Creative Lives — Superrb account manager Becky Shepherd on going from fashion PR to agency life on the coast

Posted 11 October 2017 Interview by Indi Davies

Born on Hayling Island, Becky Shepherd flew the nest to study fashion journalism in Farnham, before working in PR and advertising in London and Brighton. Believing she could never do ‘cool’ work outside of a major city, she initially shunned the idea of working in her hometown. But a chance encounter with Superrb’s creative director, Rory, opened her eyes to a world of satisfying projects away from the overcrowded hubbub, and she soon returned to the south coast to join the team. Citing her early years (“doing all the internships”) as instilling her with a strong work ethic, Becky has amassed a diverse skill set that adds daily variety to her role as as account manager. Working on branding, web design and ecommerce projects for global clients, she’s been able to put her copywriting, client relation and project management know-how into action on a daily basis.

Becky Shepherd

Job Title

Account Manager, Superrb (2016–present)

Based

Hayling Island 

Previous Employment

Press Office Assistant (six-month internship), PZ Cussons Beauty (2011)
Account Executive, Talk PR (2011–2012)
Senior Account Executive and Senior Account Manager, Pegasus (2013–2016)

Education

BA Fashion Journalism, University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, (2008–2011)

Website
Social Media

Inside Superrb

Day-to-Day

How would you describe your job? 
Essentially I help brands to construct their online persona. In addition to managing website projects, I write copy for clients, help them produce content for their websites and social media channels and consult on influencer outreach. It’s my responsibility to keep the workflow moving, deal with any potential issues and basically make sure the work we produce is what the client has signed up for. 

This involves putting together and presenting proposals, agreeing strategy and getting clienst to sign off the budget. Together with the production teams, I’ll produce creative briefs for the designers and technical specs for the developers. 

Every project is different, and if we don’t have the skills in-house to produce something, we’ll work with freelancers. It’ll be my job to find the right people for the job. This means I might be sourcing photographers, liaising with videographers or illustrators. 

“I think my experience of interning instilled a strong work ethic in me – many fashion companies expect a lot from their interns.”

Logo animation for the Superrb website

What does a typical working day look like?
If I’m in meetings I’ll either be at our clients’ offices, in our meeting room or in a bar somewhere, usually in London. If I’m not, I’m generally in front of a computer in the studio. We work flexitime, so I come in at different times, depending on what I’ve got on. I commute to the studio from Southsea and I usually arrive between 8.30 and 9.30am. In the summer months I cycle and get the ferry to the island. It takes about 25 minutes in total and it’s such a dream commute. I’m not quite used to it yet; it feels very surreal.

The first thing I do when I get to the studio is make tea, then I’ll catch up with the team and check my to-do list, which I’ll have written the evening before. After that I might be meeting clients at their offices or via Skype calls, as quite few of our clients are based in the US and overseas. If I’m testing websites or writing copy, I’m usually at my desk.

I rarely work solidly on one project for the day; clients will call or email throughout the day with feedback and questions, so I’ll naturally jump from one project to another.

How did you land your current job?
I knew about Superrb when the company first started up, because I grew up on Hayling Island. After University I had jobs in London and Brighton, but I thought if I ever moved back to the area, I’d love to work there. 

Fast-forward five years, I moved to Portsmouth but was still commuting to Brighton for work. I met Rory, Superrb’s creative director, on a snowboarding holiday with mutual friends. They told me the studio was looking for an account manager, and I knew I wanted in. Even though I had experience of account management, I wasn’t sure I’d get the job because I hadn't worked in digital agencies. Basically, I was being a wimp.

After I finally got in touch I had an interview with Superrb’s MD Matt, and was asked to do a branding and website proposal, which I then presented to the directors. It was a challenging brief as there were gaps in my knowledge of digital, so I read lots online and spoke to as many people who worked in digital as possible. We met up at a bar in Southsea and I chewed their ears off for about two hours, and they offered me the job the next day. 

Superrb’s work for Amy’s Kitchen

Superrb’s work for Amy’s Kitchen

Superrb’s work for Amy’s Kitchen

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How collaborative is your role?
It’s super-collaborative. I have to work with everyone at Superrb from our financial controller and designers, to developers and other account managers. And on top of that I’ll be working with external client teams too. 

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
I most enjoy working with talented, clever and funny people on a daily basis. The team at Superrb is full of really passionate people, which creates a great working environment. The clients we work with are genuinely interesting, so it’s great to help bring what they do to life.

