(189) The High Street

On this week’s show we are joined by Claire Selby who talks about her project with Kingston University students Not My Beautiful House, and combining work and experience into higher education.

You can find out more –

Links : https://www.spacehive.com/spaceforkingston

Twitter : https://twitter.com/NMBH_KUS
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/notmybeautifulhousekingston/

Studio KT1 : https://www.studiokt1.com/
KUS : https://www.kingstonstudents.net/creative-meanwhile

This week’s automated transcript…


Matt: We are back. This week’s show is brought to you in grayscale, in memoriam. Good to Christopher. We are two weeks since the last show. Have you been enjoying yourself? Did you eat copious amounts of chocolate? Have you found anything that has changed your view of the world?

Chris: Well, that’s a very good question.

I don’t think I’ve eaten. Well, I did eat a fair amount. I talked a lot in one day that some chocolate came into the house and the kids didn’t want to eat it. So of course, that had a bit and then edit all. And then I felt ill for about two days afterwards. So I’m not doing that again. I think, you know, as you get older, your constitution becomes less capable of digesting and enormous amounts of pretty much anything.

And I’m guessing I’m a little bit frightened about the idea of going back to the pub. I need a catch to five pints app to get myself back into some sort of. Shipe, I’m actually go, I’m looking forward to it. Now. I’m going to the test match in June. So I’ve got tickets, got a bunch of, I got tickets.

We’re going to the test match, but of course it has to match means that you have to sit there drinking all day, watching, watching the cricket. So I do need to get myself into shape before then, but you know, it’d be nice to get there and all of the, all of the signs are good. So I’m looking forward to that, ah, has for the last couple of weeks, No.

I mean, it’s been I had I had a week off work, which I’ve just finished, which was nice just to do other things. It was nice to get out and do a few jobs and Potter about, and it seems to me that people are getting back to some sort of normality regarding their work lives or that they’re either getting back to normality or they’ve, they’ve resigned themselves to the misery that there’s going to everlasting or whatever.

But yeah, it’s it’s okay. And Oh, yes. And of course, yes, we’ve had the national the idea that readable websites are undignified or disrespectful. So this today I sent all of my emails using the wooden dings font in order to make them respectfully unreadable.

Matt: Oh, wait paintings. There are winging things. Yeah. There’s a blast from fonts past. That’s wonderful. God bless you, sir. And this week joining us is is Claire Selby. Ha how have you been fairing over the last couple of weeks, Claire? Gosh,

Claire: well time is a bit of a construct at the moment isn’t there.

I’m trying to struggle back. Easter was a thing. I didn’t get an egg. There was no eggs left in Sainsbury’s, so I didn’t eat enough chocolate. But I have, you know, slowly return to normality by doing a few things that I hadn’t done before, while swimming this morning, a bit foraging. And I actually got out of London and stood on a beach.

So I’m quite happy with those three things.

Matt: Well, let’s get going. Whereabouts was the beach,

Claire: Assets coast. So tolls, Bree and Molden.

Matt: Oh, yeah. Yeah, no, well, I drive past it quite often as I head up to see my parents in Suffolk, which is where I went onto a beach at good Friday, possibly the coldest experience I’ve had on a beach in a very long time, because the East, East coast wind now whipped through you.

You know, actually your beaches are a familiar place for you though, aren’t they? But you tend to do them in urban areas rather than the seaside. Yeah.

Claire: I mean, I grew up by the sea, so I kind of feel like I have to see the horizon at some point, but I guess you’re referring to my muddler King which I haven’t done for a while because during lockdown they kind of advise against it because in case you get into difficulty on the foreshore you might need to be rescued and that might take away valuable time from someone else that’s more in need.

So I haven’t really done any for quite a while. But yeah, generally anything that isn’t staring at a computer is of prime value now. So I’ve been learning to ride a bike for the first time, since I was about 14, which has been equally terrifying and also incredibly rewarding. So quite enjoying that at the moment that that might have overtaken the mud logging actually at the moment.

Matt: Oh, wow. Okay. Because the other ones I know about is cheese.

Claire: Yeah. Guilty is a big thing. Yeah. Worked at Christmas with Neal’s yard for the last three years. And then I did a quick stint before I started this job sort of in the cheese arches. So looking after the turning of, and the maturing of.

