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Me Now: Louise Sheeran and Mayuri Premdjee

Louise Sheeran

What drew you to a creative career?

Louise Sheeran: Music was my entire world growing up. My love of writing was inspired by song lyrics, music magazines and authors with a special gift for language: Irvine Welsh was a big favourite. I really wanted to be a music journalist, but it seemed like a boys’ club and I didn’t have the confidence to smash that. 

I didn’t know copywriting was a thing, but after a few false starts, a recruiter persuaded me to take a job at a digital agency based in a post-Nathan Barley Shoreditch, writing about Channel 5 crime dramas and Levi’s jeans. I realised work could be fun.

Mayuri Premdjee: This is a really easy answer. Creativity has always been a part of my life. My mum taught me how to knit at a very young age and that inspired me to try all things creative. I picked art for my GCSEs, A Levels and degree, and have tried my hand at painting, lettering, printmaking, alternative photography, graphic design and arts and crafts. In my spare time, you’ll probably find me with a pair of compasses, a ruler and a mechanical pencil practising geometric patterns.

What are your superpowers?

LS: A gold-standard filter for jargon and zero-tolerance for waste. And I don’t know if this is a power or a burden, but I see situations from all perspectives and empathise in every direction. It can be distracting. 

Mayuri, you always come across as very calm and focused: does that come naturally or do you explode when no one’s watching?

MP: Thanks! I always want people to feel comfortable when they are talking to me, whether that’s a client who wants help with something or a colleague who wants to offload. Because while I need to make sure I’ve heard a client’s requirements correctly, hearing my colleagues is just as important; they make me do my job better and help me build stronger relationships with those clients. 

Listening is a big part of that. Louise, you’re really good at that too, especially when you’re interviewing stakeholders. 

How would you describe your working style in three words?

LS: Curious. Human. And – perspective? I know what I do is insignificant compared with the life-and-death things going on in the world every day. 

MP: Calm. Organised. Supportive. Collaborative.

LS: That’s four words, Mayuri. Sorry, I’m always editing.

What is your biggest failure  – and what did you learn from it?

LS: Online self-promotion makes me cringe, and I never mastered Twitter. But that’s starting to feel like a good thing.

MP: Not pursuing the dream of working abroad. I always had grand ambitions to leave home and work in New York or Dubai, but I don't think I ever felt brave enough. 

What work are you most proud of (so far)?

MP: I’m proud of the relationships that come about from working closely with clients or get stronger from working with my team. The lovely work that comes out of that is a bonus. 

Having said that, I’ve really enjoyed being part of some amazing client workshops in Japan for Yokogawa and Tanzania for Level. In fact, we’ve just won an award for the brand we developed for Level.

LS: As a copywriter you can invest months of your life and sanity in a project that never sees the light of day, or gets hacked to pieces by committee. So I’m proud of any project I’ve worked on that goes live looking and sounding the way I intended. 

I like seeing the Boundless Thinkers thought leadership articles and videos we produce for UST out in the wild, because the subjects are so interesting and knowledgeable.

Describe your dream client.

LS: They run a fascinating business, doing something that makes the world better – they just haven’t yet found the words to tell their story. They provide excellent, detailed briefs. They have an unlimited budget, plus respect and understanding for the creative process. They regularly send chocolate. 

MP: And they regularly send money! No, for me it’s a client who is willing to come with us on the journey, who appreciates that we’re all in it together and trusts the process.

What advice would you give to women looking to start a creative career today?

LS: I’d probably advise them not to specialise too soon; to go in the opposite direction, study something technical and keep a broad range of interests. Take risks and don’t be in too much of a hurry to lock down a 9-5. Find a good network of other women to learn from. 

Mayuri, you moved into client services from being a graphic designer. Any regrets?

MP: No regrets at all. I enjoy having one foot in the creative world but during my career as a designer I realised that I really missed talking to people and supporting them. 

I feel like there are so many more options in the creative industry today than there were when I started way back when. I was never really encouraged to go down a creative career path because it wasn’t taken seriously. My advice would be to follow your dreams and see what’s out there. 

What would you say to a younger you?

LS: Creativity isn’t an innate skill: it’s a collaborative process and it’s something you can learn, in the right environment and with the right people. Have confidence in your ideas and remember everyone is making it up as they go along. 

MP: Don’t feel like you need to know everything. You will make mistakes along the way but they will make you stronger.

Who inspires you?

MP: I’m often inspired by fellow creatives, whether that’s the people I work with every day or people I follow on social media. Sometimes I’m inspired by art and photography, other times it’s a passage in a book that really hits home. It can be as simple as scrolling through Pinterest.

LS: I’m interested in the generation of female musicians, artists and writers who popped up in the 90s, seeing how they’re evolving their careers and lives and looking back on the culture of that time. It’s interesting to revisit my teenage perceptions as an adult. 

What do you do outside of work to nurture your creativity?

LS: I’d love to spend more time at gigs and galleries. Unfortunately I’m a parent, so I take inspiration where I can get it. Thanks to my kids, my life is saturated with stories: their books, films, music, video games – their weird imaginations. I’m regularly pressed to explain complicated topics in a simple way. And I’m constantly thinking on my feet to balance the demands of small, unreasonable people. It’s like a boot camp for being a copywriter.

MP: I go for long country walks to clear my mind on the weekends. This really helps me think through ideas for things I’d like to do, make or even cook. 

This is you now. Where do you want to be in the future?

LS: I’m not really motivated by power, but I’d like to build up enough experience that I can pick and choose projects to work on. Ideally while gardening, or swimming in the sea.

MP: Me neither, but hopefully I’ll be in a position to say I’ve seen more of the world? I’d like to have a better balance between work and my creative endeavours!