Clerkenwell is the new Black…. friars: A brief look back at our time in the city.
While we still had our fun and fancy office on Sekforde Street back in 2014, despite the counterintuitive prospect of gaining nearly three whole days each year thanks to the shorter commute, moving to Blackfriars didn’t immediately resonate with me. It has to be said that after the open spaces, friendliness and stylish food markets of Farringdon, for many of us, Blackfriars summed up a picture of concrete building blocks brimming with bombastic city slickers and unimaginative café chains. We needn’t have worried, however. Nestled on the third floor of the Mermaid Centre at 2 Puddle Dock, our office overlooked the Thames, giving us an inspiring view of small passenger boats chugging past (even more entertaining during one of the many Tube strikes) and the famous London mudlarkers who, at low tide, could be seen rummaging through the silt on the opposite bank. With only a short walk from the Tate Modern, the Globe Theatre and with St Paul’s Cathedral on our doorstep, it soon became apparent that our new Blackfriars pad definitely had a lot to offer. Food and fun The more we explored, the more food options popped up. Grace’s, a small family-run coffee shop hailed by the Evening Standard as having ‘London’s Best sausage rolls ‘ saw to it that several team members piled on the pounds. I myself at one stage last year had a shameful £30-a-week sausage roll habit. No wonder the lifts at the Mermaid Centre were always out of order. Ty, our Lead Designer, went so many times that even Google took note! Here we can see him, waddling down the street, calorific snack in hand. Perpetuated by Maps. It would be remiss of me not to mention some of our other favourite lunch spots. If you were to examine the financial records of local Asian kitchen, Katsu Curry, it would quickly become apparent that the business was almost single handedly propped up by two particular members of the creative team. With Borough Market just across the river, we were spoiled for choice. GBK, Birley Sandwiches, Burrito Mama and the Bilingsgate Porter also deserve a mention. The Happenstance does not. On occasion, we brought the food to us. Whether during our new ‘Monday Breakfast Club’ or our Friday communal lunch debates, our Blackfriars office definitely saw more team meals than our previous one. But it didn’t stop there. In an effort to bond with our neighbouring offices (‘accountants eat cake, right?’) we threw together a charity bake sale last year. With a spread ranging from banana bread and crumble to chocolate brownies and quiche, we were pretty pleased with our efforts. Paul Hollywood would have been proud. Drinks and dresses Geeks with Personality we may be, but relatively few of us, I imagine, would claim to be bookish. Despite this, it would not be unusual on a Thursday or Friday night to find many of us at the Blackfriars Booksellers. For the uninitiated, yes the Bookseller’s is a pub. And a great one at that. It is rare to find a bar or eatery that satisfies the motley palate of a mad-hat multi-national outfit such as ourselves – but the Booksellers’ staff managed it with a smile. With the option of spilling out into the evening sunshine when the interior became too heaving, we enjoyed many a pint and shared many a story at that place. We’ll be back for more, no doubt. The pubs around Clerkenwell have some big shoes to fill. When I asked around the office for stand-out memories from our time in Blackfriars, there was one that came up more frequently than any others: last year’s summer party. Organised with the diligence and precision of General Ludendorff by PPC manager and resident rogue Joyce Havemeier, the afternoon revolved around a number of games, activities and embarrassing ordeals. The afternoon was pitched to us (or me anyway) as ‘team building exercises.’ It soon became clear, however, that team building was far from the agenda and the day had simply been designed to humiliate and deflate. Whether stitching together bin bags and newspapers into a wedding dress to be modelled by our Technical Analyst or pleading with nearby tourists to pose for a photo with us while wearing the dilapidated remains of said garments, the afternoon was not for the faint-hearted. It should be said, that while there aren’t many activities as painful as, with a mouth full of water, desperately gargling the tune of Bohemian Rhapsody to a sea of blank faces, the day was filled with laughter and bonding. We later piled out to a local restaurant and bar where the evening and our collective memory faded until home time. Innovation and improvements So how has the company changed during our time in Blackfriars? The largest change, of course, has been the procurement of Make It Rain by Canadian technology leaders, DAC, back in April last year. While we don’t need to delve into too much detail here, it is certainly worth pointing out that most of the upgrades, changes and improvements to Make It Rain, including the recent office upgrade, have only been possible thanks to our Canadian counterparts. Alongside new strategic insights, enhanced technological capabilities and a pleasing explosion in our offerings, we’ve seen an influx of new team members, bringing refreshing insights, experiences, values and certainly new life to Make It Rain. One example to perfectly illustrate this was David’s introduction of Inspirational Lunches. In an effort to get even closer to our work mates, over the past year each of the office took it in turns to present and explain our out-of-work obsessions, hobbies and inspirations. ‘What really excites you?’ was the brief for each presentation, and while only some were TED-conference-worthy, we’ve undoubtedly learned more about one another and now have more insight into the past and raison d’etre of our colleagues. The structure and organisation of Make It Rain has also undergone some reworking and development, with DAC HQ taking away some of the admin responsibilities and internal pressures, freeing up more time for our seasoned seniors, Luke and Mike in particular, to get stuck back in with the team and build and reinforce our approach and offerings from the ground upwards. With the support from across the pond and our new internal set up we were able to take on a number of ambitious projects, ranging from the #BlooHappyLoo campaign of January this year – an experiential campaign consisting of a giant toilet armed with the ability of ‘flushing away your Monday blues – to a popular and exclusive phone game for Center Parcs, revolving around the intensity of modern-day technological distractions. Over the upcoming year, we look forward to further integrating into the DAC family and expanding our skill set even further, exploring the available opportunities both in London and on the international stage. I don’t think it’s at all premature to say that we’re all looking forward to big things over the upcoming year. What’s next? As many of you know we’ve now moved into our beautiful shiny new office. Equidistant from Barbican, Farringdon and Old Street, there is arguably more on offer in the way of food, drink and fun than around our previous home. I’d be lying if I told you that I wasn’t sitting among boxes, wires and half constructed office furniture as I type this; it is clear, however, that this space spells the beginning of a new era for us. Without question, we loved our time and accomplished a lot during what will now be known as ‘the Blackfriars Years,’ however, we prefer to look forwards rather than backwards so – here’s to the Clerkenwell Era! We look forward to having you all round to our new office.