How to Plot Your Career Path – An Interview with an IMS Employee.

Hello there Kristin! So, tell us a bit about what you do in IMS. 

I am Head of Creative Services in IMS, which means I lead the creative team of five talented graphic designers. I am responsible for driving the creative direction of all client work, and for making sure that everything that we produce from a creative point of view is up to the standards we set for ourselves. Which it invariably is…did I mention the talented graphic designers? 


You did – I hope they’re reading! How long have you been in the role? 

I have been Head of Creative Services for almost 4 years, and before that I was Creative Lead & Senior Graphic Designer, and before that I was a Graphic Designer – I’m 6 years IMS. Before IMS I worked in Alpha Dog Advertising in Pennsylvania where I am from. 


Ah that explains the accent! 

And the love of Oreos, yes! 


Take us back further then – what did you do in Alpha Dog? 

I started in Alpha Dog in 2011 as a Graphic Designer. We had a mix of B2B and B2C clients and the majority of them were local companies – a lot of print and branding work for cabinetry companies, hardware distributors, healthcare providers and orthodontists. We also did some fantastic work for Adidas Gymnastics – that was a highlight, I’m very proud of that work.  

I was there for around three years and in that time, I helped grow the company from a team of 2 to a team of 6. Then I met an Irish man, fell in love with the charm, and moved to Galway! 

He has his own company in Galway (Lally Tours – look them up!) and it was in need of a rebrand and general marketing activities, so that was my project for my first little while in Ireland. But that is just one project and one company, and I prefer to have lots of plates spinning at once! That’s what you get in an agency – multiple projects, multiple clients, constant challenge and learning. So I knew I would need to start searching for my next move soon. 


And how did you come across IMS? 

Well I knew I wanted to get back into an agency to get back into that fast-paced environment. 

And I also knew the type of agency I wanted to work for. I didn’t want “transactional” type of graphic design work. As in, you ask for a logo and we give you a logo. I wanted something deeper, more strategic. I wanted somewhere that got under the skin of their clients to fully understand them, and then strategically shape, mould and position them for success in their respective field. 

Once I knew what I wanted, I was quite strategic in how I approached it. I followed all agencies in Galway and the West of Ireland and began my own process of vetting them to see if they were the type of agency and company I wanted to work for. I had the benefit of time so I wasn’t under pressure to make a snap decision.  

Very quickly IMS came to the fore in terms of being a company I felt I could really see myself at. They had fascinating clients in some incredible niche industries, and the work they were doing and posting about was exactly what I was looking for. 

One day a job for a Graphic Designer came up and I applied immediately. 


It sounds like you had really done your homework? 

I had, and I was confident that it was going to be the right choice for me. But that was only half the battle. Actually getting the job was the most important thing! 

So when I got an interview I did as much research as I could on IMS – not just their clients and industries, but the type of work that they did. Was it branding, websites, brochures etc., and then I made sure that the portfolio I brought (yes brought, in a folder, in my arms – it was 2016!) to my interview was highly tailored to what I thought IMS would be looking for. 

That was 2016, I got the job, and I haven’t looked back since! 


So you joined as a Graphic Designer, and what has happened since then? 

After about 18 months we were a team of three graphic designers and two web developers and I was promoted to Creative Lead & Senior Graphic Designer. Here, I acted as an Art Director for the team and managed the studio workflow. We continued to grow our team and broaden our skills, where I was then promoted to Head of Design Services. It’s a leadership role, and I’m responsible for developing and managing all aspects of our design and creative output, and making sure our design team is supported and motivated. We have steadily added on average one new designer every nine months and there are now five designers in the creative team. 


It’s quite the career trajectory! What advice would you have for any young designers wanting to progress in their careers, or to move jobs? 

Don’t rush it, and know what you want. It’s an employee’s market at the minute so don’t settle for something that doesn’t work for you. But also, when you do find what you want, make sure you impress. It’s very obvious when I receive a job application if the same one has gone to all other companies, with nothing tailored to what we do. If you’ve scoped us out, which you should have, and decided that IMS is the place for you, then make sure you don’t miss your chance to impress. 

It’s important to relate to our core industries and demonstrate your skills and abilities in the type of work we deliver. Try to show that you understand our approach and mindset. But, and here’s the really important part, always try to show what YOU can bring. What is your perspective or way of thinking about things? That’s what you want to leave ringing in people’s ears. 

And that applies to any job you want, whether at IMS or elsewhere. Know your talents, know what you want, and back yourself to get it. Your passion will shine through.