Meet Tom Winbow — Managing Director at Ralph — a London-based Digital Creative and Production agency, that specialise in making interactive, personalised and entertaining digital content for the entertainment industry. Having built a career in advertising, Tom has a wealth of knowledge about the industry — what skills you need and how you can break into it.

How did you get started in advertising? Was this always your career plan?

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I always wanted to go and work in advertising. It seemed like an exciting, creative and rewarding industry full of interesting ideas, brought to life with beautiful production. However my career path started off in the rather less sexy side of advertising: media sales.

I took a job selling advertising space at the Independent - which involved making a tonne of cold calls every day, but was a great introduction in to the industry and seeing both the editorial and commercial side of news still benefits be now 15 years on.

What skills do you think young people going into marketing and advertising need, especially if they want to work in creative sectors?

There are so many different types of roles, in a whole host of different types of business, that I’m not sure if there are an ideal set of skills that apply to all. Some roles in production require you to have amazing attention to detail, whereas others are all about people skills.

Perhaps the most important thing though is to have an open mind. You need to be able to see things from other people’s points of view: the audience you’re trying to reach, your clients and the team you work with to bring projects to life. Without this you’re not solving a brief and you won’t communicate effectively with your intended audience.

What are some aspects of the advertising world that might be surprising or unexpected to graduates considering their careers?

Whether it’s the type of clients you want to work on, the industry they’re from, the media channel you love, or the type of role you want to do. From initial idea through to implementation, there really are a whole host of opportunities within marketing and so many niches to explore. It can seem like a minefield, so try and find someone in the industry to talk to about your options and find something that best fits your skills and aspirations.

Across many industries there has been exponential change in the last 5 years, from representation, awareness of sustainability, and the digital revolution. What is the biggest change in your sector?

Well, when I started in newspapers the digital version was trying to sell space in e-zines, so I’ve seen first hand how digital has transformed marketing and advertising. Now most of our clients are entertainment brands across film, tv and music it’s been really interesting to see how streaming is affecting media consumption. The music industry for example really suffered with digital and piracy, but with the rise of streaming, we’ve seen that people are listening to more music than ever before and revenues are finally increasing.

What advice would you give a graduate trying to find their feet in the industry after leaving university?

Interview at lots of places, for different roles if possible, so you can get more of a practical sense of the opportunities and work cultures available. It’s a people business, so I’d go with the people you like and things will probably turn out ok.