With his new appointment at British Vogue as Acting Associate Publisher, Condé Nast College alumni Michiel Steur discusses his new role, a day in the life at the esteemed publication and his experience on the Vogue Foundation course.
How did you get your creative footing and what was your journey to where you are now?
Growing up I always knew I wanted to work in the creative industries. I loved reading about interior design, architecture, graphic design and fashion, but without much of an understanding of the industry, always overlooked certain, less ‘visibile’, areas within the industry. Initially I had always been into writing, and ended up creating my own website and contributing to some well-known online publications and websites of bi-annual magazines to gain experience, and it wasn’t until I was at the college and early in my career at GQ that I discovered my skill-set better suited other roles and started working in the commercial department for GQ and GQ Style as the team assistant. I stayed at GQ for a number of years, within the roles of Project Coordinator and Business Manager & Junior Retail Editor before moving to Vogue, initially starting as Special Projects & Strategy Manager, then Head of Special Projects.
What does your new appointment as Acting Associate Publisher entail?
In this role, I will be supporting our Publishing Director Vanessa Kingori in the day-to-day management of Vogue’s commercial department, while continuing to oversee British Vogue’s special projects, including events and non-standard partnerships, as well as seeking new business opportunities and overseeing business relationships with key client accounts and agencies.
What does an average day at Vogue look like?
There is no average day at Vogue and that’s what I love about it! On some days I am in back-to-back meetings with key clients and partners. On others, I am organising one of our large-scale celebrity parties, in creative brainstorms with our commercial team and the editorial team, or spend all day looking at spreadsheets and clearing my inbox. The most exciting thing about working at British Vogue is the fast pace and working with incredibly open-minded people who are not afraid to try new things. It means each and every day feels unexpected and exciting.
What was your experience like at CNC on the Vogue Foundation course?
I grew up in a very small town of around 5,000 citizens in the north of The Netherlands so the move to London, just before starting the Vogue Foundation course, felt like a big and extremely exciting step. I remember feeling so energised and driven starting the course. I felt immediately inspired by meeting all other students from all over the world and the friendly faculty. The thing I loved most about the College was the fast pace and that it focuses on so many areas of the industry. Regardless of where you’re headed, learning about as many areas within the industry as possible will be hugely valuable for the rest of your career.
What guidance would you give to students in preparation for the new year and when looking for careers?
Keep an open mind as to where you’re headed. This industry moves at an incredibly fast pace so it’s important to be able to adapt quickly. Know that there are many ways to get to where you want to be, my career path to date hasn’t been standard by any means, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Slightly cliché, but I do genuinely believe you should always be the hardest working person in the room. Surround yourself by people with different views and skills as you will learn most from them.
When it comes to your course work, know that a great portfolio by the end of it will be a really strong asset when you start interviewing. Think strategically about the direction you take for each project. Stay close to what you love and what you’re good at, but I would encourage you to think about how to make your course work be the most diverse reflection of your skill-set as possible. Connect with as many industry professionals as you can during your studies. If you’ve attended a talk or class, follow up with a message and let them know what you enjoyed and learnt from them. Ask for advice or help with something and stay connected via professional platforms. I have always found that if you show a genuine interest and are respectful, people are generally really happy to help the next generation of talent.
What did you learn about yourself and your work this year?
I don’t believe I have ever learnt as much in a year as I have in 2020, it’s certainly been a year like no other. It has been a challenging year for the industry, which requires an even more strategic approach. I have really enjoyed pivoting existing ideas and concepts into new formats as well as coming up with completely new ideas at a faster pace than ever before.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Not to forget about my personal life. As much as I’m very driven and career-focused and have always been this way, I learnt a good work-life balance is most important, both for your own personal happiness, but also to be most productive at work.
Profile image courtesy of Chloé Leenheer