I’ve worked in the printing and publishing industry in a variety of roles (including pre-press technician, troubleshooter, IT manager, trainer, consultant and part-time lecturer) since 1991. Having spent the earlier part of my career in various freelance and pre-press jobs, I moved into the world of newspapers at The Herald in Glasgow. I worked as a Mac support technician as part of a team providing support for hundreds of users across multiple sites producing The Herald, Evening Times and the now sadly defunct Sunday Herald. It was a role with endless variety, challenges and pressures and I ultimately became an IT manager responsible for the production systems of the three titles.
By the early 2000s it was clear to me that I needed a change of direction. Feeling that my own education in printing and computers had been somewhat ad-hoc, I had become interested in education and skills development so set out to become a trainer.
After attaining the CIPD Certificate in Training Practice and a variety of Adobe Expert certifications, I set out on a path as a self-employed trainer, specialising in applications such as InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat; and as a part-time lecturer at the University of Stirling, where I taught at the Stirling Centre for International Publishing Studies.
Over the next 14 years I split my time between university teaching and commercial training and consultancy work for a wide variety of clients, large and small, as far apart as London and Golspie. It was varied work with no two jobs ever the same nor, often enough, in the same location. I was my own boss, I was able to follow my interests in design and technology, and the bonus of working with a huge variety of clients allowed me see what they did and how they did it, all of which was endlessly interesting. On the academic side, I created and delivered post-graduate classes in everything from design and software to new technologies and media as well as supervising and marking projects and dissertations. It was always a pleasure to work with enthusiastic students in spite of morale-sapping academic bureaucracy.
I also discovered that the freedom of self-employment came at a price. You are never fully ‘off’ and taking time off (weekends barely exist, holidays become a distant memory) is a struggle as every minute you don’t work is a minute unpaid. I worked through sickness, atrocious weather and, for 6 months, with my arm in a sling as a result of a cycling accident. I endured the random boom and bust cycle of too much work (there’s no such thing), and not enough (a lot of the time), as well as clients who indulged in questionable working practices such as exploitative zero-hours contracts and supplier bashing. Beyond those inconveniences, I found I missed working as part of a team, with the support and camaraderie that provides together with the satisfaction of developing projects over a period of time. My life was almost exclusively dominated by fast turnarounds and short-term deadlines.
After my daughter was born in 2013, my priorities changed and it was clear that the randomness of the freelance life wasn’t going to be sustainable for much longer – although it was handy for nursery runs.
My academic work finished in early 2018 and I started to seriously consider other options. I had known Prepress Projects since 2010, when they had kindly hosted a very successful event for my Adobe user group (thanks for the presentation Rhiannon) and I had kept in touch periodically ever since. David had been supportive of my work and, over the years, had become a valued adviser. When he contacted me in late 2018 to suggest there might be a job opportunity, I was both surprised and enthusiastic. My role allows me to use my years of experience in software and problem solving together with my interests design and production as well as opening up opportunities to learn new skills. It’s also very nice to be part of a team again and to work on projects with goals months and even years ahead.
Prepress Projects is a rare find north of the central belt. A tight-knit, internationally focused business that values its employees and invests in them. I’m very happy to be on board.