Swapping the sun and beaches of Sydney for London is a trade that most people would say “How about the other way around?”. For me, it was something I always wanted to do.
As head of design at Omnicom Media Group UK, my role is hugely varied, which is something I love. As lead designer, I am working on a range of things each week. However, one of my favourite aspects in this role is being a brand ambassador – I am often asked to review documents, approve deliverables or provide advice to ensure our visual design is “on brand”.
I have always had a passion for design, but what anyone who I work with will tell you is that I have an even bigger passion for the process behind it.
Even though my working week is always varied in terms of projects day-to-day, my Monday always starts the same way – the weekly ‘Design Scrum’.
The weekly Design Scrum is an opportunity for the central design team to sit down and discuss the week ahead. We plan how to best utilise our resources, set the priority for design projects against deadlines and analyse how many requests we have received from specific agencies/Specialist Services. These requests range from events collateral, pitch communications, key stakeholder presentation decks, concept designs for a new brand, new starter brochures…and everything else in between.
As well as planning the week ahead, it is also a chance to go through feedback from projects delivered in the prior week to identify key learnings or better understand what worked well. It is also a time to chat about any new updates that may have gone live on Adobe’s design applications or new features that may help to improve our workflow and design efficiency.
After the Design Scrum, I will catch up on new requests (you would be surprised as to how quickly our inboxes fill up on a Monday morning), especially for creative projects that involve art direction or to create website concepts, for example.
Tuesday is the day I have scheduled to check in with the designers across the group – getting an update on live projects, design workload and whether additional support is needed, especially if there is a pitch coming up.
If there is a pitch that week, depending on the deadline, I usually help manage the design process (told you I love a process!). This may involve making sure resources are allocated against the workflow planner, helping orientate and on-board freelancers with brand guidelines and project objectives, or providing creative direction to designers. I also enjoy rolling up my sleeves and lending a hand to any design that needs doing to ensure we meet deadlines.
This is usually my day working from within one of the agencies in the group. It is an opportunity for the designers to ask questions about the work we are doing centrally, for me to provide mentoring and guidance, or perhaps adopt a more hands-on approach with design. It’s also a great time to run through the developments of any new software or suppliers that we are planning to work with.
Apart from process, one of my passions within this role is helping to mentor and enhance the design skills of those in my wider team. This may be imparting some technical knowledge or sharing wisdom on managing people and processes. Or, sometimes, people just want to have a chat about things outside of work – I always try to make time for a coffee to check in and see if everyone is OK.
Thursday is reserved for the more business-focused side of my role. It is a time to review our design strategy and business objectives, in addition to working through the reports, financials and budget planning for the design function. I also try to use Thursdays to build our external supplier relationships by meeting with account managers to discuss any new innovations they may have that could be beneficial to the group and agencies – whether it is negotiating new prices or services, reviewing software and tools, or considering new technologies for the business.
Thursdays are also a day where I spend quite a bit of time working with the central PR and Marketing team regarding design direction and support for external content. We have a lot of content that goes out on a Thursday, so, with my brand ambassador hat on and design eye, I approve the final assets before we click ‘publish’.
As a team, we try to keep our Fridays relatively free in order to give us time to work on any last minute or ad hoc design requests – especially if Specialist Services have been asked to speak at an event or invited to a pitch. We also use Friday afternoons to update and work on longer-lead projects, such as the redesign of internal documents or presentations.
Where possible, I try to end the week enjoying some social time with the team, before finally logging off and recharging over the weekend for the next week to come.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Promise what you can deliver, deliver what you promise.
By Karl Terszak, Head of Design, OMG UK