That Was the Year That Was (2013): Claire Wood, IPA Scotland chair

GOOD year, bad year? As 2013 draws to a close, we ask Claire Wood, associate planner at The Leith Agency and chair of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (Scotland): ‘How has it been for you?’.

Briefly, what is it that you do?

I use research to help our clients better understand their target audiences. Right now, I’m working with the Scottish Government to encourage people to think and hopefully behave differently when it comes to road safety and the environment.

Choose three words that sum up 2013 (so far), from a professional point of view.

One will do: breathtaking.

In 2012, what was your biggest ambition for 2013, and to what extent did you achieve it?

In May this year, I took over from my illustrious predecessor, Murray Calder of Mediacom, as chair of the IPA in Scotland. I want to get more people in communications agencies talking about all things digital. And thanks to loads of people – including Laura Haggerty (at Carat) and Illana Munckton (at Mediacom), who are co-chairs of our digital forum group – we’ve made a really great start.

How has 2013 (so far) been for you, personally?

Full of fun. Lots of changes at work, which keeps things interesting. Some really fascinating research projects. This job is a real privilege, as interviewing people gives you a sometimes startlingly honest window into their world. This IPA role has brought me into contact with all sorts of clever people, which has been an unexpected bonus. I do a bit of theatre directing on the side and my most recent show – a rock version of Julius Caesar concocted, with the musical genius of Neil Colquhoun – made a (small) profit. So all in all, a good year.

Any changes this year in technology, legislation, the economy, etc that have had a relatively significant impact on the business?

The economy continues to have a substantial impact on agencies in Scotland. Signs of recovery are afoot but they’re not nearly perky enough for my liking. Working with the IPA, part of what we do is collaborate with local universities to give undergraduates an insight into our industry and so I’m meeting lots of really bright graduates. It’s an incredibly tough job market at the moment, particularly if you’re just starting out, so I really hope things will improve substantially soon.

What looking forward to, in 2014 – personally and professionally?

Professionally, we have some really cracking ideas bubbling under for the Scottish Government, among other clients. And I’m excited about continuing my digital evangelism with the more than capable support of Sara Robertson and Sonja McLean at the IPA in Scotland and the rest of the Digital Forum-ees.

I’m really lucky to love my job. It’s continually varied and, for someone who loves meeting people, about as close to perfect as paid employment gets.

Personally, my next venture is a production of Festen, a stage version of a particularly dark Swedish film. Coming to a theatre near you next November. Watch this space for tickets!