THE BIG QUESTIONS
WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSIONAL TITLE?
WHAT DO YOU DO ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS?
I'm a designer and illustrator, I freelance for a mix of small and large brands in London. I also run my own business "Studio Sophie" creating illustrated wedding stationery and homeware.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO DO WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD AND WHAT CHANGED?
As a child I wanted to be an artist or writer so my current career as a designer is really the vocational version of that. But between then and now I've also been a sociologist and a picture researcher. I think it's great to try out different things in your twenties, while you work out who you are. I went round in a big loop but now I'd never look back. Design is who I am really.
WHAT ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS DO YOU HAVE?
MA Graphic Arts, BA Sociology
WHAT’S THE BEST CAREER ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
Learn through doing.
WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL AND WHY?
I'm inspired by anyone striking out on their own and making a success of self-employment. It takes huge courage every day to stay focused and believe in yourself.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR CURRENT WORKING ENVIRONMENT?
When I'm freelancing I go into the offices of the brand I'm working for and I get to meet so many talented and creative people. We laugh a lot, I really think people make the world go round. I'm lucky I get to balance that with time spent working in peace at home too - the best thing about that is the space to reflect on recent inspirations and experiment with new ideas.
WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE ABOUT YOUR DAILY WORK ROUTINE IF YOU COULD?
I don't have the same routine each day so I already feel lucky to have achieved that. I relish variety and being able to jump up from my desk and walk outside for inspiration if I need to. I also do a lot of painting so I'm not always staring at a screen.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF PROFESSIONALLY IN FIVE YEARS’ TIME?
I'm hoping to be working on more illustration commissions by then so that if I have kids I'll be able to work flexibly around that.
DO YOU FEEL YOU CAN BE THE SAME PERSON AT WORK AND IN PRIVATE?
I do now but I've certainly had roles in the past where there was a lot of pressure to fit the mould. It's very short-sighted for a company to create that kind of culture. You get so much more from people when they're valued and respected for being themselves. Everyone is different so everyone has something unique to offer. I think companies should try to get to know their staff rather than tell them how to be.
WHERE AND IN WHAT ROLES ARE WOMEN IN THE LEADERSHIP STRUCTURE AT YOUR COMPANY?
There are women quite near the top in the brands I've worked for - but the very top roles are always men. We're climbing but we're not there yet.
DOES DIVERSITY MATTER TO YOU?
Yes very much. Homogeneity is awfully dull!
HOW GOOD IS YOUR WORK LIFE BALANCE?
Probably not great if I'm honest, I work a lot of evenings and weekends. I do it because I enjoy what I do but everyone needs breaks to revive and re-motivate.
WHAT QUALITIES DOES BEING IN YOUR ROLE NECESSITATE?
Initiative, self-determination, curiosity, bravery, a thick skin for criticism and ability to react to it positively- always looking beyond problems for their solutions. Diplomacy.
ANY FINAL COMMENTS?
Take an interest in the world and it will take an interest in you.