What has been the most exciting project of the last twelve months?
One of my first jobs at Superrb was for a bakery and I produced a photoshoot for them. You can’t even imagine how much cake there was. It was a great day.

We’re working on a project for an asset management firm at the moment which is surprisingly cool. They don’t want to look like a typical investment company, so one of our designers Andrius has come up with a great animation concept. We’re collaborating with a photographer and videographer to produce some slick content for the site too.

“I thought about going freelance, but I’ve realised that my personality is really well suited to creative agency life.”

Inside the studio

What skills are essential to your job?
Listening, communication skills, organisation skills and just generally being able to get shit done. I think you have to be quite diplomatic, as an account manager is often the middleman.

What tools do you use most for your work?
We hardly ever use paper. I scribble notes down when I’m having an informal meeting or quick catch up with the team but other than that I don’t have any paper on my desk. I use Omnigraffle for sitemaps and wireframes; Slack to instant message the production teams; Google Docs for creating and sharing documents and making notes; Google Spreadsheets for creating content templates for websites; Invision for creating and sharing mood boards.

Becky at work

Inside the studio

How I Got Here

What did you want to be growing up?
I wanted to be a detective, but then I watched Laguna Beach and The Hills and wanted to be a Vogue intern like Lauren and Whitney! Pretty opposite ends of the spectrum. I used to visit London a lot as a teenager as my mum worked there. I’d meet her when she finished work and we’d walk around Soho. I think that experience motivated me and made me want to work in a creative job in London. 

How (if at all) is the subject you studied useful to your current role?
Studying journalism improved my writing. I’d say that the people I met at university had more impact than the subject I studied. I moved into a random house with a bunch of other students I didn’t know. A couple of the girls I lived with were really supportive, and encouraged me to start interning as early as possible. 

What were your first jobs?
I did all the internships. I loved it. I interned at Vogue India, Easy Living, Matches Fashion. I assisted a freelance stylist on photo shoots whenever I could. Through that, I ended up styling a music video for the Courteeners, which was super-fun.

I decided to leave university a few months early because I was offered a full-time internship in the PZ Beauty press office. I thought working there would be more fun than going to lectures (it was). I think my experience of interning instilled a strong work ethic in me – many fashion companies expect a lot from their interns. 

The Courteeners video Becky styled in 2010

Was there anything in particular that helped you at the start of your career? 
My manager at PZ Beauty really took me under her wing and put me forward for a couple of big opportunities. She left the company to work for Talk PR and got me an interview there, which is where I worked after my internship. 

Was there a particular project you worked on that helped your development?
A couple of years ago I worked on a content project for LloydsPharmacy, which taught me a lot about online content. The success of that project gave me the confidence to start looking at digital roles. 

What’s been your biggest challenge?
Once, when I was interning, I tweeted something stupid on Twitter (back when it was still relatively new), and someone pretty senior at the company saw it and pulled me up on it. Even though it was really embarrassing at the time, it was a valuable lesson! 

Is your job what you thought it would be?
My biggest misconception was that you couldn’t have cool clients unless you were based in a major city. It’s not true! Superrb has some of the coolest clients I’ve worked with and our studio is on Hayling Island.

“[I thought] you couldn’t have cool clients unless you were based in a major city. It’s not true!”

Superrb’s work for Tens Life Sunglasses

Superrb’s work for Tens Life Sunglasses

Superrb’s work for Tens Life Sunglasses

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Thinking Ahead

What would you like to do next?
Our creative director got to work with one of his idols, Benny Gold, through Superrb and I’d love to be able to work with one of mine. I’m a massive fan of the snowboarder Jenny Jones, so it’s my mission to try and work with her somehow. 

Could you do this job forever?
Yes. I used to want to go in-house (at a brand) and thought about doing freelance work, but I’ve realised that my personality is really well suited to creative agency life.

What do you feel is the natural career progression for someone in your current position?
To work towards becoming an account director. However, that depends on our clients and the work we do over the next couple of years. If we start to offer new services more consistently, my role could potentially change. I’m excited to see what happens next!

The coast on Hayling Island

Words of Wisdom

What advice would you give to a young creative wanting to become an account manager at a digital agency?
Get some work experience. Try out a few roles at different types of companies, big and small, so you can work out what you’re good at, and what type of company suits you. Talk to people, and make friends!


This article is part of a studio feature on Superrb Studio.

Posted 11 October 2017 Interview by Indi Davies
Photography: Superrb Studio
Collection: Creative Lives
Disciplines: Digital, Design
Mentions: Becky Shepherd, Superrb Studio, Shopitize, Tens Life
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