Everything from your Stilton right through to your goats, cheeses and your barn by God. So I know quite a lot about cheese. If ever comes up in conversation,

Matt: I was with some friends at the weekend and we were walking around Paddington basin and there’s a a new barge opening up in Patterson.

Basin called the cheese barge, which I’m very excited about, but I shared a photo of this with some of the people on the WB 40 signal brief, and somebody immediately pops up with they’ve missed a trick there. She would have called it the bout from Marsh, which it isn’t that

Chris: I’m just disappointed. You don’t remember.

It was me that said that my

Matt: colleague. No. That’s all right. I remember now. Cause yeah, it’s, that’s the, all the, all the good stuff you just did it for on the signal channel, rather than that, she waiting for the podcast.

Chris: The podcast is a secondary channel for my, my I put, I think foraging though foraging is great.

And especially, I think, I think the, the, the there’s a good combination of foraging and going to the beach pre. 12th of of April, right? Because there’s nowhere I was open. So you, if you go to the beach and you’d have to forage for your sustenance anyway, so it’s, it’s a, it’s a good combination.

Claire: I’m just, I’m just sort of gathering all these skills, you know, for this Apple app, apocalyptic, future apocalypse.

That’s probably coming at some point, so yeah, I can find you. Well, I mean, the, the guy that does the foraging walks was really interested to find out where mitten crabs are. So. That is valuable knowledge to him. But probably no one else

Chris: can brush their brains in perform so much. What’s your week been like

Matt: it’s fortnight?

Yeah, traveled out to London for the first time in quite a while, went up to see mum and dad in Suffolk, which is very nice or very socially distance or very cold. And then we went for a walk with. My sister-in-law was in dogs in the country and actually bizarre there’s. I said patent in basin yesterday had the delight of meeting a friend at his, in St.

John’s wood in North North of the center of London, but pretty damn central. And then just walking around central ish, London, the sort of periphery of London for a few hours. And it was nice to be surrounded by big, ugly, tall buildings and, you know, the big roads and the. The stuff that makes you realize that you’re not in the countryside in any way, shape or form.

So that was quite good, fun. And everything’s sort of slowly creaking back into some sort of movement. So be fascinating to see their places at Paddington basin, which has grown enormously in the last 10 years and create big sleek skyscrapers all over the place combined with. Presumably extremely tiny, but very expensive apartments and how I hope the next few years.

But we will see in those sorts of places, which you’ve got all of the cultural appeal to me, of somebody like Canary Wharf, I none whatsoever are actually quite an accessible, have terrible facilities. And yeah, whether they, they survive or not, but we got to also walk down the the canal around the back, or actually, you know, in the middle of the the zoo in regions park, just at the time when they were feeding the hygienists, which the cage of the hyenas backs onto the canal.

Oh, it was fabulous to see these. I mean, there’s one of the scariest beasts in the world, the hygiene, and they just love like half a dozen. Rabbits over the fence. Let the high end has go completely crazy in the in the next door cage as they smelled the dead rabbit, but couldn’t get it to it and then let them through.

And they’re bounded through to found one full time for it and ripped it apart. My kids were delighted to bear to see blood guts and rapid brain all over the. Yeah, so that was a little bit and then in between that doing some work, you know, so I’m carrying on carrying on. It’s all. Good. So let’s get on with this week’s show.

We are going to be talking on the day in which we’re recording. The the UK started to do its next stage of the opening up of lockdown with non-essential stores. Starting to open and pop garden, starting to open and the heavens opening with snow. And we’re going to talk with Claire a bit more about some experiments that she’s up to with what might happen in the future of the high street.

Main Interview

Matt: A few years ago now you started a role working at Kingston university, just down the road from where I live which was something a bit different really in terms of helping people in a creative space in education, but rather than standing in front of them. Blathering on about stuff. You created a thing called studio K T one, which experiential learning seems to be maybe a starting point.

It’s better. Describe it. Tell us a bit more about what KT1  was all about. Yeah.

Claire: Mean, I’ve definitely done the blustering and standing up in front of them and trying to talk about stuff. But the idea was to set up a creative agency inside the university, specifically inside the school of art specifically inside the department that I’m within, which is cultural and creative industries, which has meant to be a mix of business and creativity.

So it’s quite a new department and this was a new experiment. It was given a big pot of funding to set up for two years. So I sort of launched it with. I guess probably about 70 students who came along to the launch event when you could do those. And the idea was to get commissions from external clients and get students to work on them whilst getting paid, but without conflicting with the existing study.

