How I got to be… Louise Vickerman, Brand Purpose Director

An interview with Catch A Fire's Brand Purpose Director, Louise Vickerman

by Ben May | People & Culture | 17 August 2023

How many years of experience do you have: 20ish years (ssssssshhhhhhhhh) 

Places you have worked before: Kimberly-Clark Professional, DuPont and a Kebab shop. 

Your Favourite all-time advert: Tricky – I’ll age myself now, but there were some classic ads in the late ’80s and early ’90s! Tango orange man stuck out and was, of course, banned! Guinness surfer ad, Levi’s laundrette ad, yellow pages JR Hartley and the Benetton adverts. They are not necessarily favourites, but they are all very memorable. Currently, I’ve enjoyed the sharp-witted and clever Colin versus Cuthbert wranglings.

What do you have to take to a meeting: My notebook. I fastidiously write notes in all meetings. I have 20 years’ worth of filled notebooks in the garage.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A vet. I love animals. I grew up on a farm and was fortunate to do work experience at a local zoo when I was at school. Alas, I wasn’t brave enough then to go for it. I didn’t think I was smart enough and struggled through my A-levels. Remembering lots of stuff was not my thing at the time. Ironically, I then spent 6 years at uni anyway, developed an aptitude for practical/research science in my chosen field of Colour Chemistry and Dyeing and got a PhD. Putting theory into practice was the real turning point for me, and it still holds true, I need to see something in front of me to help trigger thinking.

If you could go back in time and give your younger self career advice, what would you say? 

What has been the most surprising thing you’ve learned in your career?

Your career is a voyage that can have ups and downs and twists and turns. Some of it is about discovering who you are as a person along the way and where your true passion and skills lie. 20 years ago, I started my voyage as a fresh-faced PhD graduate. My first job as a technical manager at DuPont was eye-opening. I travelled the world (amazing) and worked in a male-dominated industry of burly blokes in dye houses, that meant you had to build trust and respect quickly. Being a doctor of my trade certainly helped. As I progressed, I did some fantastic roles at Kimberly-Clark Professional [KCP], starting in the more technical space and progressively moving towards marketing. I did some of my CIM exams in the evenings while on maternity leave with my son, and marketing and communications became a new trade for me. I had the privilege to work with great minds, great marketers, and great bosses along the way. More latterly, I leaned towards CSR, sustainability and the role corporates could and should have in helping to solve some of the more considerable societal challenges we see today. In that vein, joining Catch A Fire [CAF] was a no-brainer for me, supporting various brands and organisations to achieve their purpose and impact and our own at CAF.

What motivates you to keep working hard in your job?

Growing up on the farm, and from an early age, I saw that work was hard, it was all weather, all hours, and you keep going until the job is done every day of the year. This instilled in me a drive and a deep-rooted work ethic that stays with me as an approach now. These traits are sometimes challenging but have also meant I have delivered many complex projects against all odds. 

How do you balance your personal life and career demands?

I am super organised, and planning is key. I am also a wife, mother, daughter, house parent at a school, and alongside this, I run a small children’s mental health charity and am a bit of a crazy cat lady. Life in an agency is fast-paced, so I am used to juggling priorities, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s definitely a work hard, play hard mentality. Having a close group of like-minded friends for support keeps me sane; an understanding husband and a boss who trusts me to get the job done are all really important too.

What is your favourite project you’ve worked on in your career so far, and why? 

There have been many! I’ve launched products, I’ve launched campaigns, I’ve launched brands. I once did a hand washing campaign for schools to help reduce sickness absence in children whilst at KCP. We worked with Disney and were able to put Mickey Mouse and friends on hand towel and soap dispensers and in our comms in schools for a little while. Recently, I have been fortunate to work with many amazing clients at CAF. I’ve seconded out twice in the last year to FareShare and Demelza, which have been career highlights. The agency recently won an award for our rebrand at Demelza, a lovely acknowledgement of our work. I also led our successful B Corp certification and am focussed on how we embed that in the business as we set our sights on recertification in 2 years.

If you could work in any other industry, regardless of qualifications or experience, which would it be and why? 

Ooo interesting question. Something that is outdoors, something that is purposeful and helping others, most likely charitable and maybe involving cats! An outdoor cat charity – done. 

What’s something you’ve learned about yourself through your career? 

I was once told I have a very good ‘disapproving look’ – alas, sometimes I’m not very good at hiding my feelings.

What are the biggest differences you have noticed coming into the creative industry?

Yikes! I have a VERY different background to a lot of the team. Coming from a scientific background, my brain works differently, and I think differently to many in the agency. I sometimes think the creatives are out of their minds – ha! But their quick thinking, creativity (obvs) and vision means we regularly see brilliance – so much respect for the creatives. With my client-side experience and being a left-sided thinker, I believe the diversity of thinking at CAF from myself and others has helped us smash out some super technical projects and has helped us build amazing relationships with some great, long-standing clients that operate in very complex industries.

What made you apply to Catch A Fire?

A good friend suggested I could help on a project for six weeks, not long after CAF was founded, four years later, I am still here. Enough said?

Want to join Catch A Fire?

If you like the idea of taking your career further and combining it with a B Corp business on a mission to create work that ignites positive change. Then take a look at our open roles on LinkedIn or drop us a message.

01892 887239 |  

Or check out last month’s interview with Senior Creative Rich Fuller. 🔥