New hire! Dean Shepherd

10 min read by Charles Craik 21 Jun 2023

“I still don’t understand Traffic Manager – can someone please explain why we need someone in the car park in the mornings?”

Our CEO, Andy Smith, was joking when he said this, of course. However, it’s not a bad idea to explain what our newest recruit, Dean Shepherd, will be getting up to in his role at StrategiQ.

Dean joins us as a Senior Traffic and Studio Manager, and will be overseeing StrategiQ’s capacity and resource management to ensure that the workflow is moving efficiently through the studio from the initial stages through to delivery. Hailed as the ‘go-to guy’ when things need to get done, Dean brings a wealth of experience and a longstanding career in the industry.

We sat down with him to learn a little more about his journey so far and what brought him to StrategiQ.

So, Dean, tell us a little bit about your background

I’ve essentially been in the industry since I left school – at 16, I started as an old-fashioned apprentice in the printing industry. Once I’d finished the apprenticeship, Apple Macs were just starting to creep into the industry and digitalising more of those processes, so I sort of evolved with the Macs and started getting into a more digital role with artwork and reprographics. After doing that for a few years, I went on to become a team leader and then progressed through the ranks and added a number of strings to my bow along the way – trying my hand at creative artwork, design, project management and head of department roles.

I eventually came to the realisation that I was particularly good at resource and studio management and being the central focal point that everybody needs to get stuff done. The part I enjoy is taking the worries and the anxiety away from other people – if I can take the admin away then I can just let people focus on delivering great work, all while making everything more efficient and profitable for the agency.

What’s been one of your career highlights so far?

Mine’s actually people-related rather than project-related. I’ve always been passionate about supporting people and helping the next generation come through, especially as I owe so much to the apprenticeship that gave me my start when I was younger.

In a previous agency, we took advantage of a government scheme called the ‘Kickstart Scheme’. This was introduced during lockdown, and designed to support young people who weren’t in work and needed help getting on their feet.

The highlight of that process for me was that we found a young woman who was unemployed and homeless and having a really difficult time. There was something about her that stood out, and I went out of my way to give her a chance, and in doing so I sort of put my own reputation on the line by being the one to recommend her. However, we trained her up and she ended up being absolutely amazing. Her lifestyle has now completely turned around, she’s got a full-time job and a place to live, and she’s thriving in the industry.

I’ve taken part in many projects I’ve been proud of over the years, but that stands out as the ultimate career highlight. I made a big difference in somebody’s life, and that’s huge to me.

What made you want to join StrategiQ?

I’d been actively looking for employment after a previous role came to an end, and I saw this role pop up on LinkedIn. I’d never actually heard of StrategiQ – and I definitely pronounced the name wrong in my first interview – but as soon as I clicked on the website, I knew this was the place I wanted to work. I could see that StrategiQ was a serious contender in the industry, and for me personally, it’s never been about working for big flashy agencies. Being independently owned and having strong leadership are hugely important to me in a place of work, and I could clearly see that StrategiQ ticked both of these boxes, and I immediately wanted to be a part of it. I’m inspired by ambitious people and goal-chasers, and StrategiQ is so clear on where it wants to go as a business, and that’s what really inspired me to join.

What would you say is your work-related superpower?

I’d say my superpower is just making people feel at ease. Hopefully this will be something that’s proven in time, rather than just something I’m saying, but whenever I’m working on a project, the stress levels tend to come down because they know I’m involved and they know I’ll make sure everything gets done as it should. That applies both from a client services perspective and from the creative and dev side too – I’ll be the touchpoint between departments making sure everyone has clear expectations and a clear brief of what needs to be done, and I’ll do everything I can to create a calm, no-stress environment in the process. That’s what I want to bring to my role here, and that’s what I’d say my superpower is.

What are you most looking forward to in your new role?

I’m most looking forward to completely integrating myself into the agency. I’d like to build positive relationships with my colleagues based on trust and reliability; allowing everybody to deliver quality work, on time and on budget.

What’s the best way to approach you?

I’m very ‘yellow’, so I’d say people can approach me any way they want – text me, email me, ask me for a chat. I’d like to think I’m approachable, even though I’m aware that sometimes I can come across as a little forthright, and maybe I have a bit of a resting bitch face! I think that maybe being Northern and having that Mancunian streak can make me come across as blunt, but I really work hard to make sure I don’t come across that way because I want people to feel they can come to me with anything. I really just see people as people – whether they’re a CEO or a junior member of staff, and I’ll treat everyone the same way. I’m a bit of a chameleon and I can be dropped into any conversation or social situation and run with it, and ultimately I always just want to make people feel at ease and feel like they can be themselves.

What’s your ultimate life goal/dream?

I’m already kind of living it and just trying to make sure I do a good job of it! My all-time life ambition from a young age was to be a dad, and be a great dad at that. I want to know I’ve brought my children up to be great people, and that’s an ongoing thing, so I guess we won’t know whether I’ve successfully ticked that goal off until they’re adults. I just want my children to look up to me and feel inspired by me, and I hope they’d want to emulate any successes I’ve had.

Describe your perfect day off

My perfect day off would depend on what sort of week I’ve had. If the working week has been full-on and intense, then I’ll opt for a bit of ‘me’ time. I quite like to go fishing, which probably sounds really boring, but it’s actually a really great way to sit and contemplate, go over things in your head and just de-stress. If work hasn’t been too chaotic, then my perfect day off would be a day out with the family. I love to find cool new things to do with the kids and then just watch them enjoy that experience and make some memories as a family.

Well – there you have it! We’re thrilled to have Dean on board and we’re looking forward to all the zen vibes he’ll bring to the day-to-day stresses of life in a busy agency. Welcome, Dean!

Interested in joining him? Check out our most recent vacancies here.

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