Creative Lives Podcast — From intern to agency co-founder in under a year: Meet Shannie Mears
This week we speak to Shannie Mears, chief talent officer of The Elephant Room and GUAP magazine’s talent and brand manager. Still only two years into her career in advertising, she has already co-founded her own agency, been invited to speak at numerous industry events, and was recently named one of BIMA’s top 100 talents of 2018. She talks us through her fast-track into industry, finding her voice and the importance of growing a solid network.
Interview by Indi Davies
BA Dance and Performance, Coventry University (2013–2015)
Originally from Birmingham, Shannie started out in dance, earning a BA in dance and performance from Coventry University in 2015. It was here that she began to learn more about marketing, advertising and business – pursuits that she had previously considered too corporate to fit with her own interests.
After being recommended a work placement with youth-led creative network Livity in London, Shannie made the move to the capital, where her eyes were opened to some of the city’s biggest creative companies. An internship at Iris Worldwide soon followed, where she was immersed in various departments, meeting everyone from the planning to creative teams. However, at the end of her eight months, nothing felt like the right fit, and she decided to go her own way.
“Play to your strengths. You can’t take away the things you already know, and the cultural conversations you’re having with your friends. These things are invaluable to a company.”
But Shannie had made an impression while at the company. Through her own initiative and enthusiasm, she had started up an internal newsletter, sharing upcoming music, fashion, news and culture with the entire office. She had also begun to take part in talks and panels both within and beyond Iris, discussing topics that mean the most to her. Former CEO Dan Saxby took notice, and a casual meeting between the two resulted in plans to found a new agency of their own. A few months later, The Elephant Room was founded as a creative company with a focus on diverse creative collaboration.
Shannie tells us about her roles at both The Elephant Room and Guap Magazine, her passion for championing emerging talent, and how finding and using her voice has been so important to her progress. She also shares her recommendations for others just getting started, and thoughts on how to make the most of an internship.