Stephen Frater, Digital and Board Director
The secret lives of the people behind the Delineo brand.
As part of our series of interviews with staff members, Stephen Frater, Digital and Board Director, takes to the couch and tells us about his career and life both inside and outside of Delineo.
Stephen, you head up the digital team as well as being a board director. Can you tell me something about your role here?
I am responsible for the overall strategy and digital direction for the agency, ie the services we provide and being ultimately responsible for the staff that provide them. Those services being website and application development, search engine marketing, and social media marketing.
I also provide digital project management experience and work on the information architecture and usability side of new projects, basically overall web strategy and planning, which means I tend to work closely with the development side of the department.
Am I right in thinking you have project management qualifications?
Yes, I’m a PRINCE2 Practitioner and hold a Post Graduate Diploma in Project Management.
How did you get in to digital?
I didn’t intend to. I actually thought I was embarking on a career in football! In 1995 I got a job working on the official FA Carling Premiership website as a Content Editor, just a week after it launched, managing the content for all 20 Premier League clubs. I uploaded all the live scores as they happened and it was one of the biggest websites in the country at the time, even pre-dating Google, just as Yahoo come to the UK. The site had fifteen million page views a month across over 200 countries worldwide, it was an amazing apprenticeship in user engagement and content management.
This sounds like a dream job.
Yes, at the time I couldn’t believe my luck!
What happened next?
I witnessed, first hand, a period of evolution in how digital agencies came about! We thought we could see a model built around building and owning websites and we had to figure out how to monetise this, which we thought would come from advertising revenues. The agency was very small at this time. We basically made it up as we went along. We had no job descriptions, no business model to follow and we were evolving and developing all the time, learning as we went along. Through the first dot com boom the agency rapidly grew from seven to thirty staff, but unfortunately, the bubble burst and I had the bad experience of having to make good people redundant. I realised we couldn’t just keep on making it up as we went along so decided to investigate project management training, I could see how critical this would be to our success. This proved hard to find in terms of digital, as at the time all the formal project management training was geared towards things like the NHS or building trade, but it was good mixing with people and finding out that most of our problems were mostly the same!
How did the rest of your career take shape?
Having started at the beginning of a new industry I have pretty much always been the ‘number two’ in any business I have worked at, being involved in the structure of the business and decision making. Apart from a brief spell as a contractor which was refreshing and gave me great exposure to how other agencies work, I built up and owned my own set of clients and realised that even small clients have the same demands and needs as the larger ones I was used to dealing with. It did remind me that bigger, more challenging, projects are actually more fun.
So, how did you arrive here at Delineo?
I had an itch to get back in to a big agency and when I met with Nick in 2012, he presented a perfect challenge to oversee the growth of Search and Social, re-define the development offering and bring in fresh talent whilst retaining some brilliant team members.
When you’re not here, under the arches, how do you like to spend your time?
I am a Manchester United season ticket holder sitting next to my wife. Despite the whole Moyes debacle I went to every home game last season! I have also taken part in every Great Manchester Run since it started in 2003 and have competed in most of the Wilmslow Half Marathons in the last 7 years. I am also a keen amateur Astronomer, having just returned from a Dark Skies Park in Scotland which was brilliant, despite the midges! We got lucky and had a cloudless midnight sky which was awesome.
One day I hope to be an artisan cheesemaker. I’ve been on a course and can make a mean soft cheese... but I think it will be a while before you will be visiting me in my little cheese shop!