Work doesn’t happen in isolation. Sometimes we act as though it does. When someone comes into the office, or we see them up on stage we make judgements about them, their job and their life whilst actually knowing very little or sometimes nothing about them at all.
It is easy to forget that, as Bill says in our first episode of Career Life Stories, when we talk about work/life balance there is in fact, ‘Only life, where work fits in.”
As someone that has spent many years interviewing people about their work, I’ve always been fascinated in understanding more about the person behind the job. I started my career working in research for TMP at the start of the employer branding revolution in the late nineties. Part of this role was understanding more about the motivations, attitudes and perceptions towards particular roles so we could develop recruitment campaigns that were targeted in an appropriate way.
What always struck me, however, was how difficult it was to convey the true feelings and motivations of what somebody felt about their work through creative ads – it never felt quite enough. When interviewing people, unlocking what lies deep inside is a powerful thing and you can see when someone crosses that threshold during an interview to reveal their innermost motivations and feelings.
I often give the example of running a focus group with some care workers during my formative years in employer branding as part of a project we were running to recruit more care workers for a particular organisation. Care work is hard and no one gets paid well enough for what they do in this sector and yet people do it because their rewards come from more intrinsic needs and motivations. In this particular group, one person was running late. As he walked through the door he wasn’t how the Creatives or the team back at the office would have personified an archetypal care worker. He was a big fella, intimidating looking, but as he took his seat with the rest of the group he spoke with such care and tenderness about his work it was moving and instantly noticeable from the reaction with the rest of the group. It was a moment that has defined my pathway now as I felt at the time, “How can we convey this in a recruitment ad? There’s so much missing? I want people to see and hear what I’ve just seen.” And so this planted the seed for Working Films – showing people in real life in real roles.
But whether I’ve been interviewing city bankers, care workers, health professionals, engineering specialists or any other role – the common thread is they all have a real life that sits behind that. The ups and downs we all go through. The challenges we all face. The unfolding drama of everyday life. The influences that shape our relationships, family life and friendships.
With Working Films there is no greater driver than the passion we have for understanding people and their work. Sometimes this can be the minute details of a job. The craftsmanship of the carpenter, the detail of the engineer, the pride of a customer service advisor or the grand ambitions of the entrepreneur. But there is no greater story than the story of the person behind it.
Last year saw the launch of Career Life Stories, something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time which focuses on individual episodes interviewing people in depth about their life and their work. Since our first episode with Bill, we’ve released two more with Matthew Jeffery and Gareth Jones. Following on the success of these we have just completed filming at Bath Spa University Studios for a new series that will be released later this year with some fascinating and amazing guests.
I love interviewing people and I love the vehicle of film to produce and share this in an engaging way.
Later this year we will be launching our new series with a new website and features so subscribe on our page to keep in touch.