International Women’s Day 2019 - a discussion with the women of RealtimeUK

Friday the 8th of March is a day to mark in your calendars. It’s International Women’s Day (IWD), and in the age of #MeToo, it has never been more important. Despite an ever-progressing society, there are still ways we can improve. It’s why IWD’s theme for 2019 is ‘#BalanceforBetter’.

The rabbit hole of statistics goes deep, and we could spend all our time digging through these facts. Facts like unlocking the full potential of women in the workplace could be worth £23 billion to our economy. Or the fact that almost half of the workforce (46%) is female, yet women hold only a quarter of senior roles.

But you can see the tide shifting; the figures are looking better here in the UK as time goes on. So, to mark the occasion, we decided to interview our female staff.

Marketing manager. Concept artist. Office manager. Production manager. Head of Production. These are just some of the roles covered by the women here at RealtimeUK. They are Zoe, Flora, Heather, Bhavini, and Jane, respectively. For them, it’s been a crazy 2019 already, and that isn’t about to stop anytime soon.

 

Zoe – food for thought

“My day to day can change massively depending on what’s going on in production and what awesome projects we’re working on,” says Zoe, Marketing manager. Her role is organising the chaotic whirlwind that is the busy schedule of RealtimeUK. Sometimes literally – it wasn’t long ago she was organising their trip to Total Chaos in May!

She continued: “I create, implement, and analyse all on/offline marketing campaigns we run ensuring they all contribute to the overall marketing strategy, as well as heading up all of the social media channels. Basically, if it’s anything brand/marketing related, I’m normally leading the way.”

Zoe knew what she wanted to do from a relatively young age, other than cooking and eating that is.

“I decided I wanted to do marketing while working at MFI at the tender age of 16. I actually combed the yellow pages – yes, the yellow pages – for marketing agencies/consultancies in my local area.”

She went on to study for a degree in advertising, brand, and marketing management at Manchester Metropolitan University and was eventually headhunted by RealtimeUK. Now she spends her time with partner Debbie, step-son Cai, and dog Buddy, doing what she does best: cooking, eating, and hosting dinner parties.

 

Flora – art at work

“I am a concept artist and matte painter,” says Flora. Artistic talent seems to flow through Flora, who paints on the job and off the job: “as a concept artist, my work is used to give a visual direction to the CG artists who will create the final image, or to communicate with the client when the company is pitching ideas.”

Flora is originally from France, where she studied architecture before moving onto special effects. In 2017, after graduation, she found herself at the RealtimeUK Academy, which ended with the company offering her a job!

“At weekends I actually do quite the same thing as I do during the week at work: I paint! But this time I work on personal projects,” she continues. “I am very passionate about it. What I learn at work I use in my personal stuff, and vice versa.”

“I also watch movies and play video games with friends – I guess I’m kind of a nerd!” Who isn’t, Flora? Who isn’t?

 

Heather – the glue that holds us together

“As Office manager, my role is really varied. From doing account management, billing our clients, sorting out pensions, and staff appraisals, to arranging travel and accommodation for events.”

That’s Heather’s role in the company. Juggling multiple responsibilities, it’s a job where no two days are the same. And in Zoe’s words: “Heather is basically the glue; she sticks us all together!”

Heather has been with the company for over 15 years! In her previous job, she worked for Hilton Hotels as an events manager.

For Heather, a simple life is the best life: “I don’t really have time for hobbies; I’ve got 15-year-old twin daughters who take up most of my spare time!”

“We do try and get out on a Sunday afternoon to the park with our two dogs, just spending family time together on weekends is the best.”

 

Bhavini – production mastermind

For production manager Bhavini, her job is making sure everyone else knows their job. But she has her daily schedule locked down.

“My work day usually starts with catching up with my emails and Skype messages. I have the habit of flagging my emails so I know what needs action on that particular day. Next, I update the tracker of every project I am working on. There are meetings and calls scheduled in between these. I mostly end the day by entering my hours on the Intranet for the day and logging out.

“And, there are always unanticipated elements that need immediate attention and solving.”

Bhavini has an artistic flair, like many RealtimeUK staff members. She has an MSc in new media informatics, with a specialisation in 3D. But while she started off working as an artist, she knew it wasn’t her passion. Something that was though was production.

“I am an Indian by birth but was born and raised in the UAE,” Bhavini is well-travelled, having lived and worked in not only India and the UAE, but also the US (where she completed her degree) and, obviously, the UK. It makes sense – after all, she did say she loves to travel!

 

Jane – the industry expert

“My role at RealtimeUK is as Head of Production; I manage the games and broadcast teams over both the Manchester and Westby Studios.”

Jane is a pro in the industry, with 15 years under her belt. She’s spent this time in the VFX industry and has worked her way up through the ranks to become Head of Production in the company. It’s a job she’s held since 2012.

