Inspirational Woman: Amy Durrant | Associate Creative Director, rehab

Amy Durant headshot

Amy Durrant is the Creative Lead at the creative technology company rehab.

She leads messaging and voice experiences for clients including Nike, Google and Red Bull. Before her four years in the advertising and creative tech industry, she was a journalist. She completed her training with NCTJ and studied Journalism at Sheffield University, going on to write for the likes of NME, Dezeen and USA publisher The PBH Network, among other titles.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I’m Amy Durrant - an Associate Creative Director at the creative technology company, rehab. I do what I do because I like to make bold, brave things that move people.

I had a fairly unusual route into creative tech. I studied journalism at University and started writing for music publications like NME before moving onto design, tech and architecture and becoming a fully-fledged journalist. After a few years, I realised that journalism wasn’t where I wanted to be and had to rethink my career. From there, I took my love for storytelling and applied it to brands as a creative for Karmarama and several agencies later, I now make emerging tech experiences for clients including Nike, Google and Amazon, as an ACD at Rehab.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I always wanted to be a journalist from a very young age. I even wrote in my school leavers annual that in five years’ time, I’d be writing for The Times. But while journalism is the perfect career for some, it turned out not to be the right one for me. I think that sometimes on the way to a destination, you can get lost and find a new one. So, while planning is good and can help start your journey, it’s better to have a bit of flex once you’re on it.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

I’ve faced various challenges along the way, although I guess that’s true for most careers. Weirdly I’ve been told at various points throughout my career that I was too positive to make it in the creative industry. That I needed to learn how to “throw a few verbal punches” for my ideas to be listened to with any real value and that I’d never make it at a senior level. But I worked hard, supporting others along the way and now, I’m an incredibly positive ACD at rehab, leading creative tech for some amazing global clients. No verbal punches needed.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I think mentoring is so important. I’ve been lucky enough to have mentored some remarkable young creatives over the past few years and have learnt as much from them as they’ve learnt from me. When I started in the industry, I had a fantastic mentor - an Art Director called Laila Milborrow - who taught me how to think differently about brand storytelling and proved that positive women could in fact thrive in a creative career. I now feel lucky to have the chance to impart my own learnings to the next generation of talent and my LinkedIn is always an open door for those who want advice or just want to chat.

What do you want to see happen within the next five years when it comes to diversity?

Diversity is an increasingly talked about topic and while there are many important discussions to be had, as a young, openly gay woman myself, I’d like to see more LGBTQ+ representation in the industry. I only came out about a year or so ago and you never really stop coming out. Being open about your sexuality in the advertising and tech industry can be a terrifying thing. There are some great organisations, like Stonewall and Pride AM, who champion LGBTQ+ representation but while that conversation is happening, there is still more to be done in the coming years. I’d like to see women of all ages and races be inspired to reach for senior creative positions but particularly, I hope to be an active voice for the LGBTQ+ community.

How would you encourage more women and girls into careers in STEM?

I’m incredibly passionate about encouraging more women and girls into STEM careers. There are two fantastic organisations I work with, called Women of the Future and Inspiring Women, who connect school girls with women in STEM careers and provide them a forum to find out more. I think the best way to encourage new talent is just to be available and willing to talk - particularly for creative technology careers, which aren’t always thought of as an option. It can be incredibly powerful to hear from someone in a different kind of role to those you’re actively surrounded by.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

If I could change one thing, it would be that emotions are understood as a strength, not a weakness. I’ve been lucky enough to have been in some fantastic agencies who really champion this however sometimes in the past, female colleagues of mine have been overwhelmed by the work or pushed to breaking point. Rather than being supported, they’ve been moved out of sight, told to be more professional and even accused of being unnecessarily hormonal. Emotions, whichever gender experiences them, are never a weakness. In fact, some of the best work I’ve seen has been fuelled by raw, honest emotions. So let’s be emotional and be bold about it.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I think my biggest achievement to date was earlier this year, when I had the honour of being invited to Number 10 Downing Street to advise the government’s business advisor on creative entrepreneurship. I was invited to share my thoughts on how they could encourage and support talent in the creative tech space and was proud to have had the chance to help shape the future of the industry for generations to come.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

I’m not sure what my next challenge will be and that’s an incredibly exciting prospect. I hope to keep encouraging young talent into creative tech careers and showing that whatever their age, race, gender or sexuality, they can succeed in senior leadership positions. Most importantly, that they can kill it with kindness along the way and rely on the immense network of talented women who are out there and very willing to talk, for support on their own journey.


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creative engineer, architect featured

"Engineers aren't creative" and other misconceptions

creative engineer, architect

Article provided by Alison Horton, principal engineer at built environment consultancy Curtins’ Birmingham office.

I think there are still a lot of misconceptions about the engineering industry today.

These are definitely tied to it being a male dominated industry. I think many people still see engineering as a dirty, noisy industry, and a ‘geeky’ one at that.

One problem in the UK is that the title of ‘engineer’ is not protected. In other countries – like Germany – only people who hold certain qualifications can call themselves an engineer. However here, anyone can call themselves an engineer. This means that many jobs that would be called ‘mechanic’ or ‘technician’ elsewhere, become classified as an engineer – further feeding confusion over what an engineer is and does. For example, someone who comes to repair your boiler may quite happily refer to themselves as an engineer, but the main differentiation is that he fixes the boiler, he hasn’t designed the system. Engineers are the designers.

Once you understand that engineers are designers, you can begin to see why creativity is such an essential element of what we do. Engineering is one hundred per cent a creative industry and we are designers in every sense of the word. People don’t realise that a lot of us spend our time in an office in front of a computer – and part of this is using the latest and most exciting technology available to make the buildings and infrastructure you see and use every day possible. If engineers weren’t creative, buildings that are both functional and beautiful would never come to life and we would never be able to solve the problems that inevitably arise when designing new infrastructure.

Some of the best all-round engineers I know have an aptitude for creativity, with an artistic eye and a love for architecture just as much as structure. Engineers explore ideas, create models, produce sketches and work iteratively, constantly adapting and working as a team. The industry is embracing the most cutting-edge technology as part of this, allowing creativity to thrive. Our designs can now be expressed through virtual and augmented reality, producing better – and these days more sustainable – buildings, for a brighter future.

For more information, please visit www.curtins.com

About the author

Alison Horton is a senior engineer at the Birmingham office of built environment consultancy, Curtins.

Horton is also a STEM ambassador and is passionate about encouraging more people - both male and female - into STEM related jobs.