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EPISODE 41

Organizing by Design

TRANSCRIPT

Note: This is an auto-generated transcript and may have transcription errors. Please excuse us for the same.

Robert Berkeley  0:05  

Hello everyone, this episode of Inside Jobs will introduce you to an extremely organized creative enabler who has really seen the world and understands what culture with a big C and a small  C really means. Handling in-house agency talent is no small task when your employer is the 36th largest US business with According to Wikipedia, a higher credit rating than the US government. regular listeners will know that Inside Jobs presented by me Robert Berkeley is designed specifically to connect creatives, creative leaders, and those who work in and around in-house agencies. It's brought to you by IHAF, the leading professional association for in-house agencies, along with EKCS who let creative teams focus on what they do best by handling their asset production. So Carrie Roberts, a very warm welcome to Inside Jobs. Now, I see from your LinkedIn profile that you describe yourself as a Firefighter, a Detective, a Bodyguard , a Therapist, a Mother, Negotiator Mechanic, Juggler, Peacekeeper, cat herder and referee carry, which one of those is your favorite job.

 

Carrie Roberts  1:11  

Thanks for having me. First of all, I would say that my favorite job, both at work and at home, is Mother, I call my work people, my children too. So definitely the role that I feel kind of encompasses my in and out of work time.

 

Robert Berkeley  1:27  

So we're going to talk about how you got to this amazing role you have, I haven't yet said for whom you work. But could you outline first of all, what your main responsibility is and what you do day to day, Carrie.

 

Carrie Roberts  1:38  

So I work for Johnson and Johnson design. We are the internal design team for all of Johnson and Johnson globally. My role is on the design operations team. And specifically I support talent operations, resource management and project management.

 

Robert Berkeley  1:56  

Okay, sounds kind of organized all that stuff. So we want to find out. Are you really an organized person, tell us a little bit about your childhood and where you're from?

 

Carrie Roberts  2:04  

Sure, I think I was an organized person, kind of as I was born. So my mom tells a story that when I was about 3 or 4, and I was just learning the alphabet, my favorite things to do was to go in her pantry and organize the pantry. So one day, I would alphabetize it one day, I would organize it by color. One day, I would organize it by size. And so if she ever couldn't find me, I was probably hiding in the pantry, organizing.

 

Robert Berkeley  2:33  

I'm guessing she found this a little bit unusual. Did she go and tell you to tidy your room?

 

Carrie Roberts 2:39  

Well, of course, all of my stuffed animals were also organized by size or family or group. So that's something that kind of has stuck with me today. So if you see my pantry looks very much like home edit,

 

Robert Berkeley  2:53  

What did you study? And how did you fall into this world of creative operations and design? I want to know specifically if you're a designer, of course, but in detail.

 

Carrie Roberts  3:04  

Sure, first, to answer your question about if I'm a designer, I never actually thought that I was. And that always kind of bummed me out a little bit because I've always supported creative people, but never thought about myself as such. But someone recently pointed out to me that what we do in creative operations is service and systems design. So I do feel a little bit better about that. My. So I started out my sort of college and higher education plans thinking that I would be an architect, I went to school at the University of Colorado, and I actually did really love the creative part of it. I loved the feel of vellum, I loved choosing which type of pencil that I would use. Sounds kind of crazy, right?

 

Robert Berkeley  3:46

 I'm not saying the word 

 

Carrie Roberts  3:48 

The weight of the pencil. And I also loved that when you write titles in architecture, all the letters have to stay within the lines. And I just thought that that was really beautiful. And they wanted to design, you know, beautiful, kind of elegant buildings like Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid. And my second year of college, I had a professor and I told him that and he said to me, Well, you know, you're never going to do that. You're just going to design big square office buildings. And you're going to spend all of your days figuring out how many exits and how many bathrooms it needs. And maybe I caught him on a bad day, but no, very inspiring, professional, inspiring. But that conversation, for better or for worse, changed the sort of course of my life and my career. So I took a little break from school to kind of figure out what I was going to do because I didn't want to spend my whole life not only designing big square office buildings, but also it was the time when sort of AutoCAD was really taking off and you know, plotting lines and XY coordinates was not really my thing. I liked the creative feel of it. So I decided to go backpacking through Europe for a couple of months, just to sort of see the world and experience life. I decided to stay there, I found a university in London called Surrey Institute of Art and Design.

