Christine Mackay, CEO of salamandra.uk, has most definitely been getting animated in 2020 and she, along with her team, has been nominated for 20 awards in 2020. So whilst COVID-19 has put the kibosh on many business plans during 2020, salamandra.uk has been able to buck the trend.
Christine has always had an affinity for imagery, from her first childhood crush on cartoon character Marine Boy, to a deep emotional response eliciting welling eyes at Botticelli’s Primavera in Florence. This love for imagery has been with her through decades of travelling and throughout her career and after falling in love with animation whilst working in New Zealand, she decided to run with her passion and founded salamandra.uk in 2014. At the time, animation as a medium wasn’t so common within B2B communication, however, it has grown enormously since then and now, in this climate, animation has become a positive solution, not just for education and business but also for entertainment for all ages whilst filming is not an option.
Christine also has expert knowledge, having worked client and agency side on three continents, in building collaborative frictionless teams, building a strong company culture and as a serial networker, business development and cross pollinating businesses. Her team works as visual problem solvers across 17 different industries, from children’s book illustrations to corporate explainers, training videos or immersive augmented and virtual presentations, her skilled team of creatives produces unique and powerful multifaceted visual assets and creates content that resonates with their clients’ target audiences, memorably.
Being wonderfully passionate about the versatility of animation and its value, particularly for Business as well as for Entertainment, CEO Christine revels in being able to share her infatuation with others and would like to introduce all sized businesses, including SMEs, to this medium to show how they can convey their complex messages quickly and succinctly on any platform.
“It all starts with company culture. We are a lizardy lot of parrot tamers and shark divers, narrowboat natives and dragon keepers who all live by the company values that we all created together. I really do pride myself on learning what makes my talented team tickâ€¦ and it seems to work! Although, let me reassure any fellow business owners, itâ€™s not been easy!”.
Christine firmly believes that employees should feel like a crucial part of the team from the second they step through the doors at salamandra.uk’s lizard lounge. She notes that for any business to be successful and produce real innovation, the employees must enjoy their work, contribute and collaborate and that communicating a business’ core values that reflect this, should be a focal point in your business strategy. At salamandra.uk, the whole team lives by its main core values every day, reflecting on how to work, be perceived and attract like-minded talent and clients. They defined these innovative core values together as a team, deliberating over which wording portrayed them and the company’s raison d’etre most accurately. Check them out here.
Success at the lounge is always celebrated, from little wins to birthdays and award nominations. Salamandra.uk keeps track of film festivals throughout the year so that they can nominate a team member’s work and celebrate recognition on a grander scale. They’ve now been recognised at business awards and film festivals alike including Cardiff Animation Festival, The Orlando International Film Festival, SME News: Business Elite Awards 2020, The Lift-Off Sessions, The Latitude Film Festival, The PM Digital Society, The Best Business Women Awards, The LA Independent Shorts Award and The LA Indie Short Festival.
Christine believes this approach has been key to growing salamandra.uk into an award-winning, multi-studio business. However, she also believes it’s about finding the best innovative ways to gel your team together for the benefit of your specific clients, your specific employees and your specific business. Christine believes the benefits of building your business using this ethos include:
Higher staff retention rates. It is expensive to hire new employees and it is extremely time-consuming. By nurturing your staff and supporting their continuous learning, not only will they stick around for longer enabling you to build long-lasting relationships but they will be motivated to develop within your company. In the words of Richard Branson, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough, so they don’t want to”.
It makes communication between team members more efficient. Having a trusting relationship with your colleagues will allow them to communicate with more ease and more effectively thus improving productivity.
Less risk of ‘burnout’. Keeping communication flowing between team members and company owners reduces the risk of burnout by opening up channels for them to tell the owner that they are struggling. Burnout can induce a variety of health and physical symptoms as well as reducing work performance and creativity so ensuring your employees are coping well is a benefit for all and reflects in the work delivered.
Your employees will engage more with company life. Having an employee first policy encourages employees to get involved, with a ‘no question is stupid’ policy and thus strengthens your brand and reputation in the market.
Staff are more productive. This one is an obvious one but it is also the biggest benefit of finding innovative ways to create an employee first strategy at your company.
Salamandra.uk uses innovation every day for award-winning client work and within their corporate culture.
“The bottom line is that you would not have a company or product if it wasn’t for your employees. Nurture them. Value them. Celebrate them. Success, reputation and satisfaction will follow.”
Not only does Christine work hard to ensure that her employees feel valued, she is firm believer in giving back and taking part in her community and donates part of salamandra.uk’s profits to the Windsor Homeless Project and Transform Community which are both homeless charities situated near both of her animation studios.
She and her team have hosted students and adults with learning difficulties, local apprentices, interns and work experience secondary students from local schools and colleges to her studios and ensures they go away armed with projects or experiences under their belts to better understand the animation industry and how a studio works. Christine has volunteered on the Animation Apprenticeships board setting Levels 4 & 7 for the industry, on the National Citizen Service (NCS) Dragon’s Den, Public Speaking at local state and private schools (including Eton College) and various salamandra.uk team charity fundraising events.
Clearly passionate, Christine and her team are looking forward to 2021 to look to continue their exciting journey together.