We’re thrilled to be celebrating 10 years in the business with our Associate Director, Jake Parkin. As part of this, we wanted to delve into Jake’s experience so far, not only at Affari, but throughout his life. Our Managing Director also sums up his gratitude for and thoughts on his right-hand-man.

“Jake’s been with us from quite early on in the company’s journey, he joined us in our first year as Affari Media. He often jokes, “I’ve been here too long”, but we all know he loves it. It’s wild to think it’s been ten years, ten years getting to know someone, and Jake is definitely someone you should get to know.

“He’s a straight-laced character, and someone I can lean on in an hour of need both at work and in my personal life. I regularly talk about “foundations”, and Jake is undoubtedly part of those – but still a pain in the arse at times! 

“For his ten years of service to Affari, I wanted to get him a special gift like many businesses do. The problem is he’s a challenging person to buy for, and I wanted it to be something that would stand the test of time, like Jake’s stubbornness and sharp wit – ha! As Jake loves to cook and is always the first to do one better in the kitchen, I thought he needed a proper kitchen knife instead of one from Wilkos. 

“So we are off to Suffolk to visit Red Five Forge, where we will make our own knives. I couldn’t let him do it on his own… No way is he having a better knife than me! It’s a great way to celebrate ten years but also an excellent opportunity to spend some time away with Jake – we may even sneak a cheeky cider in too. Thanks for everything, Jake!”

– from Ben Hankin, Managing Director

Something I’ve admired about my colleagues since I began working with Affari is how passionate every single one of them is about what they do. Jokes, lessons, and stories are always shared in meetings, and hopefully the following interview will give you a taste of Jake’s sense of humour, experience, and expertise.

What are you passionate about? What drives you?

It’s a hard question. Do you go down the route of trying to make yourself look good and like a warrior for the world? Or do you be realistic and show insight into your more selfish nature? 

One thing I’m passionate about is progression – in whatever form that takes. Whether it’s me personally doing a good job, the company progressing and getting to a certain point, or members of the team progressing further with their careers and goals. I think I start to get a bit wound up and demotivated from stagnation. In terms of passion, for me it’s about achieving the most that’s possible, but not necessarily just from a personal point of view. 

A work-life balance is key. Having the freedom in terms of my private life, and spending time with my family and friends, plays a major role in my drive to succeed. I love to travel, but my biggest passion is cooking. That’s my recreation time. My dad’s side of the family is Punjabi, but my mum’s side grew up in South Africa so I enjoy making and eating a variety of cuisines and fusions.

2013 – A year into Jake’s employment at Affari. The small office under the stairs at Old Shipstone’s Brewery begins to take it’s toll!

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals?

I’ve worked in a lot of jobs where you do the job in hand and that’s it – you don’t hear about what’s come of it or get much feedback. Basically paper-pushing. With this job I get to see the difference our work is making.

I work with clients on briefs to make sure their KPIs are reached, and once they’re happy enough to give the project to us I’m motivated to push it to the next level. It’s stagnation which usually brings me down. I hate the idea of just staying in the same spot and not knowing how to move forward. The motivation comes from me being able to see things actually happening in real time, whether it’s from a project perspective or the development of the team.

How did you get to this point in your career? How did you grow into your role?

I was a failed designer. I had a bit of a bad streak. I’d always been design-focused, and to be fair I can still pull out a nice bit of creative work, but I didn’t do well in school and I never even thought about university. 

My friends started talking about UCAS points in 2010, and I had no clue or care about what they meant. I left school and college with what I’d say were practical design skills. I knew how to use certain sets of software which were popular and available at the time. I worked freelance in web development and graphic design. 

I’ve worked for the local council and in other administrative roles like office management. During the fallout from the 2007-2008 financial crash I got a voicemail from my manager, who I’d only ever met twice in the 18 months I’d been working for the department at the time, telling me not to bother coming in the next day. They could only keep on the senior members of staff. 

I got asked to return to where I used to work as there was an opportunity to be interviewed for various positions at multiple companies. There were several roles I was considering until I came across Affari Media. They hadn’t been on my radar, but they needed more support on the administrative side. I was also considering an electrician apprenticeship, but I got a call from Affari and they said I could start work the next day so that’s what I did. I started off working as the Personal Assistant to the Director.

2015 Christmas Party – The team was growing and we moved into a bigger office. We had been working with global tech clients for a couple of years at this point.
2018 – This was the largest the team had ever been, with 20 members of staff. We had a whole floor as an office, and did a ‘meet the team’ photoshoot.