 

Robert Berkeley  5:06  

So not afraid to leave home and travel around.

 

Carrie Roberts  5:09  

Nope, I definitely was just, you know, off on my way, my parents thought I was a little bit nuts. But that was only the first of many times they would think that. So I stayed there. I studied fashion marketing, so I thought that I would produce fashion shows and runway shows. So I've sort of always had this thing about, you know, bringing kind of creative visions to life. And so I thought that I would go in and help designers kind of showcase their work. After working a few times in the fashion world, I decided those weren't really my people. So I sort of transitioned into producing live events, so I

 

Robert Berkeley  5:48  

didn't want to be any rude or about why they weren't your people or how we glossed over that. 

 

Carrie Roberts 5:54

I'm just gonna gloss over that. 

 

Robert Berkeley  5:55

Okay. All right, fair enough. So go to the event.

 

Carrie Roberts 5:58  

So I started getting into event production and music production. So still producing live experiences. And my first job was with a British woman in LA, I've always had a thing for Brits, I

 

Robert Berkeley  6:12  

That's totally understandable, by the way.

 

Carrie Roberts 6:16  

They are lovely people. So and, you know, I was Assistant art director to her, she would come up with these ideas. And she would turn to me and say, okay, Carrie, how do we make this happen? And they feel like that was really the start of my creative operations career was having a creative person, you know, present me an idea or challenge or problem to solve, and I would go and solve it.

 

Robert Berkeley  6:39  

So let's say you start so you had told me earlier, you were born in California? Yep. went to Colorado, then you came to the UK. Now you're back in LA. Alright. And you're really starting to get on the rails of what it is you think you want to do, which is, which is enabling people creatively? Correct. That's, you know, let them kind of have their lovely, crazy ideas, and you can bring them to life. Is that right? Yes. So tell us about some of the projects you worked on.

 

Carrie Roberts  7:04  

So my very first project that I worked on was the launch of Xbox. Just that okay, tiny, you know, little small show budget. Yeah. So we produced the press events, and also the big launch kind of gala in LA. So you know, no small thing. The band, garbage performed, they were the headliner, we rented out, you know, a big hotel in downtown LA. And it was a great first kind of jumping off point to say it was, wow, you know, and here I was in my early 20s, having technical directors and stylists and producers coming to me asking me what to do next.

 

Robert Berkeley  7:45  

Any kind of imposter syndrome going on there? Because I know I would have felt it if we just got on with IHS.

 

Carrie Roberts  7:50  

I just sort of got on with it. I mean, I think my approach to things has always been you know, if someone says, Can you do this? I'm like, Yes, I can. And I will go figure out how to do that. And, you know, do the best I can. So yeah, no…fantastic, a little bit of maybe naive fearlessness.

 

Robert Berkeley  8:11  

You didn't stay in LA, though, right? You went? You went over to New York? How did that come about?

 

Carrie Roberts  8:16  

So I was after a couple of years in LA and just, you know, wanted to sort of see what else was out there and then said,

 

Robert Berkeley  8:24  

up to this point where they thought this is good. She's building a career, she's gonna lay everything's fine. Nothing to worry about.

 

Carrie Roberts  8:29  

Right. I stayed there for a couple of weeks. You know, I had a few introductions that people set up for me. And so I went and met a few people and found an apartment. 

 

Robert Berkeley  8:41  

Why didn't you want to build on what you had started in LA, then? Surely that could have afforded you an opportunity to get over there? Why did you just kind of Jack it all in?