So we got some really interesting commissions. We got one from a Zillow who was an old client of mine. We got one from Veolia waste company. We got one from TBD. The. The data conference. So we were doing everything from building a giant polar bear made out of waste materials, putting it in the West end to doing an office chair race in the middle of a conference to building an installation about AI.

And then we also had commissions from the vental center. So we were activating vacant units within there and filling them with art free to the public and just sort of experimenting and seeing what happened. So then the pandemic hit and all the clients they had ready to go, obviously sort of went into mothballs and.

A lot of the internal departments started seeing the value of what I was doing. So I survived last year, literally by getting word of mouth around the university. And what better way than to design materials for. Students that are, you know, prospective students, why not get existing students to actually design that content because a lot of stuff was being done by just a small internal department.

You know, see things through a student’s eyes, make it more valuable. So we don’t really well. And then there’s been sort of signs of recovery. And then we’re going to talk about the, the creative meanwhile project that I’ve been doing. So we have some conversations. I’ve already been working with the council and the business improvement district.

We did quite an interesting project wrapping vacant shops with students’ artwork, probably that launched, I think, October last year and sort of continued as well. So we’ve wrapped the whole old close Klaus Olson store in the middle of Kingston is wrapped with colorful designs from one of our students, which is amazing.

And then this has all led on to kind of the, one of those once in a lifetime things, really a developer approaches as and said we’re developing a new builder building. Would you like to have it rent-free for six months? So we kind of went, yeah. Okay. I think we can do that. And then we apply for the matter of London funding.

Put a bit together. We get the Maryland funding and then we get it matched by the council. So Where we’re going. It’s the Crowdfunder is still rolling, but we we picked up the keys two weeks ago. We’ve got all PC world, which is 10,000 square feet, ground floor, and then first floor and some sort of rooms and offices off that some people would be quite terrified at this, but It just feels like exactly the right time.

And it’s all sort of fallen into place. You know, we had lots of contingency plans, we sort of thought, okay. So if we can’t open in April or may, can we use it as a sort of space for students to use instead of their bedroom? Because obviously students in the pandemic haven’t been able to use the new, so to 2 million pound workshops, they haven’t been able to go to photography studios or use all these facilities, which there.

Kind of paying or so that was sort of one of the potential ideas. Do we just use it as a sort of. Workspace, but now Boris announced obviously that non essential retail can open. So we’re sort of on track to open at the end of April may. And the idea is that it’s sort of part gallery Pope exhibition space, pot shop.

So students can sell their work. Graduates can showcase what they’re doing, and it’s kind of until the end of August, it will be a kind of showcase for students. And for the community to use as well. So if we get approached by people who want to use the gigantic second floor, they can absolutely do that.

So it’s, it’s a big experiment, but it’s everybody seems to refer back to it. And everyone that we’ve talked to about it is completely behind it. They want to see change in Kingston and they want to see something positive and something that’s led by students. To come out of this sort of weird time that we’ve been in for the past year and a half or so.

Matt: So Kingston for people who don’t know the area is I, I’m not sure if this is totally true or not. Although I didn’t speak to somebody from Kingston council recently who seemed to nod in agreement to it that after Oxford street is the second biggest shopping area in the whole of greater London. Yeah.

It’s big old. Big old shopping area, number of roads. So the old fashioned streets and things, although with a few kind of seventies and eighties mini arcade things going on,  fairly grotty, but nice open spaces. Lots of pedestrianized. Yeah. Areas. And even a year before pandemic hit. It was starting to become a bit weird as a number of the big retailers that arrived that going bust or pulling out of markets.

So people like gap. We’re starting to close up Klaus Olson, which is one of the few stores they opened in the UK. And that was a big, big retail unit that they entered out. And then through the pandemic Obviously coming out of lockdown, there will be some stores that don’t open again. So the, the Arcadia group’s gone there are quite a few others that have sort of fallen by the wayside over the last 18 months or so.

So there’s this really interesting challenge about this big space, which is all Oh, certainly to the, that yeah. The naked eye appears to be just mostly retail. I’m sure there are offices and things sort of dusted amongst as well. So. It feels like it’s the right time to start, to be able to do some experiments with about how, how can we start to think about reusing this space?

There might not be that what you’re doing is that by any means to find Lance at the, some experiments around it seem to be absolutely the right time for this.

