Blue background with two hands reaching for one another, with the Connect logo behind them. In the centre, we have a picture of our Production and Supply Chain Controller, Claire Nichol. This image is to accompany our the third instalment in a series 'Connect With Us', where we invite people to get to know our colleagues a little better.

Connect With Us: Claire Nichol

How are we already on the third instalment of our ‘Connect With Us’ series? Time sure does fly when you’re having fun!

Our ‘Connect With Us’ series offers our clients, followers and friends the chance to get to know the people behind Connect a little better – and today we are excited for you to meet Production and Supply Chain Controller, Claire Nichol.

Claire joined us in 2017 and is the coordinator who keeps us all on track. She manages the WIP (work in progress) list and ensures that everything is running smoothly, right from editorial through to design. If it goes through our studio, Claire is on the case!

But don’t take it from us. Let’s hear from Claire herself as she chats all about career highlights, her love for what she does and her advice for anyone else pursuing a career in print.

Tell us a bit about your career so far.

I studied book and periodical publishing at college then started my career in print. I began working in print manufacturing, initially looking after the Radio Times print account then moving on to manage several high-profile magazines for the BBC and several London-based publishers, along with The List, The Big Issue and Nuts, among others. 

I worked for several businesses in a variety of roles, learning the job, the extensive terminology and climbing the ranks. Print manufacturing is a very fast-paced, demanding and plain-speaking world, so you have to learn fast to survive. I loved it. 

In 2012, I took a slight detour and spent more than two years working as Inventory Manager for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. I came to Connect in 2017. 

I am lucky enough to have had my dream job three times and that includes my current role at Connect. Connect is a company I had wanted to work for for some years and my role gives me everything I need; I’m still involved in my beloved print world plus so much more.

What does your day-to-day look like? 

No two days are the same, that’s for sure. My primary function is buying all the print work on behalf of our clients – that can be magazines, reports, flyers and any other printed work they need. But Connect’s offering is so extensive that I can be involved in sourcing all sorts of items for our clients. Branded items, large format display items, even a to-scale representation of factory floor plans! I have supplied a 6ft free-standing cartoon character for a client, a hardback book for a train enthusiast and sourced special packaging for an anniversary presentation book.

I deal with suppliers, secure prices (making sure we always get the best price), raise POs, check the progress of work and deal with any issues. I liaise with colleagues to check on the internal progress of work, and I look after the master schedule for the business. 

I often have to offer suggestions about the best way to produce a piece of work and, when required, get involved in explaining how printing works. As there is a big emphasis on all things sustainable and eco, I am often asked to explain recycling, sustainability and the effects of printing and mailing in the process. I research the latest material and production methods to ensure our clients are producing the most eco-friendly items to match their sustainability criteria.

There is no set pattern to when something new will present itself and there is certainly a need to be able to manage multiple projects and quickly change priority. 

Why do you love your job?

I love the fact that I am still involved in print, but now as a client. My role combines looking after print work but within a creative environment, plus all the process/system admin that I enjoy. I love being involved from the start of the process and seeing how it all comes together. And I get to do all that and have giant spreadsheets to manage – joy! 

I still get a thrill from receiving printed copies. The print world certainly gets under the skin and it is hard to escape from it – there’s always something that pulls you back. 

As a non-creative working in a creative environment I get to see how the writers and designers approach their work, and all the twists and turns along the way. I love the excitement of seeing the end product and receiving the client’s positive feedback.

What advice would you give to someone else wanting to follow in this career path?

Immerse yourself in it. Learn it all, starting from the bottom and take it all in. Print is an exciting, varied, busy environment which can be stressful and challenging, but it gives more than it takes. 

Best piece of advice you’ve been given?

It is an oldie but a goodie – ‘keep calm and carry on’. And, hold up your hand when you make a mistake.

Want to know more about the faces behind Connect? Meet Liam and Ann!