 

Carrie Roberts  8:48  

Um, no, actually, I just like, I didn't like the hustle of it, I guess. You know, I was kind of working a freelance life. And it was always so in between working for this amazing art director. I was producing commercials and being a stylist assistant, and I worked on a film as a art director or Assistant art director and just kind of filling you know, some music videos.

 

Robert Berkeley  9:15  

Sounds great to me. Okay, so what happened when you got to New York then? I mean, you did find stability? I know.

 

Carrie Roberts  9:22  

Yeah. I had a friend that introduced me to somebody at Paper Magazine. And I went and talked to them. And they said, Well, you're a little over…

 

Robert Berkeley  9:29  

That’s like a design and creative magazine. 

 

Carrie Roberts  9:33  

Yeah, yeah. So they said, Well, you know, you're a little overqualified to be an intern, but you can intern with us. And you know, we'll help you find a job and introduce you to us and people and things. You know, about a month after I started working as a marketing assistant, she left and they offered me the job. So I was a promotions and marketing assistant. And, you know, it was a crazy place to work at the time. It was really at the height of it.

 

Robert Berkeley  9:57  

So this was what 2005 or something  wasn't around then 

 

Carrie Roberts  10:04  

yes, early 2003 …2005. 2005 went to all kinds of crazy events, met all kinds of crazy musicians and artists and just sort of learned my way around New York, which was great, because I didn't know anybody networking like crazy networking like crazy, which actually then brought me to my next job. And there was a owner of a company called Genart. And they are an organist. They are an organization that produces events for emerging talent in film, fashion, music and art. And they had an office in LA, and they did some events in LA, and I had gone to some of their events. And when I was thinking about moving to New York, I was sending the owner, my resume, to try to figure out what I was going to do here. And he just ignored me, you know, would never respond to me. But at a party one night, I saw him and I went up to him, and I said, I have been sending you my resume for the last few years. And not getting away. Yeah. I said, I'm here. Now I'm in New York, and I would really like to work for you. I'm really inspired by the mission of what you do. Would it be okay if I send you my resume and and we could meet. And so the next time I sent him my resume, he took my email and called me back, and we had a great conversation, and he offered me a job.

 

Robert Berkeley  11:22  

What a difference it can make sometimes to actually buttonhole someone, right? Yeah, yeah. All right. So you're at genart, I'm doing events? And where did that take you next?

 

Carrie Roberts  11:32  

So I was there for a couple of years, and five years or so. And sort of similar? I don't know, I guess it was sort of a similar outcome, I had a friend that worked at a creative agency called exposure. Again, it's a British company, but with a US outpost, and my friend that worked there would call me a lot and asked me for advice about, you know, things they were doing or producing events, or, you know, did I know anybody who could help with this or whatever. And I, you know, for a while, I kind of gave them free advice. And then at one point, I said to the president of the company, I said, you know, if you keep calling me, you're gonna have to hire me. They said, Okay, let's do it.

 

Robert Berkeley  12:14  

Was there a plan to carry it here? You know, the way you're moving from job to job at this point? You know, it's a good cadence every five years or so? Yeah. Did you kind of know where you were heading? Or do you just kind of work with this as the next shiny thing

 

Carrie Roberts  12:26  

No, I think, um, no, I didn't really have a plan at that point. I just, I think my approach to my career has always been to take the opportunity when it presents itself and when,

 

Robert Berkeley  12:39  

because you're actually telling me two occasions where you are creating the opportunity, and then taking it. Oh, really? Oh, okay. But you're actually setting it all up? Right? You're very kind of, what's the word they use these days, intentional, it seems about this far from waiting for, you know, like, Kairos, the god of waiting for it to kind of come past you're actually making these opportunities happen, right.

 

Carrie Roberts  13:02  

It's true. It's a good, it's a good point is yes, creating the opportunities that I want to go after and, and, you know, sort of seeing that as the next challenge in my career. And something that kind of, you know, will keep me motivated and learning and sort of expanding what I can do.

 

Robert Berkeley  13:19  

Okay, so you got headhunted? Right.

