- Stripe Communications
Shaun Bell is an Associate Director at creative communications agency, Stripe Communications.
He is also Chair of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Scotland where he champions diverse new talent, lifelong learning and industry best practice.
Shaun is an award-winning communicator. He received the ‘UK Outstanding Young Communicator of the Year’ accolade in 2016 and Scotland’s ‘Outstanding Young Communicator’ award in 2014. And, in 2019, Shaun became a CIPR Fellow in recognition of his contribution to the PR industry.
He graduated from Queen Margaret University in 2011 with a BA (Hons) Drama and Theatre Arts, with a specialism in Arts Journalism.
What sparked your interest in the performing arts?
My first taste of the creative industries was through the Theatre Royal in Dumfries. In my teenage years, I soaked up the spotlight as an actor, explored new ideas as a theatre director and wore a headset behind the scenes as a stage manager.
It started a lifelong passion for creativity and led me to the Drama and Theatre Arts course at QMU.
People fascinate me – how they think, what triggers their behaviour, and the things that motivate them to change. That’s what inspired me when I studied performing arts and later made me chase a career in communications. It’s all about understanding the thoughts and feelings of your audience.
What did you enjoy most about your course?
I learned from the some of the industry’s top theatre critics and directors – including Joyce McMillan, Steve Cramer and Kate Nelson.
They inspired me to think about the performing arts mirroring society – reflecting the politics, social conflict and cultural changes that affect our lives.
What are your most memorable experiences of being a QMU student?
I joined QMU in 2007 when the university moved to its new Musselburgh campus. I was there on the day the building opened and spent my first year living in Halls with the smell of fresh paint!
The friends I made then are still some of my best friends today. We bonded over late-night essay writing and ‘press night’ parties at theatres across Edinburgh and Glasgow.
What aspect of your QMU course has proved vital for your career in communications?
QMU encouraged us to challenge consensus but also refine our observational and analytical skills. These are transferrable skills, which can be applied across so many industries, and it's those skills which have been absolutely essential.
Tell us more about your career path since leaving QMU.
Just after I completed my studies, I worked as a Media Accreditation Officer with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society. Alongside this, I was Associate Director of Random ACT, an equality action theatre company.
In September 2011, I joined Stripe's 'Stars and Stripes' graduate programme as a Trainee Account Executive. Over the past 10 years, my career has progressed through a number of different roles and now I am an Associate Director.
In the last decade, I have led a number of PR and social media campaigns from IRN-BRU to COP26, John Lewis Christmas adverts, and Scottish Government campaigns ranging from COVID-19 to drink-drive limits and equal rights.
Tell us more about what your role as Associate Director at Stripe Communications involves.
I am responsible for providing senior leadership alongside overseeing account strategy and delivery. This includes recruitment and on-boarding, company-wide evaluation services and Stripe's in-house training programme.
What advice would you give to students and new graduates starting out?
Use QMU’s amazing alumni network to get work experience before you graduate. Having interesting work placements or internships really helps you stand out when it comes to applying for graduate jobs.
QMU graduates are usually happy to help and, whatever industries you’re interested in pursuing, there’s usually someone a few years ahead of you who can offer advice and introduce you to useful people. That’s how I got my first job in communications.