Portfolio Profile: Deborah Henry-Pollard

Deborah Henry-Pollard

Please describe your average working day/week. Mmmm – that is a problem as there isn’t anything average about my working life. The closest to average that I get is the beginning of the week which tends to be when I do my general management work for one client. However, within that, I could be writing a funding bid, devising a 3 year strategy, designing a leaflet, writing a newsletter, bookings gigs, selling tickets, updating a website… I work with clients I am coaching or mentoring and these sessions are very intense and demand a great deal of concentration. I try to plan these fairly evenly, but as it is important to fit in with my clients, I might find myself with either none or five sessions in a week. I do ad hoc promotional work with a dance club and with groups to support other people in their portfolio working. And I also spend time promoting and planning for my business.

A coach, mentor, workshop facilitator and project manager working in the creative and cultural industries.

What do you love most about this type or work? What motivates you? There are two key motivators for me in my work. The first is my commitment to supporting people who have great creative ideas and practices but who can’t always see how to move forward with them – I always say they have fireworks shooting off and I help to catch them, hence the business name, Catching Fireworks. I love people who are passionate about the arts in all its forms and for all its reasons. I suppose I am an artist manqué, discovering very early that I wanted to be an artist but didn’t need to be an artist. Over time, I have recognised that my need, what drives and inspires me, is to provide an atmosphere in which artists (I use that term to cover every kind of art – visual, musical, dramatic, etc.) can thrive and blossom. That is the motivation for what I do and is the thing which I love most.

Being a freelance portfolio worker came from having a clear idea of what I wanted to do, but not being able to find the exact job, so I had to create my own. I love the independence it gives me – I largely choose when and how I work and what I do and it opens up all kinds of possibilities and opportunities. I also get to chose with whom I work and so far, I have worked with some fabulous and inspiring people. I also love the concept of not knowing what I will be doing next!

What are the biggest challenges facing you as a portfolio worker? The biggest challenge for me is getting known, building a reputation, so that I can get more clients and more work. This means that in almost every encounter I have, business or social, there is a little voice in the back of my head making sure that I am on my best behaviour as this could be a potential future client or employer!

Catching Fireworks

on a daily basis

Why did you choose this style of work? It gives me flexibility, independence and the freedom to work to my strengths, standards and values, with the people with whom I choose. The element of risk in being freelance (although these cost cutting days, no job is secure) means that there are new challenges, opportunities and things to learn all the time to keep me at the top of my game and I find this very exciting.

What’s your vision for your future career path? My vision is to always be open to and excited by new ideas, to grow and develop and to pass on what I learn to my clients and see them becoming successful – whatever that word means to them. I would also love to be a catalyst, bringing people together in mutually supportive collaborations.

Could you offer any useful tips, links or advice for those looking at choosing a portfolio career?

My key tips, learnt from my own experience are:

Stay true to yourself, your vision and your passion; it is not always easy and there will be people to knock you, but authenticity always connect with people.

It won’t always be smooth going and you will get things wrong, but remember what Samuel Beckett said: “No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Get out there – meet people, talk to people and most importantly, be interested in people. You will learn so much and people will remember you.

One of my favourite websites is http://lateralaction.com/

It is a great site for creatives, but there is so much good stuff on there that will work for anyone.

Deborah’s Website can be found at:

www.catchingfireworks.co.uk, her email dhp@catchingfireworks.co.uk

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Trailblazing Renaissance Woman
  2. amerikanka
    Jan 05, 2011 @ 15:38:56

    Very interesting interview! Thanks for that! The topic of mentoring and coaching increses in interest nowadays. Your tips are really useful. And I think that self-development is the most important for building up great career.


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