 

Carrie Roberts  13:23  

So while I was at exposure, before I go into the headhunter, I think the turning point at while I was at exposure was, that's sort of where I made the transition from producer to creative services. So when I joined, it was small, maybe less than 10 people. And you know, after a few years there, we were really growing. And so they asked me to lead and start up the creative services department. So in addition to being head of production there, I was also starting the Creative Services Division, getting more sort of formally, I guess, into that creative operations world

 

Robert Berkeley  14:00  

is this, would you say this is a wider remit, or just a different remit?

 

Carrie Roberts  14:03  

It was definitely a wider remit. So, you know, at that point, my responsibility was not only overseeing the production team, but starting to understand, okay, how do I take these creative visions and bring them to life managing the budgets, putting in some process and systems into the way we are working because as a company starts to grow, they understand that they need you know, a little bit of more order and process into how they do things so that they can be scalable. 

 

Robert Berkeley  14:31  

So process and systems and budgets. This is this is you allowing people to be creative by handling the stuff that creatives with a few exceptions are not normally renowned for wanting to focus on. Let's just try and put it like that. This is stuff that you kind of innately had buttoned down right I mean, I presume you've learned along the way but you really felt this was core to you. You aren't this is your world, right?

 

Carrie Roberts  14:54  

Yeah. And this is where I think like the bodyguard piece of my job kind of comes in is like protecting them sort of clearing the way for them to do the great work and to come up with all the great, amazing ideas that they have. And don't worry about how it gets done. And don't worry about how to license that or, you know, get that contract done or, or hire these people, I will take care of all of that are my you know, myself, my team will take care of those things. You do you you be creative. And we'll, you know, kind of clear the way.

 

Robert Berkeley  15:25  

Okay. All right. So yes, we got that established, and then someone came knocking. 

 

Carrie Roberts  15:28

Yeah, so the..

 

Robert Berkeley  15:30

opportunity this morning, you didn't set up right, 

 

Carrie Roberts  15:31

this one I did not set up,

 

Robert Berkeley  15:34

at least not directly, maybe. 

 

Carrie Roberts  15:35  

Yeah. And so another British company, The Body Shop, owes everything to us. I know, the body shop called me and they said, We're sort of restarting the business in the US. We need to build a team and rebuild the US business from scratch. We have

 

Robert Berkeley  15:56  

a requisition right, that quad at this point,

 

Carrie Roberts  15:59  

So, they had been acquired about 10 years prior by L'Oreal. But they hadn't really done anything about it. They had just let the business run as it was. And so they said, we have a creative director, you have a managing director. And now you would like this opportunity. And, you know, I thought it was an amazing opportunity to be sort of a startup business funded by a big corporation like L'Oreal. There was a very specific remit, which was, you know, turn the business around, wasn't losing money, but it wasn't necessarily profitable wasn't operating, as L'Oreal wanted it to be as one of its portfolio. And so we really just kind of started up the business from scratch. How exciting is that? Yeah. So they brought me in as director of creative operations. You know, we built myself into a creative director, built a creative team, established processes, brought in tools and systems and turned the business around into a profitable company for L'Oreal.

 

Robert Berkeley  17:06  

Wow. So but you were only there a couple of years, what happened,

 

Carrie Roberts  17:08  

I was only there a couple of years. I didn't know at the time that the reason they were trying to turn the business around is that they were trying to sell it. And I didn't really know what the future was whether I would stay with the company, The Body Shop, depending on who bought it. Or, you know, or if I was going to be out of a job. So I was kind of just rolling with it. A lot of people left L'Oreal, people started going back to L'Oreal, which was very unsettling. And yeah, it was a little Yeah, it was a little, like, nerve wracking, not knowing. But you know, I thought that was sort of a comfort zone that I had is just, you know, not knowing and seeing where life takes me.

 

Robert Berkeley  17:46  

Do you have family at this point? And we never asked about any of that. At this point.

