Leeds Arts University & Powerhouse
Rich White: Co-Founder and Photography Director
Powerhouse was established in June 1999 by myself and in 2002, along with my 2 co-founders, we had an ambition to create an environment where we would enjoy coming to work, and where we could create fabulous digital content for our clients. Over the last 20 years we have grown into one of the UK’s largest independent full-service photography and video production companies.
I have had great working relationships with Higher Education over the last few years and in particular with Leeds Arts University. Recognising that we have a wealth of creative talent on our doorstep I have always been keen to engage with students who are enthusiastic about photography and creative arts.
I was first approached by the Careers team at Leeds Arts and have since presented a number of talks and workshops on the subjects of freelancing, the creative sector and what employers expect from graduates. The most recent talk I did via Google Meet was about how Powerhouse recruits and specifically what we look for in future employees and freelancers.
The process is very straight forward and contact from the team is always very good. They always explain what is required from me and I never feel under prepared, thanks to their help.
I have always enjoyed the opportunity to get involved with students. Initially standing in front of them in a lecture theatre was quite frightening but the more I have done it, the more I have enjoyed it.
Leeds has a vibrant creative sector and I think there will be an increase in demand for talent so businesses need to do all they can to ensure that the young people crafting their creative skills in universities are supported with real life experiences and an awareness of opportunities in the sector. We launched our own academy back in 2017 for fresh talent to gain hands-on experience and I realised how incredibly key it is, that as a business, we help young people to succeed in our sector. A lot of traditional skills are being replaced by AI, but creativity is something that simply can’t be superseded.
As employers, we all need to step up and fly the flag for Leeds, by creating opportunities across the creative sector. Even small companies, who don’t have the resource to offer work placements, can help by providing talks or mentoring students.
The most obvious benefit to us is that Powerhouse has recruited both a permanent member of staff and freelancers over the last couple of years based on the engagement I have had with the students at LAU.
The other not so obvious benefit is that I have thoroughly enjoyed talking to the students, reviewing their creative work and hearing their stories of what they love doing and what they want to do in the future. It gives you a real thrill to be able to ‘give back’ and hopefully inspire the next generation. For example, I am currently exchanging emails with two or three very talented students following my recent presentation and who knows what might follow from that?
I think it’s a great way for creative businesses like ours to “give a bit back” and I would highly recommend it to others. Finding and nurturing new talent is such an essential part of keeping our industry alive, and what better way to do it than form a link with a great hub of young creative energy. My advice to other businesses thinking about getting involved with students is – grab the opportunity and enjoy it! Remember too that it’s your chance to sell your company to the students and potentially make contact with future employees!