very design-led. The demands of the business have led me into client service, business development and consultancy but I'm still passionate about design and the role it plays in our lives.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

Northumbria was great and the support from the tutors was even better, Jamie Steane joined the course as my tutor in my second year and he in particular was a breath of fresh air. Having just come from a big successful design agency he brought lots of experience with interactive design and a load of interesting and varied briefs that really engaged me and my fellow course mates.

What was the best thing about your course?

The space and time we had to experiment and learn. I didn't appreciate it at the time because I just wanted to hurry up and get to work on live commercial briefs, but I've since realised just what an amazing thing it is to have exciting and challenging briefs, really creative and helpful tutors and the space and time to be creative and experimental without the constraints of the commercial world.

How did studying at Northumbria help you achieve your career goals / give your career an edge?

The course introduced me to the notion that interaction design was already pretty broad and was only going to get broader and more diverse (which it continues to do!). There was a strong emphasis on crafting the idea and even though we were able to experiment with new tools and technologies, it remained really important to have a strong idea and not let the medium distract from the message. I met my business partner on the course and the work we did together helped fuel the idea we would one day set up our own digital agency. I've also kept in touch with my tutor Jamie Steane, who has been instrumental in helping us to develop our design processes and commercial offering over the past couple of years.

Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now/throughout your career?

Presentations need polished, attention to detail is crucial.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

Being able to study the subject I was really passionate about whilst enjoying student life in a great city.

What advice would you give somebody who is thinking of studying at Northumbria?

Newcastle is a fantastic city, rich in culture and creativity. The facilities at the school of design are outstanding and Northumbria has a fantastic environment for student life. Make the most of everything the university and the City has to offer.

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in three words?

 Inspiring, productive and fun

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