 

Carrie Roberts  17:49  

I do. Yeah, I had that exposure, I had two kids. So I Oh, okay. So you know, if this sort of unknown was happening, I got another phone call. This time from Johnson & Johnson design. They reached out to me through their talent acquisition team. And the first time they called I said, I don't think you have the right person. Like, I have no pharmaceutical background. You know, I, I couldn't really find anything out about the design team and what they did. And so I said, Yeah, I don't think this is the job for me, and sort of sent them away. And then they came back again. And they said, I really think that you should talk to the Operations Director, just, you know, let them talk to you and just listen. So I said, Okay, you know, and I took the call with them, the CEO and the director of operations, and they told me about the company and what they did. And, you know, the thing that I had seen in my career to date, I had done both, you know, sort of marketing and advertising agencies. And then I'd also worked for sort of more companies with a purpose like Gen art and the body shop. And what I really saw about working at J&J and was that there was really a purpose in what they did and a greater good that they were serving. So that kind of sold me on it. And understanding that the designs that they were working on in the J&J design team were more about less. They don't do marketing and communications, design and advertising. They're really about product and service design and thinking about how we can solve problems across the business using design and how we can kind of create better experiences for patients and customers and healthcare providers. So that felt great to me. And so here I am. August marks my five year anniversary with them.

 

Robert Berkeley  19:42  

Well, congratulations in August on that. So let's talk about Johnson & Johnson design then you mentioned that you're not working on the advertising, which many of the listeners to Inside Jobs clearly are but this this is more about product design. This is where a lot of people who work in in-house agencies would Like to be or feel that they could contribute. Yeah, very interesting. So, so tell me how this actually works, then let's describe the division before we get on to you personally, but just describing the round the division, what it does, and for whom it does it and how that kind of works?

 

Carrie Roberts  20:14  

Sure. So, Johnson & Johnson design supports the entire enterprise for Johnson & Johnson. So consumer pharma, medical technology, global public health and corporate brands. And what's super interesting to me about it is that there might be something that the pharmaceutical team is working on, very similar to something that the self care team is working on. And they would never really have the opportunity to speak or connect those dots. But we're sort of at the center of that. We kind of see everything that's happening across the business, and you know, can be the connector of a lot of people and ideas. So I love that part of it.

 

Robert Berkeley  20:51  

Yeah. So you kind of know what tomorrow's news is today, really, in a way as well. Yes. So this talk more specifically about your role then in this team? How big is it and what do you do in it?

 

Carrie Roberts  21:01  

So the J&J design team, when I joined about five years ago, we're about 100. I think today we are a little over 200, about 220. With all of our open roles that we have, we should be 300 by the end of this year. So we've planned..

 

Robert Berkeley  21:17  

Why is that? So? I know this is another question already. But why is that what's happening kind of behind the scenes that's that's swelling this department when large corporations are trying to shed, you know, three departments and cuts spend what's going on?

 

Carrie Roberts  21:29  

Well. So J&J design has been sort of part of J&J for about 15 years, it started out as the global strategic design opposite office, and about maybe seven years ago, changed the J&J design with and so originally, we started just supporting consumers. And then we sort of grew to other areas of the business, including pharma and medtech. And, and global public health, and sort of the, I guess, I would say that the good word has spread about the work that we do, and about the impact design can have. And so every time, you know, we support one new business partner, they tell their colleagues, so it's not mandatory that the business works with us, it's encouraged that they do. And really, we're not an agency, because we don't have this client agency relationship where a embedded partner, so we work very closely with our business partners, they come to us with challenges that they're faced with, and how can dissolve design solve those problems. But also, we kind of see some opportunities for them to improve as well. And so you know, it's a very sort of mutual relationship to say, you know, hey, we see this opportunity, and maybe design can help solve this issue that we're facing.

 

Robert Berkeley  22:45  

Now, this, this is what you're talking about here sounds quite easy to do in a relatively small environment. But this is a massive environment. How on earth do you make this happen? And I have a vested interest in asking this question, actually, but how do you scale up this kind of value added relationship?

