Managing Director of marketing and communications agency, Creative Bridge, talks about her new role at PM Training and why she places so much importance in offering opportunities to young people. A blog by Hannah Bellinger-Brown.
Despite a hectic schedule I managed to pin down Nicola in the boardroom at Bittesby House, Creative Bridge HQ, to discuss her current projects. I’ve been an intern at Creative Bridge for four weeks now and although I’d met her as part of my induction I was keen to talk to her about her choice to take on yet another demanding role.
It was a humid afternoon; Nicola had back-to-back meetings all day but was still looking fabulous in her usual sophisticated dress and stylish heels. As we sat down with our coffee I wanted to start with the birth of Creative Bridge.
“I started here in 2001” said Nicola. “At that point the company was called The Bridge Group, but we rebranded to Creative Bridge after a merger with a digital agency in 2011”. She said she joined as an employee but then bought out the former owner within a year of starting.
Nicola didn’t always envisage herself in the housing industry, saying that her ideal career would have been to run a hospital. Despite this, a placement from her degree course put her on her current path.
“At university I was appointed to a national working group that helped elderly occupiers who were stuck in housing that was falling down. I managed to help secure national funding which was a really big deal for me.”
I ask if this is what lit the flame of ambition in her. “Certainly, this early interaction in the housing sector gave me the ability to be open to the opportunities around, and enabled me to thrive in the industry. And it was a film that made the difference, so that kind of got me hooked to the power of great communications.”
Nicola lights up when she talks about her past, admitting she did not regret her decision to not pursue health, and I can see that their loss is the housing sector’s gain. At 51, she is an extremely accomplished and successful businesswoman, but she did not get to this stage in her life without dedication, hard work and many late nights.
Recently Nicola has taken up another role at what she proudly explains is the biggest provider of apprenticeships in Staffordshire. She said: “The reason behind taking up the role at PM Training is because I have a fundamental belief that training and education is the secret to ongoing personal and business success.”
Her decision to become the new board chair at PM, which she undertakes in addition to her role at Creative Bridge, is based on the belief that the organisation could benefit from her commercial acumen and specialist marketing knowledge
“I jumped at the opportunity to become involved. I feel very passionately about the work they do in getting those who would find it difficult to secure a job to a place where their lives are transformed by the potential that training can provide.”
She continued: “I also believe this will be a benefit to Creative Bridge. I’m constantly meeting new people and learning new things. Both jobs work well together.”
When I ask if she’s taking on too much she starts to laugh. “I’m amazingly busy, but it’s so interesting and I get to acquire more knowledge at this stage of my career,” she said “And it’s great to learn and get out of your own comfort zone.”
It’s clear to me that Nicola feels extremely passionate about providing opportunities for training and learning. She explains how she gets a thrill from spotting great people, bringing them in and allowing them to flourish. “For me this is a fundamental part of the job, and seeing people grow is one of the most rewarding and powerful things.”
Can she provide examples, I ask. “Our current studio manager at Creative Bridge, Kate Sheehy, had three promotions in less than two years.” Nicola beamed as she talked about her fellow work team. Throughout our interview she has stressed the importance of a strong team: “It’s absolutely critical. Ultimately this business is nothing without the people in it.” Nicola is now looking to take Creative Bridge to the next level in terms of business success.
With this the interview comes to an end, and Nicola has to dash off for another meeting. But as I reflect on our fascinating chat, I have come away feeling hungry for success. I want to thrive in the workplace and truly achieve professional and personal satisfaction as she has done.
Coming into my final week at Creative Bridge I am fuelled for the future, and feel fortunate to have been given the opportunity to learn and grow in this dynamic agency which is thriving under the management of such a successful business woman.
Working at Creative Bridge has been exceptionally demanding and challenging, but extremely rewarding. I encourage everyone to seek internships and apprenticeships. They can be rich in providing experience and business acumen.