Claire: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think it’s, I coined something on a thing I did last week. Kingston has suffered from chain fatigue. So it’s basically all the chains that have failed within the last two years were all in Kingston.

So they’ve just closed up. And I think a lot of landlords have. Because I’m to people. So because there’s a unit, a nice unit on the main drag they want that instead of the one around the corner. So the PC world is actually on five road, which is a really interesting street because it’s kind of one of the exits from the Bentall center.

You’ve got a cafe Nero on the corner opposite, but then you’ve got a. Independent coffee shop. You’ve got a fancy dress shop, party shop. You’ve got trainers shop. You’ve got an art shop. Literally next door couldn’t have made this up. So it’s a lot of independent chains. And there’s something about the vibe on that street, which is really interesting.

It’s sort of. A bit livelier than the others at the moment. I mean, obviously it’s, I was last there two weeks ago, I think. So it just seemed a bit, a bit had something about it. So, you know, obviously opening up the doors and getting the students inside was just watching their faces with something else.

It was kind of one of those things of. I realized that what I’m doing is actually enabling people to, to be creative rather than saying I’m going to do all this. So I think it’s, it’s about opening a door and letting them be themselves. And I think for the last year, a lot of them haven’t been able to do that at all because they just haven’t had the space and they haven’t had like a lot, like anybody really, they haven’t had the mindset or you know, that they can keep campaigning to get You know, refunds on their 9,000 pounds.

But I mean, that probably won’t happen. I think we all know that there might be some sort of agreements or something, but I don’t think anyone’s going to get their money back. But give them a space and see what they can create and, and sort of get something different out of it. So there’s there’s a group of students who were running a campaign on Instagram because.

But you heard this her first or maybe not students aren’t really on Twitter, so everything is done through Instagram. It’s been really interesting to, if you kind of noticed that and this campaign really picked up steam. They got meetings with everybody, local MP, the Dean, and they sort of did affect change.

And I just said to them, okay, these protest signs that you’ve made and you’ve put on Instagram, can we get them in the space? Oh, okay. And then another student who came in to measure up one of the product students sort of started pitching. I said, Oh, you final year, what you doing? What’s your final major project started telling me about 10.

And I said, right. Where’d you want to put it? You know, it’s, it’s kind of that organic and it’s going to be that sort of quick because a lot of the time it isn’t quick and it isn’t organic. So I sort of want to change that and make it, make it more real for them.

Chris: That’s the, that’s the key though, isn’t it?

I mean, what you’re, what you’re talking about there is, is changing mindsets and providing leadership and making decisions for people because students aren’t very good at making decisions because they’re not yet at that stage where they’ve learned to make decisions for themselves often and universities, aren’t very good at making decisions because they are, they are bureaucratic and they are, you know, they are slow moving.

So, if you can get to a point where you are able to be that point of decision and say, yep, we’ll just do that then, and change the mindset and make it into something that’s happening. Good grief. That the difference it can make to it, to the whole thing. That’s, that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s almost the definition of inspiring and that’s how it’s that?

How it’s, how it

Claire: works. And it’s, it’s been really interesting cause it’s not just me doing this. We’ve we’ve done it in partnership with the student union who probably hadn’t ever seen the creative process of a project sort of. Emerge. So we were really clever and we actually tasked some of the second year students in the department.

I sit in to come up with a brand and the identity they had, it feels like years, but they had, they had probably a few months and they pitched and we had three teams that pitched and one of them came up with the concept of not my beautiful house. That’s the name and this comfort, this concept of comfort is overrated.

You know, everyone’s been sat around and the jogging bottoms and their trainers and slippers, but actually we want to challenge the norm and say, no, get out of your house and get into something that isn’t a house, but it’s not a shop. And it’s a space to sort of learn something or do something different.

So that’s the kind of idea. And I think that even they were a bit. Terrified as to actually, Oh, we’re actually doing this. Yeah, yeah. You’re actually doing it. And then we knew at the same time, we’d also briefed the interior students. So they’ve all come up with sort of modular designs that will go in the space.

And then when we move out at the end of August and find the next space, it will all transport quite easily. And their faces again were, Oh, so we’re actually making this year, we’ve got the budget now we’ve got. 70 grand. We’ve got some money now. So that’s been really interesting to see, you know, and I guess that’s like a lot of creative projects.