 

Carrie Roberts  23:00  

Well, so that's really, you know, that's really part of my job. So my responsibility for talent operations and resource management is that every new opportunity that comes into J&J design, it's my job to work with the team to make sure that we have the right designers and the team in place to support those projects. And, you know, forecasting the work that's coming our way, what kind of capabilities do we need to grow? So, you know, we might need more product designers. And we've seen that there's been a trend in sort of product design versus just UX UI design. So we're doing a lot of hiring in that space. And so I'm kind of looking at the trends, what kind of projects are coming in? What type of talent do we need? How do we work within the market, which is, you know, right now a very talent driven market. How do we get the story out about J&J design so that people don't have the same experience that I had, which was what lets J&J design. 

 

Robert Berkeley  23:59  

But you've got all of these all of this talent that you're managing, and you're resourcing and making sure you got the right people at the right time, who you can have time to be interfacing with all your various co- workers in different parts of J&J? I don't, I don't know whether you call them clients or not. So I'm using my words carefully there. But But So how have you scaled that up as well,

 

Carrie Roberts  24:18  

so we don't call them clients, we call them business partners. And within our business, we have what we call solutions leaders. So you know, maybe otherwise known as account account managers are account directors. So we have a team of solutions, leaders that go in they're the ones sort of interfacing with the business and building those relationships, as well as our capability leaders are sort of creative directors in that space. You know, building the relationships, talking about design talking about the value of design, and that's really kind of the role of our leadership team and our, you know, business facing partners within this within the studio.

 

Robert Berkeley  24:58  

So those are the solution leaders that You call them and I'm really very curious about this. You're growing as a department, and you'll be adding new solutions leaders as you go. Yeah. Where do you get them from? And how do you round them? How do you point them in the right direction? How do you onboard them?

 

Carrie Roberts  25:13  

So sometimes they come, you know, a lot of times they come from within the business, because they already have relationships, you know, within the business across that space, or they come from the outside world, we always say that the biggest thing, especially for working at a big company, is that onboarding, the first month or so you're listening and understanding kind

 

Robert Berkeley  25:35  

So do you assign them to mentors or something at the beginning? 

 

Carrie Roberts  25:38  

Yeah, they have sort of a partner in their space that they work with. And

 

Robert Berkeley  25:43  

Just going back a bit, what do they bring to the table when they come in? What are you looking for, in terms of kind of experience and skill sets and sort of approach? 

 

Carrie Roberts  25:51  

You know, I think there's been a lot of conversation about more soft skills. So you know, cultural intelligence, emotional intelligence, really understanding, it's not about you know, if you're talking about account people, it's not about making, you know, bringing in a job that is a high profit job and about selling a service, right, we're really talking about selling design, and selling the value of design. And, and so that's what their sort of remit is, is to be able to understand the challenges that our business partners are facing, and how design can help them solve that problem.

 

Robert Berkeley  26:27  

So the onboarding starts with this month-long sort of shadowing? Yeah. Do they let them loose after that point? Or do they continue somewhere?

 

Carrie Roberts  26:36  

I don't think anyone can be totally let loose. I mean, it took me I would say, probably six months to a year before I felt comfortable to, you know, speak about things. Yeah. It's such a big and complex and complicated company to try to figure out who's who's what, how are they connected to somebody? Who do they report to and what division do they support? So I think a lot of it is, you know, a lot of it is partnership, a lot of it is a sort of entrepreneurial spirit that people have, like you have to be you have to have that sort of courage and fearlessness. And you know, definitely if you're working on the pharmaceutical team, definitely some kind of knowledge of that space. And the surfaces are definitely a need in that space.

 

Robert Berkeley  27:24  

Yeah. Well, it sounds extraordinary. I have to say, you know, the, the amount of work, how do you keep it organized, you have some kind of workflow system? I'm sure of some sort? Yes. Is that something that you, you yourself have been involved in? Or is that already there?

