Zara Weston | Motability Operations

Zara Weston | Motability Operations

Meet Zara Weston, a Creative Producer with over 16 years of graphic design expertise. From the serene landscapes of Somerset to the bustling streets of London and back to the South-West, her journey reflects a passion for precision and creativity.

With a childhood filled with art and creativity, led her to pursue graphic design at Bridgwater College and later at the University of the Arts London. Her love for detail and precision guided her towards a career in print design, where she flourished and eventually became a Creative Lead at Motability Operations.

But Zara’s path wasn’t without its challenges. As a young woman navigating the corporate world, she learned the importance of self-belief and resilience. Now, as a mentor to young designers, she imparts the wisdom gained from her own journey, encouraging others to pursue their passions with determination and perseverance.

Beyond her career, Zara finds solace in the great outdoors, indulging her love for running and CrossFit. With her two beloved dogs by her side, she embraces life’s challenges with a mantra that has guided her every step of the way: trust your instincts.

Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today, Zara, Can we start by you telling us about your background and what inspired you to start a career in Graphic Design?

My name is Zara Weston. I am a Creative Producer and specialist with over 16 years industry experience. I trained in graphic design at Bridgwater College in Somerset as well as completing two degrees in graphic design at the University of the Arts London. I lived and developed my career in London for 14 years, then relocated back to the South-West to run a design agency in Bristol 5 years ago. 
 
I have always been creative as far back as I can remember, as a child I loved art, painting, drawing you name it - at primary and secondary school I always excelled in this area. I was a very quiet and reserved individual when I was younger and I found I could truly express myself in art. I transitioned to Graphic Design at college when I had two paths to decide on: that on fine art and graphic design. My work has always been detailed orientated and neat, I felt more drawn to the opportunity of Graphic Design – I loved learning the Adobe programmes and experimenting with print. I quickly became passionate in print design and this was the path I took through to university.  
 

What is your current role? 

Creative Lead at Motability Operations. 

You moved from a small town in Somerset to London at only 18 years old, big change, what did you learn from that life move at such a young age?

When I think back now I think I must have been crazy! I have always been hugely ambitious – the sky is the limit in terms of what we can achieve in life. I had thought about moving to London as a teenager for a while, the life and spirit of the city very much appealed to me – there was a bus that used to go from my local Asda there and I would always go up to visit. When I applied for University, I went straight there for my interview and just thought: ‘this is it’. 
 
Moving there fully was a scary and thrilling experience – I loved the freedom and the opportunity to discover who I was as a person. I learnt that if you don’t go after what you want, you will never have it – if you never ask the answer is always no. I grew in confidence and learnt to speak up for myself in what can be a harsh environment. 

Moving home, working in London at such a young age, takes a lot of self-belief, what would you say to someone whose in a similar position to you in 2024?

I would say that even against all odds if you want a career in any subject enough it will be yours. You must be true to yourself and belief in yourself because you are the only person that can do it. 

As a female Designer, have you faced any unique challenges in your career? How have you overcome them? 

I graduated at 21 and went head first into the industry, one challenge I had was that I was always the youngest and least experienced person in the room no matter the qualifications I had. I learnt to overcome that by reminding myself of where I was at, always asking questions and working hard to learn what I needed to learn to get to where I want to be. There is real value in hard work and graft, you could be the most gifted person but if you are unwilling to work hard you won’t progress. 

You started your life working with cooperate clients, what did you learn from being a young female in those sorts of environments?

The corporate world can be tough, especially in London. I have sat in many large board meetings being the only female in the room – I have learnt the importance of learning to stand on my own two feet, believe in myself and skillset along with trying not to worry about what people think of me. Being confident in my own skin has taken time, but I have always been extremely headstrong and have used this as a tool to get me to where I am today.  

You have led design teams, How do you use your experience to support and guide people who may struggle with self belief?

I am quite an emotional and passionate person, which I struggled with up against challenges early on in my career. But now I believe it makes me a good leader and able to connect with people on a deeper level – I am always interested to understand the person first, what do they want to achieve, what makes them tick – who are they as an individual. I understand from experience the struggle with self-belief, sometimes it’s about simply not giving up, putting one foot in front of the other and showing up for yourself. 

You have helped teach young designers at colleges over the last 10 years, what advice would you give to someone first starting out in Graphic Design?

To go for it! A career in graphic design is truly rewarding and you will never work another day in your life if you love what you do. The first five years in the industry can be tough, you have got to really want to be a designer to be successful – perseverance is critical. 

What do you do outside of work?

I am a keen runner and love the outdoors – I have run marathons in many different countries and raised thousands for charity from doing a million bake sales. Since I moved back to Somerset, I have been getting more into trial running – I love a challenge. I also took up CrossFit two years ago and not looked back, if I can manage to do a hand-stand at 5.30am in the morning then I can do anything. 
 
Other than that, I have two gorgeous dogs (one golden retriever and one black lab) and you can often find me out in the country walking them. 

Finally, do you have a mantra you live by?

I would always say go with your gut feeling because it is usually right.

Interviewed by George Booth 

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