Kem is head of talent management at a company in Los Angeles. She tells us how she got to where she is — and why she believes wisdom gained from experience is more important than textbooks.
Name: Kem Anyanwu
Company: Inspired Entertainment
Job role: Head of talent management
Length of time in role: One year
BTEC certificate in performing arts
1. What was your very first job?
I was 15 years old and had just completed my work experience at HMV, packaging CDs in shrink wrap before sending them to the shop floor for sale. It wasn’t glamorous, and it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do in entertainment, but it gave me a sense of value. I was more than a student, I was a student with responsibilities and hope. I decided to apply for a part-time job and ended up working weekends by my 16th birthday.
I learned the value of customer service and time management skills which are still two very important parts of a successful business. I also learned, when you can sell, you will never be without: whatever you do, sales and marketing plays an important part.
2. What did you want to do when you were at school?
I wanted to be a dancer first.
3. How did you find out about the industry?
If you want something enough, you will do your research in that field. I had to ask a lot of questions and do a lot of travelling.
4. How did you get to where you are today?
I spent 20 years in sales and marketing. I took sales jobs in the UK, Spain, Indonesia and America. I learned to communicate with all people about all things; I was always a self starter. Before going into talent management, I was consulting with my own company Kemystery for years, casting and building visions for other companies and individuals.
My value in people and desire to see them succeed, coupled with my business experience and love for entertainment, led me organically to this place. I definitely believe my greatest leadership skill that has brought me to where I am today is my ability to serve others.
5. What is a typical day like?
I create marketing strategies for global brands that are looking to have a greater positive impact on culture. These strategies include producing shows and collaborating with other talent/brands who share the same objectives.
I take meetings with casting directors and network executives seeking for opportunities for the talent I represent. I submit talent for auditions and don’t just wait for opportunities, but create them.
6. What’s the best thing about your job?
I get satisfaction helping people achieve their dreams. My job also involves travel and meeting new people which I love.
7. What is the most challenging thing about your job?
It’s so out of the box I don’t always have a system to follow of how things are done. I’m creating new systems everyday. Sometimes you’re looking for a system that doesn’t exist and it’s my job to create it.
8. What advice do you have for people who want to do what you do?
Meet people who can give you real life advice. Find a mentor. In entertainment, there’s no one way to do things, but knowledge is power, and wisdom will bring you more insight than textbooks. When managing people it’s important to understand the business as well as the creative. Get work experience or an internship at a management agency so you can know what to expect. It will help you cast vision of what you would do in that position.
9. What’s the number-one most important transferable skill needed for your job?
Communication is key in this role. An understanding of sales and marketing, as you’re selling people and marketing their vision. Patience and perseverance should be practiced daily!
10. How did you develop your confidence at work?
My confidence comes from my faith. But I’ve learned to be bold, whether I’m right or wrong, there is always grace. Humility is key. Every error is a teachable moment to be great again. I will never be perfect but I can be great.
11. What do you wish you’d known before starting your career?
Success is not about how I want to help me, it about how I plan to help others. As a former foster youth, I wanted to be talent [a star / celebrity] so I could be affirmed and accepted, which is not a healthy reason to be talent. I eventually learned that careers in entertainment aren't just talent. There are so many important roles that no one told me about. They involve travel, great pay and bringing satisfaction to a true creative. If you don’t see a position, work on creating it!
12. Where would you like to be in five years?
Five years is a long time. I’d like to serve global leaders of multiple countries with my strategies. A strong leader doesn’t have lots of followers they serve leaders. Building others has built me to be the person I am today.