 

Carrie Roberts  27:38  

So when they brought me in, before they brought me in, they had an outside agency kind of do an audit of what the issues were and what they needed. And they said, Well, you need a person, and you need a tool.

 

Robert Berkeley  27:51  

You are the person. 

 

Carrie Roberts  27:52

So I'm the person and the tool was brought in at the same time as me. So I wasn't involved in the sort of requisition of it. But it was brought in…

 

Robert Berkeley  27:59  

But the deployment of it, you were, I was deployed. So that went ahead. Obviously, that was kind of a good way to learn the company, I would imagine, isn't it?

 

Carrie Roberts  28:09  

Yeah, yeah, it was great. So we have. So as I said, we have little over 200 people in the studio, we have about three to 400 projects, active at any given time. So it's a lot to keep organized. And so we're very reliant on this tool to help us manage the data. So specifically for resource management, it's a very important tool for us to understand, you know, and for me, when a new opportunity is coming in, and we're talking about it is that's the first place I'm going to understand whether we have the capacity to take that project on or you know, whether we need to go and look to staff up to support it or move that project around at all. So absolutely critical to me and in my ability to do the job because with so many people to organize,

 

Robert Berkeley  29:00  

Yeah, what do you do? Of course it goes without saying that we've all been through the hole and still many ways of going through the work from home hybrid thing is a hybrid of the future for you, by the way.

 

Carrie Roberts  29:09  

So yeah, we're currently J&J is applying a flex model, which is three days a week in the office two days a week remote,

 

Robert Berkeley  29:16  

mandating which days they are or is that no can choose, people

 

Carrie Roberts  29:19  

can choose which day and so, you know, we've all sort of started to come back into the office. It's been really great to see people that I haven't seen in a couple of years because

 

Robert Berkeley  29:30  

growing and recruiting, but you've never actually met these people.

 

Carrie Roberts  29:32  

Yeah, so myself, I took over overseeing the project management team in the fall of last year. And so at the time, we had five project managers on the team, I now have 12 project managers on the team and so majority of them that I've hired, I had never met in person. And so you know, the last month or so when we started going into the office and seeing them in person, I was like So nice to meet you. Like you gave them all big hugs and were emotional, really, it was a bit emotional. You know, we've hired maybe 100 People in the last two years, so many of them. We've never met in person. They've never seen the office. And yeah, it's sort of a weird thing. So it's, it's nice to see everyone I like. I like seeing my team in person.

 


Robert Berkeley  30:18  

And these project managers, these, these work with the solution leaders that we referenced earlier. Yeah, they were a support for the solutions leaders.

 

Carrie Roberts  30:25  

Yeah, they're definitely very important partners for all the solutions, leaders across the spaces.

 

Robert Berkeley  30:31  

Well, and I ought to ask, given, given the scale of what you've got, how many projects are you handling every year. 

 

Carrie Roberts  30:35  

We have about three to 400 projects. At any given time,

 

Robert Berkeley  30:41  

at any given time, that's not in a year, on any given time. Yeah, three to 400. So you're kind of multiplying that out? Well, how long are the projects a couple of months each?

 

Carrie Roberts  30:49  

Depends, we have some projects that. So there's one project that I'm really excited about that came to market on the consumer side, a couple months ago, a month or so ago, it's an otoscope, which is something that you can look into your child's ear fits over your phone, it connects to an app, and it will take a picture and then compare it with other pictures so that you can help diagnose if your child has a ear infection. So that's something that the team was working on kind of when I started about five years ago, and now has just come to market. So there are some very long projects. And you know, that's a super exciting project, because we worked on the product design of it. We worked on the packaging and label design, isn't that wonderful? On the app. So it's really like the perfect example of a really holistic project that the entire team touched. And now I'm gonna see it in question. 

