Natalie Probets

Programme Manager

So, who are you and what do you do?

Hi, I’m Natalie Probets and I’m one of the Programme Managers at Isobar UK & Ireland. I’ve been in this role for just over 2 years now, joining Isobar from John Brown Media; another agency within dentsu. I’m responsible for delivering digital transformation projects and programmes for our global clients.

Tell us a bit about your background

I’ve always been interested in art and design so I knew that I wanted to work in a creative industry. I was all set to study graphic design when my Dad convinced me that ‘computers are the future’, so I found a course which combined both design and technology.

I studied Multimedia Technology and Design at Brunel University, a course which was pretty forward thinking (back in the early 00’s) because it aimed to combine elements of business studies, computer science and design; something which wasn’t really done at the time.

My degree included a year in industry, and it was this year that made me realise that I was interested in managing projects. After graduating I spent a few years working as a Project Co-ordinator before deciding that I wanted a change of scenery and I moved to Cornwall to join Cornwall Council’s graduate scheme. I found myself working in the executive office with the senior leadership team of the council and I learnt a lot about gaining buy-in, how to work around ‘red-tape’ and the importance of strategy and measuring performance.

Fast forward a few years and I decided it was time to come back to London where I went back to my digital roots. My experience working in both the digital and public sector gave me a good foundation to complete my first digital transformation programme for a prestigious membership organisation. Since then, I’ve built on that experience working for clients such as F&F, Waitrose, Natwest, Shop Direct, Pret, Pandora and more recently the Royal Yachting Association and the Malaria No More campaign.

What does your normal working day look like?

Ordinarily I log-on between 8 and 9am with a quick scan of my emails before checking in with my Project Manager and team leads to see if there is anything that needs my attention. Sometimes I’ll join the daily scrum call with my team – this is a quick check in to make sure that there are no issues blocking them from completing their work.

Day to day the pandemic hasn’t really changed much for me; I spend a lot of time on video calls working with my team, partners and clients who are based all around the world.A normal day will often involve a mix of requirements gathering workshops, status calls, team meetings and updates to senior stakeholders.

In addition to delivering programmes, I also work with our sales teams on prospective client work. I enjoy being a part of the sales process as it allows me to build a deep relationship with my clients before delivering a programme for them. I enjoy getting to stay in touch with my clients, supporting them through the whole process and it’s rewarding to see the evolution of my work.

What skills and expertise do you need to be good at your role?

People are really at the heart of my role; from the programme team, to the client and other partner organisations, so I think the most important skill is the ability to bring those individuals together in a way that helps them to match up complimentary skillsets whilst spotting any gaps.

Alongside that, the ability to communicate clearly and in plain language is key. Because I work with people with differing technical knowledge, part of my role involves conveying technical detail so it’s simple enough to be understood by everyone. I’m not a fan of jargon and acronyms so I try to use them as little as possible

Lastly, when working with technology things don’t always go to plan so having the ability to think on your feet and problem solve are good skills to have, as is the ability to keep an eye on the overall goals and priorities of the project.

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

It’s difficult to pick one thing but if I had to pick it would be the people, both within Isobar and on the client side. The nature of the work means that you always form a big team made up of people from all the different organisations that you’re working with. It’s really rewarding to create and develop that team, to work together towards a common goal. It can be high pressured work at times, but you grow and learn from each other and that makes the sense of achievement at the end even better.

Do you have any advice for someone starting out in their career?

Take some time to find out what you enjoy doing, keep learning and remember not all career paths are linear. When you start your first role, get to know the people on the reception desk or your admin team. They’re often super friendly, have a wealth of information about the business and they tend to know almost everyone, so if you’re stuck they often know who might be able to help you. 

Also don’t be afraid to ask your manager and senior leaders for opportunities to shadow them – it’s a great way to learn about the business that you’re working in and it can help you to define your own career path.