Animated Women UK launches Mentorship Programme

Animated Women UK launches Mentorship Programme

AWUK reveals a new mentorship programme for its members in the VFX and animation industries, pairing seasoned professionals with emerging female talent. 

Animated Women UK is pleased to announce a mentorship programme in partnership with Disney UK & Ireland for its members. 

This mentorship programme will focus on fostering connection and engagement with female veterans of the VFX and Animation industries, pairing them with the next generation of female talent.  

AWUK members who are interested in participating in the mentorship programme will be asked to fill out a questionnaire describing their industry experience. 

Powered through the Prospela professional network website, mentors will be paired with a mentee seeking advice and support.  

Through the use of a chat channel on the Prospela website, mentors and mentees will be able to exchange communication when it suits them best and in their own time.  

We have a great team of Mentors engaged and ready to start a meaningful mentorship with keen mentees.  Could this be you?  We hope so!

Louise Hussey, Co-Chair, VFX, Animated Women UK, commented: “AWUK is very excited to be offering a mentor scheme, and have been able to do so by Disney’s sponsorship. We love the way that this scheme, hosted by Prospela, and pioneered by Access VFX works. It enables communication through a digital platform that allows for Mentors to be able to respond as and when their schedules allow.  In these times, support and help are welcomed by us all, so please do sign up!”

For more information, or to apply, visit http://www.animatedwomenuk.com/mentoring/.

Annual membership of Animated Women UK costs just £30.

http://www.animatedwomenuk.com/membership/

Posted by Lucy Cooper in Homepage, Mentoring, News, 0 comments
AWUK’s F*CK UP NIGHT | Inglorious WTF moments shared 

AWUK’s F*CK UP NIGHT | Inglorious WTF moments shared 

You’re not alone: inglorious WTF moments shared 
 
December started with a bang and an irreverent look at life, work, and everything in between in our F*CK UP and networking event. 
 
F*CK UP nights are becoming a global phenomenon and on 1st December we elected to host our own in celebration of mistakes, fumbles, WTF moments, and those occasions where you see your career going into free-fall in front of your very eyes.  
 
You know the kind of thing… viruses distributed to the entire company, internal emails going to clients, lapses in judgement. Those moments that are so toe-curlingly awful you wonder if you’ll ever recover. 
 
Hosted by AWUK co-Chairs Louise Hussey and Beth Parker, it was great to see so many new faces as 69 women (including 8 from Scanline VFX – thank you ladies) got together on Zoom to share their experiences and talk about ways to get something positive from f*ck ups and failures.
 
Dara McGarry

Dara McGarry

 
The evening kicked off with three courageous speakers, Dara McGarry, Operations Manager, DNEG Feature Animation, Sue Lyster, Executive in Charge, ILM London and Sarah Fell, Director of Original Series, EMEA Kids for WarnerMedia, who kindly agreed to talk about their most inglorious moments. 
 
We learned that failure and mistakes are a part of creativity, of aiming high and in some cases taking risks. Their ‘mistakes’ and failures had taught them important lessons about themselves, other people, and how after making a mistake they sought to channel that experience into something new and more constructive. And, that this didn’t necessarily happen overnight but came with time and a willingness to learn and grow. 
 
Topics of discussion ranged from imposter syndrome and how to deal with big personalities to exam failure, lack of confidence to voice opinions, and an acknowledgement that even some of the best careers have not been planned.
 
What was said about the event: 
 
This is my first time at one of these events and it’s been really insightful. Thank you so much everyone! 🙂
 
Thank you!!! It was SO MUCH FUN!
 
Thanks for being so frank and honest everyone!
 
Once you admit it you can all get on with solving the problem 🙂
 
Thank you everyone, lovely to speak to everyone in my breakout groups, and thanks Dara, Sue and Sarah for sharing your stories <3
 
Admitting a mistake allows you to regroup and reassess, to move forward.
 
Can definitely relate to the feeling of pinning your worth to your academic achievements, and how the bad grades tend to stay in your memory a while longer. Really helps to hear that story, thank you!
 
Everyone is so afraid of f*cking up that no one stops the f*ck up!
 
Thank you all so much for sharing your experiences, stories and tips! 🙂
 
Thanks to all 3 speakers. 100% agree – trust your gut (always)!
 
 
Whether you find yourself f*cking up once or multiple times, know that f*ck ups happen to everyone, it’s part of the journey. Remind yourself that this moment is just a moment, and it does not represent all your endeavours now or in the future.
 
Failure is an important part of your growth and developing resilience. Don’t be afraid to fail.  Michelle Obama.  

Posted by Lucy Cooper in Events, Homepage, 0 comments
Lizzie Hicks | Achieve Alumni in Lockdown

Lizzie Hicks | Achieve Alumni in Lockdown

Lizzie Hicks is a Creative Producer at Blue-Zoo and attended the Helen North Achieve Programme in 2018.  Continuing our series of blogs on different experiences of lockdown, we asked Lizzie to share her’s. 2020 has definitely been eventful for her as, on top of everything else, she became a mother for the first time just before lockdown.

