It takes a certain type of character to thrive in the supercharged climate of intense creativity at Google Creative Lab.
For operations producer Janay Sor, who's been keeping the cogs turning at Google Creative Lab London since the office opened, the job requires organisation, resilience, grace and calm – and she loves it.
Sor is one of 12 exceptional design studio members to have been named a 2015 Computer Arts' Unsung Hero.
Launched to celebrate the design world's real stars, the Unsung Hero Awards (opens in new tab) is a brand new scheme that champions the exceptional behind-the-scenes designers and team members at the world's studios and agencies – and uncovers what you can learn from their success.
All 12 winners are revealed in Computer Arts 242, on sale now. (opens in new tab)
Keeping the studio running isn't just what Sor excels at, however. She was nominated by Google Creative Lab London executive creative director Steve Vrankis for her commitment to supporting and developing new creative talent.
"Janay runs and recruits for the Google 5 programme (opens in new tab) (a scheme where young graduate creatives are given a year placement in the Lab to immerse themselves into the experimental side of Google tech)," says Vrankis.
"She's also run workshops with D&AD for its New Blood Academy (opens in new tab), an inspiration evening for [charity] Creative Access, and works closely with the Watford School of Advertising."
Here, Sor explains what her day-to-day job as an operations producer involves, shares tips on how to excel in a studio management position and reveals the skills you need to be hired by a leading company like Google Creative Lab.
How did you get the operations producer job at Google Creative Lab?
I was a resource manager at Tribal DDB for a couple of years, and before that studio manager at various agencies.
I got a call one day from the then head of strategy Indy Saha, who asked if I wanted to come and join a small team they were building up in the London office called the Creative Lab. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity and joined the team in July 2013.
How has the role evolved since you started?
I started out with a very wide-ranging remit and could liken myself to a bit of a shapeshifter. There were 13 people in the team and we all rolled our sleeves up and got on with whatever we needed to do to get projects into the world. We're now a team of 28 and my job is more defined, but we still all pitch in and help each other.
What three tips would you give to anyone about to step up to a similar role to yours?
What's the most challenging part of being an operations producer at Creative Lab?
To be honest I come into work at a place surrounded by people I really like, working on things that can have the potential to make the world a better place, so any challenges are that much easier to deal with.
We're a team very much in tune with zeitgeists and technological innovation, and we need to keep our ears to the ground. The pace can be pretty fast and demanding, which is best tackled with calm and grace.
What's the more rewarding part?
I run a programme in the Creative Lab called the Google 5 EMEA. Every year we bring in five best-in-class graduates from a broad range of skill sets and give them a year placement in the Lab to immerse themselves into the experimental side of Google tech.
The search for talent means that I meet a lot of very talented, enthusiastic and inspiring young people. Getting involved in immersion days with students, introducing them to the workings of Google Creative Lab and knowing that we can help inspire and motivate at such a pivotal point in their lives is very satisfying.
Why do you do so much work outside of hours to support young creatives?
I empathise with how hard it can be to break into your first job in any industry, especially the creative industries. I grew up in a poor borough in the inner city and role models were so important to me.
Now that I can, I love to share the knowledge I've gained, nurture young talent and help people realise their full potential, all by showing them that there are many ways you can acheive this.
What advice would you give anyone looking to 'give back' to the industry?
Be proactive. There are a lot of ways you can give back and one way is to nurture and grow young talent, the people who will be marking the standard for our industry in the future.
Share your knowledge. There are colleges who would really appreciate any time with work place mentorship.
Operations producer CV, Creative Lab
Janay Sor's key responsibilities:
- Studio management
- Keeping the cogs turning in a fast paced and highly creative studio
- Communicate well
- Be resilient
- Be organised
- Be able to predict the future!
Don't miss the full Unsung Heroes article inside Computer Arts issue 242, a typography special – on sale now (opens in new tab). Click here to save up to 59% (opens in new tab) by subscribing to the world's best selling-design magazine.
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