TeaTalk with: Shawnee North, Project Manager.
We sit down with Shawnee, a member of Project Managment, for a cuppa and a chat. We explore what drew her to marketing, what Togetherness means to her and what she enjoys most about working at Cogent.
What inspired you to get involved in Project Management in particular? Was this something you always wanted to do?
It’s something I fell into, but very much love doing! I started my career with a placement year at Vauxhall Motors, working as a Digital Marketing Specialist and that’s where I really gained a passion for digital. From there, I graduated and took a role as a Digital Account Executive, but working alongside the project management team I started to realise that I wanted to be doing more of that. I think it’s really important to ask for what you want in life, and to grab it with both hands, so I started helping out in the projects team. I was eventually lucky enough to get offered a role as Project Manager at a junior level to cover a team member’s maternity. Once I was in the role, I knew it was something I wanted to stick with permanently and from there I’ve taken digital project management roles within both marketing and IT teams before starting agency life here at Cogent!
One of the things I especially love about digital project management is that the range of projects and clients I get involved with is so diverse, and no two days or projects are ever the same. So far in my career, I’ve worked with automotive, camping and glamping, fuel cards and even with major pub chain Marston’s! The fast-paced nature of digital means that I have to be really reactive so I often have projects drop with very short deadlines.
The other great thing is that we can monitor everything, click through rates, dwell time, bounce rate and drop out to name a few; so we get great insight into what works and what doesn’t, allowing us to work on projects that really improve user experience online.
What is it that makes Cogent different to other places you have worked at?
It’s definitely the atmosphere here! There’s a real sense of community; when work needs to get done the team pull together, grab snacks, and get cracking. It’s not all work and no play though, we also have lots of fun. Since I‘ve been with Cogent we’ve had a fish & chip afternoon, a pizza party, BBQs and rounders, and celebrated Afternoon Tea Week! The work hard play hard ethos is a real thing at Cogent and makes all of the hard work worthwhile. I feel like part of one big family with the team here, we look after each other and share the workload. The whole team have a real passion for delivering excellent results for our clients, so that shines through everything we do and is something I’m proud to be part of.
What’s your career highlight to date, something you’re proud of?
In my previous job at The Camping and Caravanning Club, I started as a Project Manager in the marketing team whilst the company was going through a period of change. After a restructure over a number of months, my role was moved into the IT team. This was a big change from what I was used to, but I embraced the change and upskilled in things which I’d never done before. In my first couple of weeks in the new team, I took on the management of a critical server move, migrating websites from an old server into a completely new environment. This was a massive change from running front-end marketing based projects, but I loved the challenge, and the feeling of achievement when it all went to plan! From there, I was able to get involved in a number of back-end system integration projects, managing everything from integrating a new payment system to working on the booking system across three brands. I’m particularly proud of this because I not only embraced a change that I hadn’t planned or expected in my career, but I also feel that having thrown myself in and gaining full end-to-end knowledge has been key to the success of a number of projects I’ve since delivered.
What’s the best advert or piece of marketing you’ve ever received and why?
I’m always really inspired by brands which promote body positivity. I think we need lots more of this to encourage young people to grow up feeling happy in their own skin, and not feel they have to conform to unrealistic beauty standards. Some of my favourite examples are the Dove Self Esteem Project and ASOS’ move towards non-Photoshopped models and photography. Both of these are great examples of challenging society’s beauty standards and developing inclusive brands.
Brands that are brave enough to stand out from the crowd to promote real values and use their influence to make positive change really cut through the marketing noise for me.
What does Togetherness mean to you?
For me, it means sharing the responsibility to deliver the best work for our clients. When it comes to the crunch, everyone at every level of the business needs to be willing to roll their sleeves up and get their hands dirty in order to deliver what needs to be delivered. Cogent really does have this attitude throughout the business!
It also means we work together with our clients as an extension of their team, if they have a problem it’s our problem too, and we work together to come up with a suitable solution.
It’s enjoying spending time with the people you work with, both internally and externally, making being at work an enjoyable experience and making Cogent a place people enjoy spending time.
What part of your job do you enjoy the most and why?
Being a project manager, I get to work with people from all areas of the business, from our film team at J11, our amazing creative team, and our fabulous development team. It’s great to be able to work with and get to know so many fantastic people across the business! I get to work on a really diverse and exciting range of fast-paced digital projects so my job is certainly never boring; the hours fly by when I’m at work.
What’s your favourite kind of project to work on? What really gets your blood pumping?
The best thing about my job is the number of exciting digital projects we have going on. I love a big website build! Two of my recent favourites are Marston’s Summer Decider and the Marston’s Christmas booking system.
I’m also currently involved in a brand new website build for a hotel brand, as well all the day-to-day online amends for a range of brands from Festival Place Shopping Centre to a Midlands HR company. The range of digital work I’m involved in is interesting and diverse, I love how fast-paced the work is and the feeling of accomplishment when I see a web project go live and start building traffic.
That’s all from Shawnee. Keep an eye out for next month’s TeaTalk where we’ll be sitting down with another member of the Cogent family.