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“Lift as we rise”; musings from the masters at Facebook / Instagram

This month’s masterclass was held at social media titans Facebook in their London HQ. Chaired by Creative Access non-exec director Ajoy Roy-Chowdhury, the panel imparted wisdom that left all of us feeling inspired…

First up was Annie Lawrence, Solutions Engineering Apprentice at Facebook, who talked about her journey in securing her apprenticeship. “Practical and people skills are most important, but they come in second to academic because you can get that on the job. It’s more important to meet people and get those connections.” Finding a job isn’t all about your academic background, and networking and creating connections is what can really push you above and beyond. She spoke about the challenges of being one of the youngest in her team and being a female engineer in a traditionally male world.

Creative Strategist, Julie Seal, also discussed the importance of networking. “Getting contacts is super tricky, especially for me, as being from a working-class background because I knew nobody. My main advice is to try and meet as many new people as possible. Go to things, show up, and be engaged.” Julie also talked about the importance of expressing your creativity outside of work – it shows your potential employers that you really have a passion for creativity. She also talked about what she looks for when interviewing prospective employees; saying: “I look for someone punctual, who makes eye contact, can demonstrate that they’re creative and most importantly is a nice person.”

Pierce Noller, Facebook’s Global Agency Lead for IPG, talked about his shift in career focus, from his degree in accounting to pursuing something more creative. “It’s perfectly okay not to know what you want to do… Study hard, stay humble and be yourself. Don’t make the mistake of forcing yourself to become that role. If you force it, it won’t go well. Stay true to you!” Wise words for any young person currently uncertain about what the future holds. He also gave his career tips, saying; “don’t stay anywhere too long or move around too much. Make your CV tell a story, so you can justify every move that you make.” Citing his Virgin entrepreneur Richard Branson, he said; “I love his maverick approach; if someone offers you a job you don’t know how to do – accept it!”.

Last but not least was Lauren Whilby, Creative Access alumni-turned Media Partner Development Manager at Facebook. She spoke of her early struggle to find work, saying “I applied to hundreds of roles and had dozens of interviews. I added people on LinkedIn who worked for companies I wanted to work for.” Her persistence paid off and she eventually made the move from Manchester to London and hasn’t looked back!  She talked about the importance of diverse perspectives in the workplace, especially with big companies like Facebook who are creating content for people from all walks of life. “We can’t serve our audiences if we don’t reflect them or relate to them.” A variety of perspectives is essential – not just within a company but in the content that they produce as well.

The panel concluded with a Q&A, where Facebook’s Agency Lead, Ajoy Roy-Chowdhury, acknowledged that Facebook is still evolving, saying that “Facebook is a company that is growing fast, but growing up faster.” The company has taken on board its social responsibilities; focusing now on making the platform safer and working towards serving their audiences better. In the three years that Ajoy has been at the company it has grown four-fold.

 

Massive thanks to Facebook for hosting us in their fabulous offices and feeding and watering us so well. Huge thanks to our speakers:

  • Ajoy Roy-Chowdhury, Agency Lead, Facebook
  • Pierce Noller, Global Agency Lead, Facebook
  • Annie Lawrence, Solutions Engineering Apprentice, Facebook
  • Lauren Whilby, Media Partner Development Manager, Facebook
  • Julie Seal, Creative Strategist, Facebook