Over to Lizzie…

I always thought I’d be a teacher. A lot of the women in my family are teachers, so I just kind of assumed that’s what I’d do. I figured I’d be ok at it and it seemed to be a good job if you wanted to have a family. Then when I was 15 I went to a careers fair, learned about the course at Bournemouth and everything changed. I switched my A-level choices so I could study a subject that I had always loved –  animation!

Skip forward 10 years and I have now been working at Blue-Zoo since I graduated.  It all started with a 4-week placement as a generalist which I got through a family friend… cue several years of imposter syndrome. I bounced between the short-form services department and series animation as an animator, generalist and animation director. Then, after a few years, I was offered a brand new role to the company as a Creative Producer in our commercial department where I was now a senior member of staff.

Alongside this lovely career path I had also met someone (at work which is pretty common I think in this industry) who I dated, wedded and began thinking about the next stage of our life with. This was when I enrolled in the Helen North Achieve Programme. I had a new role to figure out. How could I maintain a career I loved, and start a family?

It was brilliant meeting other women from the industry, but I was particularly interested in those who had kids. I picked their brains; what they did right, what they wished they knew. Ultimately I realised you just have to work out how to manage it in a way you feel comfortable, and for me, that meant anticipating my worries and insecurities and having open conversations about them. Luckily Blue-Zoo, and especially my line managers, had always been incredibly supportive with work-life balance as well as appreciating my candour.

I discussed my insecurities with them of leaving the company for 6 months to a year; the idea that things could change while I was gone and that I wouldn’t know about it, having someone come in and cover me, worrying that the team would suffer without me, or worse, they wouldn’t miss me at all. All I had known for 10+ years was this. I had no idea how I would feel leaving or coming back. I also picked the brains of the women in the company who had returned to work after having children, as well as hitting up a long term client of ours who is pretty senior at one of the worlds biggest broadcasters and content creators. I know she has a fantastic work ethic as well as a family, so I tentatively sent her an email asking if perhaps I could ask her about it all.  She was more than happy to talk, which was amazing. All of this was before I was even pregnant haha.

It was then the summer of 2019, I had somehow wangled it so I was going to Annecy with work and then a week later to New York to meet potential new clients (as well as tagging on a little holiday with the husband at the end). Both trips were great, working hard in the day and having a lovely ol’ time in the evenings socialising and sightseeing. I came home and I was shattered. And also (it turned out) 8 weeks pregnant.

Keeping it schtum from work was very tricky as over the years both of us have made some very good friends there, but felt great when we finally decided to tell people. I knew they had recently improved the maternity policy at Blue-Zoo for anyone who had been there for longer than a year.  However, as a long term member of staff, I really wanted to talk to the directors about a possible extension of both maternity and paternity leave based on how long you’d been employed. I decided the best course of action was to mention it in person to my line manager and the company director I am closest to before formally emailing all the company directors with HR. It was fantastic. They were open to it and added some weeks if you had been at the company for more than 5 years, so both I and Dane benefited, which was great.

I also had a part to play in hiring my cover, which I really enjoyed and appreciated. I looked through the applicants as well as doing the 1st round of interviews with my line manager. Then subsequent interviews were done with people my cover would have to work with.

Cover hired and there was a 3-week handover. On the 3rd week, I felt confident enough to say ‘this week I will just watch you do my job?’ She was up for it and it was brill. There were a few moments of biting my tongue. Wanting to say ‘that’s not exactly how I would do it’. I had to let go of control and I knew I was leaving my role in good hands. My worries were calmed, I left work a week before my due date feeling super prepared and ready for my next adventure.

I was super lucky with my pregnancy and birth and 3 days after the due date, Riley was here! Yes…it wasn’t enough to marry someone in the industry, her name was taken from a Pixar film! I have to say it was quite a whirlwind, but again something that I learnt from the course is that there is a lot to be said for women supporting women… and also that there are women out there like me! Being naturally a woman who has often been friends with men more, I always felt I wasn’t a “girl’s girl”. The idea of ‘mummy friends’ made me want to curl up a little.

However, I have to say for the 1st few weeks, my antenatal WhatsApp group of mums was a godsend. Knowing you can send a message at 3 am asking advice and often you will get a reply was amazing – even if it was just the comfort of knowing someone else was awake as well. I loved how many of them spoke about how important their work was to them and how some were keen to go back to work. It was really refreshing when I had always felt there was generally a choice and separation between motherhood and work. Also, although we are all a little different in our approaches, amazingly the general consensus of the group was ‘happy mum, happy baby’* which is definitely a good mantra to go by. Love or hate breastfeeding? Your baby will be happy either way, don’t beat yourself up. *Though this doesn’t mean if your baby is being a little oike it’s your fault… babies are weird little roller coasters, developing and growing all over the place they can literally change every day.

