You probably know us for our brilliant client work, but who are the brave souls behind it all? 

Every month we profile a member of our team so that you can find out more about us!

#3 in the spotlight: Neil Young

Meet Neil Young, who heads up firstlight’s digital practice. Neil has brilliant corporate and consumer experience spanning influencer marketing, digital strategy, creative and paid. 

Tell us about your career to date?

After university I talked my way into an editorial position at one of New Zealand’s leading magazines for teenagers. It was called Tearaway and was based in Whanganui, a rainy little place that straddles a wide brown river. I moved there for the job and basically learnt how to be a journalist and editor (belated apologies to everyone I worked with).

I didn’t exactly cover myself in glory – I remember frequently forgetting to press record on my Dictaphone when interviewing irritable famous people – but from there I started freelancing as a writer for various other magazines. 50 cents a word! With a few 800-word features under my belt, it wasn’t long before I’d accumulated enough to move to London, after first selling all my belongings.

After several minor detours, such as a stint as a legal secretary at a law firm in the City, who hired me solely due to my ferociously fast typing speed, honed over several years of making up quotes from irritable famous people on deadline, I worked in-house at a number of uniquely British institutions, including Peabody, Girlguiding UK and the Bat Conservation Trust. Then social media and the smartphone began to turn the world upside-down, and I moved agency-side.

That’s part one of my riveting story. I’ll tell you the rest if you buy me two strong coffees.   

What do you like about working here?

It’s just a great group of caring, creative, very talented people.  

What does a typical day at work look like for you?

My role at firstlight is to plug the glorious, chaotic world of digital into our consultancy. As a catch-all, “digital” somewhat inadequately encompasses content, platforms and technology, and the way these reflect and amplify humans, with all our quirks, inventiveness, and inconsistencies. On any given day, you’ll find me working on and thinking about strategy, words, design, and delivery. And yes, I probably drink too much coffee. 

Tell us about a campaign that you’ve worked on that you are particularly proud of? 

I’m really proud of the work we’ve done for the Climate Crisis Advisory Group. What a collective. And what a firstlight team. And there’s so much more to do! That’s why, if you’re also interested in “digital”, you should join us. Get in touch, eh.  

And outside of work, where can we find you?  

As anyone who follows me on Twitter knows, I am tediously passionate about cycling, particularly cycling in London. I also like trying to make music. I’ve got feet of clay as a musician but the act of making something new, no matter how slowly and ineptly, is oddly pleasing. And I also have my hands full bringing up my two kids, Kiwa and Ngaire.  

What is the last book you read? And what are you listening to currently? 

I’m reading Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder, recommended by the academic and journalist Zeynep Tufekci. It’s utterly harrowing but, as she suggests, is important for understanding post-WWII Europe. I also just finished reading the brilliant Ministry For The Future by Kim Stanley Robinson who joined one of CCAG’s monthly live roundtables.

Music-wise, I’m really liking the crumbling slabs of electro-distortion and icy harmonies of Low’s latest album HEY WHAT.    

Want to have a chat?

We’d love to hear from you.

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