James Chapman is a Senior Account Manager on the Organic Performance team at Wavemaker. Having graduated as an electronic engineer, his career began as a recruitment consultant before the world of SEO and digital marketing whisked him away. Over the past 10 years he has worked in agencies around the north west for clients in a range of b2b and b2c sectors.
James joined Wavemaker in 2019 where he helps to develop and deliver SEO strategy for some brands you will have heard of. He also talks too much about food and owns far too many records, including a suspicious amount of Muppets albums.
How did you get in to marketing?
Like many people I fell into it, I guess! Growing up I was always sat in front of a computer creating, coding or playing something. This was during the days when an Amiga was the home computer of choice (which is dating me somewhat!).
Before SEO was a thing, I was making a website (about the kids TV show Rainbow, if you must know – Geoffrey said he loved it) and taking an interest in their ranking position which I suppose foreshadowed what I do now. The nerdy analytical side of me was nurtured further when I studied electronic and computer engineering at University. This followed by a short career in recruitment where I was placing designers, developers and practitioners of this strange new thing called SEO. It resonated with my skills and interests and piqued my interest and working in the job that I was, I just happened to know who was recruiting locally – and I’m still at it 10 years later!
What is a typical day like for you?
Our team works in some of the most demanding and highly competitive verticals, so the first job of every day is checking in on performance. We take a forensic approach to technical SEO and we have bespoke dashboards in place which provide an early warning system to any potential issues. From there I’m helping to manage the workflow of tasks for our technical SEO team and the communications between Wavemaker and our client stakeholders. All of this is punctuated by far too many cups of tea than is reasonably healthy and the odd video call.
What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in the industry?
Have a mentor. As long as you are always working with someone who is much more experienced and knowledgeable than you then you will always be learning and progressing. If you find yourself getting comfortable then it’s time to move on. We have apprentices on our team who’s future careers I am hugely jealous of as the depth of experience here at Wavemaker is like none I’ve worked with previously. Everyone is so generous with their time and encouragement it’s a fabulous place to be
Who would be your dream client?
I’m a lucky boy in that I already work with clients who offer challenges that I just relish – and just as important who are lovely people to collaborate with. It’s a bit of a cheesy answer, however it’s sadly true. However, anyone who knows me would be expecting me to give you an answer which is food related. I don’t want to let my audience down so I think I would say Swizzels Matlow or McVities. Got to represent the local Stockport brands!
What is your proudest career moment to date?
A couple of years ago a colleague at a previous employer was due to speak at BrightonSEO and unfortunately had to drop out at the last minute. I was asked if I would like to give the talk on his behalf and rather than say “yes” my answer was “I don’t want to say no”, such were my nerves. So, with less than 2 weeks to prepare I spent every evening walking round my house practicing “presenting”. To add further pressure my 2 bosses were coming to watch and had kindly asked our biggest client to attend too. I had never presented at a conference before and to make my first time in front of several hundred people was honestly terrifying. On the morning of the talk I can honestly say I’ve never been so nervous about anything I’ve ever done. Thankfully my over-preparation served me well and it went better than I ever could have imagined – and what a buzz after.
The people who made that happen know who they are and I’ll forever be grateful.
Describe yourself in three words
“What’s for lunch?”
What do you like most about working at Wavemaker?
Having worked in small/medium agencies for most of my career, the thing which struck me immediately is that despite being a large agency, Wavemaker still has all the dynamic and personality of a small team. Everyone seems to know everyone and there is a real sense of camaraderie and lack of ego which is so likeable.
How employees are treated has always been such a big thing for me and that’s absolutely paramount at Wavemaker. Even before lockdown we had the flexibility and perks available to us to ensure that we had a good work life balance.
We get to work with some of the biggest brands in the world which is a wonderful challenge and immensely satisfying when everything falls into place. We’re encouraged to be the best version of ourselves every day which is a fine mantra.
And we get to see Tony Keen’s cats on webcam. What’s not to like?
5 rapid-fire questions:
Your biggest pet peeve?
Noise. I’m surprisingly irritable.
If you weren’t in the media industry, what would you be doing?
Trying to find a way to make a living playing records. Or drawing silly pictures. Or both.
Who would play you in a movie of your life?
Kathy Burke. She approves.
If you had one superpower, what would it be?
To always have the right change.
You can time travel for a day…where do you go?
That day a few weeks ago when I had a really good fish finger sandwich. Good times.
We hope you enjoyed another interesting insight into the life of a Wavemaker. Stayed tuned to read more.