Creative Lives — Studio manager Saphira Parry keeps everything running smoothly at London’s NB Studio
As studio manager, Saphira Parry keeps all NB Studio’s nuts and bolts well oiled so the London practice can function as a slick machine. She also doubles up as an account executive, supporting the account managers in keeping clients happy and projects running smoothly. Saphira’s path into the design industry, however, was unorthodox. A geography graduate, she has a background in social care and decided to make the leap into the design industry in 2014. It’s a been a steep learning curve but the team are appreciative of her different perspective.
Studio Manager and Account Executive, NB Studio (2014–present)
Office Manager, Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub Surrey Police (2012–2014)
Team Administrator, Referral & Assessment Team, Children’s Social Services (2007–2012)
BA Geography, UWE Bristol (2003–2006)
Inside NB’s studio
How would you describe your job?
As studio manager I am responsible for the smooth day-to-day running of the studio, coordinating the team and external suppliers as well as supporting studio finance and accounting. As we are a small studio my role expands to account executive, which involves working closely with the account managers, supporting them on client projects as well managing projects of my own.
What does a typical working day look like?
Every day is different. I provide support to the directors and other members of the team where required. I get pulled in different directions but have to prioritise my workload. I am the first point of contact at the studio: I answer phone calls, reply to general email enquiries, order couriers and make sure the team are happy and have what they want.
How did you land your current job?
I was very lucky. I had wanted a change in career having worked in social care. My friend had heard about the vacancy and recommended me for the job. Even though I had no design background, I had the skills for the role. I think it was refreshing for NB Studio to have someone who was completely new to the industry with a different way of thinking.
Where does the majority of your work take place?
I spend the majority of the day in the studio. I can be on my computer, on the phone, welcoming visitors, running errands, attending meetings – I am generally running around the studio making sure everything and everyone is perfect. My working hours are 9.30am to 6pm. It does vary depending on my workload but it’s not often I stay late.
“It was pretty scary to go from social care to branding and design, they’re such different worlds, but I am so glad I took a risk.”
How collaborative is your work?
As studio manager and account executive I need to collaborate and coordinate with everyone. You get to meet some interesting characters! I work closely with the whole NB team especially Nick and Alan, our creative directors.
What are the most and least enjoyable aspects of your job?
The most enjoyable aspect of my job is working with such a talented, creative, happy, hilarious team. I love how varied my role is, I’m never bored and every day is different. The only thing I don’t enjoy is rude cold-callers.
What skills are essential to your job?
I have to be super-organised. I love a list! Communication and teamwork are also essential. I have to balance individual’s wants and needs on a professional and personal level, so being supportive, friendly and approachable is key.
What tools do you use most for your work?
A Mac for emails, bookkeeping, spreadsheets, invoicing and letters. I use Mail, Excel, Word, Workflow Max, Xero, Calendar and Keynote, plus a Moleskine notebook and a clicky pencil.
Saphira at work
How I Got Here
How (if at all) is the subject you studied useful to your current role?
I had no idea what job I wanted to do so I studied Geography at university, as I enjoyed and was interested in it. I haven’t used my degree in my working life but I don’t regret doing the course.
Growing up my dad worked in Romania and I use to help out at the local orphanage with my mum. This experience made me choose to work in social care after university. It was very rewarding but I wanted to expand my career further so decided to change direction.
Was there anything in particular that helped you at the start of your career?
A friend of mine gave me the confidence to switch careers. It was pretty scary to go from social care to branding and design, they’re such different worlds, but I am so glad I took a risk. The same friend has started two successful business and I really admire her ambition and worth ethic.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
Entering the unknown. I have had to ask hundreds of questions along the way but I have had such great support and now feel confident to deal with any thing thrown at me. Communication is key and asking for help when you need it.
“I have had to ask hundreds of questions along the way but I now feel confident to deal with anything thrown at me.”
Inside NB’s studio
What would you like to do next?
Continue to learn and understand the design industry. Consolidate skills and continue to develop.
Words of Wisdom
What advice would you give to a young creative wanting to become a studio manager?
Be curious, confident, have thick skin, listen to your peers, ask lots of questions and work hard to get what want – and make sure you can whip up an excellent brew.
This article is part of our In the Studio With feature on NB Studio.