You know, a lot of them just, and, or just a visual or a render, but, but no, I think when you get involved with me, I tend to make it actually happen. So, so yeah, it gets real at some point, whether you were loading a van or putting up. A poster or whatever, you’re carrying your mannequin up 10 flights of stairs to do a fashion showcase.

That’s, that’s kind of how it, how it goes with my kind of things, because they tend to be attached to money and they tend to be attached to a client’s expectations, whereas this time around I’m the client. So, but the difference is I’ve got, you know, we’ve got this money to play with, so. It’s, it’s been a really interesting journey.

I mean, I’ve never done a Crowdfunder before and I cannot tell you how many times I was refreshing that goddamn browser. It was it was almost like a Publix dog, just waiting for it to hit something and, and, you know, running it through social media as well. You know, where Twitter, you just. I don’t know if it’s just in these times, but you just get absolutely no response at all.

You know, I’m doing this really exciting thing. It’s a Crowdfunder and you know, three people like it. It’s just kind of, it’s quite a funny one, but, you know, put something on Instagram stories. Hey, off you go. So it’s been really interesting

Matt: with the, the toast launching at the end of this month. Obviously, you’ve got the students as the audience of this, for the, the, who will be the people creating this space.

How are they thinking about who the audience for the space will be?

Claire: So we kind of were quite I guess we were quite explicit about this. So when we’d done the interventions in the Bentall center before what we found was a lot of parents with kids were coming in because they were bored and there was no play area.

So more than once sort of parents would come in and sort of say, well, can we leave Johnny with you then? We’d have to say no, we have absolutely no CBD checks. You have to stay with them. Obviously we do in this college today, or we’re doing this activity today. You can obviously sit in and stay here.

So we wanted the space on five road to be very different. So it’s probably. I mean, I don’t, I don’t know what will happen. We’re, we’re keeping it very, very kind of open, but it’s probably a bit more of a grownup space. So you might see some challenging artwork. She might come across a life drawing class and all those kinds of things we couldn’t really do in that environment because it’s a sort of governed by rules and a few regulations and all that kind of thing.

Whereas this space apart from a loading Bay, which has its challenges, we don’t, we don’t have much. I don’t know what the word is. We w w we’re kind of free to do what we want because the landlord has trusted us and we’ve signed a license agreement. So, you know, we’re not going to be making bombs in there or serving alcohol all hours of the day.

It’s kind of going to be quite a controlled environment, but also, you know, flexible in where we wanted to be a next creativity. So, so yeah,

Matt: the students. So you’ve talked about how they kind of, Oh, we’re really doing this side of it. How many of them are up for us. And how many of them just kind of

Claire: Hills?

Not many have run to the Hills yet. I mean, we’ve been. It’s obviously difficult when you’re doing it remotely, because you know, you have calls and some people are more vocal than others, so you can kind of spot who’s been the organizer and who’s put some work in and he’s kind of just turning up to be on the call.

And I think it will become a lot easier when we start doing it in person. So. Well, two weeks ago, when the students came in, you could kind of see who was a bit flabbergasted and you could see who was just straight away getting the measuring tape out and making notes and sketches and things. So no one’s run for the Hills just yet, but I guess, you know, it, it, it’s a good time.

It’s good timing because For the second year running this new degree show. So the degree show will be online. So the idea of students building something physical for their final year degree show, isn’t really going to happen. So this kind of, isn’t funny your degree show, but the skills that they’re doing and the, the pieces that they are building are kind of a showcase of, of their skills anyway.

So yeah.

Matt: And then you going outside of the. The groups within the faculty or are there other parts of

Claire: investees? Yeah, so the whole way through the planning of this, we’ve been chatting to the business school. So I hadn’t really had much to do with them before. And I’ve literally just this afternoon met this amazing woman who is doing leading HR.

Post-graduate business ma, but happens to have got amazing retail experience in like cue cards, not kick high. Oasis, she run retail. She worked for LCFF. So kind of like, why haven’t I met you before, so I’m going to meet her next week. So yes, we are definitely reaching outside and obviously there’s sort of stakeholder engagement people within the university PR who we’re all aware of what’s going on, but we would like sort of business and marketing students as well to sort of join in with the content that’s created in that.

So. I’m not standing there saying this is what happens this week. And this is what happens next month, where we’re basically hiring for roles that will do that and run stuff, pastors. But anything goes really? I think I don’t want to stifle anyone’s creativity and say no, because my God, you get told no, so many times in your life.

