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Interview with Antonio Gould, Consultant, and Sara Harris, Screen Media Lab

Research ProjectOn my trip to Birmingham to research Perceptions of Coaching in the UK Creative Industries I spoke to Antonio Gould and Sara Harris.

Antonio GouldAntonio is an independent consultant and producer working across media. After ten years as a new media producer his work now centres around the creative industries, the future of digital content and the application of creativity and technology to education. He was also a co-founder with Stef Lewandowski of the interactive design agency 3form. His current projects include producing a six month series of podcasted radio shows for Channel 4 IdeasFactory, exploring the potential of new media for creative people, and leading the development of a tool called the Lightbox which will be used in the facilitation of film workshops. His blog is at http://antoniogould.com/

Sara HarrisSara is Director of Media Content Lab, Media Skills, Notion Studio and Screen Media Lab, Deputy Course Director: MA Media Production and Senior Lecturer in Digital Media at UCE. As head of Externally Funded Projects within the Department of Media & Communication at UCE, she leads a team of 20 staff engaging with businesses from the creative industries in a number of ways. Its latest venture is Notion Studio, which offers expertise in animation and digital video with aim of working with new talent to develop projects which use animation techniques as alternative media, looking at different production processes and exploring its uses in teaching and learning. Sara is a Knowledge Transfer Fellow and has recently developed a Master’s course in Media Enterprise.

Their combined range of practical and academic experience made for a lively discussion about managing people in creative businesses. Look out for more interview podcasts over the next few weeks.

Table of contents for Research: Perceptions of Coaching in the UK Creative Industries

  1. Take Part in My Research – ‘Perceptions of Coaching in the UK Creative Industries’
  2. Research Project: Definition of ‘Coaching’ for this Project
  3. Research Project: Definition of ‘Creative Industries’
  4. Questionnaire for Managers in the UK Creative Industries
  5. Questionnaire for Employees in the UK Creative Industries
  6. Online questions for UK Creative Industry Staff
  7. Interview with Mick Rigby, Managing Director, Monkey Communications
  8. Research Project Featured on ‘Better Business Blogging’
  9. Interview with Ruth Kenley-Letts, Film Producer
  10. Interview with Chris Arnold, Executive Creative Director, BLAC
  11. Interview with Russell Davies, Advertising Planning Maestro
  12. Interview with Chris Hirst, Managing Director, Grey London
  13. Interview with David Roberts, Senior Project Manager, Creative Launchpad
  14. Interview with Neil Youngson, Technical Director, Cabinet UK Ltd
  15. Interview with Greg Orme, Chief Executive, Centre for Creative Business
  16. Interview with Chris Grant, Consultant, 14A Conversations
  17. Interview with Antonio Gould, Consultant, and Sara Harris, Screen Media Lab
  18. Interview with Richard Scott, Surface Architects
  19. Interview with Ben Demiri, Brand Manager, SIX Showroom
  20. Interview with Sian Prime, NESTA Creative Pioneer Programme
  21. Interview with Jill Fear, CPD Manager, The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising
  22. Interview with Terry Childs, Creative Director, Silver Chair
  23. Interview with Matt Taylor, Director, Fat Beehive
  24. Interview with Mark Earls, Advertising Contrarian
  25. Interview with David Amor, Creative Director, Relentless Software


  1. Part of the conversation veered worryingly into “we very much prefer phone communication” over e-mail, and therefore it was implied that everyone should use the phone. I’d say that this is very much a ‘manager view’ … a ‘we’re good at talking’ thing. Many creatives and/or techies will prefer e-mail, as long as they know how to type without strain. I’ve managed a major web-site development for a billion-dollar company in the US purely by e-mail, so I know it’s possible, and doesn’t cause the misunderstandings that were talked about during the interview. I think that’s a key area to discuss for creative management though – the levels of written-word literacy that different types of creatives have. Some types of creative with better levels of literacy/vocab. and keyboard skills will be far more willing to use e-mail, and will use it productively and with far less likelihood of misunderstandings. The same probably goes for managers, some of whom will have been promoted above their ability. Having ‘clarity of expression’ talent will also be a factor for both groups.

  2. Thanks for the comment D’log. I can’t speak for Antonio and Sara but I think you make some good points. One of the themes that has come out of these interviews for me is the need to match the communication channel and style to the context and culture of an organisation, and the abilities and expectations of people involved. So if people are comfortable with using e-mail and have good writing skills, then e-mail can be an excellent solution for most communication. I conduct increasing amounts of my own business via e-mail and can’t imagine how I managed without it.

    On the other hand, I have seen plenty of misunderstandings arise because people have been using e-mail to duck out of difficult conversations. So I would argue that e-mail is unsuitable for emotionally charged conversations unless there is a high degree of mutual trust and verbal literacy. Otherwise you can run into two proplems: 1. confronted with the bare words, in the absence of facial expression, voice tone etc, it’s easy to misread the emotional content of an e-mail and misinterpret its meaning; 2. when talking face-to-face or on the phone, you can get instant feedback and clarification of misunderstandings or differences of opinion, whereas problems can arise when someone receives an e-mail, interprets it negatively and then ‘chews over’ it in their mind before firing back an angry response. These were the kind of things I had in mind when I was listening to Sara and Antonio. I didn’t think it was implied that ‘everyone should use the phone’. The same issue came up in the interview with Chris Hirst.

    So I don’t think we can say that e-mail, phone or face-to-face is inherently ‘better’ than the others, except in certain contexts. Whatever the channel, I agree that ‘clarity of expression’ is crucial – and I would add, a willingness to reach mutual understanding, even if the original message was unclear.