If you could trade places with any other member of the team for a day, who would it be and why?

I think it’d have to be Marshy. The reason I say, is because I think David’s the greatest human being on planet Earth! It’s the stories he comes out with. He’s just always laughing, always telling a story. David and I have a lot in common. We’re very much into the same era of music and a common appreciation of British comedies is a massive thing for us. We’re both Notts County supporters as well, which is hard to come by these days.

David worked in production at the BBC for years, some of the tales he has to tell are brilliant, and he hasn’t got an egotistical bone in his body. Sometimes I think people just don’t understand how good he is at what he does. I head up project management for instance, David’s got double the experience that I have within the field. He’s just really happy with what he does all the time, and he’s a true professional. I’d swap places with David for the life experience.

What have been your favourite projects with Affari?

The RM Education project because I was the lead on the client relationship and pitching for the project. What we achieved off the back of that – the actual production of it – was great. The team did really well in executing it, and the client was very happy with the results.

There’s a few others we’ve done where I’ve done a lot of the planning. One of the first big projects we ever did with Fujitsu was done in Prezi, which at the time was a popular presentation software. I got a call from my client at Fujitsu, and this was the first client we had outside of our usual client base at this time. I was phoned up by the client and they just said they’d been asked to create this pitch deck for Fujitsu and had a month to get this thing together and it was really important. 

We sat down and mapped this huge branching story out to plan how we were going to deliver the project and do it within Prezi. We basically shut down Affari for just over three weeks, and got in extra people because it was our first big job. We’d never been in this position before with a fantastic opportunity to show Affari’s full capability at such a high level with such a short turnaround. We were really able to sink our teeth into this project, and so those have probably been my favourites.

2021 – Photo from when Affari Media won the Excellence in Innovation Award from the East Midlands Chamber for our interactive video and VR solutions.

What would you say sets Affari apart from its competitors?

Quality of production is one thing. I’ve got friends at other agencies across the UK, and I’ll be honest, even though their agencies are huge and some of them are quite well known, their quality just isn’t the same. 

We get a lot of agencies who come to us to assist with certain things because they know we are particularly good at what we do. There’s not many agencies out there who can turn around what we do in terms of quality in the timeframe that we do it in. That’s a real selling point. As a boutique agency, we’ve always been smart in what we do, but it’s funny sometimes to realise how well known we are by who we would perceive to be the big competition.

What changes would you like to bring to the industry in the coming years? Are there any new ideas which excite you?

I think now there’s more of a merging of video and web. We’re creating interactive video platforms. We’re creating a lot more experiences for people to directly engage with and discover things for themselves, putting a lot more attention into gamification. That’s really where it’s going for us in the next few years. Working from home culture has changed everything. People are doing everything digitally, and through the internet. 

So we’ve got to create high quality, accessible content that actually engages audiences and pushes them to take that next step in terms of a sale for our client, or a request for more information. It’s about pushing the envelope. The good thing is we’ve got the development side of it down now, we know how to fuse video and web to create the best and most cohesive digital spaces. Now we can start to have more fun with the design and the front end to really draw people in.

2023 – From the monthly Inspire session. Ben presenting Jake with a make-your-own knife experience at Red Five Forge as a gift for 10 years in the business.

Do you think there’s still room for new startups in the industry?

There’s definitely room. I think you’ve just got to be smart about what you focus on. A lot of agencies who come to the table now will pitch as a full service agency. You’ve got to be really good and have some good contracts to make it.

It’s a lot of work keeping up a full service agency, you know. A lot of what’s been popping up recently has essentially been production teams in the more classical sense. They don’t actually touch any of the work themselves, but they’re a great project management and client executive team who have strong relationships and partnerships with other agencies.

They also give work to people like us and they’ve got good contacts within B2B or B2C. It’s a lot easier than someone coming to the table now saying we want to do X, Y, and Z because big businesses won’t just have the one agency anymore. They’ll have a roster of them for very specific things.

How do you feel about the future of the B2B marketing industry?

I’m not worried, and I don’t think anyone needs to be scared of developments in artificial intelligence, for example. There’s nothing we can do to stop it, AI has been around for some years now and it’s a natural progression. We need to adapt to the new climate, take advantage of this technology and use it for good. With AI we can increase productivity and make our lives easier.

We realised that and moved the business on. At one time, the largest part of our business was our graphic design department. AI has taken jobs from people, and it will continue to do so. You just then have to be smart about what it is you evolve yourself into. There’s going to be certain things that for however many years will be untouchable, you know? 3D animation is good for now.