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Kate Wright

Career Path: Marketing Manager, Me&You Design Agency
Location: Sevenoaks, UK

I’ve enjoyed a really diverse career over the last 22 years and love being part of the design world. I gained a Graphic Designer role straight from my degree at Northumbria at a good, small agency in London. Design roles in London, Auckland and Sussex followed until I decided to move into marketing leadership and creative account direction.

One of the steps in my career saw me at a placement at a fantastic top agency where I sat next to the designer hand-drawing the new logo for Walls that I still see in every corner shop! Nobody’s life runs smoothly, and whereas I had hoped to stay on there, I wasn’t selected and needed to find a new role. My next London job was great as I was the sole designer for an ambitious start-up and so I gained valuable experience presenting to clients and effectively being both a designer and account manager. Our clients included the British Tourist Authority and SBC Warburg.

At this point I flew off to spend a year in New Zealand, and thoroughly enjoyed designing rugby, cricket and fitness magazines for a friendly publishing house overlooking Auckland Harbour. Again, they threw me in at the deep end and had me designing the highest profile billboard ads in the city and directing a TV ad (which I remember cost just £50 per slot in the Eastenders ad break!).

Graphic Design roles in London and Sussex followed, part-time whilst my children were little, and I realised that my career would have more scope if I moved into a leadership role and account management. I never wanted the risk of owning my own agency. I had many meetings with marketing and communications managers briefing me, and I wanted to be in their shoes. All those projects had given me great insight into what is effective. I had a wonderful boss at an agency in Lewes where she really believed in me, so my marketing skills developed alongside my confidence. I could now devise full marketing plans, lead marketing meetings and my clients valued my recommendations.

What are you doing now?Kate Wright

As Marketing Manager for me&you design agency in Kent, I work to raise the profile of our creative agency through a programme of content marketing, PR, direct mail and relationship marketing. I develop our marketing channels, in particular our website and Instagram account, to champion the work being created by our designers and brand strategists. I also advise clients on their brand strategy and help them develop their market positioning. The design agency is becoming more well-known in Kent and the South East for our specialisms in branding, digital and content and we have many clients in the food and drinks trade!

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here?

When I researched Graphic Design courses, it was clear that Northumbria was in the top five in the whole of the UK. I was thrilled to gain a place as I wanted the experience of living in a big city which was vibrant with a strong character. I knew London already - I wanted to be adventurous and try somewhere new.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

On our Graphic Design degree course, we were mainly based in the studio producing our own work. It gave us structure to have the studio and fellow students there every day, compared to other courses where you were studying alone at home and having occasional lectures. 1993-96 were the very early days of Macs, and we had to combine new technology with old-school drawing and cutting and pasting - probably no bad thing for our creativity! The tutors didn’t sugar-coat their feedback in the Crits, but this probably set us up for clients giving less than glowing reviews in future years!

How connected was your course with industry?

My Graphic Design course was well-connected with industry, including a connection with Usborne the book publisher.

If you took on a placement during your course how did you feel this helped you in your career/ with your studies?

The (well-paid!) placement that the University set up for me at Usborne Publishing was a huge asset to my early CV. I worked over the summer at their London studios between the second and third years, and enjoyed assisting with photo shoots and designing books. I’m really grateful for that opportunity with a very well-regarded company.

What was the best thing about your course?

There were many options to take Graphic Design in whichever route we wished. The briefs were quite open so it was fantastic to see the Degree Show at the end, with a great variety of design approaches. I also had the opportunity to study electives in languages, and chose Italian one year and Russian the next, on top of my Graphic Design studies.

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

Northumbria is very well-regarded among design employers and my portfolio of work produced whilst on the course was strong. My work placement at Usborne Publishing was really important to me starting out in my career.

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

Studying at Northumbria will give you an excellent start in your career. There’s a real community of creative people there - fellow students I knew on creative courses are now key figures in their industries.

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