THIS week’s High Flyer is Lynsay Spence, head of brand at Belfast graphic design agency, Kaizen Brand Evolution.
What was your first job?
Working in a sweet shop, aged 11, working 12-hour shifts! I worked in retail in various forms until my 30s alongside building my career, always with two to three jobs on the go at any time. It taught me hard work, customer experience and advocacy. My first job in design was with 19|20 Associates working for two directors who were ex-Triplicate, who gave me the best grounding in design rules and client management. That’s also where I met two of my closest design pals to this day.
What qualifications do you have?
I’m a designer by trade, so hold a First Class Hons in Visual Communication. Since then, I’ve attended a slew of courses, workshops and training classes relating to finance, teams, HR, culture, well-being and governance.
What do you attribute your success to?
Hard work, empathy and drive. These attributes have all guided me in building teams and business. Creativity and teamwork have been key to Kaizen’s success.
How would you describe yourself to someone who had never met you?
I’m all about the now- why wait? If it can be done now, if not before, I do it! For my teams, I’d like to say I was fair, that doesn’t always mean I’m popular, but I try my best to be fair in all situations that arise.
Who do you look up to in business?
My directors Connor and Martin McAuley, because we have similar drive to push things forward. Outside of Kaizen, I had a business mentor, Tina McKenzie, CEO Grafton Recruitment Ireland; I look up to her resilience, success and stalwart honesty.
How do you get the best out of people that work for you?
By getting stuck in myself. I think if you show it can be done, people are more willing to try and compete. Once the ball is rolling I believe in letting people shine- once they take ownership, the accountability will follow on their own merit. Kaizen is named after a Japanese business philosophy of continuous improvement and this is very much the mantra by which we work.
If you could change one thing about doing business in Northern Ireland, what would that be?
My experience of business exchange in Northern Ireland has always been very positive; when up against competitors, the industry is very respectful and encouraging of one another. If I were able to make a change it might be to the tendering system, that can be tough for small businesses.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
As a creative design agency, taking ownership of an idea from inception through to design execution is really rewarding, especially when we get to see the positive impact on our clients’ bottom lines. When a client experiences considerable growth in their business due to the engagement with our services, we know we’re doing it right
Tell us something interesting about yourself?
Still believing outside is the best side I have a camper van ticket for a music festival this summer, but no camper van – minor technicality.
What’s your greatest passion outside work and family?
It will always be design. Now not as hands on day-by-day, I get my kicks in other areas- I recently moved house and have planned each room and pattern over many a sleepless night. Like any creative problem, I still get a kick when solving a challenge with design thinking. The garden is next.
Have you any unfulfilled ambitions?
I haven’t opened a cat sanctuary yet, but there’s always retirement! Right now, I’m actively filling my ambitions- to progress in my role and to help others progress in theirs. Mentoring for Women in Business to help others feel empowered in their positions over the last two years has been very rewarding.
If you could swap jobs with anyone else for the day, who would it be and why?
Emily Eavis. Youngest daughter of Michael Eavis, the owner of Worthy Farm that hosts Glastonbury Festival. I’d love to put my skills to managing a music festival, the bookings, the logistics, the talent and the egos, all in the name of mud!