Meet the team – Jonathan Robson
Jonathan joined Den’s business development team last year, making it a team of two. He brings with him his hugely varied experience and we’re very pleased to have him.
In this talk with Jonathan, we’re taken on a journey to far-flung corners of the world in his rundown of work experience to date, we speak a bit about his role at Den, what he’s responsible for and what he hopes to achieve here.
You’ve had a really interesting career so far, can you tell us a bit about you and your journey up to this point?
I loved working backstage in theatres but didn’t think that would give me the travel opportunities I craved (I was wrong!) – so I looked for a skill that related to my favourite subject in school, biology. I liked being outside and around water and found aquaculture. After 3 years at agricultural college and work experience as a research assistant on lobster and halibut farming in Scotland, I joined VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) and got a job running a consultancy service for 2 years, advising farmers on building fish ponds to help feed their families in a remote corner of Tanzania.
After that I went backpacking, taking the Trans-Siberian train to Beijing then around China to Hong Kong. I loved Hong Kong’s mash-up of city, mountains and sea and wanted to stay but there were few aquaculture opportunities so I returned to the theatre. I worked for the Hong Kong Ballet Company and then as an events production manager on fashion shows and product launches as well as with Pavarotti and the Moscow State Circus. That paid for more backpacking through Java and Borneo.
A chance meeting with a French entrepreneur making ballet shoes led to 5 years manufacturing and marketing his designs. Next, another chance meeting with a landscaper who’d won the contract to build an artificial rainforest and lost city at the Beijing aquarium led to 2 years there as his project manager and then more PM work in museum exhibit design/build back in the UK. Returning to China I was a researcher and writer for an urban design company before meeting a British theatre design company for whom I set up and ran their Shanghai office.
Later, while a stay-at-home dad in London, I worked on immersive theatre spectacular You Me Bum Bum Train and taught myself coding, publishing some apps and an immersive VR experience.
Finally, I was able to bring this all together as a consultant to the UK government’s Department For International Trade, developing a strategy to sell UK creative expertise in immersive experiences, both digital and physical, to museums, attractions and shopping malls around the world. Most recently I worked for a startup reducing carbon footprints in the art world – and then joined Den.
As Creative Consultant, can you tell us a bit about your role at Den?
My role is in business development, looking both long and short term at getting Den noticed off the back of some of the great work already done and spreading the net wider to find new opportunities in new areas. I’m also engaging with Elixirr Consulting, adding ideas from the world of immersive experiences to some of their client pitches, to which Den can then add their digital design and branding magic.
What do you hope to achieve in your role here?
The work the team has already done on e-commerce sites like Buster & Punch, Nourish, Jealous etc gives us some great sites to showcase and demonstrate that we can deliver more of the same – but bigger and to a wider range of clients. Dezeen is a groundbreaking piece of work in reducing the carbon footprint of a content-heavy site. This is right in the zeitgeist and I’m very interested in how we can do more of this. And of course, whatever else comes our way and looks like a fun and challenging project for the team.
If you’d like to find out more about our capabilities and what we can do for you, or you’d like to join our team, get in touch.