Nige joined Cognique in 2008 as a Graphic Designer and has been MD since 2016. Nige talks about the power of business networking, his hopes for the future of Cognique and what he loves about his role.
What’s your role at Cognique?
I’ve been Managing Director since Dave, Jim and I took joint ownership of Cognique in 2016. I have a variety of roles, including new sales, business development and the strategic direction of the business. I’m often the first point of contact for new clients and new business before I pass the work over to the team – all of whom are far more talented and skilful than me!
I studied Graphic Design at Uni and it’s nice that I still find time to exercise that skill. I’ll do concept boards for social media or advertising campaigns, create brand guidelines and generally work in tandem with Dave and Kim on any visual creative needs.
What does your working week look like?
Blimey, I’m not sure – they all go so quickly! Meetings, business networking, business planning, catching up with the team, content writing, bit of graphic design, emptying the bin…
Networking & developing relationships is a big part of what you do. Any tips for those who are trying to develop in this area?
Networking has and will always be, hugely important to the growth of Cognique. Referral, recommendation, or word of mouth is a very rewarding way of being introduced to clients and winning work. So I’d advise any growing business to get out there, network and build those professional relationships.
Somerset Chamber of Commerce often host great professional networking events. I’m a member of a weekly breakfast networking group which is useful, not just for referrals, but for sharing business ideas, discussing issues and listening to the experiences of other business owners.
I find listening and reflecting on what I hear is really useful. It definitely helps when we’re in the early stages of helping clients and going through the process of learning about them and the needs of their business.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, or a second opinion and don’t worry too much about making mistakes. Be prepared to trust others – especially your team mates. We care passionately about what we do, but we’re not heart surgeons: no one’s life is at risk if we cock it up! So relax and enjoy what you do.
Take us back, how did you start your career?
I was approached by the Chief Editor and Head Visualiser of Usborne Publishing at my End Of Year exhibition, at Birmingham University.
Usborne were opening an office in Wolverhampton, where I was living at the time and were looking for people to join them. I started working for them as a book visualiser in June 1990. There were no computers and I hand drew all my visuals – if you Google my name, the Usborne books I worked on still come up (in Images)!
In 1997, Ange (my wife) and I relocated from Wolverhampton to Street, Somerset with our son Nathan who was just three years old – he’s about to turn 28! I worked for Design Section, part of the Butler & Tanner Group, in Frome before joining Ignition in 2000. I went freelance in 2005 for three years before joining Cognique in 2008. The rest, as they say, is history…
What’s the most satisfying thing about your job?
There’s a few. The moment a client agrees to work with us. That’s a great feeling; knowing they’ve seen or heard enough, that they’re confident to entrust us with the build of their website and / or the marketing of their business.
Seeing the team in action. Witnessing their hard work, hearing the shared ideas, being part of the planning – it’s really fulfilling. It makes selling so much easier knowing there’s such a talented, able team waiting to roll their sleeves up and get stuck in.
Demonstrating that what we do works! We put a lot of value in being honest and transparent about what we do, so being able to evidence the success or benefits of our work is really important. We’ve recently developed a bespoke, web-hosted Marketing Dashboard, which is proving to be really useful on many levels.
What’s your ambition for Cognique?
Well, let’s start with what people might expect to hear: grow the business, win more clients, build our reputation for excellence, become more profitable.
However, my long term ambition is to nurture a business culture that, for the most part, is shaped by the people in Cognique and their love of what they do. If we then give them the freedom to grow, develop and learn new skills in a relaxed environment, I’d hope we’ve got the beginnings of something very special. It’s hugely important to me that Cognique has a reputation of being a great place to work.
Combine that with technical expertise and a clear demonstration of the return on investment businesses can expect and you’ve got a pretty compelling and sustainable business model.
Ultimately, we want new clients, as well as new employees, knocking on Cognique’s door because of what they’ve seen or heard about us.
What do you get up to outside of work?
I love live music, particularly heavy metal. Loud, fast and gnarly? Perfect! I love going to gigs and I’m often trawling record shops so I can feed my record collection. My ‘lockdown learning’ was the electric guitar – trying to learn my favourite metal riffs is such a great way to zone out after the working day. I also took up skateboarding during lockdown (this is now reading like a mid-life crisis!), which is great fun and I haven’t fallen off – yet!
Our ‘kids’, Nate (27) and Beth (23) are following their own careers in Bristol and Brighton, so it’s a real treat catching up with them whenever we can. I enjoy keeping active and go to early morning bootcamp and PT sessions each week. I also cycle and walk with Ange, who’s always planning our next holiday getaway.