Mike Mara joined e3creative in a junior position. He had designed in graphics for many years, yet he had never designed for digital products. Mike was not distracted by knowing he had joined some of the UK’s best designers; if anything, he saw this as a bar to be reached, a challenge to be seized. With his natural eye for design, Mike found a sense of self-fulfilment in advancing his personal skillset and was committed to realising his full potential. Mike demonstrated a clear dedication to his craft and massively improved his creative output, quickly rising through the ranks to become a recognised and respected designer within the agency.
By acquiring books and studying in his own time, Mike developed a deep-rooted understanding of his trade and applied key design principles, such as differentiating a trend from a standard, to create timeless style-guides.
Mike was driven to ensure that his vision matched his output. He nurtured his technical execution by participating in online tutorial sessions and following training guides, subsequently gaining an in-depth knowledge and practical use of his design toolbox. He became proficient in the use of design grids, understanding flows of sitemaps, device sizes, and latest design processes relating to digital platforms.
Mike was active on social media and followed profiles of leading design influencers to gain inspiration from their use of font and colour. He was always the first to know of emerging ad campaigns, new websites and brand trademarks, and with his unique sense of humour, he would point out if something was odd, unusual or just plain funny. He was a truly infectious character, someone who could brighten any moment. People were everything to Mike. He breathed agency culture, always being one of the first in the studio and the first to offer help or stay late.
Leading up to Easter 2014, Mike had been feeling poorly. Over the weekend he was taken to hospital for emergency treatment. At the time, we had no understanding as to what the problem was or how Mike was affected and patiently waited for news. On Monday morning, Mike’s sister called to notify the agency that he had been diagnosed with bowel cancer and was seriously ill.
The news hit us like a bolt from the blue, leaving our teams scared and bewildered.
COURAGEOUS AND INSPIRATIONAL. VALUES WE LIVE BY EVERY DAY.
Mike was determined never to give his adversary too much respect and refused to bow down to defeat. He underwent extensive chemotherapy which initially gave positive results in controlling his cancer. In between sessions and appointments, Mike was adamant he would continue to work in the agency, walking in most days armed with a box of Krispy Kremes and characteristic ball of energy.
In August 2015, Mike’s fight with cancer became too much; he had done everything he could in the most brave and courageous way. Two weeks before Mike passed away, he ventured out to personally say goodbye to those who had become such an important part of his work and life.
On the morning of October 20th, 2015, Mike passed away surrounded by his mother, father, and sisters. The news of Mike’s passing affected our team in an unprecedented way. It was almost too much to handle, but together we vowed to channel our sadness into a positive, as Mike did during his most difficult times.
Mike played a pivotal role in establishing e3creative – now we pull from his legacy as a source of encouragement to others.
A time to encourage others
The Mara Foundation was established in Mike’s name to recognise his achievements, celebrate his strengths and echo his legendary spirit of generosity.
People would gravitate towards Mike with his charismatic and kind nature, and those that were fortunate to have known him would attest to his desire and dedication to putting others needs above his own and going the extra mile for those he cared about, both on a professional and personal level. Mike’s patience and loyalty were widely admired. They are the traits that define the Foundation.
To reflect the influence Mike made on all our lives, the mission statement for The Mara Foundation was established: To invest in professional growth, nurture talent and ignite opportunities that unleash creative potential.
As an agency, we can create opportunities for aspiring craftsmen and women; enabling them to find their niche and jumpstart their career. Being given a realistic but challenging opportunity to succeed has life-changing potential and we are committed to opening our doors and devoting our time, tools and expertise to support students striving to start a career in digital media. Our approach involves tailored guidance, first-hand training and one-on-one mentoring.
In recognition of Mike’s drive to advance his personal skillset and admiration for agency culture, The Mara Foundation has developed an internship programme with Salford University to provide a third-year student with an opportunity for practical work experience, similar to the one Mike founded for himself that exponentially improved his design output.
The 12-month placement at e3creative is set up to follow the exciting and fast-pace lifecycle of a typical project, enabling the intern to gain exposure across all departments of a progressive agency, including digital marketing, web and mobile creation, quality assurance testing, design, user experience, project planning, account management, and beyond.
The intern will develop a deep overarching understanding tied to each entity. If the student embraces the learning opportunity and becomes immersed in the agency culture, aligning their career aspirations with e3creative, a job offer matching the intern’s interests and skill level could follow their work experience placement.
Through this partnership with Salford University, The Mara Foundation is expanding its reach on campus by presenting Mike’s legacy to students and inspiring them to peruse a career in digital, noting how innovative technology is revolutionising all aspects of society, creating new opportunities and solving problems.
The Mara Foundation recognises people as the world’s biggest asset and is dedicated to finding and fulfilling potential. By acknowledging there are many deterrents in life that prevent talented individuals from pursuing themselves, our vision is to eliminate obstacles, enabling people to focus and flourish in a very practical way.
As a rising sector, more job seekers are turning to digital employment opportunities without viable experience and are unlikely to be considered for a position, yet they could be technically savvy or have a knack that is unknown or difficult to communicate in a CV.
