International Women’s Day Q&A Series: Behind the Scenes with… Susan Keighery

To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March, we have launched a new Q&A series taking a look at some of the hard-working women who keep things running behind the scenes at GIANTS Netball.

Susan Keighery – Graphic Designer

What does your job entail?

I’m the graphic designer for GIANTS Netball, NSW Swifts and Netball NSW and so I work on the creative aspects of each brand.

I work across the visuals that people see, whether it’s for club events, match day marketing, membership sales or the game day experience itself. So, things like social media graphics, fixtures, flyers, posters, EDM graphics, member packs, game day screens and magazines.

How long have you been in the role?

I’ve been here for a year and a half. I started in October 2017, after that season. It meant that I had time to prepare for 2018 before I hit the ground running, because there is a lot of work that goes into each season.

Now I’m coming up to my second season, so I’m really looking forward to building upon the things that we established in the 2018 season and improving on them.

What attracted you to the role?

Working with like-minded people who really have a passion for healthy living and netball. Generally, you know that the people who are involved in sport are very positive and ambitious people. Being surrounded by people who are nurturing and supportive of each other and working in a team-orientated workforce is something that is really nice to be a part of.

I really do love sport. Netball was the sport I grew up playing, so I already had an understanding of the game. When the role came up, I jumped at the chance to combine two of my biggest passions – netball and being creative. I’ve just been so fortunate to be able to do that now as my first job.

What is a typical day like for you in your job?

I work in an office, so I’ll have those typical things like meetings and then working on the computer to make ideas come to life. But I do have a lot of non-typical days. Those days definitely keep it really exciting to come to work every day. Highlights are our photoshoot days and of course game days.

Seeing how the fans are interacting with the designs that I’ve worked on and getting that feedback and seeing their responses, that in itself is definitely a rewarding day at work. There’s no point in sending something out there into the world and then not paying attention to how it’s received and not learning from that.

What made you want to work in sport in particular?

I wanted to spend my energy working on something I really believed in. With sport, I know it helps the well-being of so many people. So essentially that is why – because promoting an active lifestyle is something that I really feel passionate about and I wanted to know that each day I was working towards something that made me feel good.

Netball also has an exciting atmosphere where you have people who engage with the sport on so many levels – from those who play netball at a grassroots level or fans who come to watch the elite. There are so many different sides to sport that you wouldn’t usually experience in every corporate environment.

What did you study to get into this career?

Straight out of high school I started out at the University of Technology in Sydney doing a Bachelor of Design in Visual Communications and that was a three-year course.

It was a really nourishing environment for a creative mind. The course sets you up with some of the technical skills you’ll need, but it really does focus on the conceptual side of graphic design.

Are you a netball fan?

What’s the word? Yes! Yeah definitely. I love netball both as a player and as somebody who admires the athletes that we support.

And what position do you play?

Wing Attack, but in high school I was always Centre. If it’s in a very fast-paced game I prefer Wing Attack.

As a person working in a creative role, what is your process like for developing concepts and assets?

You don’t want to simply copy what the other sports are doing – you want to give netball and GIANTS Netball its own look and feel. I find drawing upon outside influences really helpful.

I’m always looking to constantly improve on my work. Working in a creative space, I always try to learn and do lots of research into trends and just expose myself to things not just in sport but in other industries that might be something we can bring into the netball world and the GIANTS Netball brand experience.

I look at what my peers from university are doing, because what they do is actually vastly different a lot of the time. I like to see what they’re doing because I come from that same background and that same base skill set and looking at where they’ve taken that is quite a refreshing thing to do.

Working in the marketing team, it is a very open space to suggest ideas – all ideas are welcome. That’s part of the process and from it can stem something that will make it to a physical or visual form.

I think an important thing in a creative space is being able to take on feedback. Because that first idea might not be what eventuates, but what does come about will be better. That’s why you need to be open and vocal and have a space that’s really positive and constructive, so that you can actually just let go of an idea if it isn’t quite hitting the mark and then create something that works.

What inspires you about the GIANTS Netball brand?

