IWCEP - Cultural Education Partnership Ident - Teal, Pink and Fern
Fulfilling the creative potential of young people on the Isle of Wight

Tom Mansell Technical Design, Production and Operations Director.

Employer: Positive Experience
Primary School: St Boniface Primary
Secondary School: Sandown High
Where do you live and work now? Frome in Somerset

Download profile

Was there an experience you had at school that made you want to go into the area of work you are in now?

I loved the art department at Sandown High School, I always enjoyed making things.

What are the main roles and responsibilities of your job?

Project Management, 3D Design, Technical Design, Team Management, Client Communications.

Could you briefly share a bit about your career journey? (What did you study? How did you end up where you are today?)

I did an art foundation BTEC course at Falmouth, then wasn’t sure what degree to do, so I went snowboarding in France. I intended to go back to do a degree but I never did. At the age of 25 after a year in North America I realised I should probably get some qualifications, so I did a carpentry NVQ while attempting to get paid as a guitarist in a rock band in Bristol. I started volunteering on build teams at festivals at about 29. Then they started paying me. Then I started running teams, then planning jobs. I got a full time job with an event production company in London (Bearded Kitten) at the age of 35 doing creative construction projects at festivals, corporate parties and experiential brand activations. I worked my way up as the company grew for the next 9 years, ending up running a busy team of project managers. I now work with a similar but smaller company ‘Positive Experience’ just outside Frome.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy thinking in three dimensions, I like taking inspiration from other creative projects. I like the opportunity to go to festivals and other events nationwide, sometimes internationally.

What is the hardest thing about your job?

Deadlines. The event date won’t move, so whatever the problem is, someone has to solve it, and you need to keep going until the job is done. Sometimes this can be exhausting.

What skills or attributes do you believe have been crucial to your success in your career?

Determination and hard work, but also a level head and drive to find solutions rather than place blame.

If you could give advice to someone aspiring to have a job like you, what would it be?

Everything you’ve done informs everything you do next. You never know which skill might turn out to be the one you rely on in a pinch. Get out there and try stuff. Go to festivals. Go to gigs and theatre shows. Make yourself useful. Make yourself the most useful person in your (festival) field. People will learn to rely on you, and eventually they’ll start asking you what to do. Experience matters more than qualifications, so go learn stuff. Also spreadsheets. Sorry. Spreadsheets are everywhere.

What do you think was a benefit about growing up on the Isle of Wight?

We had a lot of freedom. We’d go camping on the downs or out to the beaches without parents worrying too much. It’s easy to feel like all the exciting stuff is happening somewhere else, but almost everyone I’ve met also thought that as a teenager. It’s a beautiful place that a lot of people just visit, and you get to live there.

What was the most difficult thing about growing up on the Isle of Wight?

I already mentioned it – the feeling that all the important stuff was happening somewhere else. I do recommend getting off the island and seeing the world. But there are great opportunities here now so you may end up coming back. Lots of my friends have.

What do you want to do next?

Help grow the company I work with; build up the team, take on bigger and more exciting jobs.

How can we connect with the work you do?

Look up www.beardedkitten.com and also www.positiveexperience.co.uk

Other articles