All in all, I was loving leave and looking forward to hanging out with my new friends, pissing people off in coffee shops with my buggy, but Dane had only gone back to work for a week when everything started to shut down in the first wave of lockdown. This damn pandemic… it’s certainly had its positives, Dane is around a lot and I obviously don’t feel like I am missing out on the Friday night pubs as no one is going. Also as Dane is a director for the comms team, I’m basically in their catch ups every morning, so I still feel incredibly connected and in many ways feel very confident about going back to work. Each week I do have various wobbles, but also have the most amazing ups as well. Feels very strange that this might not be over by the time I am due to go back to work, so I may have the pandemic still to navigate as well as the usual balance of how many days a week to go back and how to feel like I’m a good parent and good at my job. The world is a different place, but I am really looking forward to the challenges ahead, both with my lovely daughter and in my career.

And because I haven’t been able to go out and show her off to the world, I’ve included some pics of the bundle of fun. Lizzie x

Posted by Lucy Cooper in Achieve Programme, Lockdown, 0 comments
AWUK Board in Lockdown | Beth Parker

AWUK Board in Lockdown | Beth Parker

Continuing from our post a few months ago, we caught up with AWUK Animation Chair, Beth Parker to see how her life had changed during 2020.

Beth Parker, Animation Chair at AWUK

I was in a fortunate position as the pandemic hit – having left my job at Disney in February, I was planning to spend some time working from home, but definitely not with the kind of restrictions lockdown brought! I returned from a trip to the US just as borders were closing in various parts of the world, and granted, what happened next was a bit of a shock at first. But I am a creative producer, we thrive on solving problems and love a bit of structure and organisation. So, without further ado, and since it looks like we’re not going to get back to any kind of crowd surfing any time soon, here are my top five survival tips for keeping your head above water during these difficult times:

Give your days structured and keep routines:

For me, it has been essential to keep to the same weekday routine I had previously. However, I have to admit, this has been really hard as I am not a morning person and it never was an easy ride! I do need time to get into the day, so even when I don’t get up at 6.30, I have to follow the same routine and replace my 90-minute commute with at least 30 minutes of yoga and a read. The only thing I miss about that insane commute is having the time to read, so I make sure I put that time aside in the morning. If I can do all this and still get to my desk for 9.00, then the day has got off to a good start, my mind is clear and focussed. And if it’s an hour later, well so be it.

At the beginning of every day, I break the day down into my to-do list, but as a rule of thumb, I spend half the day on admin and networking and half the day on creating and learning. Breaking the day up helps me from getting too distracted, as I am someone who finds it hard to focus on one thing for very long. If I know I only have an hour to do something, then I get down to it!

Make a specific workspace and ‘go to work’:

I appreciate this is easier for some than for others, as it depends on available space, but I have found it is really important to ‘get up and go to work’, even if that’s just going to another room. You don’t have to dress up for work like you would if you were going to the office or studio, but get out of your pyjamas at least, and make a space somewhere that is just for working. Make sure you’re sitting properly and are away from as many distractions as possible. I am lucky enough to have a room that I can work in, one corner is dedicated to animation, the other to making music! At least if my focus wanders in here, it can wander into doing something creative, which is productive.

Talk to people:

I live on my own and don’t drive, so the hardest thing for me has been having to spend all day every day alone and unable to get much further than the local shops. That was really tough for the first few weeks of lockdown, but then I started reaching out to my network and putting regular calls and video conferences into the diary. This not only made sure my professional profile was still fresh in people’s memories, it kept me talking to people! In doing this I also discovered others living alone and we put regular ‘virtual coffees’ into our diaries and catch up weekly. We talk about work, but also about how we’ve been feeling over the week – it’s really important to have someone you can talk honestly to, whether that is a friend or a colleague. I find it useful to have close friends in the business to talk to, because they at least then understand what it is I do all day!

Get outside:

Early in lockdown, we were only allowed to go out once a day for exercise. To be honest, I didn’t always make the most of this as a knee injury earlier in the year took long walks off the table for a while, but I’m also lucky enough to have a garden. Despite being sandwiched between two rather noisy construction sites, every day, once they’ve finished, I take a coffee outside and sit and watch nature for 15-30 minutes, whatever the weather. Not only it is good to get away from the screens for a while, I need the air. If anyone caught Springwatch this year, you’ll know how wonderful those moments in nature, even just a little patch in the city, are for the soul and I can’t believe I didn’t squeeze this into my daily routine before! I will from now on.