I just, I hate it. It makes me even more determined to do crazy things. So I don’t want to say no to anybody really.

Matt: So it’s come back to the, the the studio Katie one. What did you learn out of trying to create an agency from a group of students in a university

Claire: crumbs? I learned that no one knows how to write a brief, not even me.

You can try, you can try and you can try and give them a template and they will do anything they can to not fill out. This is internal, mainly internal clients. But yeah, I learned that I learned students don’t read a brief or they, they do read it, but they don’t read it completely. There’s always something missed out. And I think because I only realized this year. Okay. So my kind of background has always been my business development sales, but always kind of in the creative industry, I sort of woke up one morning. I was in a meeting or something and I thought.

Oh, God, I’m not even doing business. I don’t run anymore. I’m actually an agency person, but I don’t have any traffic managers. I don’t have any you business people. I’m just doing it all myself. So I learnt that it is possible to do it all, but the gray has keep coming. I learned that I just, I still love working with students.

I’d kind of given it a bit of a break. So I worked to Ravensbourne for. Nine years, 10 years. And then I had a bit of a break. I went to the open data world and I sort of swore I’d never go back to a university, but this job seemed too much of a, it was too tempting. It was kind of what a crazy idea and how can I make it work?

And I’d seen like other models, you know LCC, no, LSP, you have something called South bank collective where they it’s mainly kind of film and TV casting they do and filming and photography, but there’s a lot, there’s a lot of models out there that are really interesting. I don’t remember have you had Matt Desmarais on this podcast

Matt: on and off, but never properly.

Claire: So he said something to me, like. I can’t believe you’ve done it and made it work. You know, something like you’ve got balls or something that’s like that, that is exactly it because you, you know, as you said, Chris universities have very slow and they have their process and they have their business development manager and they have their knowledge exchange person.

And it’s a very kind of. Tight tried and tested method, but I’m afraid I like coloring out of the lines and I like doing projects that are quick daddy real. And you know, the students come forward, you know, the students are friends center, so this is probably the closest thing I’ve ever done to any self promotion, which is terrifying.

But at the same time, I kind of. I think it’s really important to kind of showcase projects like this because they don’t happen everywhere. And a lot of universities don’t really want to do something like this because it’s too hard. So

Matt: it feels like there’s also those distinctions aren’t there because universities have got a well-established model for how they deal with business, which is through research and that’s all very, you know, One side of the academic world.

And then you’ve got teaching, which is, I think in many certainly non-teaching institutions, which is the ones that are generally seen as better by the people who are in organizations that are non-teaching as well as teaching. But this idea about being able to actually make undergraduates learn through doing, which is almost like the apprentices stuff that we’ve spoken about on this show quite a few times over the years, And I was just wondering whether there’s this, this kind of model would be applicable into other areas.

Now I think about, you know, people coming out of university with computer science degrees, the thing that’s usually the biggest gap in their experience and knowledge is any sort of semblance per how you apply any of it into real world. Problems cause everything has been theoretical ups at that point.

And creative industry is the same. And actually being able to shift that into what I learn through doing where it’s doing for real, it just seems that this it, I don’t know, maybe it’s this, the kind of the conservatism that there is in the, in the, in the world of education sometimes, but.

Chris: Maybe it’s not sorry, mate. Maybe it’s not just do it. Right? Because as you say, computing students, they often do do it. You know, they, they are, they are coding, building things. What they’re not doing is doing it in the process and in the context of an organization. And it’s a bit, like you said, Clara, about people reading.

Brief. So, or you being able to write briefs same in the software world with requirements, it’s just, it’s, it’s just a different, different way of looking at it. So it, you know, that what you’re doing is you’re bringing them a dose of reality, real world process, aren’t you?

Claire: Yeah. And I think it is part of the Kingston ethos.

So I’m trying to remember the plaque as you come in, I’m going to get roasted for this. I think there is, it’s like learning through doing or making through doing there is a little motto that Kingston has. But I think the most, if I can do one thing for students it’s to understand what the value or their worth is.

When I, when the first year start, I normally stand up and do a little introduction about the studio. And I always say, no, you guys know what’s going on. You know, there’s people sitting in advertising agencies who don’t know how to sell on Depop or how to, how to work on clubhouse or how to do an ASIS marketplace, whatever.

