Niall Young, Associate Director – Creative
How long have you been at Weber Shandwick and what do you do?
15 years this year – time flies! I work in the Design team across the whole spectrum of print and digital projects, bringing words to life creatively and cracking out the crayons (or Mac even) to make it all look great.
How did you end up working at Weber Shandwick?
I started as a trainee/intern with Shandwick Design (the old name for the design side of the business) straight out of art school, as a newbie wanting to get his foot on the ladder of a graphic design career. Cut to 15 years later – via a short stint as a freelancer working for myself – I’ve been promoted to a senior member of the team. It’s a very different industry to the one I joined all those years ago, the design world has moved on considerably – and for the better!
What do you enjoy most about working at Weber Shandwick?
The old cliché – the people – is first and foremost, but also the fact that the company has moved on a lot from the one I joined has kept it fresh. It almost feels like a new company! We keep reinventing ourselves and improving the offering for our clients day in day out.
What would you say has been your career highlight?
There have been many – working with great people on many exciting and engaging jobs throughout the years, but I’d say seeing the campaign work we did for the NHS Now Hear Me AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) pick up a Gold at the CIPR awards and Highly Commended at the UK PRWeek awards was a particular highlight.
What would you say is the most enjoyable aspect of working in communication industry in Scotland?
I love all aspects of design and being able to work in a career where I can get paid for doing something I love is the most rewarding thing for me. Design is my life – and I’m not afraid to say it. I very rarely switch off! When you find yourself critiquing the typography on a wine bottle on a Friday night you know you are in deep…
Away from work, what do you like to do in your spare time?
My spare time is almost exclusively taken up with my two-year-old daughter, keeping her entertained is another full time job! When I get the time I also enjoy music (I’m a bit of a geek, more on that later) socialising with my friends and when I can, getting on my bike and going for a cycle – my new bike is my latest obsession.
Who is the one person (in this industry or outside) you admire the most for how they communicate?
It has to be Barack Obama – his delivery and communication has me engaged from the moment he speaks. He was also the first US President to really embrace graphic design as an important medium, and created the first ever White House design department and art director role to make sure every message that came out of the White House was on brand.
Tell us something not many people know about you.
I’m also a dance and electronica music obsessive – I used to spin the decks every now and then and was a bit of a DJ in a past life. Just no room in my house for the vinyl records and the Technics anymore.
What do you consider to be your guilty pleasure(s)?
It has to be Hey Duggee (kids tv program) narrated by the brilliant Alexander Armstrong. The design and animation is top notch, simple but very well done. My daughter loves it and when she’s had enough and her attention is elsewhere, I often find myself continuing to watch to see what happens… obviously for animation tips and design tricks of course…
What is your must read publication?
Who is your must follow on social media?
I enjoy following Derren Brown on social media, he’s always up to something on Twitter and his chat is very good.
What was the last book you read and last film/boxset watched?
Last book was Girl on the Train, and I’m currently well into season 2 of Mr Robot, its fantastic compelling TV!
What was the last live event you attended?
Dramatic Squirrel never fails to get a smile from me!
What would be your advice to someone entering the industry?
Enjoy it! If you have a genuine passion for what you do, you will be successful and clients will pick up on that too. Figure out what triggers your mind to go into creative mode and use it when the dreaded creative block strikes. And always produce your best possible work, whether it’s a cheap throwaway flyer or a multi million pound creative campaign – you have to stand by it and believe in it so give it your best shot.
And finally, if you could improve one thing about the comms industry in Scotland, what would it be?
The designer in me would have to say improving how companies and their clients are visually perceived is key. If your offering looks good, then people will buy into it. Putting a value on good design can be a great PR move, and its something that not many do (Weber Shandwick aside, of course!)