DYNAMIC CAREER JOURNEYS: HOW EQUATOR GROWS FROM WITHIN
It’s well recognised that an expanding business is fertile ground for career advancement opportunities.
Over the past 23 years Equator has grown and evolved, from comparatively humble beginnings at our early premises in Nottingham and Manchester to a global business five studios strong.
As a result, we haven’t just built a broader portfolio of clients, projects and services. Our expansion has also enabled a significant number of dynamic career journeys. This has occurred across virtually every department, from design and client services to photography and production teams.
Our track record of internal promotions is considered to be a real source of strength here at Equator. Promoting talent from within reinforces our company culture and creates an environment where more people can put their proficiencies to the test and take risks. We’re delighted when one of our own gives a barnstorming client presentation or leads a range extension from concepts to shelf for the very first time.
And while we understand the value recruiting talent from outside the business brings, such as an influx of fresh ideas and fresh perspective, we’re especially proud of those members of the team who have come up through the ranks. Many have moved from junior-level positions to leadership roles or used transferrable skills to take on new challenges in other departments.
Two Equator team members with direct experience of internal promotion are Jane Robinson and Jonathan Williams, both based at Equator HQ, The Ragged School, Manchester, and both have recently been promoted. Here, they share their career journey and experience as part of the Equator team.
Hi both, tell us a bit about your background and the role you’re in now.
JR: I started at Equator six years ago after working for a competitor. I started here as a creative account manager, before moving to an account director role.
I’d originally started my career working as a photography assistant, and rather than the technical side of things, I loved the client interface and working with people. I moved into account management, where each step from account manager to director took me a bit further from creative involvement with the photography studio.
So, I had a chat with the senior team, who have a huge vision for the future of Equator’s in-house photography proposition. For a few months now I’ve been in the completely new role of Photography Services Director, and my remit is to help drive that vision with collaborative guidance from the senior team. This role is very client facing. We are creating a space for our clients to come into a great environment, where they can see the project come to life first-hand. There are loads of different layers to this job, and I love all of them.
JW: Nearly 14 years now I’ve been with Equator, starting out in a junior production role and moving every couple of years to middle-ranks, and now as Creative Studio Manager.
Rather than being recruited I went through Equator’s development programme and progressed through on a junior level all the way through. I feel like I’ve seen it all, having watched the company grow to what it is today.
Skills development is a constant for me, for myself of course but more so for the team. It’s always been my goal to develop people who are primed to take on the next step and can take the reins with business growth, when the time is right.
How does hiring from within Equator help to support the business, for example in its culture and operations?
JW: Coming back [in a hyrbrid phased approach] to the offices will add another layer to the communication that flows seamlessly between the designers and production and with account managers, letting us deliver the very best for the client.
After working remotely for nearly 18 months, there are loads of new people who have never actually met in person, so for us it’s going to be about building team morale. Because Jane and I came up through the ranks we understand the fantastic culture and know what it feels like when Equator is at its best, working creatively all together, bouncing ideas off each other. Having that breadth of experience of Equator itself, we’ll be able to build the internal processes going forward that will optimally suit the needs of the business.
How do you create an environment where individual team members feel in control of their career track and empowered?
JR: We are here to motivate them and to push them beyond their own boundaries, but we have to be attuned to individual strengths and play to those abilities and backgrounds.
JW: There’s no one size fits all at Equator, and everyone is different – though we do absolutely all pull towards the same goal. We do that as individuals, and we all have that piece of the puzzle that we bring to the table.
JR: It makes a real difference when you can use your skills but step into a new type of role or another department. At Equator, the under-one-roof model means there’s a breadth of roles to aim for and wide-ranging expertise to be gained – all without setting a foot outside the business. And these are ultimately the factors that help to make rapid career growth possible.