So I kind of try and say to them, you know, what’s going on. Most people don’t have a clue, you know, you’re the future kind of thing, but a bit more inspiring than that. And I think if I can do one thing, it would be to get them to know their worth. Like I had a couple of students who were going to build an AOL filter for a client and they sort of came to me and said, Oh, do you think this is too much?

And it was something like 400 pounds. I was like, well, have you actually costed out like how many hours it would take you, if it’s going to take both of you, you know, and sort of recalibrated it all. And they, they weren’t nervous about asking for money from the client which. I find really fascinating.

And I found that a little bit with a lot of the lecturers as well. The, the risk, the risk of doing a live project was almost too much tobacco kind of thing. It was there’s too many rules, but I think that’s, you know, if you don’t fail and you don’t take a rescue, you’re not really gonna get anywhere.

And if the students learn that quite early on, I think that’s really valuable. And if they can say right I’m building this air filter, but I’m, it’s two grand, you know? And I remember there was only once I came across someone who this is way, way back. This is when I was at Ravensbourne. And I sort of said, well, I pay all the students, you know, that we, we take on commissioners, but we pay the students and she just went well, that’s ridiculous.

They haven’t graduated yet. And just had this really like, you know, when you have those scenarios, like role plays of the worst client ever. I never did any work with her, but I wouldn’t have done because she just had such a terrible view of students and it goes, it was almost like it’s poor cough.

Isn’t it? The UCL . She was like that it was kind of. She was almost affronted at the fact that I was kind of saying, no, they still have a value, even though they’re still studying. And Ravensbourne was great for that because, you know, it’s, it’s really good broadcast media and filming. So they, all those kids were, you know, in the kit store was taken out the DSLRs much more, better.

Camera’s than that. And they were doing it, you know, half the kids were on the Olympic broadcast team. OBS you know, they were, one of them was shooting Tom Daley from, you know, The, the cutout thing in the swimming pool window to speak, you know, somebody had that job, Oh, I’m filming Tom Daley or something, you know, just mad.

And I remember a student said to me, it was like being at Disneyland except you were getting paid for it, working on the Olympics. And you know, that’s what you want for every student. That’s what you want for your job. Right. Maybe not Disneyland, but. Something like that be

Matt: equipped. No, no, no. And it’s, I mean, if I think about it’s my university time, the things where I learned the most were undoubtedly the stuff that sat around the edges of my core there’s bits of my course that are sort of vaguely useful fakely, but you know, there’s only so much Beaudry are, you can bring to the workplace.

But. I did sociology. So yeah, I mean, I think credibly useful, but not very practical, but then being involved with student radio. So it was for half the reason why I was able to pull this thing vaguely together was because I learned how to wet it on tape. Being involved with the student union and just understanding a bit about how organizations worked and about the politics and about understanding a bit more about The political system through student politics and, you know, all of that stuff sort of built up.

And that was where the value was. Of course that, and especially now, as we’ve seen this massive change in how maybe going forward, students will continue to be taught as we come out of pandemic and, you know, remote. Working is not going to be just about people in work. I think there’s going to be elements of this sort of stick within the realm of higher education as well.

And the risk is that all that stuff that’s traditionally been on the periphery could well get lost. So actually finding ways to make it front and center as part of the learning experience, I think feels like that’s really, really important.

Claire: Yeah. I think giving them a place to fail is really important.

Because so much of university is about passing it’s, it’s kind of, you know, I remember some of the first students that I worked with some final year illustration animation students, they were just brilliant. And I remember them trying to knuckle down to do their dissertations. And I just said, peanut just showed them some drawings, like hide past you.

Like it’s such an antiquated way of judging the final year when. These kids were doing just such amazing work with, you know, stop, motion, everything. But, but no, it all boils down to a however many thousand word essay. And I always try and make them feel better by saying, Oh, I had to hand write mine because there weren’t computers and they go, Oh, are you really that old?


Matt: So Claire, if people want to be able to actually. Come and see what’s going on in Kingston. How they go about it.

Claire: Just knock on the door of the PC world. If I’m in there, I’ll open it. I mean, we’ve had, that’s one of the most joyful things about doing something like this. When we were in the Bentall center, we just had people come in and go what’s this.

What’s going on and you can just say anything and it could be true, but we had we had two gentlemen come in the first day we had the keys. Both of them went, Oh, has the PC world closed? And we went, yes, like this is an empty room with nothing in it. There’s no signs of a computer, nothing. I haven’t got a uniform on.