Learn:

This is something I have always tried and fit into the day anyway and comes from when I was studying part-time. Like reading, learning a new skill keeps the mind from freezing over or going into dark places. For me anyway. It can be anything and doesn’t have to take lots of time. For example, last year I discovered Duolingo and have been brushing up on my Spanish and learning Swedish from scratch. I can now watch a Nordic crime drama and have a pretty good idea of what is going on without the subtitles! During total lockdown, I took advantage of Adobe’s trial extensions and brushed up my Pro and AFX skills, so that I could make a couple of music videos. As a musician, there is always something to learn, whether it’s a new piece of kit or a new piece of music, or just brushing up the repertoire. It depends what else is in the diary, but I put at least half an hour aside for learning every day.

Beth

Beth at work

There are pros and cons to living alone – I haven’t had children to home-school and therefore, in theory, have way more time than most. I’m also healthy and don’t come into contact with many other people, so the risk of me getting the virus is low. But isolation has been a mental battle sometimes and I have found emotions rollercoaster from day to day, not having people to bounce ideas off or just talk through the things that I have been anxious about, can exasperate negative thoughts sometimes. Not to mention the lack of physical contact. I can’t remember the last time I brushed past someone, let alone had a hug. But as someone who is used to their own company, it has been better than it has been for some – without the piano and the bird table, lockdown would have been really very tough, and I seriously have to ask myself now, whether living in London is all it is cracked up to be, but that’s for another day.

Posted by Lucy Cooper in Homepage, News, 0 comments
Mentoring | All your questions answered

Mentoring | All your questions answered

We’ve had lots of questions about becoming an AWUK mentor, so have pulled them together in one blog post.  If you still have questions, please leave a comment on this blog or email mentoring@animatedwomenuk.com and we’ll add them in.

  • Q: Is mentoring going to be time-intensive? 
  • A: Mentoring can be set up to work around you and your schedule. We understand that a lot of our mentors are very busy people, so our SLACK-based mentoring is designed to allow you and your mentor to stay in touch in a way that suits both of you.
  • Q: Who will be the point of contact if a mentee goes AWOL? 
  • A: Dexter or Emma at Prospela can be contacted within SLACK and will reach out directly to check in.
  • Q: Do I always have to maintain the same level of commitment?
  • A: Your relationship with your mentee is unique. You can agree on a level of commitment and communication with your mentee that works for both of you and review it over time.
  • Q: Am I senior enough to mentor? 
  • A: If you are already working in either VFX or Animation and have been for more than 2 years you are definitely in a position to add value to a mentee.  Many of our mentees will just be starting out on their journey and sharing yours will be incredibly valuable.  We will do our best to match mentors and mentees appropriately.
  • Q: I’m not in a creative role – does that matter?
  • A: Absolutely not. Our industries comprise many roles from facilities,  management and accounting to production, technology and more.  We expect mentees who are looking at all kinds of roles and would like the same variety in our mentors. If you’re paired with someone from a creative discipline and you are not from that background, you can provide a lot of help and support both yourself and through your network.
  • Q: How should I be communicating with my mentee? 
  • A: Our programme is designed for you to interact with your mentee over SLACK with the support of the team at Prospela. We’d encourage you to keep your communication on there, but over time (if your mentee is over 18) you might look to connect with them on LinkedIn and perhaps interact over different platforms on occasion. Keeping your communication here enables us to track the success of our programme which is critical to its ongoing support by our sponsor.
  • Q: What should I do if I don’t know the answer to a mentee’s question? 
  • A: The same as you would if you had a question in your day to day life. Ask your friends, colleagues and network to help you.  You have access to a wealth of resources that your mentee doesn’t. 
  • Q: How often should I be speaking to my mentee? 
  • A: This up to you and your mentee. You should discuss this with them so that the plan is clear. In general, we find that communication is more regular when you are first establishing a relationship and can then become slightly less frequent.  It’s important to invest time upfront getting to know each other, building trust and understanding what everyone is hoping to get from the relationship.
  • Q: Why should I be a mentor? 
  • A: There are many great reasons to become a mentor including:
    • An opportunity to develop communication, leadership, coaching and mentoring skills
    • A feeling of ‘giving back’ to the industry
    • It is good for your CV, shows you care about the future of your industry and its composition
    • It encourages you to reflect on your own skills and achievements
    • It’s an opportunity to use your creativity and learn from the ideas and experiences of someone who could be from a different generation, background or have different interests, life experiences or expectations, stage of career, sector etc.
  • Q: What do you look for in a mentor?
  • A: An ideal mentor can help a mentee make the most of career opportunities and support their personal development and self-confidence. They will encourage and support the mentee to achieve their goals.  Mentors actively listen and provide advice to their mentees to help them overcome challenges and get to where they want to be.  Good mentors also provide advice through learned experience.

What are you waiting for? Sign up as an AWUK mentor through Prospela here.

Posted by Lucy Cooper in Homepage, Mentoring, News, 0 comments