Laura McHard is Lead Creative at Soluis and a delegate of the 2017/18 Special Edition programme. In May 2018 Laura was recognised as a Rising Star in the BIMA100, which celebrates the people shaping the British Digital Industry. Laura spoke to TRC about her highlights from Special Edition.
“I had heard really good things about Special Edition, having followed the delegates from the past couple of years and where they are now. It seemed to me that Special Edition was almost like a catalyst for them moving on to the next big thing in their career. The positive social media coverage made me excited about the programme, and the further I looked into it, I realised it was exactly what I needed in terms of overcoming some of the blockers I had to get me to the next stage in my career.”
A professional toolkit
“I’d say the key takeaways from the programme were to do with confidence, validating my skills and boosting my self-belief, along with meeting like-minded women. Creating a network was really important to me, where I could bounce off things with other people outside my organisation who were at a similar stage to where I was in my career.
The programme didn’t necessarily give me all the answers- I didn’t expect to come out six months later and be a whole new woman, but what it did do was give me the toolkit to go and find the answers. For me, this is super valuable because I’ve learnt how to approach challenges and situations differently, on the back of the Special Edition.”
The session on dealing with difficult conversations has been invaluable and I honestly use the skills from this workshop on a day to day basis. My role means that I must communicate up, down and across. My position in the business means I work directly with the CEO and Chairman, I also work with clients and production staff, so I have difficult conversations every day: whether it’s a difficult client, a challenge in the production team or communicating to the leadership team, I’m able to construct discussions, resolve conflicts and overcome challenges so much more efficiently after that session.”
“I also loved the Leadership session. When I went into Special Edition I thought there was one definition of a leader – you know, you Google it and read Harvard Business Review and think ‘that’s who I’m meant to be’, but the trainer made it acceptable to be yourself. Everyone is a leader in their own way and we shouldn’t be afraid or ashamed of our own leadership style. That was a big penny drop moment for me, as I felt I no longer had to be what was in my head- the picture of what a leader should be. It was ok to be myself, which was huge.”
“I definitely think my definition of success has changed as a result of the programme. I’ve realised that it’s less about what you think other people define success as and about owning the fact that success is actually a very personal thing, and something for you to define. That’s been a huge takeaway for me.
Pre- Special Edition I would never have gone for any awards, such as my recent BIMA100 accolade, whereas now I really believe you should own your successes and be proud of how far you’ve come.”
“My professional network has grown hugely over the past six months. Through the incredible trainers, meetings with industry leaders in Amsterdam and London, and amazing group of delegates, Special Edition has opened many doors, given me the confidence to talk to other people and put myself out there. Sometimes in this industry it can feel like you’re working long hours and have your blinkers on, so your network is the people within the four walls that you work with. Courses like Special Edition allow you to reach out to people that are in similar lines of work and collaborate with them for discussion on new ideas and creativity, which is really healthy for the wider creative digital sector in Scotland. There’s a brilliant cross-pollination of the creative digital sector now, thanks to TRC.
Special Edition is a life-changing 6 months, both professionally and personally. I never thought I would see this much change in myself in such a short period of time and I learned more about myself than I thought I ever would.
Special Edition is funded by Scottish Enterprise, BBC, Channel 4 and Creative Scotland. There is a delegate fee of £300. Applications for the 2018/19 programme are now open and will close on 2nd July at noon. More information on the programme and how to apply can be found here.