My Working Day – Melanie Llewellyn – Curator of the Getty Images Archive

My Working Day
Credit: Peter Dench/Getty Images

As the leader of a company, you are there to set an example, to lead and inspire a team of individuals to achieve a series of business goals. But, how do these business leaders go about their daily routine?

Business Leader spoke to Melanie Llewellyn – Curator of the Getty Images Archive – about her working day.

What time do you usually wake up?

Around 7:30, unless my cat has other ideas.

What do you typically have for breakfast?

It changes with the season, usually dark chocolate stirred into porridge in the winter, while I make the most of fresh fruit in the summer, eaten with yogurt and granola. At the end of a long week, I pick up a rewarding pastry on my way into the Archive.

What is the rest of your morning routine before you start work? 

I always start the day with a cup of tea in bed, the Today Programme on Radio 4, and catch up on any messages between friends and family.

What is the first thing you do at the start of your working day?

I tend to check emails while still at home and en route, to ensure anything pressing is seen to first – usually provenance queries, curation requests, or collections knowledge that can help my colleagues move forward in other areas of the business. Once at my desk, I like to see what’s new on gettyimages.com.

How do you prioritise your day’s work?

After those enquiries are dealt with, visitors usually shape my day – clients looking to tell or frame their story in archival content, student groups, scholars, and journalists too. Accessibility is really important to us, so I host regular tours, or else meet with external curators and help them navigate the collections as part of our museum loans programme. The Archive is a formidable resource – we look after 80 million images on paper, glass and film, from the 17th century through to the 1990s. It’s the Cloud made analogue!

I manage a team of three librarians and the Archive conservator, so next make sure that they have everything they need and that there is a clear strategy for collections management and preservation. Between them, they have decades of experience, so together we try to keep the balance right between support and autonomy, collaboration and empowerment.

With social media so visible and instant, it’s also crucial that a certain momentum is maintained there. I post to the @gettyarchive Instagram handle daily and programme any archival content on @gettyimages.

With any time I have left over, I like to be in the files. There is a lot of cataloguing and attribution work to be done, and always a great demand for rarely-seen content.

Do you plan meetings or are they are a waste of time?

It all depends. I disagree with a meeting for a meeting’s sake, but an inclusive and focused conversation can be productive and invigorating. A chat in person can accomplish so much more than an endless email chain. I meet with my team individually every 1-2 weeks, depending on how much we’ve spoken in between. If collective decisions or introductions are required then absolutely, a meeting is a great way to establish rapport and do away with ambiguity. 

Do you have a working lunch or is it good to take a break?

A working lunch – means more time in the files! With so much more to be discovered, I only wish I had more time.

When does your working day finish?

Between half six and seven, earlier if there is an opening or event to attend. 

How do you prepare for the next day’s work?

I make a list in order of priority, not getting disheartened if those tasks at the end of the list carry through to the day after. They will shuffle up and get done when time allows. I’ve had to learn that you can’t do everything at once, and that your day will be interrupted.

What’s your favourite piece of technology? 

The inversion facility on the iPhone – allows me to quickly view a negative as a positive image when in the files.

How do you switch off? 

A drink with my husband in our local – reminds me of all the life going on that has nothing to do with work. Otherwise, a good book or The Simpsons usually does it.

Best piece of advice you have ever received?

Not so much advice, but one of the leadership principles we have here at Getty Images has been useful in all sorts of situations, personal and professional – We collectively bring solutions. I try and not present a challenge without considering how it might be remedied or overcome. Be constructive, helpful. Otherwise, something about good manners costing nothing.

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