Hello Lauren, how are you?
Hey guys, not too bad thank you! I’ve had a fairly up and down few weeks but life is finally starting to level out again.
How did you first become interested in working as a marketer and project manager?
Ha. OK, honestly? I don’t think I ever did! It might be the glass of wine currently sat next to me, but I can’t hand-on-heart tell you that I woke up one day with an overwhelming passion to become a PM (that’s project manager btw, not Prime Minister!).
The irony is, my Mum is a project manager (within construction) and my dad is a marketing consultant, so it’s not exactly rocket science to work out how I became a marketing project manager, and yet...I had absolutely no awareness growing up that this was a role!
Can you tell us about your career path and how you got to where you are now?
I left Sixth Form with a few mediocre A-levels, entrepreneurial spirit and a (probably unhealthy) obsession with organisation, but the overriding career path my heart swayed towards was music.
I refused to follow the masses to uni, knowing that I’d seriously rather dig my own grave than spend another three years writing essays. I’m a doer, always have been, always will, so I opted to dive straight into work.
I was a keen songwriter and singer (still am), but as I sold my soul trying to break into the industry, by some happy accident I simultaneously began building a career as a marketing PM.
Whilst on furlough for a month in 2020, I was bored out of my mind and so offered to write an article for Dom & Ben, who were stockpiling content at that point for The Arena launch. It quickly became apparent that my skillset was one they could seriously benefit from, so I wiggled my way in to the team and haven’t looked back since!
My role within The Arena team really joins up the dots for me, connecting the creative and business sides of my brain - plus I’m inspired every day by the people I’ve met through the community and eternally grateful for that.
How do you stay motivated with your different roles?
Hmm, yes, a very good question. I won’t lie to you, it’s not always easy. In those moments when I’m second-guessing everything, I tend to zoom out and look at the bigger picture. The bitty day-to-day stuff can pile up into some insanely big to-do lists, but I just have to step back and ask myself why I’m doing it.
If something within my role is no longer making me happy, I offload it to someone else, or shelf it entirely. I have a tendency to totally overload myself until I self-combust, so I make sure to review my schedule regularly and be super critical about the things that don’t deserve headspace.
I have a tendency to totally overload myself
until I self-combust, so I make sure to review
my schedule regularly and be super critical
about the things that don’t deserve headspace.
You are also the head of marketing at The Arena! Can you tell us a little more about the platform and your role?
Of course! We’re a three-person team, so in all honestly, my job title could probably be COO / Community Manager / Head of Marketing / Project Manager / just about anything! It’s all hands on deck really most of the time, but between us, we lean into our own key strengths and split the workload out accordingly.
The Arena is Dom & Ben’s baby really, which was in the works for a good few years before I ever got involved. We’re a creative community and platform, set up to support, elevate and inspire anyone breaking into the creative industry.
Day to day, that could be organising our next mentoring programme, sending someone portfolio feedback through our Slack community, organising an interview or writing content for our website.
So, you are currently a very busy lady and juggling multiple careers, do you have any organisational tips for anyone else in a similar situation?
I live and die by my calendar. My work, personal, freelance and Arena calendars are all synced together so I know where I am and what I’m doing at all times. Blocking out chunks of the day for specific projects or activities is a must, and Trello is my go-to for mapping out smaller tasks.
My brain tends to whir at 100 mph, so my phone notes are jam-packed with everything from shopping lists, to random lyric ideas, to things I need to do the next morning. I find it really helps to write this stuff down, because you get a sense of closure in doing so. I know I won’t forget anything once it’s on ‘paper’ and that somewhat sets my mind at ease.
I find it really helps to write this stuff down,
because you get a sense of closure in doing so.
I know I won’t forget anything once it’s
on ‘paper’ and that somewhat sets my
mind at ease.
With your busy schedule, how to keep a work-life balance?
I’m honestly not the best person to ask this question. I’ve struggled, especially recently, but I think a big bit of advice I would share is being realistic with your time availability and planning workload accordingly. It’s a really stressful feeling looking at an ever-growing to do list, when you don’t feel like you’re ever making a dent on it.
I could happily go all-in on nerdy time management techniques (Eisenhower matrix for the keen beans who are interested) but a big one for me has to be saying yes to friends, no to unnecessary work. Don’t neglect your inner social animal because you’re spinning too many other plates. Sure, if your friends are going on an all-day bender, maybe suggest you meet them from dinner onwards, but don’t turn down the opportunity all together.
It’ll catch up with you over time. Especially in the creative business, we need social interactions and mental stimulation to fuel ideation!
I think a big bit of advice I would share is
being realistic with your time availability
and planning workload accordingly.
It’s a really stressful feeling looking at an
ever-growing to do list, when you don’t feel
like you’re ever making a dent on it.
Do you have any tips for dealing with burnout?
Catch it before you burn out. Tune in to your body and look after your mental wellbeing as proactively as you’re hunting for your next job! My body has a not so subtle way of telling me I need to take a break, typically by sending me a hearty dose of tonsilitis, but I’ve gotten a lot better over the last few years about understanding my triggers and warning signs.
Take a break when you need it and add a generous dose of perspective to every situation. If you don’t make this deadline, realistically what’s going to happen? 99.9% of the time, no one dies, the world keeps spinning.
Take a break when you need it and add a generous
dose of perspective to every situation.
If you don’t make this deadline, realistically
what’s going to happen? 99.9% of the time, no
one dies, the world keeps spinning.
If you could go back to the beginning and start your career again what would tell your younger self?
The thing you consider to be your weakness right now will soon be your strength. Don’t follow the crowd because it’s the easy thing to do, make the decisions that are right for you.
Are you working on any projects at the moment? Is there anything exciting in the pipeline ? 👀
Always! The entertainment biz is finally looking somewhat normal again, so they’ll be some new musical projects on the horizon soon I’m sure.
The Arena’s mentoring programme will be back by popular demand this autumn, as well as a super exciting initiative called Blockbuster Briefs, that ourselves, Pickle Illustration and Headless Greg have been brewing up for the past few months!
Where do you see yourself in 5 year’s time?
I’d like to step more into the world of creative production and project management. The adrenaline of running events is something I get a massive buzz from, so hopefully that industry will be back to some form of normality.
Currently, I’m based in London (which I love), but I’d like to live in Paris for a year, and maybe Amsterdam too.
And finally, I really hope to have met a lot more of The Arena’s community in real life! DMs are great and all but nothing beats a good chinwag over a glass of wine without any sort of wifi lag.
Do you have any female role models or mentors who helped shape who you are and your career?
Cliche... but my Mum. As I mentioned before, I really didn’t even know this sort of role or career path existed when I was younger, let alone knew who to aspire to be! My Mum is a kick-ass, stereotype-busting independent woman, who may not know the foggiest about marketing, but her attitude and determination definitely rubbed off on me.
I’d also shout out Emma Gannon, for writing the Multi-Hyphen Method. It’s an amazing book and before I read it I thought I was just a non-committal career nomad. Turns out I’m not, I’m a multi-hyphenate.
Lastly, what is the best piece of advice you have received which positively impacted your career?
People skills will take you far. Most things in life can be learnt, knowledge can be acquired and technical how-to is just trial and error, but being a genuine, thoughtful, enthusiastic human being - is what will take you furthest.
People skills will take you far. Most things in life
can be learnt, knowledge can be acquired and
technical how-to is just trial and error, but being
a genuine, thoughtful, enthusiastic human being -
is what will take you furthest.