Interview: Agency vs in-house with Nicola Kettell

An interview with Nicola Kettell, Director of Operations at My Future Cloud, about working in agency vs in-house in the Creative industry.

In this ‘agency vs in-house’ interview series led by Salt Senior Consultant for Creative, Holley Potts, we speak to customers from all different sectors within the world of digital to answer the age-old question – agency or in-house? This series is designed to give you a snapshot of creative career journeys and insights into what are currently happening in their businesses. Over to Holley…  

My next guest is the wonderful Nicola Kettell, Director of Operations at My Future Cloud. Nicola shares her thoughts on the possibilities the ‘new norm’ of work could bring and questions what we should be thinking about moving forward… 

Holley– Lovely to have you here, Nicola! I am sure for all the digital nomads out there would love to hear a snapshot of what My Future Cloud is about! 

Nicola – At MFC, we are always looking at how companies are planning to be robustly digital. This is what drew me here having always had a focus on small companies and growing them internally and then building teams up to streamline them.  

Being at a consultancy, we bridge the gap between consultancy, advisory and the service implementation side of things by assessing what’s going on and implementing business strategy to make sure that digital is more centralised. We have our core team then we have a pool of associates to create a team that can help us facilitate what we need to do. 

Holley– I have found that many companies have had to adjust to being agile if they weren’t already, have you found this too?  

Nicola – Indeed. We have had a lot of very interesting clients coming in now and we are looking at a huge number of projects coming through in Autumn, now that people realise that agile is the new norm. We are looking at systems that lead quite nicely into the working from home set ups, things like GDPR and the restrictions around it, which systems you choose and ensuring your flexible work is actually flexible. It’s about managing the set up and producing meaningful outputs.  

From speaking to a lot of clients, they thought they were completely agile and so it is making sure that is actually true. It sparked a lot of conversations about not wasting time for your staff so they can actually do their job and allowing them to work anywhere is a big part of that. Client landscapes are changing as well, we work across a lot of different industries so it’s interesting to see the changes across these.

Holley– With the likes of AI only getting much more advanced, there is more talk that there will be less roles available for people as tech rises, how do you combat this?  

Nicola – People seem to be taking these conversations a little more seriously and really bringing these conversations forward. It’s about looking at how you can maximise the time of the people you have, instead of them doing the manual tasks.  

The biggest time-eater of these projects is converting the time of the people that work within the system to working in a new way of thinking and overworking that fear aspect from it as there is a lot of talk of “computers will take over my job and I won’t be necessary.”  

This has helped us really push the conversation to say what computers are going to do is actually automate the things that you don’t like about your job so then you can be useful, creative and innovative in what you do by adding value to your work. 

Holley– How do you see the working dynamic of the team changing now that you can’t meet as much in the studio?  

Nicola – One thing that will be interesting to see is how we can pull all the different teams working in the office together again. We need to think about how we can change things and ask questions such as will some people go totally remote and whether it will be a long-term consideration. What I will be interested to see is the appetite from the teams, what do people want? Are they prepared to travel? Are they prepared to go into the office? For us, it won’t be such an issue for the contractors as we work on a project basis but for us being a small team, a challenge will be full time hiring and building a company culture.  

I will be interested to see how this rolls out with the general workforce appetite; will people be demanding working from home as an option and how will everyone react to that because that will also impact how we work with our clients. Whether that will pose different challenges, or if it will work, is yet to be seen.  

Holley – You guys work within many different sectors, one being property – which recently got hit hard – what difference have you seen between construction and commercial?   

Nicola – We work with large property clients so that will be interesting to see how that develops. I feel the property market has been all over the place, through both positive and negatives, as construction largely appears to be unaffected. Commercial property will be very interesting as there are such big changes such as the intentions of companies that don’t appear to be keeping their big offices in the city. Most are not talking about going to the offices until January at the earliest. 

I will be interested to see how it develops from our client’s point of view, when you look at shared office spaces like WeWork, they could be much more palatable and useful for a company that only needs an office one day a week. But on the other hand, it is a shared office space with other people so I am not sure where that will go. There has always been a lot of commercial property on offer in the city but whether that becomes such a market flood is to be asked. 

Holley– There have been many digital movements that have come up this year, one being cyberattacks which have accelerated massively, what have you seen around this?  

Nicola – I feel people are really going to be looking at their systems and their security. It’s so important because the rise of hacking and cyberattacks over lockdown was massive, around 960% targeted increase month on month, so securing the systems they have been using will definitely be a trend to tie up everything they were forced into immediately using, due to Covid. 

There we have it – some very delectable food for thought from Nicola! Enticing to hear the propositions posed on how we can look to work towards creating a better and new future. 

Stay tuned for more interviews, coming your way. If you would like to find out more about the series or find out how we can help you with your hiring, get in touch with Holley via hpotts@welovesalt.com

Read more of our agency vs in-house interviews here. 

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