Foot In The Door: Open Doors: Paper & Presence

Last week we hosted the first of three Open Doors events – Paper and Presence – which explored how to best present yourself on paper, in person and online. The Session began with an introduction by Noel Dunne, Company Director at Creative Alliance followed by each of our industry experts sharing their experiences and top tips.

Dawinder Bansal Creative Producer


Dawinder is an award-winning theatre producer with a track-record of skilfully weaving cultural heritage and contemporary stories into successful performances. She is passionate about telling hidden stories to inspire and provoke audiences.

For the past decade she has worked as a Creative Producer and Project Manager leading a diverse mix of theatre productions and projects.

She is a curious and dynamic producer, able to build partnerships and foster fresh collaborations.

Dawinder talked us through her top tips for presenting yourself on paper, in person and online:

‘Life is about building relationships and keeping them … ‘

‘Gone are the days when you turn up to an interview and they meet you for the first time’ YOU’VE BEEN GOOGLED!

Regarding social media ‘be generous, like, share and interact – you’ll see the return. Social media IS SOCIAL’

‘Failure is the fastest way to learn’

‘We are living in the age of entrepreneurs – go the extra mile, make yourself stand out.’

WWW:      Twitter: @DawinderBansal


Sunjay Kohli Music & media

Sunjay Kohli is a graduate in International Business and Management and has already spent several years in and around music and media.

After co-founding his own online publication in 2013, Sunjay began producing regular content, mainly focused on music, conducting interviews with some of the biggest stars in Hip Hop and Pop culture.

Sunjay went on to work with various local musicians supporting them to promote their music, before joining Ticketmaster (Live Nation) in London.


Sunjay offered insights into how to get yourself noticed when there is so much competition out there – one of his top tips was ‘Don’t get too full of yourself. Stay humble – but still remember your value’.

WWW:    Twitter: @sunjaykohli


Indi Deol DESIblitz

Indi Deol is the Founding Director of the multi-award winning British Asian online magazine DESIblitz and leads on advertising and strategic business growth. He also runs Aidem Digital CIC which is a Social Enterprise and digital media agency focused on delivering projects that produce a positive social return. Indi is Visiting Industrial Fellow of Aston Business School and thrives on utilising digital tools to solve marketing and business problems. His education and background include a strong emphasis on fashion design, and over the last 8 years he has been immersed in online media, sales and content marketing. In 2013 he successfully completed the Goldman Sachs 10,000 businesses programme and in 2015 he went on to be selected as a finalist for the Ernst and Young Midlands Entrepreneur of the year award. Outside of work he enjoys going to see new places, listening to music and cinema. His life motto is ‘no pain, no gain’.

Indi provided us all with social media presence advice that will help you to be noticed for the RIGHT reasons …

‘Be genuine. Be the same person online and in person’

‘Snap up all of the URLs that have your name in them and start to build your profile’

‘Don’t swear and don’t rant’

‘Make sure that the information on your Linked In page and your CV are the same’

WWW:      Twitter: @IndiDeol


Simon Morris McCann

Simon Morris is Business Development Director with McCann: the UK’s largest integrated marketing & advertising agency. Simon has worked in the advertising industry since 1999 and he has had the pleasure to work on some amazing campaigns. He is also passionate about uncovering new creative talent and helping them get started in the industry.

Simon provided a brilliant summary in the three essential P’s  ‘perseverance, persistence and passion’. He also advised againstshotgunning’ – ‘When seeking out new work, shotgunning won’t cut it! Make it personal, make it contextual and make them think that you really care.

WWW:  Twitter: @Morris_Simon

Birmingham REP and The Nightmare Interview

The next part of the event was centred around a short, interactive, piece of theatre by Birmingham Repertory Theatre – The Nightmare Interview – about the do’s and don’ts of job interviews.

Even though they might seem scary, job interviews are a chance for you to get to know a potential employer and for them to get to know you. However, it is easy for the pressure of the situation to get the better of us and to make simple mistakes.

The Nightmare Interview presented an interview that went horribly wrong for SO many reasons! From lying (the interviewee, Louise saved a woman’s life when an entire theatre was burning down, on her own. Apparently.) to stalking the interviewer on social media and not to mention being late, swearing and constantly looking at her phone!

The event participants then had the opportunity to support the characters involved to make improvements even had a go themselves. We’ve done the nightmare job interview so that you don’t have to!

One top piece of advice from the REP – always, ALWAYS have interview questions lined up. It’s even better if you have questions that lead from one to another as you will be demonstrating the kind of skills that people are looking for – planning, preparation, thoughtfulness and confidence.

WWW:  Twitter: @BirminghamRep

Questions & Answers

Following on from all of the inspiring insights we opened up the floor to any questions that participants had:

What is the best response to the dreaded ‘tell us about one of your weaknesses’ interview question?

Panel advice: be honest, admit to failure, structure it, everybody fails, no one is perfect, FAILURE IS THE FASTEST WAY TO LEARN.

How do you manage having an online history – the who you were then Vs who you are now?

Panel advice: embrace it! It’s your history, use it to tell the story and show how you’ve developed UNLESS IT’S UNETHICAL.

What about business cards? Are they still useful?

Panel advice: Keep on top of them, act on them quickly, don’t hand them out too over enthusiastically. Wait for a point in the conversation where it seems appropriate, or hand one across when someone has given you theirs.

A great big THANK YOU to everyone who attended and took part. These events wouldn’t be the same without you. Here’s what our attendees had to say about it:

‘Really enjoyable & very informative’

‘The event was good fun and interesting and I really enjoyed meeting the other delegates’

‘I thought the panel answers were very comforting and insightful’

What was the highlight of the event for you? ‘Everything’

‘This event is great for a younger audience but also for those who are already professionals as a refresher and insight into how the industry has changed’

Open Doors is a series of events designed to help you grow your employability skills in the creative sector. Each session explores a key element of what is needed to make a strong start in the industry. We invite Creative sector professionals to lead the sessions plus provide the space for you to learn and put your skills into action and meet new people. The events are aimed at, but not limited to, 16-24 year olds who are looking to build a career in the creative sector. Foot in the Door is Creative Alliance’s programme of training designed to support home grown talent into creative, digital and marketing roles. The programme is funded by Arts Connect and Arts Council England and Creative Skillset’s Film Skills Fund, with BFI’s Film Forever National Lottery Funds.

Don’t miss out on the next two events in this series:

Foot In The Door: Open Doors presents Networks – Thursday 25 January, 6.30-8.30pm

We will be focusing on the importance of networks, the art of building meaningful relationships and how to use activate your networks as well as get the chance to network with others. Book your FREE space online:

Foot In The Door: Open Doors presents YOU – Thursday 8 February, 6.30 – 8.30pm

YOU will focus on self-confidence, mental health, inclusivity and creating a work life balance. Industry speakers will be announced soon. Space are limited. Book online:


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With thanks for Birmingham Hippodrome for hosting the event and Kate Green Photography.