What's it like to a work at...Nalla?
Are you loving our recent rebrand? Well its all down to Nalla, a London based branding and digital agency who we collaborated with to transform our website and all aspects of our branding.
Recently we teamed up with Nalla once again by finding them a superstar Account Handler in the shape of Robbie McWhirter. We decided to catch up with Robbie to find out how he’s getting on and how he got to Nalla, just in case you fancied following his footsteps and entering the world of account management too.
Tell us a bit about Nalla and what you do there?
Nalla was started by Vicki Young in 2010. After strong success as an award-winning brand designer herself she came to realise that there was a gap in the market for digital branding. So many agencies out there would only be thinking about the physical state when designing an identity such as business cards, letter heads and brochure applications.
What Nalla did (and does) is consider the digital state of a brand from the outset. This founding principle is something that, as a team, we believe in and champion for projects that we work on.
Part of our remit has evolved over the years to working closely with the mammoth buzz word that is digital transformation projects. We believe that brand is an integral part of any business undertaking a digital transformation as it is essential to establish the framework for the work that follows.
Nalla works across all sizes of business, we have clients that are just starting out with an idea all the way through to global multi-office businesses.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Something that doesn’t change day to day is our stand ups. At Nalla, we start every day with a ‘stand up’ this is just 10-15 mins first thing in the morning where we explain what we completed yesterday and then what we’re going to achieve today. This helps the whole team as it’s the perfect environment to raise any blockers anyone may have or if there’s the opportunity to help each other on projects.
It’s a huge cliché, but my role really does change day by day. Normally, my main focus at the start of the day is to make sure the designers working on my projects are clear on what they have to do and all the information they need is available to them.
Depending on the stage of the projects I’m working on, I will work through some of the following organisation tasks:
• Creating timelines and budgets for projects,
• Checking in with designers or suppliers to see if we’re on track,
• Completing budget recs for project to make sure we’re tracking as we should and there is going to be no overspend for a client.
• Reporting to senior staff on project updates
• Proactively foresee any potential risks on projects and flag as soon as possible
• Plot in time with designers to work on the following stages of a project
Communication is a large part of my role, whether this be calls with clients, briefing designers or working with developers there is often a need to change the language I’m using depending on who I’m speaking with.
'The ability to put yourself in the shoes of whom you’re talking to is a great asset within account management.'
I like to make sure that no matter who I’m communicating with, they are receiving all the information they care about with clarity.
With Nalla being a small-medium sized agency, there’s also the opportunity for me to be involved on New Business tasks which is great exposure to that side of the business which normally would not be the case for junior/mid weight account management employees in bigger agencies. This could be working on a proposal for a new client project, talking to a prospective client to understand what their requirements are for a new project or assisting senior staff on new business reports for the agency.
Why did you decide to become an Account Handler?
My degree at university was Advertising and Brand management, the degree itself was run like a mini agency. So, there would be briefs that we would tackle in teams and you get an early experience of the sort of role that you would fit into within a creative agency.
An account handler’s role appealed to me because you are involved in the project from inception all the way through to delivery. I like this because it’s great to see a client’s reaction to an initial brand concept and take them on the journey to then see the how they end up flexing the brand themselves.
What’s your career journey been to date?
I started my career with an internship in client services at packaging and branding studio, Pearlfisher. At the time when I was looking for internships I found it frustratingly difficult to find studios that were offering client services internships, it always seemed to be design-side only! I’d say the industry has got better at this over the last couple of years, but I decided to just get in touch with the studios that I liked whether they had open positions or not.
'Contacting specific companies directly is a great way for juniors without professional experience to get into the industry - it shows you’ve done your research and you genuinely have an interest in the businesses that you’re approaching.'
Thankfully, it was very well received and Pearlfisher offered me an internship whilst I was still at University and then extended over the summer break.
What’s it like working at Nalla?
More agency clichés, but being at Nalla is like being part of a family. We’re a very tight team that all have different strengths in different areas so you know if there’s something you’re struggling with, someone in the room will be able to help – you just need to find out who!
We’ve moved studio this year onto Charlotte road as we got too big for our old space in Hoxton. The new space is such an improvement from before, it’s hard to remember what it used to be like! We’ve had a bit of fun with the renovations and decorations (still in progress) but if you’re walking around Charlotte Road, definitely pop in for a snoop, the kettle is likely warm.
What’s the best thing about your job?
There’s two parts to this as I can’t decide what’s better:
I think when sharing creative with a client and seeing them fall in love with a particular idea is one of the favourite things about my job.
Some people may think this is quite sad, but I take great satisfaction in seeing pieces to the puzzle fall into place. Often, I will have been planning something for a while and if everything goes to plan and works as it should.
What advice would you offer someone starting out in the industry?
Account Management requires a lot of different skills and very few people would have been exposed to all skills before they’re at that entry-level stage. Internships are a great wat to get a better understanding of exactly what happens in an agency, what is required in account management and ultimately, if you can see yourself doing that role! Other than that - be a sponge!
'Account management requires you to wear a lot of different hats and be an expert at every single one. Take time to get a deep understanding of the services your agency offers and don’t be shy – speak your mind! '
What would you be doing if you weren’t an Account Handler?
Probably something like running a small café/coffee shop by the beach!