It’s a role with a lot of responsibility, so how does Jane unwind? “Weekdays are generally pretty full-on, so I like to make the most of the weekends, socialising with friends in Manchester and watching films.”

“I also like blowing off the cobwebs on a long walk in the countryside which is just on our doorstep – as long as there’s a pub at the end!”

Jane also has a knack for artistry and likes to dabble in photography when she gets the chance.

 

What does the future hold?

It’s hard to believe it’s March already. Then again, it already feels like so much time has passed. But there’s still plenty of 2019 left.

“I hope to be flying across the globe with RealtimeUK and Stu [Bayley, art director] speaking at lots of industry events, sharing some amazing insights into how we do what we do,” says Zoe. “I’d also like to somehow fit in a baby and have the extension finished on the new house.”

For Flora, it’s about continual improvement: “I will do my best to keep learning and practising, in order to enhance my artistic skills. I am really curious about the newest software and methods we can use to create art; there are many things to discover in this area and it changes very fast.”

Jane echoes this sentiment: “I’d like to continue my own personal and professional development. Hopefully, this will have a positive effect on the people around me and end in a successful, fun year.”

“2019 is a big year for our family as the girls leave school and start at sixth form college,” Heather says. She has a lot on her plate personally it seems, and as far as she’s concerned, she just wants to be happy and healthy. “I also want to be able to encourage and support my daughters in this big transitional year.”

For Bhavini, being happy and healthy is on the agenda. Having recently purchased a house here in the UK, she’s starting to make it her home. In the future, she hopes to tackle any health issues, leaving her fit and fine once again.

 

What matters most…

For International Women’s Day, it’s important to remember and value the women who inspire us and continue to shape us. For many of the RealtimeUK staff, that person is their mum.

“There is no one else that inspires me more than my mum,” says Zoe. “Single parent of three, I mean, I could barely look after myself at 23, let alone three young kids. She’s been successful in so many jobs but her passion lies in fitness, so she bit the bullet and retrained as a PT.”

Jane felt similarly, saying, “My mum has always been the biggest inspiration – she gives great 1:1 motivational speeches exactly when you need them! She’s one of the most positive people you could meet and always puts other people first – it would be good to live up to her reputation at some point.”

Heather had a different approach: “All working mums inspire me. It’s a hard job to juggle a career and a family, and I often think women are penalised for this instead of being celebrated.”

Flora finds inspiration in her artistic peers. “This one comes from the same school as me, and it makes me very happy to see where she is now and how great her pictures are.”

Bhavini has a long list of inspirational women: “Kiran Bedi, Sushma Swaraj, and Nirmala Sitharaman to name a few.”

She also points out that it isn’t just women that can leave an impact on you: “To be honest, I do not only have women in my list of who inspires me. There are many men who also inspire me. Narendra Modi, Ratan Tata, and Ajit Doval are just some of them.”

Jane rounded it off by saying, “I have great admiration for all women who are successful in business in any industry – there aren’t many of us in the VFX industry especially and it’s a tough place to be at the best of times. I’m hoping there will be more women who join us in the next few years.”

 

The years ahead

International Women’s Day may be on March 8th, but its message is intended to carry on through the year – and for years to come. The landscape is shifting, and it’s a sentiment held close by the women of RealtimeUK.

“[International Women’s Day is] a chance to celebrate the incredible women in the world,” says Heather. “But we shouldn’t need an International Women’s Day to do this; it should just happen naturally but unfortunately it doesn’t, so that’s the change I’d like to see happen.”

Flora couldn’t agree more: “I wish that it was widely acknowledged that gender does not define who we are and what we are capable of. I think that achieving gender equality in all matters is one of the most important issues we have to deal with now. International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to raise awareness about it.”

For Jane, this day is a chance to reflect on all the amazing, strong women who strive every day to make their lives better – juggling home life and careers. “I’d like to see continued equality in the workplace, but also appreciate the differences between men and woman. Surely we just need to bring out the best in each other?”

Bhavini admits that International Women’s Day isn’t something she’s ever acknowledged, but you don’t need a specific day to do that. “Women in all their avatars should be respected on a daily basis: as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, cousin, aunt, grandmother, colleague, whoever they are.

“There is a list of changes I would like to see in the world and in myself, and I hope they are for good. Change, after all, is the only constant in the universe.”

“For me, the meaning of International Women’s Day has changed a lot in the wake of the #MeToo movement,” says Zoe. “What became so clear with #MeToo is how far away we still are from gender equality; from sexual harassment and abuse of power.

“International Women’s Day is an opportunity to honour the women who have been at the forefront of fighting against gender inequality.

“It is a day to reflect on the work that still remains. It is a day to remind us to look beyond our borders, our bodies and race, and to think about how we can make future progress daily.”

 

RealtimeUK supports this progress and is proud of the work done by Zoe, Flora, Heather, Jane, and all of our female staff. If you would like to discuss working with us in the future, please contact Zoe on zoe@realtimeuk.com.