A passion for food and design sparked Creative Director, Kate McInerney’s career journey while she was in her homeland of Australia. After four years working at global affairs and lifestyle magazine Monocle, Kate joined the media brand Courier where she has triumphantly been leading the creative charge as they see themselves go through a rapid stage of growth. In this interview, Kate reveals the ins and outs of her working life in the publishing world and the people that have inspired her along the way.
Where are you working now?
I’m the Creative Director at Courier Media - we create inspiring content for people who want to work and live on their own terms (fancy opening a surf school in Costa Rica? Hotel in Bali? Bookstore in Athens?) We have four, soon to be five, weekly email newsletters that have a massive subscriber base; the Courier Weekly is our flagship product. We also work with print, including magazines and guides and beautiful coffee table books as well as having a website full of articles and stories and we are starting to dive into the world of short video as well. We just moved into a shiny new office that I had a hand in designing (!) and we host regular events for our community there, as well. My role is overseeing the visuals of the entire brand and ensuring every touchpoint reflects the Courier design systems properly. It’s a hugely creative role and definitely keeps me on my toes.
How did you land the job?
I had previously worked with Courier’s Managing Director and the Editorial Director at Monocle so the transition happened naturally.
Tell us a bit about your career trajectory?
I’m Australian and went to university in Melbourne. I was always passionate about food and design and made sure I had a few jobs at uni to start making contacts. I wanted to work in magazines and never once questioned that I wouldn’t be able to work wherever I wanted to - someone has to do it, right?
I started cold emailing the magazines I wanted to work at and ended up landing a role in advertising design for one of the highest selling food magazines in Australia. It was a fabulous job and allowed me to move around a few publishing houses in Australia and make some key contacts.
Skip forward a few years and I decided to move to London in 2011. I used those contacts to land a job at Jamie Oliver’s head office working as a Digital Designer, which was a wonderful way to settle into the UK and also shift focus somewhat. Working for Jamie O was a really formative experience and I’ll never forget the food that came out of those test kitchens!
I was considering moving back to Australia when I decided to explore some of the hits on my “dream places to work” list and it must have been fate because Monocle was hiring for an Art Director at the time and this happened to be #1 on the list.
I worked as the Art Director there for almost five years, travelling from Japan to Madeira to Merano regularly for shoots and events. The entire team at Monocle were incredibly hard working and were all very passionate about the brand so I definitely lived and breathed it for the time I was there.
I now manage a fairly large studio team, so my day to day looks a lot more like approvals and people management than it does designing pretty things (although there is a bit of that too!) Courier has definitely given me the opportunity to upskill and become a member of the Senior Leadership team. We were acquired in March 2020 which has taken the brand from strength to strength. It’s been wonderful to be a part of a growing company and the founder is very energetic with lots of ideas so those two things make for a lot of opportunity to flex your creative muscles.
What have been your career highlights?
Am I allowed to say having a baby? Life and career highlight! Ha! But truthfully, being able to return to work after having a child and feeling confident in my abilities after such a profound life shift felt like a pretty massive highlight.
I’m not big on awards… I know Creative Directors are meant to have a bunch of awards under their belt by a certain point in their career but honestly I’ve never been bothered filling in the application forms. I honestly just love seeing my teams work out there, there is nothing like seeing a project from conception to completion.
What’s your view of working in creative?
You definitely have to be confident in your abilities - creativity is so subjective so you have to back yourself, otherwise you can get a serious case of imposter syndrome. For the most part though, it’s bloody fun!
Who’s been your most inspirational person to be around in the workplace?
You’re only as good as your team - especially as you progress your career. We launched our TikTok channel recently and the Gen Z crew never cease to amaze. Their creative energy is next level.
Jamie O was hugely inspirational as well - his attitude was immensely positive. I also loved the balance he managed to have with his family: something that I didn’t value as much at the time but having a 15 month old son now, I really appreciate that he managed to lead such a strong brand and be a real family guy.
The Creative Director I worked with at Monocle taught me the craft of graphic design and typography which has been hugely influential in terms of my design style.. He always took the time to share wisdom and learnings with me and he led with a lot of kindness, which I think is an important management skill to have.
Also obviously the Founder of Courier - his energy is second to none and I wish I could do a presentation to a room full of people like he can: what a pro! It’s a skill I am working on with his guidance.
What advice would you give 21 year old Kate?
Don’t rush - it will all happen !
Go to ALLLLL the parties in your 20’s: making friends is good for your career.
Try to work with a team of strong women, it will mean a lot more to you as you move through your career.