There’s no officialness to this. And like we said, all the new addresses on the outside, because there’s a laminate with the new address. Oh, right. Okay. And then you know, other people just pop head and, and put their head in and say, what’s going on are going to be a quitter creative meanwhile space, you know, watch this space.

So, yeah, knock on the door and see if where that is. At some point we will be peeling off the old PC world stickers. We’re trying to do something quite exciting to the outside of the building. So just watch this space, but it’s 19 to 23, five road in Kingston. It’s literally a two-minute walk from the station.

I can send you all the socials so you can follow along. But yeah, watch this space really.


Chris: Well, that was a very interesting look into how a university actually starts to work in the real world, which doesn’t always happen that often they might experience. But that was, you know, very, very interesting. Thanks Claire. So not then what is going on this week for you?

Matt:  We’re recording on Monday evening tomorrow. We’ve got Meeting to be able to decide the outcome of the big procurement which hopefully will come to a conclusion. So that’s very exciting. And then I am also over the course of the rest of this week starting interviews for two architecture roles that I’m recruiting into my team, which is also extremely exciting.

And also, and actually getting more and more into this as, as I explore more is we’re just launching up a piece of work, looking at ethics. Data and AI. And the more that I look at it, the more important it seems to me to be becoming and how you get people who traditionally will go all that. It’s a bit complicated when it comes to matters of data.

To start to take notes to the fact that they really need to understand more about this. Then they may be doing at the moment. And you just saw the story about the two EasyJet that almost had some problems taking off after the first lockdown, because of a miscalculation of load weight that came about because the software that they just upgraded over lockdown one had been written in a country where it was assumed that if somebody put moves.

It meant it was an adult female. And if they put MIS it was a female child and so miscalculated by 1.2 tons, the weight of the aircraft to take off. And it’s brilliant because it wasn’t a problem with the data. It wasn’t a problem with the technology. It wasn’t a problem with the software. It wasn’t a problem with the airplane.

It was absolutely a problem of. People not having a clear understanding about the meaning of things, the semantics. And anyway, it’s been a great little exercise that to be able to help me to illustrate to people why we need to spend a bit more time and attention to thinking about these things. So that was good.

Claire, what have you got in the the weekend?

Claire: I’m going to be in Kingston a lot. So I think I’m going to be there twice this week. And then on Monday as well, Monday is quite exciting. It’s I’m doing a rekkie for something which could be a gigantic project or it might just not be,

Matt: Oh, that’s soon to be cryptic.

And Mr. Weston, what is the the week, this third or so weekend? The month of April, hold in store for you.

Chris: Well, partly it’s me. I’m very rapidly trying to get to grips with what’s going on at work and what I need to get done this week. Part two, actually, interestingly enough, on your data question, I’ve, I’ve got a blog to post tomorrow about data, culture, that and

side, that whole data ethics and AI and things like that is about how, as a business, you, you value data, how you. Understand the impact of what you’re working with and all of those kinds of things is a really, you know, that’s kind of fundamental, right? And so that’s a, that’s an interesting subject and, and there are yeah, some useful, interesting things that came up today.

I was, I was, I was doing a little bit of last minute research for this blog, so, so yeah, I’m posting that to Mauro and then we’ve got a conversation about it with our. A European digital leaders community on Thursday. So that should be good. Fun. So but yeah, yeah, it should be a busy week. I’ve got us going on, ah, some more events to prepare for and things like that.

So it’s yeah, another good one

Matt: next week we are going to be joined. It’s going to be like going into the office for you, Chris, isn’t it? Yeah.

Chris: It’s a very exciting time because you know, it’s going to be me. I’m my colleague, Mr. Dowd.

Matt: Excellent. Mark, who is a, a seasoned. Old person who does CIS.

Now I’m increasingly seasoned. I find that what comes after seasoned veteran. And then basically you’re, you’re you’re as old as whales. To be able to extend out the use of Wales as an international unit of measure. But anyway, now Margaret Downs will be with us next week, talking about .

Chris: You’re thinking of a boy, Jordan.

Matt: Oh, new light. I think that would be fantastic. I didn’t want to put a note in there. It’s my Irish shoes Mark down. Who’ll be joining us next week. Look forward to that. And we’ll put more details about the work that Claire’s doing on the website at wb40podcast.com. See you next week.

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