 

Robert Berkeley  31:45  

Oh, it sounds awesome. And I gotta ask you this question. Because this comes up time and time and time again. In fact, I have done a webinar about it very recently, one of the roundtables that they did, which is about how on earth do you get your How do you get this attention? How do you get a seat at the table, as it's often put, so that you can bring your creative skills to product development and to, to marketing even before the products even being fully kind of, you know, imagined? Have you got any top tips for how shall we call it a conventional in house agency that is more used to working in the marketing and advertising side can get to that point where they can really contribute?

 

Carrie Roberts  32:25  

I think it's really about the relationship at the very highest level. So, you know, we have huge champions within the business that understand what design can really bring to the table. And without that sort of trust and acknowledgment of what design can do. I think it's really hard. So I would say, you know, my recommendation is start at the highest levels talk about not just the output of design, like it's not you know, look how pretty this looks or look how much this you know, drove sales or whatever it's really look at how we could solve a problem with design

 

Robert Berkeley  33:03  

and Steve Jobs thinks about how design is not what it looks like, it's how it works. Yeah, it's that thing

 

Carrie Roberts  33:08  

Yes. And understanding you know what the customer or the consumer needs and really solving for that that's a design problem. I think people don't really think about that they think you know, we'll just put something out on the market but how long it lives and how well it's adopted is sort of how much it solves the people the consumers need or customers need for it.

 

Robert Berkeley  33:31  

Yeah, I see. Okay, well, I will. I can say I hope other people do are able to take that advice because for my money the in-house agencies know the brand, they know the customers more than anybody else and really, you know, so deserve a seat at the table there. Just as we wrap up carry, what ambitions have you got then where do you want to go from here? It's it's, you know, you make your own opportunities. I'm just kind of wondering what seeds you're planting now.

 

Carrie Roberts  33:57  

Well, when I came into the business that J&J design, I told them very clearly that my ambitions were we were to be the COO of J&J design. So as bold as

 

Robert Berkeley  34:10  

that lifted to see what the currency it's Yeah, okay. Yeah,

 

Carrie Roberts  34:14  

so that's currently my boss.

 

Robert Berkeley  34:18  

Okay, maybe listening to this, do you think

 

Carrie Roberts  34:21  

she will be listening to this? And she knows. And, you know, I think that's really the thing. One of the things that I really appreciate at working at J&J design is that, first of all, not only could I say that, you know, my first my first month in the job, and at the time, the currency, the CEO at the time said, Got it, okay, it's my responsibility to make sure you get there and to get you the training and to get you the experience and whatever. And you know, and he left and now my, his second in command at the time now she's the CEO, you know, and she's very supportive and very focused on that she knows that that's

 

Robert Berkeley  34:56  

giving you the autonomy you need to do the job your way and

 

Carrie Roberts  34:59  

yeah, Get it and make sure that I have, you know, all the experiences and connections, that's really, you know, in order to be successful at that kind of job, it is really understanding the business and how they work with us and how we can continue to grow that business. So she gets me a lot of exposure to those conversations. I'm very lucky. So that's my, you know, that's my, that's my plan. I think, in whatever case, I really want to help lead a design organization. And, and sort of bring that kind of thinking and, and understanding to continue to support design and be a champion of it.

 

Robert Berkeley  35:36  

Well, champion, you definitely are a creative enabler, I called you at the beginning. And I think I think we can all completely understand why it's been fantastic to hear your story, you're clearly about the mission of the people you work with. They got to be doing something that you want, and you can clearly bring their creative visions to life. And I think that you have a very terrific role. And I think that clo opportunity, sorry, not an opportunity. I mean, that cool ambition is definitely one that's worthwhile. So I really wish you luck with that. Carrie, thanks so much.

 

Carrie Roberts  36:05  

Thanks forever.

 

Robert Berkeley  36:06  

Well, I just want to also thank Emily foster of our wonderful partners I have and my producer Amy MacNamara for helping set up these podcasts and getting the recordings to happen and coordinating everything, and also the lovely folks that you EKCS for handling the editing of this podcast that you're listening to now. Thank you for listening