4 tips to accelerate your design career

UK-based creative communications agency The Neighbourhood has a strategy based on smart thinking, creative vision and craftsmanship, and recently appointed Paul Gosling as its new head of digital.

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Responsible for creating campaigns for companies across the world, Gosling has some big shoes to fill – as well as some big ideas to brew. Here, he talks milestones, midnight oil and adopting a 'yes' mentality…

Tell us about your new job...

I'm now the head of digital for Manchester-based creative agency The Neighbourhood. I'm not only responsible for growing and leading the team but also the direction of the digital business and its long-term strategies.

What kind of things might a typical day entail at The Neighbourhood?

It's a typical 'crack of dawn and midnight oil' standard (only kidding). On the whole, a lot of planning, working and evaluating goes on as each milestone is completed.

The objective is to make sure whatever it is, it's done better next time. We are only as good as our last project and every day is focused on that as a key objective.

How does this new job differ from your previous role?

I owned a business in my last role which has a lot of similarities with what I'm doing now. The biggest difference is that the business I'm running at The Neighbourhood (digital) ​is linked to three other area​s ​of expertise within the agency ​(design/brand, moving image and visualisation) and that is exciting and challenging in equal measure.

What fresh opportunities does this new position offer you?

There is huge potential for me to contribute to putting The Neighbourhood on the level it deserves to be. I have access to an incredible amount of internal talent and the potential to really put my foot on the accelerator. We have very big aspirations as a creative agency and we see digital as a big part of that focus.

What are the biggest challenges?

Without a doubt, striking an effective balance between focusing on the internal business and its external focus, and making sure we don't tip too heavily one way or the other.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to follow a similar career path?

  1. Always be open to possibilities, be 100 per cent focused on what you want and don't be afraid to take on challenges that scare you.
  2. Remember that 'innovation' is something that creates better ways of doing and thinking. If it isn't original and breaking new territory, it's not innovation.
  3. To be creative in a commercial market, you need to understand the end user and the value of what you're presenting.
  4. Don't be a 'Yes, but...' person; instead, be a 'Yes, and...' person. If I hadn't set out with that mentality at the start of my career I wouldn't be where I am now.

If you didn't work in design, what would you like to do?

I've always wanted to be on the radio since I was a kid, I will get there one day!

This article first appeared inside Computer Arts 236: the freelance issue – which you'll find inside the Computer Arts app. It's packed with advice for supercharging your freelance career, and comes with a free 115-page supplement, The Freelance Handbook.

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Sammy Maine

Sammy Maine was a founding member of the Creative Bloq team way back in the early 2010s, working as a Commissioning Editor. Her interests cover graphic design in music and film, illustration and animation. Since departing, Sammy has written for The Guardian, VICE, The Independent & Metro, and currently co-edits the quarterly music journal Gold Flake Paint.