When most jobs require workplace experience, how do you gain this experience without being given a chance? The Mara Foundation addresses this long-standing question and is backed by a team of digital leaders, via e3creative, adept in strategy, design, development and full-channel marketing.
Agency directors and accomplished craftsmen work one-on- one with aspirants, actively listening to their goals and gaining an understanding of individual blockers, in the interest of constructing a professionalised roadmap towards a career in digital media. No two people are the same and therefore, each path is bespoke.
The Mara Foundation nurtures professional growth, encouraging people to reach beyond their limits and believe in a brighter future. Participants benefit from a community invested in their success that stems above learning new skills, to finding a new-found sense of self with a readiness to accomplish.
For those looking for direction, this is the perfect setting to dip a toe in the water without taking the plunge. As participants are exposed to all areas of digital, we focus on pinpointing what makes them tick and apply it in an employable context to spark ambition and generate workplace satisfaction that can last a lifetime.
The Mara Foundation is equipped to support a broad range of people that can benefit from guidance or exposure to the emerging digital sector. The level of commitment varies per case from a conversation and studio tour, to mentorship, workshops, practical exercises, work experience placements, and everything in-between.
The foundation is open to industry professionals looking to upskill, through a hands-on and personal approach, as an alternative route to online course or classroom training, applicable to those aiming to refine their craft or expand their knowledge base in a related speciality, such as a designer keen to learn UX practices, or similar.
Likewise, we invite individuals to get in touch if they have questions about agency culture or are curious about opportunities related to digital, whether they’re a secondary school student planning to pursue higher education in a creative field, or a seasoned worker in an unrelated industry aiming to make a career change and investigating their options.
If you’re in limbo with your digital career due to being self-taught, recently graduating or returning from a leave of absence, The Mara Foundation acts as a stepping stone, preparing candidates for their big break with on-the-job training and professional coaching, curating the skills and con dence today’s employers are seeking.
The Mara Foundation is sponsored by e3creative, a fully integrated digital agency with some of the best craftsmen and women in the country, and participants will have the opportunity to learn alongside their passion and expertise. Indicating e3creative, attached to The Mara Foundation, in a CV is highly regarded by employers due to our established reputation in the digital sector.
Activities participants undergo with The Mara Foundation, such as job shadowing or practical exercises are tangible, enabling participants to elevate their job prospects by demonstrating a solid understanding of the industry with workplace examples.
The Mara Foundation works with people to professionally compile their cover letters, CVs, and portfolios to favourably reflect their ability. The foundation also works with job seekers to improve their presence and instil confidence by running practice interviews in preparation for their moment in the spotlight.
Considering the foundation is well-connected, we recommend various peer-to-peer groups and upcoming networking events for participants to attend and acquaint themselves with key contacts that have the potential to open doors.
A certificate of excellence will be awarded to those involved in The Mara Foundation that demonstrate genuine efforts to better themselves by following the recommended guidance and enthusiastically commit to the work experience.
Participants that go above and beyond expectations, demonstrating a great aptitude for their chosen craft, improving their output over short period of time, will be given a personalised recommendation letter and the option to list The Mara Foundation as a professional reference on their CV, alongside their certificate of excellence.
Salford University students that complete the 12-month internship programme will be celebrated in an agency-wide celebration, in their honour and a personalised gift from The Mara Foundation. Either a job offer from e3creative will follow or a recommendation letter, alongside their certificate of excellence.
The Mara Foundation partners with community and charity organisations to unlock individual pathways and fulfill capabilities, advocating for equal opportunity, to strengthen society and enrich tomorrow.”
The Mara Foundation believes that every child deserves the best start at life and should have access to learning and recreational activities, regardless of what disabilities and disadvantages they face. We’ve partnered with The Factory Youth Zone to support this belief and further our reach.
The charity-run youth centre is located in a ward that’s ranked 2nd worst in England for the effect of long-term deprivation on children. It serves an area where the unemployment rate is over double the national average and half of families live below the poverty line, where kids are particularly vulnerable to poor educational attainment, future worklessness and to developing antisocial behaviour.
The Mara Foundation is taking strides forward to break this cycles. With endeavours tailored to teaching at-risk youth transferable skills, we’re working side-by-side with them to ensure new knowledge soaks in, self-confidence and aspirations are raised, and personal goals are set with a realistic and attainable route to achieve.
A technology centre has been established at The Factory Youth Zone with state-of-the-art Apple computers and electronics donated by The Mara Foundation. The equipment supports the growing technical demands of the staff and members of the centre, as well as fuels a code club. Our expert teams are on-site regularly to mentor and teach digital skills associated with developing for web, mobile and desktop applications, as well as digital marketing and general computing.
If you have an interest in our Mara Foundation internship programme, then please reach out today. Internship application openings can be found below.
Applications open November 2018
If you are interested in supporting e3creative’s Mara Foundation, and suppporting our investment into local talent and skillsets, then please get in touch with us today.