TBI Q&A: Craig Barlow

'What's your number one business tip for surviving (and thriving) in the creative industries?' "Figure out what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and who you’re doing it for. And charge accordingly. Easy right?"
You have a piece of string, a stick and some fabric. What do you make? "For the hills......," says The Big Idea project manager Craig Barlow.

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You have a piece of string, a stick and some fabric. What do you make? "For the hills......," says The Big Idea project manager Craig Barlow.

With one eye focused on the detail under the hood of the website, and the other watchful eye on the big picture - in true PM style he 'knows when to hold it and when to fold it.'

You have a piece of string, a stick and some fabric. What do you make? "For the hills......," says The Big Idea project manager Craig Barlow.

With one eye focused on the detail under the hood of the website, and the other watchful eye on the big picture - in true PM style he 'knows when to hold it and when to fold it.'

Craig was instrumental in migrating The Big Idea to its current Drupal platform, and is project managing an upgrade to the latest version of the open source content management system.

In 2013 Craig will be keeping a virtual eye on the team, while spreading the creative community with his family in Wanaka, where he’ll also be working on other top secret projects and playing on his iPad (he calls it consuming ideas and inspiration).

So before he heads off, and as part of our 10th birthday celebrations, we thought it was time Craig stepped into the spotlight and told us a bit more about himself, via the famous TBI QnA.

During what hours of the day do you feel most inspired?

Meeting time. It’s good to talk as they say, and I’ve learned from experience that if you have the right people in the mix and know how to stir the pot a bit you can come up with a great solution to any problem.

How would a good friend describe your aesthetic or style?

As someone who only shops at Little Brother and Cody once every 3 years and only goes back for more when some well worn item is well past its best.

What aspect of your creative practice gives you the biggest thrill?

It has to be seeing a project go live. As a project manager I’m in the unique position of knowing the contribution of every individual on the project team. I get to see the satisfaction they get in finally seeing all that hard work realised in something others can enjoy.

How does your environment affect your work?

I really think that to do your best creative work you need to be working in an inspiring environment. That’s why a conscious decision was made to base TBI at the BizDojo in K Rd and it’s worked a treat. Thanks Jonah, Nick and fellow Dojoers!

Do you like to look at the big picture or focus on the details?

Both. A successful project manager needs to know the big picture – the why, what, how, who & when – but can’t actually deliver those without dealing with the day-to-day detail.

What's your number one business tip for surviving (and thriving) in the creative industries?

Figure out what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and who you’re doing it for. And charge accordingly. Easy right?

Which of your projects to date has given you the most satisfaction?

The Big Idea of course! Because we deliver a huge amount, for a huge audience, on such limited resources. So donate if you’re reading this and we’ve helped you. You have no idea how much it will be appreciated and what good use every dollar will be put to supporting NZ’s creative community.

Who or what has inspired you recently?

My iPad. No really. My content consumption has gone through the roof and that’s a good thing because that’s where ideas and inspiration come from.

Tell us a bit about your background.

Auckland raised and educated, worked as publications manager for OnFilm, AdMedia, Marketing, Management and NZ Business magazines back when the web didn’t exist. OE to London where I qualified as a Project Manager at Random House UK and managed CD, web, library and e-book projects. Back to Auckland where I’m a freelance IT Project Manager.

Tell us a bit about your recent and upcoming projects.

Working with the TBI team on an upgrade to the website and other top secret projects.

Tell us about your role at The Big Idea.

I joined the team in 2007 as strictly an IT Project Manager on the website but we are a small team and by necessity we all contribute, to all projects, in all areas of the organisation, even if it’s not our core discipline. It seems to work because we all have professional and life experience beyond our own core professions.

Tell us a bit about developing on an open source/Drupal platform.

The challenge for TBI is how to put scarce resources into benefiting the community members and not be suckered into spending on technology, because that can be an endless money pit.  A free open source platform like Drupal allows us to have sophisticated and stable technology without paying for the development of it. We can pick and choose the bits of functionality we need and implement them with relative ease.

If you could go back and choose a completely different career path to the one you've chosen, what would it be?

As a student I worked on construction sites and would have been happy taking up the tools. Perhaps it’s no wonder I now build virtual products.

What place is always with you, wherever you go?

Auckland. I spent a lot of time abroad but always knew I’d come back to give my two boys the classic kiwi lifestyle. Corny, cliched, but true. 

What's the best way to listen to music, and why?

Via big old school headphones while washing a huge pile of dishes in the sink the morning after. If you’ve ever done it you’ll know just the zone you get into. 

You are given a piece of string, a stick and some fabric. What do you make?

...for the hills.

What's the best stress relief advice you've ever been given?

Don’t choose a career as an IT Project Manager.

What’s great about today?

I am younger than I’m going to be tomorrow.

What’s your big idea for 2013?

Am planning on heading to Wanaka for 2013 for a year of exciting new adventures!

* * * The Big Idea 10th Birthday Questions * * *

What does The Big Idea mean to you?

A chance to work with a team that genuinely cares about what they do and strives to make a difference to the community they serve.

What changes have you noticed in project management in the past 10 years?

An appreciation that best practice management/business practices/techniques isn’t antithesis to a great creative outcome or sustainable career and might in fact be a damn good idea.

What are some of the opportunities and challenges for the next decade?

For me it’s making the most of the collision between technology and society. Facebook, Twitter and Apple, in particular, have excited the masses again about technology which they are happy to consume and pay for. There are clever people and organisations, some right here in Auckland, making unbelievably great and useful stuff for that new audience.  But we all have a responsibility to make sure it’s a happy accident.

Written by

The Big Idea Editor

8 Nov 2012

The Big Idea Editor Cathy Aronson is a journalist, photo journalist and digital editor.

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