Co-working in the capital
A year since Steph moved to London to start working for WRENmedia remotely from a shared office space, she reflects on the opportunities that it has opened up.
How has your role with the company evolved since you started?
I first started at WRENmedia as an intern in January 2017, fresh from a previous internship in book publishing. I joined the company just as we took on greater editorial responsibility of Spore magazine so there was plenty for me to get my teeth into. A major part of this was getting the Spore social media channels up and running, so I took on responsibility for this and began supporting the rest of the team with editing and writing articles. During my first few months I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend events at the Houses of Parliament and the UN Climate Talks in Bonn, Germany, where I met high-level players in agricultural research and development, and developed a keen interest in the latest innovations in the sector.
After 10 months at the company, Sophie and I were asked to attend a workshop in Benin to record the key lessons and recommendations from a series of multi-stakeholder research projects that had been running for 10 years across Africa. I certainly felt a little out of my depth when we first arrived and realised we were going to have to present our findings to all of the participants at the beginning of each day, but we soon got into the swing of things. The experience definitely helped to build my confidence, and when I returned to Suffolk, I felt ready to take on more responsibility over managing a couple of the clients we work with.
You now work remotely from London, what opportunities has this created for the company?
Since I moved to London at the beginning of 2018, it has been much easier for me to attend relevant events that are taking place in the capital, as well as meet with our UK-based journalists, and both current and prospective clients. In June 2018, I started providing communications support for the Malabo Montpellier Panel (MaMo) – a group of international experts that guide policy decisions to accelerate progress towards food security and improved nutrition in Africa – who have an office at Imperial College. Twice a month I work with the MaMo team in their London office to provide them with a range of communications services, such as writing blogs, editing videos and creating social media toolkits.
The nature of our work, which has a very international focus, often means that we never get to meet our clients face-to-face, so it is refreshing to have the opportunity to get to know the MaMo team better. WRENmedia was also contracted to design MaMo’s two reports on agricultural mechanisation and irrigation last year, so it was useful for me to be able to show them the progress of our designs and get immediate feedback to smoothen the design process. Over the course of 2019, I hope to have more opportunities to work with London-based clients.
What are the benefits of working in a shared office environment?
I much prefer working in a shared office compared to working at home, I think I’d drive myself mad if I had no one to talk to all day – plus, I get to join in with fun activities like pumpkin carving and pub quizzes at lunchtimes! Apart from the social side, co-working spaces are great for meeting people in similar fields. When I first moved to London, I had just completed a design course, but I still had lots to learn so I was very grateful to be sat next to a graphic designer who helped me out whenever I got stuck. I have also met consultants in the international development sector, who often have useful insights on current trends that are relevant to my work, including exciting debates like the potential uses of blockchain in food systems. So co-working spaces are definitely good places for networking; in fact, my office has an upcoming networking event for women entrepreneurs and creative professionals, which I am looking forward to attending.
It’s been 2 years since you joined WRENmedia – so far, what have been the stand-out moments from your time with the company?
That’s a tricky question, I have learned a lot in my 2 years with the company! The most rewarding experience has probably been the presentation training that Sophie and I delivered on behalf of Canada’s International Development and Research Centre (IDRC). The two groups of researchers that we trained were really receptive to our suggestions and tips, and it was great to see how supportive they were of each other. I was amazed by the improved quality of their presentations during the conference that took place after the training, which proved that they had really taken on board what we had taught them. The positive feedback that we received from all of the researchers and the appreciation of our work from IDRC staff was the icing on the cake – the programme director even came up to us at the end to thank us for doing such a great job!
For more information on what Sophie and Steph got up to in Canada, read our blog on WRENmedia training.