Interviewed by Luke Vidamour, 31st Jan 2022
Project Management is an equally obvious and obtuse job description. Yes, it's about managing projects, but what does that mean on a day-to-day basis? PMs take the hand of both Clients and Creatives, skipping gleefully together down the yellow brick road on their way to meet the one who can solve all of their problems and bring to life their wildest dreams. In many ways, the PM takes on the responsibility of ensuring that both parties finish this journey filled with enchantment rather than disappointment, and this usually boils down to communication, organisation, administration, and people management.
One person who has the above qualities in bucket loads is Marike Visagie, our former publishing pro turned Project Manager (via a quick stint in the recruitment game). In her relatively short time with us, Marike has shown herself to be a leading character in the Potting Shed Cinematic Universe and is keeping some of our more organisationally-challenged creatives in check daily. If you've been waiting for a chance to get inside the head of our South African stationery sommelier, now is your chance.
Firstly, can you explain your role at Potting Shed and what a normal day looks like for you?
Project Management is just herding cats – but I really like cats and herding them is pretty fun, too. No two days are alike and can seem fairly chaotic, so you have to be pretty rigorous with following processes to keep everything flowing properly, but flexible enough to adapt to swift changes too. My days contain bits of everything, which I absolutely love – client comms and meetings, briefing, scheduling, spreadsheeting, proofreading, copywriting, problem-solving, teasing, joking, copious cups of coffee and biscuits. Always biscuits.
Why do projects need to be managed like this? Can’t ‘talent’ talk directly to clients?
Sometimes they can and should, especially when it’s more efficient – but most of the time Creative and Design think in pictures and it’s just rude to interrupt the pictures with words, you know? As a bonus, I’m incredibly nosy and I love being part of everything at once. It’s the perfect perch from which to spot potential disasters and opportunities for enhancement, and this way I get to enjoy everything Potting Shed creates.
Which three things do you love the most?
My husband Hannes, words, and stationery. If I can’t choose Hannes as a ‘thing’... I’ll choose music.
If life was a video game, what would some of the cheat codes be?
One has to be klapaucius, because I can still remember that. Use a password manager. Don't take life too seriously. Remember to find joy in small and simple things, everything doesn't need to be a massive achievement - you can find delight in the perfect pair of socks as well as reaching an important personal goal.
You used to work in publishing, what was that like and how does it differ to what you’re doing now?
Book publishing will always be my first love and it’s an industry that I feel incredibly privileged to have been a part of. I loved working in publishing for many of the same reasons that I love working at Potting Shed; you get to be part of projects that mean so much to so many people; you’re faced with a wide variety of tasks and situations on a daily basis and it’s really vital that these tasks are performed well and correctly from the start; you work with like-minded people who share your values; you put in a lot of teamwork to produce a high-value product and it’s super rewarding to see that finished product go out into the world to serve its intended purpose.
What secret conspiracy would you like to start?
Using single-use plastic causes impotence. Picking up litter, reducing waste and proper recycling are the best ways to really show your rebellion against The Man.
Can you tell us your favourite book, film, album, and song?
Absolutely not, as that would be a vile and horrible thing to ask me. Instead, I’ll tell you that I’ve always really enjoyed reading Margaret Atwood, Haruki Murakami, and Robin Hobb, and a recent book that I enjoyed is Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi. Can’t go wrong with a Wes Anderson or Hayao Miyazaki film. Music is the most difficult one! I refuse to state that it’s my favourite, but my listening history shows that Thom Yorke’s The Eraser is very high up there, as well as The Knife’s Silent Shout – An Audiovisual experience (live). Special mention to Sylvan Esso and Alt-J, as well. And Radiohead. And Massive Attack. How dare you make me choose!
How can creativity change the world?
In any and all the ways. We all interpret the world differently – there is no end to how we can communicate information and absorb it, so anything that can be created and experienced has the potential to inspire change. This should come with the Great Power/Great Responsibility disclaimer.
What inspires you the most?
Details, imperfections. How something immeasurably small can change the entirety of something gargantuan.
What mythical creature would improve the world most if it existed?
Oooooh. Now that’s a difficult thing to ask an avid sci-fi/fantasy enthusiast. While I’m super tempted to go with la chupacabra, I’ll have to stay geeky and stick with dragons. Even if I know it would probably have disastrous consequences, I’d probably still go with dragons.
How would you like to leave the world a better place?
In any way I possibly can. Whether it’s offering help, comfort, understanding, doing something big or small; I’d rather help out in a thousand small ways than focus on one major cause.
Read our Shed Sessions with Matt, Sean, Silvie, Tom, Al, Keelie, David, Luke, and RJ.