“I was always really keen to move into the creative industry because, by nature, those environments tend to be more open minded, they embrace different ideas and experiences, and there is more of a growth mindset.”
Daniella Johns joined DNEG just over six months ago and is the Learning and Development Manager for our London studio. Daniella has worked in Learning and Development for ten years, working across many different industries before finding her way into the world of film. Her role at DNEG primarily focuses on training and development around ‘soft skills’ or, as we like to call them at DNEG, ‘strong skills’. Keep on reading to find out how her first role working as cabin crew inspired a career in Learning and Development, why the projects she works on are so important to her, and what she loves most about her job.
Hi Daniella! What brought you into the world of VFX and Animation?
I actually started my career as a cabin crew! I was so inspired by the training that we all went through for that role that I thought I’d love the opportunity to do that as my job in the future. After quite a long time flying, I applied to be an Emergency Procedures Trainer. I got the job and never looked back! We used real-life simulators to create immersive emergency situations in order to teach people how to cope in those environments, focussing on effective decision making, communication, and leadership skills when faced with high stress situations. I was really keen to explore how this type of training could translate and support different industries. The role gave me a really solid foundation to take my skills into different working environments, build on my knowledge, and discover new ways of working. So, I made the hard decision to leave that role and see what other opportunities there were. I worked across several different industries but was always really keen to move into the creative industry because, by nature, those environments tend to be more open minded, they embrace different ideas and experiences, and there is more of a growth mindset. From a Learning & Development perspective, that’s the perfect place to be. And, on top of that, I just love film and TV! The combination of my two passions felt like the perfect mix.
Any career highlight(s) so far?
For me, it’s not just one thing. It’s a continuous highlight for me to be involved in the projects that I work on – early careers programmes, leadership programmes, mentoring and coaching, EDI. These are such important conversations to be having and I feel so honoured and proud to be trusted with them.
What is your day-to-day like as a Learning and Development Manager?
There isn’t really a standard day in Learning and Development, which is why I love it! My day-to-day is a real mixture of meetings around ongoing projects, new projects, and new training needs; then there’s the delivery of actual training; and then there’s the bit that people don’t see which is the design and creation of the training courses. That can take a lot of time as you need to research, brainstorm ideas, create the content, design and create supporting materials, create videos, and build out activities. People often think of Learning and Development as just delivering training, which is a great and really fun part of my job, but there is a whole lot happening in the background that is less visible and gets us to that point. I also work collaboratively with all the different departments and global locations across the business, it’s one of the most exciting things about my role – there’s always different projects to be working on and new people to meet.
What do you like the most about your job?
I like the fact that it’s always changing. There’s always a new project to be working on and a new part of the business to work with. And that’s the bit that I really love – the people! I love spending time with people, whether that’s in a meeting context or a training context, getting to know them and hearing their stories. I find it incredibly rewarding.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue a career in the industry, or in Learning and Development?
My top tip for anyone wanting to go into Learning & Development is to try and begin your career at a big business that has an established team already in place. You don’t even need to join the training team, just look for junior roles within the company across departments. It’s a great way to get a foot in the door, you’ll be able to see when internal opportunities come up and will already have experience within that company or industry that could then translate into training and development. A lot of people I work with actually started out as artists and then decided to make the move into Learning & Development. Don’t be afraid to ask about internal opportunities!
Time for some rapid fire questions – What’s one thing that is always on your desk when you work?
Water and coffee. And, if I’m working from home, probably a cat! Bella and Athena like to sprawl out behind my laptop and sometimes make an appearance on my Zoom meetings.
What’s your ‘special power’ at work?
Enthusiasm and energy! If you can’t be enthusiastic and get excited about the training you’re delivering, then how do you expect anyone else in the room to feel the same?
What are you most looking forward to every day?
The people, I genuinely really look forward to my meetings every day.
How did you feel on your first day at DNEG?
Definitely excited, and a little nervous!
What is your proudest moment to date?
Again, it’s the type of projects that I’ve been involved with. I’m really proud of all the work we’ve done across the whole business to bring our Respect in the Workplace Series to life. And the early careers programmes that I’ve got to work on, like Greenlight and Kickstart. These were all group efforts and involved a lot of collaboration from different departments and people, but I feel incredibly proud to have been a part of them all. They are definite highlights for me and were so rewarding.
Finish this sentence: DNEG is…
Awesome! This role and being at DNEG has been one of my absolute best working experiences.
To find out about Training and Career Development at DNEG, click here. And if you are interested in joining DNEG’s Oscar-winning team, stay tuned for our next ‘FOCUS’ and click here to find out more about our open positions across our studios in North America, Europe and India.