IN THE BOOTH: SOPHIE RUTHERFORD
ACCOUNT DIRECTOR | PAGE & PAGE AND PARTNERS
We sat down with one of our newest members to discuss her life, her career and her connection to The Ministry
Sophie, you are one of our newest members, so tell us a little bit about you. We love to know our members.
I am a mum of 2, but I have 4 children at home as I’m part of a blended family with my fiancé, Stu. I play tennis in my spare time, which I don’t have a lot of, but I do enjoy tennis when possible. I’m an avid photographer and I used to make films - so I have a deep interest in those. Don’t get me wrong, I still love a cheesy rom-com, but my go-to film recommendation is always The Philadelphia Story. It’s a 1940s film and the script in it is fast-paced and brilliantly funny!
You have an interesting and varied background from Modelling to Account Direction, what prompted the bigger shifts in your career?
I started off working when I was still at school. I used to be a model and had a Saturday job in a men’s apparel shop. I started when I was 15 and it was a real life-lesson, a real education in how to present yourself confidently. Believe it or not, I was not a hugely confident person, but with practise and experience I managed to mask that quite well. The modelling job saw me doing a lot of international travel so I was lucky to get quite a wide view of the world from a young age. I was never a “top” model, I was what we used to call “cannon fodder”. I did a lot of runway shows where I was the filler between the stars, but it was great fun and came with a whirl-wind social life. I was very lucky - I carried on working in modelling until I left film school, which meant I left debt-free.
I spent 6 months in San Francisco and worked for a couple of years after my A-levels before eventually coming back to study a degree at Bournemouth Film School. I specialised in filmmaking which was a great, hands-on, degree. As we were graduating, I was head-hunted to produce pop promos, videos and idents for television with an independent production company. My mum’s a fashion designer and my dad was an architect so I’ve always been supported in my pursuit of the arts – although I was better suited to the management of the arts than making the art itself! Having worked in various film and TV production roles, I eventually ended up in the commissioning department at Discovery Channel. It was an amazing job because we literally got paid to read New Scientist, brainstorm, review pitches and ideate new programme ideas like: “I know, let’s get John Lydon to do a programme about bugs! He loves bugs!”
After this, I took a break and had my children. It’s funny because having kids does change your perspective on life, I think it’s really positive that young people these days don’t necessarily feel the pressure of having babies that perhaps my generation did. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change it for the world, but it did change my options when returning to work. Even having only been out for 5 years, the world had moved on so far and so fast, and I couldn’t realistically go back into the TV world – the travel and hours were just not fitting with having a young family. So, I began to look around locally where I live in Farnham, and I found a pharma market access consultancy that was looking for an office manager 3 days a week. I thought “brilliant”, it was part-time, just around the corner and fits perfectly. I went in for the interview, sat down with the partners for about an hour and a half, but didn’t get the job. It turns out I know nothing about office management! But I did get a call back the following week from the founder of the company, saying that they’d created a role for me to utilise my production skills. That was 11 and a half years ago. By the end of my time there, I was running my own department adding huge value to the company and contributing effectively to winning work with big pharma clients.
How did you get to join Page & Page?
As my children hit their teens, I was able to start thinking about changing careers and getting into something more creative again – where my true passion lies. Totally unrelatedly, my partner, Stu, came to The Ministry to have a look around the spaces with a view to potentially taking some offices here with his company. Alex (Latham) gave him a tour and they got on like a house on fire. Stu mentioned that I was potentially looking to get into something medical, but more design orientated that would flex my artistic muscles. Alex happened to mention that there’s a med comms agency at The Ministry. So, Stu came home and said “there’s this company called Page & Page, I can get Alex to introduce you”. I looked them up and said “yes, definitely!”
So, Stu emailed Alex, Alex emailed Stephen Page (co-founder), he replied, we arranged to have lunch and I came in for a chat. Stephen and I chatted about hopes and aspirations, he showed me around the offices at The Ministry – which was a real lure, I have to say - and the rest is history! A week later I came in to meet the lovely team and by the time I was on the train home there was a job offer in my inbox. So, I have to say a big thank you to Alex for the introduction and setting those wheels in motion!
It’s a really good example of the ethos behind this place; the connections you can make. As a med-comms agency we are responsible for our clients' brand-strategies and designing their campaigns and, most importantly, helping to make a difference to patients' lives. Working in The Ministry has led me to meet a variety of people from different businesses (mainly chatting when getting a coffee!) and we realise that we can potentially collaborate with. Being here, you end up having ‘off the cuff’ conversations with people that can lead to new partnerships and new business opportunities.
"The staff are just super lovely, and they make the best coffee!'”
What were your first impressions of The Ministry and what are your views on the modern “office” or “workspace”?
The Ministry is nothing like a traditional office. My last office occupied one floor of a purpose-built office; it was hard, cold, brightly lit and it wasn’t conducive to wanting to come in to work at all. At the moment, with the current guidelines around covid, there’s no requirement for me to come into the office here, but I choose to come in despite that because I love working from this space. Being in a creative environment, face to face collaboration is so much more productive, and this is like no other office I’ve ever seen. It’s just so chilled, and it’s great to have the café, the bar, the gym, the cinema and all the classes available to us. Even down to the staff just being super lovely, and they make the best coffee!
Would you see yourself in a coworking space in 10 years or back to a more traditional office block?
One part of Page & Page’s ethos is making work fun and our offices are a big part of that. We use The Ministry in our recruitment and promotional materials because it is such a fantastic space to work in. Most of us have spent the last 2 years working from home, so we’re all quite used to working from relaxed settings. With sofas and various meeting spaces ranged around the building – all free and available for us to use – collaborating has never been easier and it certainly beats sitting on Teams calls all day at my kitchen table! It doesn’t affect our productivity being in a space like this - the way that some may have perceived it to pre-2020 – in fact it improves it. I think as Page & Page grows, we would want to take more space here rather than moving elsewhere. It’s so lively and fun, especially at Christmas when the whole place was decked out like a ski chalet, complete with skis and après activities aplenty! The thought of going back to a traditional office space now actually gives me the heebie-jeebies!