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Insights What’s it like to be a graphic designer at AtkinsRéalis?

When most people hear AtkinsRéalis, they think of engineering and construction. But did you know that we have a vibrant Creative Design practice? It’s a diverse global team of more than 80 people that exists to help our clients tell their projects’ stories in extraordinary ways.

Our creatives can deliver just about anything. From branding and campaigns to 3D visualization, events and experience workshops to motion graphics and film, virtual and augmented reality to prototype and MVP development.

Meet Abby Hellestoe, who started at Creative Design in 2020 as a middle-weight graphic designer. She's now an upper middle-weight, which she attributes "to the support and encouragement of the team." We recently spoke to her about her role and how she keeps the creative juices flowing #InsideAtkinsRéalis.

Photo of Abby smiling towards the camera

What do you do at Creative Design?

I come up with visual concepts to communicate ideas in an inspiring way. I do this for print, events, web, virtual reality or motion. I love my job, it offers great scope for creativity, and I get to work on many different types of global projects. 

“My favourite project so far has been creating a cyber awareness gameshow for the Ministry of Defence.”  This new exercise aimed to test personnel’s level of cyber security understanding using gameplay. With our growing reliance on technology, and the sophistication and severity of cyber attacks increasing all the time, it is imperative people are engaged through novel and fun ways of learning so they can recognise and respond to cyber incidents appropriately. It was challenging and fun, and we had to think on our feet, adapting to the client's stringent requirements. In the end, we achieved some awesome results, producing a product that blew them away. The collaboration across the project team was crucial to making this project so great.

What have you learnt at AtkinsRéalis that will be invaluable to your future? 

I’ve benefitted most at Creative Design by learning to become a better designer and communicate my thoughts in new ways. I have also discovered that we all constantly evolve. So, by leaning into the rest of the team, we can expand on our expertise and see daily growth together. I'm most proud of my development over the last two years. Through various projects and experiences, I've been able to identify the parts of design that I really love and focus on building those areas through new and diverse projects.

How do you keep your creative fire ignited?

Like anything in life, being creative can feel challenging at times. But the inspiration for new ideas lurks around almost every corner. My greatest passion outside of work is really just being outdoors, soaking up the sun and enjoying nature's small pleasures. So, wherever I go, I try to be observant. I always carry a notebook, ready to scribble anything that sets sparks flying. 

At work, I push myself a bit further by jolting my thinking. I find something that may seem completely irrelevant and build a narrative around it. For example, I could flip through a dictionary and find random words, mashing them together to see what ideas come from them. This opens my eyes to the endless possibilities of different executions and creative exploration.

graphic collage of previous graphic design work

What do you like most about working at AtkinsRéalis in Creative Design?

"Like" would be an understatement – I love the people we get to work with and the freedom we have to grow into whatever type of designer we choose to be. I enjoy that the organization embraces hybrid working, and we can buy more vacation days. But, most of all, I appreciate the trust that we all get as creatives in our roles!

How does the team support and encourage you?

The team is dynamic and fun-loving, and my fellow creatives inspire me. Each person brings something unique to the table, making us strong as a unit. We can call anyone up any time to ask for guidance and support.

We're also comfortable enough to positively challenge each other and open ourselves up to new ways of thinking. Sometimes I start conversations inviting team members to look at stuff I’ve done. “What do you think of my work? How would you have approached it?”

What advice would you give to junior designers who are growing their careers?

Be confident in your abilities. Said best by Maya Angelou, "You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have." Believe in yourself and your abilities enough to take risks. By giving yourself the time to have many ideas around the brief, you can lead with a big, even outlandish idea and have others waiting in the safety net. Understand that you got to where you are based on your talents and have faith in the power of pushing the boundaries. To sum it all up: Be bold, take risks, listen, observe, ask questions, and go beyond the expected.

How would you like to work in a team with colleagues as talented as you? Discover more about life at AtkinsRéalis and search our live creative design job vacancies.