The commitment and determination, but I think the biggest thing is the resilience that is established from within the team, which then exudes out into all levels of the business. Whether it is the way that we as staff members feel, talk and live the brand or the fans and how they engage and really feel those values. That’s the essence of why I love the GIANTS Netball brand so much.

The resilience is just the biggest thing because there’s no doubt that you’re going to face adversity or have some challenges, but how you deal with that speaks so much. Seeing how people at GIANTS Netball handle situations with resilience and strength is incredibly inspiring.

Is there something special or memorable about working with the GIANTS Netball brand and team? Maybe a memorable moment?

There are two things. The most recent photo day was definitely a highlight, because I really got to engage with the players and be a part of the process more so than I’ve ever been – from coming up with ideas to being on set to capture content. Being able to actually help create all of the collateral that is now going to be used in the 2019 season and seeing that all come to life is really special.

But the biggest moment so far was creating the 2018 team poster. Coming into the role I knew the team posters were a huge thing. They get printed in the tens of thousands, which can be quite daunting, and they get put on people’s walls. I had posters all over my wall when I was younger and so completing the 2018 poster was a huge moment for me.

Seeing it being handed out on game days and seeing the lines of people holding it to get signed by players was amazing. Then, having the feedback that the team really liked it and the fans really liked it was just a big tick.

What’s been your proudest moments in this job?

There’s not a particular moment, but I think it is actually trying to draw those GIANTS Netball values that I mentioned earlier into my own work. A huge thing for me is resilience and conducting myself in a professional way.

I’m just proud that I have entered my first full-time role as a graphic designer. It doesn’t have to be this grand moment, but it’s just a moment of realising that I am doing this and I do feel proud of myself for making things happen behind the scenes creatively.

What does it mean to you to work in a sport that has a predominantly female participation base?

It makes me feel privileged to be able to contribute to something that is helping to build confident and ambitious young women.

It really is unique to be a part of an organisation that is influencing pretty much who I was a decade ago, for the better. I am passionate about netball and what netball has to offer, so to not only just contribute to it, but to see that all of us behind the scenes as a team are actually helping the sport grow and reach more people is fantastic really.

Netball is something that people can play as a hobby or take all the way to the elite level, which is a fantastic opportunity to have available to young Australian women. From NetSetGO all the way to Walking Netball, anyone can play the sport. That ability for most people to engage in netball is something so amazing.

Who is your hero and why?

My grandmother was a huge role model. She’s not with us anymore unfortunately, but she definitely faced her challenges and she handled them with so much grace. She had so much resilience. You would speak to her and she would always be so positive and supportive to the people around her. I can only hope to be just as kind and positive as her.

She raised seven boys who I know would have been challenging! To see the way that she handled that and all the things that life threw at her just really left a mark on me. Her actions were the lesson for me. She would literally light up the room when she walked in and was very much about making connections with people, regardless of who they were and where they came from. That’s why I respected her and I’m glad that her approach to making connections with other people has been passed down to me.

What is your passion away from work?

My passion is continuing what my grandmother instilled in me – making the time to create happy memories with my friends and family. That’s really important to me.

Some of my hobby-based things are playing guitar and singing along. Just for my ears only! I enjoy music a lot.

And kayaking is one of my joys. I don’t get to do it that often but I love kayaking.

What motivates and inspires you?

I’m motivated by the desire to grow from all experiences. I don’t believe anyone can stop learning, so that’s a huge motivator. Basically, don’t fight it, just keep trying and throw yourself into challenges.

I’m inspired by the people I work with and by the ambition of the women around me – their commitment and the different skills they have. At Netball NSW we have people with so many varying experiences and with different knowledge, so to be able to work in a team with them is so valuable. I’ve learned so much from my manager Ellen (Marketing Manager, Ellen Kingston), and her background and how she draws upon the knowledge and skills that she’s learnt in her previous roles. She is able to use what she has learnt and apply that to suit what she’s doing here. It’s just really great to see that adaptability and to see that nothing learned from a previous role is wasted.

My sisters also inspire me because they’re all their own individuals and we’re all on different paths. But I think that bond that you get with sisters really can break down that wall and you do talk about things on a deeper level. So being able to really see through their eyes at times and see how they tackle situations is so inspiring.