As a child Matt Desmier wanted to be a cowboy – he simply loved the boots, and they came with the job. Since then his career ambitions have matured a little, leading the BU graduate to his current position as Bournemouth’s go-to guy on the digital creative scene.
Matt’s first serious career plans developed after watching an iconic British Airways television advert back in the 80s. He described the impact of those adverts: “I just thought this was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen and, whatever job that was, I wanted to work at whatever they were doing. And in the late 80s there were some brilliant, brilliant adverts, so I wanted to do that.”
After a few false-starts, by Matt’s own admission, he finally found his forte in bringing the digital creative scene to life.
Matt described his journey as one of many turns, he said: “I wasn’t the best student, so I was asked to leave school. But I went back to college at the age of 23 and did a BTEC National Diploma in Spatial Design because I was really good at [drawing] boxes.”
After finishing his college course Matt went on to train to become an interiors and furniture designer and studied 3D design at Arts University Bournemouth. He said: “That was the closest I’d gotten to the design profession and the advertising world. It taught me the design thinking process and creative thinking process. I left there and went on to set up my own design consultancy.”
Sadly for Matt the design business didn’t work out, but after a brief stint managing pubs he found a role at Business Link.
“Long story short I ended up working for Business Link who paid for my Master’s degree which I then did at BU in Corporate Communications. So this is me inching ever closer to the advertising world.”
He explained his choice of subject: “I picked MA Corporate Communications because it was based around an MBA programme but it was focused on internal organisational structure and corporate branding. And corporate branding was something that really interested me. Because I was working fulltime at Business Link I got to apply everything that I was learning immediately.”
While working with Business Link Matt was part of the innovation team and was seconded into a job for the Design Council, roles which led him to where he is now. Working full-time and studying a Master’s was tough though. Matt said: “My Master's was brilliant and it was a fantastic opportunity. It was hard work but the impact has been immeasurable purely because of the way it made you think. It’s a huge step up from a degree.
“The process of critical thinking that you have to go through, I wasn’t prepared for it. It was a very steep learning curve for me but an incredibly rewarding one.”
Following his degree, Matt applied his talents for talent spotting as Head of Enterprise at Arts University Bournemouth. He explained how that worked: “I ran the Enterprise Pavilion when I was there which under my tenure, was the most successful business incubator in the UK. So we helped launch 75 creative businesses in four and a half years with a 95% survival rate.”
As a result of his work Matt was invited to speak at the European Commission on how to run business incubators. The key, he says, is to only pick winners. Most of the winners Matt picked now form part of Bournemouth’s network of digital and creative agencies – a network which he’s been growing.
“I’ve got a better understanding and a better knowledge of the creative agency scene in Bournemouth than anyone else just because I was paid to have that. So that’s where I’ve become this central digital hub for the town and it’s a remit that I’ve embraced.”
As part of that role Matt created his own successful entrepreneurial start-up – Think Create Do. The company are an innovation consultancy, specialising in strategic marketing. They help brands and organisations with their next big decisions.
In a competitive market Matt says their positioning is different: “There are lots of agencies out there that claim that they can do it all. There are far better designers, there are far better film makers, there are far better web developers than us. So we just do the thing that we’re really good at, which is the strategic thinking.”
He’s been working on delivering events aimed at bringing the Bournemouth scene together and raising the town’s profile as a digital centre – he also founded the flagship digital creative conference, Silicon Beach. This year he’s been taking those events global and sharing Bournemouth’s digital and creative expertise in Malaysia, Los Angeles, Australia and Greece.
Matt is full of hard-earned advice for wannabe digital creatives and entrepreneurs. He’s had some experience sharing that advice in person by giving guest lectures to BU’s PR students. He says what he does is not just a job you need to have a real interest and curiosity. He explained:
“That unfettered curiosity is a good thing to have and networking, networking skills, you can’t have enough networking skills. CVs are a thing of the past; it’s done on who you know and how well you know them. If you’re trying to get a job somewhere you need to know people in and around that job that you’re trying to get. People will ask for recommendations of you.”
Writing a blog and using social media can also help students to get ahead in the sector. He commented: “You’ve got to have a presence. You’ve got to be interesting to another person, it’s not just enough to have the academic skills. You need something else, find what that something else is.”
Though Matt’s career path hasn’t exactly been a straight forward, he’s always looking forward to the future. Whether he’s growing the business, organising bigger events or opening a Think Create Do branch office in San Francisco, he’ll be enjoying it whatever happens.
“I’ve got a life motto. If it’s funny, do it.”