The managers that shaped us

Written by
Salve Salvana

Each month we ask creative professionals to dive into a different theme about the creative working world.

In this week’s focus, we're shining a light on managers who have made a difference or influenced people's careers for the better. A great manager can help you stay motivated and empower you to do your best work. The best managers know that your success is their success and strive to make you feel valued and supported.

Jethro Nepomuceno, Digital Media Designer at DAZED

I can say that the journey from graduating until now has been filled with many inspirational people and colleagues that have really shaped how I work today. The first 2 that come to mind are Charlie and Ellen from Anyways. Joining the company gave me a newfound respect for them since for the longest time the only creative people around me were students. Seeing how Charlie shapes the outcome of the work and how Ellen gives a new angle that I never saw before is super exciting since it drives me to follow in their footsteps.

But there were definite challenges. This during the peak of the pandemic, and work became extremely busy and I was definitely feeling the stress from all the work. Charlie had to sit me down and give me some tough advice regarding efficiency, punctuality and how I should exert myself more not just for that period of time but every future encounter. I really appreciate the honesty, I always look back at that moment as a learning experience just to guide me in any work I do.

Charlie's best characteristic is his unyielding charisma. He’s extremely considerate of all the details that are being put into each project and seeing the creative process from start to finish, he really does influence the direction in a positive sense. Ellen is somehow the definition of personable and professional rolled into one, there’s like a switch from talking about soup enthusiastically to tackling creative direction is kinda crazy to see. I felt comfortable doing 1on1s because it just felt like talking to friends.

These 2 are extremely down to earth and are willing to give their time and experience to help others which is so nice to see! Also in a more literal sense, they gave me a job during the pandemic which is extremely fortunate. I can say that they have opened the doors for me into the professional creative world.

Seeing how Charlie shapes the outcome of the work and how Ellen gives a new angle that I never saw before is super exciting since it drives me to follow in their footsteps.
Jethro Nepomuceno, Digital Media Designer at DAZED

Tas Lobley, Associate Creative Director at Waste Creative

I’ve had many managers throughout my career, each with a very different style, and some not so good, which in a way is a learning curve itself. However, today I'd like to highlight my current manager, Alistair Campbell, who is an ECD at Waste. We’ve only been working together a couple of years but in that time I've learnt so much and most importantly felt the most supported I’ve ever felt in my career so far.

Al encourages all of his team to think outside the box, as any creative should do, but also provides inspiration and support in case that box is hard to get out of. His best characteristic is being relaxed. There’s nothing worse than having a highly strung boss who stresses everyone out.

I’m constantly looking to progress in my career and working with Al. I’ve never felt held back or like I couldn’t achieve what I wanted to achieve. As a woman in the industry, I have felt this feeling on multiple occasions but working at Waste with Al as my manager I feel equal, as it should be, which helps me to continue my mission to inspire and mentor young women in the industry to aim for those higher positions that we are so often told we can’t get.

I’ve only worked with Al for a couple of years, in that time I have been promoted twice, something I feel would not have happened without the support of my manager, pushing me in the right direction and helping me learn my own managerial style.

Melissa Cofie, Film & TV Content Production Assistant at Girl & Bear / VCCP

I've been doing a lot of thinking to make sure I get this right.

In some of my evenings ruminating I was thinking back over what makes my manager a good manager, and I had a sudden realisation that my manager knows when to leave me alone to work and when to push me harder. The skills she brings are supportive and high energy. Most importantly great at setting a positive work culture and an inspirational vision for my career path from Production Assistant towards her role of Executive Producer.

In one sentence I'd say: There's a balance between giving people rope and micro-managing, there's a distinct difference between a boss and a leader.

The skills she brings are supportive and high energy. Most importantly great at setting a positive work culture and an inspirational vision for my career path from Production Assistant towards her role of Executive Producer
Melissa Cofie, Film & TV Content Production Assistant at Girl & Bear / VCCP

Mark Omobotora, Freelance Creative

Im writing about my childhood football Coach/Manager, Ray Jerome.

Ray was/is a coach that gives you tough love. No matter how young or old you are, Ray does not sugarcoat his words but his intentions are forever pure - he wants you to be better, a better player, a better team mate a better man. He was a demanding and encouraging coach and it was under his tutelage that, I practiced the values of honesty and discipline.

He made it clear of the statement that ‘People are always watching’ so from an early age I always knew to always show yourself in the best light. He did little things like gifting us old club tracksuits so that we wouldn’t be turning up to our games in our shorts and shin pads.

This statement also showed me that people will be watching for the wrong reasons, they may have a preconceived notion about you that they are waiting for you to prove - often negative, but I knew better to never gave them that fact. My respect has only increased over the years for Ray, through life experience a lot of the things he used to say make more sense now and it’s crazy because I know he has relayed this advice to hundreds of other kids.

I of course don’t play football anymore so I don’t really see him around often. But... I am now committed to a career in both Film & Advertising but the respect is so real that I want to circle back one day and tell his story to the world, so stay posted on that, trust me.


What makes my manager great, is how supportive he is. I have a lot of responsibilities within my role so when something goes wrong (which is often), I take it quite personally as a reflection of my skills and abilities. My manager, however, always says "I will always be behind you and support you on your decision no matter what.". I think there is a high level of trust in my work abilities and that I'll always have valid reasons behind each decision. He is a great mentor that has helped me grow into someone more confident in their abilities as a result.

I gained a lot of responsibility very early on within my role. My manager pushed me to take on a lot within a space of time. I'm a fast learner, but it was an incredibly intense and challenging time. It's the type of stress I enjoy. When introducing me to others, he often does so in a way that retains my individuality and showcases my potential, such as, "This is our MD in training". This form of flattery inspires me to hit these high-achieving benchmarks.

His best characteristics are trust, support, and being there whenever I needed help as well as aiding my career progression and promotion. The previous way in which he often introduces me to clients, allows me to build a rich, high quality network of connections.

At first I thought he was terrifying! He has a bit of a scary aura around him, especially due to the way he dresses (all black every day, down to the last detail). However, when I got to know him, I understood where he has strengths and where he has vulnerabilities. I guess he became a lot more human as a result and I would definitely consider him a friend as well as a mentor.

On our radar

Some further reading on the themes explored in this article:

What does it mean to be a good manager remotely?: Devon Murphy guides us on the best managerial approaches in the virtual space for DropBox Blog.

How to be a great creative mentor, according to LOVE's head of strategy Neil Bennett: In this Creative Boom piece, Emily Gosling has a talk with Neil Bennett on the makings of a great creative mentor.

15 Practices Good Managers Can Adopt To Become Great Managers: Forbes Expert Panel gives us 15 Practices to step up our managerial game.

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Featured Companies

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