EXPERTS: meet Debra Coleman, the VFX professional turned Business and Personal Coach

The 3D Fall Series of The Quebec Film and Television Council is now available to all EXPERTS users! Targeting all professionals of creative industries, these sessions focus on Diversity and Inclusion, Dialogue and Employee Development within the creative industries. Among them is Debra Coleman’s workshop “Work/Life Balance and Time-Management Techniques in a project-based industry: How to Find a Better Balance for Yourself and Your Team”, available until December 31, 2021.

Three questions to Debra Coleman

SYNTHÈSE: In terms of work-life balance, what are the specific challenges met by project-based industries?

Debra Coleman: Project-based, creative industries experience a combination of both a “final-push-for-delivery” mentality and the indeterminate nature of creative notes and changes. In fact, projects often experience continuous “final-push” requests –  in the case of multiple trailer cuts and audience temperature screenings, for example – even before nearing the actual final delivery date. In addition to this, studios and freelance artists alike find themselves constantly moving from one project delivery to the next, consequently they are almost always in this state of “final push” without much let-up! This impacts work-life balance, as work is almost invariably perceived to be urgent-important and is therefore given priority.

In your opinion, can someone really be ambitious about his/her career advancement, while simultaneously seeking a healthy work-life balance?

Yes. In my opinion, leaders lead by example, so they should be setting the example of managing a healthy work-life balance. In fact, I would say it is their responsibility to do so.

Please tell us about the main work-life challenges that you had to overcome throughout your career.

Firstly, learning to manage the hours I worked as a junior-progressing-to-senior compositor; then learning to become more disciplined with this once I became a parent; then learning to manage the stress (rather than the hours) once I reached a position of responsibility as Head of Department. Overall, I would say that the key things are: having a strong support network outside of work (particularly regarding childcare), having a good relationship with a supportive line manager (or mentor) within the business, and remembering to look after your own health – for me, this means yoga, running and getting enough sleep.

I discover Debra Coleman’s workshop on EXPERTS