How I Got My Job - Nadia Niesterowicz-Newstead
In the fifth instalment of our careers series, Olivia interviewed her sister Nadia, who is Communications Manager for Clore Leadership to talk about her path into the arts sector and how she sees the future of the industries developing.
F&A: Tell us about yourself? Where are you from and what job do you do now?
NN: I grew up in Kent and did loads of drama, singing and music at school so went on to study English Literature and Drama at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. I am now the Communications Manager for an organisation called Clore Leadership, based at Somerset House, which runs leadership and governance courses for arts and culture professionals. I’ve been in this role for just over three months so it still feels fairly new.
F&A: What did you plan on doing after university?
NN: I did a lot of stage management at university so thought I might go into that and did a little bit professionally the summer after I graduated, but quickly discovered I didn’t enjoy working directly with actors. I then went into working in a box office call centre part-time, thinking that I’d get a part-time internship on the side, but I didn’t get offered any that wouldn’t have meant me effectively paying to do them so turned them down. I was looking for any entry role into arts administration as I’d some a little as part of an internship I’d done at uni. I was lucky enough to be offered a season as administrator for the tiny outdoor theatre that I’d been ushering and event managing at during my summers from uni. If it hadn’t been for the owner of that theatre I honestly don’t know where I’d be today.
F&A: What set you on your path of working in the arts?
NN: I chose to study drama at uni because I just loved it and didn’t want to study anything else. I did the English Literature combo as I thought it would give me more transferable skills but I definitely enjoyed the drama side more. I don’t think at that stage I knew that I would still be working in the arts ten years later! My internship at Norwich Playhouse in my second year I think was key in me wanting to pursue a career in the arts - I worked in the administration, technical and front of house departments and got to know all the options available to you when working in a theatre venue, as well as working for the outdoor venue in the summers.
F&A: Describe a typical working day in your current role?
NN: This role is the first time I don’t have to work on shows happening in a venue so it’s a very different way of working for me. Previously my to-do list had been set and prioritised by what came into my inbox, but that’s not the case in this role. I’m working on several projects at the same time so have to set deadlines myself (and stick to them!). Currently I’m working on a press release, a digital strategy, our new business plan and a conference happening in the autumn. Never a dull day and always something to do on each project!
F&A: Have there been any career defining moments for you?
NN: There’s been several but I’d say I’ve had one particular one in each role I’ve had:
When I did my first full campaign during my year long traineeship at The Marlowe in Canterbury (as well as spending the day in a monster costume, as the back end of a pantomime cow and now having a quote on the walls of the theatre!)
Running the campaign for the nationwide Verity Bargate Award for new writing when I was Marketing Assistant at Soho Theatre.
Starting a marketing training programme for venue marketers, artists and companies across the South East during my time at house, based at Farnham Maltings.
Developing and working on the brand new music season, including planning the opening event party, and REBELS season at the Albany in Deptford, a brand new programme of work for which we commissioned artwork.
F&A: What surprises you about your role?
NN: The breadth of roles that we are able to offer leadership training to and also the way that arts and culture professionals (even at what I’d consider to be very advanced stages of their careers) have little confidence in their own leadership abilities. I think it’s a big issue within our sector that we don’t develop that confidence and those skills from an earlier stage but Clore Leadership is looking to bridge that gap through it’s Emerging Leaders and Emerging Futures programmes.
Do you have any future projects you’re looking forward too?
We’ve just received proposals from consultants to work with me on developing a new communications strategy which I’m really excited about. It will be my first time shaping a full communications strategy which is great for my career development but will also be great for the whole organisation to have a joined up comms approach. Next year I’ll also be leading on the Emerging Futures conference which is great to have influence on building confidence in those younger leaders to develop the talent of the future.
F&A: What is your idea of success?
NN: This year is ten years since I left school and started university so to still be working in the arts in a challenging role and to feel that I’m making a difference to the sector feels like success to me. Each role I’ve had has taught me different things about the sector and about myself. Moving forward I haven’t got an specific plans, we’ll just have to see what the future holds!
F&A: What advice can you give to those looking to start a career in a similar role?
NN: Speak to as many people in the industry as you can and (if you can) take the time to find the right role for you. I’m a mentor for graduates from my university and they always say the thing they’re most grateful for is having a sounding board who works in the industry to listen to them and reassure them they’re on the right track. We’re all going to have to work till we’re at least 80 so we might as well do something we enjoy!
See more of what Clore Leadership does here: www.cloreleadership.org
Interview by Olivia Newstead.