Leadership isn’t always top down

News Flash | Leadership isn’t always top down

It all started with a conversation. As all good ideas do. But it didn’t stop there...

One of our Junior Designers, Liv Beresford-Evans told me over coffee recently how much she missed the ‘peer-to-peerness’ of university. Starting at Taxi Studio is probably no more daunting than at any other agency of 50+ people. We’re a pretty relaxed bunch that work hard and laugh lots. But as a Junior in your first year of employment, when everything around you is changing, the cravings for familiarity are strong.

So, although Liv felt totally supported in the studio with teams made up of Mids, Seniors, Design Directors and Associate Creative Directors, there was a longing to kick around design problems with a bunch of people at her level. And having spent time teaching in Higher Education, I could picture exactly what she was missing – that joyful collaboration of peers that get your references and finish your sentences, allowing you to speak your mind and relax just that little bit more.

“Well” I said (with my greying hair and desire to go home just as they are going out) “it’s often better to ask forgiveness than permission” (and then because of said grey hair) “why don’t you make a plan of what this could be and share it with the relevant people”.

So Liv enlisted the three other Junior Designers, a Junior Creative Strategist (and latterly our new Account Executive) and together they came up with an idea that literally blew the minds of our management team. Kate Lenton, our Managing Director, welled-up with pride as they took them through their presentation and Spencer Buck, Creative Partner and Founder said he’d “been waiting 15 years for something like this to happen!”.

So just like that ‘Jun1hr’ (pronounced juni-hour) was born! A junior-led initiative to get together and work on a broad range of projects, using one lunch hour each week to bounce ideas, craft skills and contribute new perspectives.

"Everyone at Taxi Studio has got behind us when we suggested Jun1hr. We’re fully supported and feel like they’ve put a ‘halo' around us all to protect what we’re doing but at the same time allowing us to grow together."
Kira Gardner


The Jun1hr effect

There has never been a better example of Steve Jobs’ phrase ‘why hire good people and then tell them what to do.’ We had hired good people. We knew we had something pretty special with this group, but the surprising thing was their exemplary levels of proactivity, initiative and commitment.

"It feels so lovely working with a bunch of such talented, encouraging positive people who are always there to support you and steer you in the right direction."
Lily Papadopoulos

It was always one of their initial intentions to swoop in on a project and dedicate one hour to solve a creative problem. Six people across the trinity of Strategy, Design and Client Services working on a task for an hour is six hours brain power, meaning some concepts born in Jun1hr have been good enough to make it through to client presentations, and carefully selected smaller projects have been worked on in their entirety. Jun1hr has enabled the group to work on a broad range of projects, experiment with new presentation styles, research techniques, and generate creative ideas with less pressure.

"Jun1hr is like having a catch up with your best mates whilst cracking out some top-notch ideas at the same time! Its relaxed environment with an emphasis on not being precious about what comes out of it allows our creative juices and minds to flow a bit more freely!"
Liv Beresford-Evans

And the Jun1hr effect hasn’t just benefitted the Juniors – it’s spread throughout the company and continues to do so. Various people across the business have already stepped forward to help, running sessions on visualising and hand lettering, with more subjects in the pipeline.

"With Jun1hr I’ve been able to really test myself, quickly build strong relationships with members of the team and develop my account management skills. Many of the highlights of my short my time at Taxi Studio has been within these hours surrounded by this great bunch. I’m so proud of the team!"
Harry Dipple

With a quarter of Jun1hrs already behind them, they’ve just presented their first quarterly review and had Team Taxi in stitches (as well as in awe of what they have been able to achieve).


Long live Jun1hr

So rest-assured all you talented graduates wanting in on the creative industry action (and yep we’ve got two seats waiting for two new Juniors this year), thanks to Liv Beresford-Evans, Lily Papadopolous, Kira Gardner, Andrew Hodgkiss, Billie Croucher, and Harry Dipple there’s a small team within our team that will just ‘get’ you in an instant. They are your tribe, your people.

"Being a Junior and part of Jun1hr at Taxi Studio is basically like having three sisters and two brothers, and I guess that is how we treat each other too! We always have each other's back. I feel like I know them all like the back of my hand and that we’ve been working together for years!"
Kira Gardner

Our juniors have fearlessness running through their veins and are the very embodiment of what makes Taxi Studio special – a bunch of smart people fulfilling their creative ambitions by sticking their hands in the air and owning what they do. Proving that leadership isn’t always top down.

"As a junior, it doesn’t matter if you have the least amount of experience and knowledge. As long as you have the drive, you have the same opportunity as anyone else at Taxi Studio to come up with an award-winning idea."
Andrew Hodgkiss

At Taxi Studio every single one of our superstars has a decisive role to play, and at the moment we’ve got the room for a few more. Most of our junior roles start with a paid placement. So if you’re interested in finding your tribe and hearing more then we’d love you to get in touch. http://www.taxistudio.co.uk/superstars (select placements)

"I’ve never felt more supported, encouraged and a part of something truly worthwhile than being a part of the Taxi Studio family."
Lily Papadopoulos


Written by Emma Hopton
Senior Designer, Taxi Studio
Chair of the West of England Design Forum