As part of our ongoing commitment to industry-focused creative education and ensuring our graduates are prepared for the Design, Media and Screen industries as soon as they graduate, London College of Communication welcomed 50 experts through the Industry Mentoring Scheme.

Part of LCC Graduate School, the Industry Mentoring Scheme aims to encourage and support postgraduate students in their transition from education to industry, matching postgraduate students with industry professionals.

With the industry experts ranging from leading designers to photographers, top journalists to branding experts, and more, we decided we’d catch up with a few of the mentors to find out a little about them. Here, we sit down with PR and communications expert Laura Colapietro…

Laura Colapietro

Laura Colapietro is Senior Account Director at ING PR & Communications. She has 10 years’ experience in PR and communications, working with clients across architecture, design, property and culture in the UK and internationally. She advises senior management teams on all communications aspects and has an exemplary array of contacts, having delivered successful campaigns in collaboration with leading international organisations and institutions.

Hi Laura! Can you tell us a bit about your background and interests?

I am Italian. I was born in Rome but moved to Milan to study PR and advertising. Before joining ING, I worked as as freelance marketing and PR consultant for small, creative businesses, after completing a MA in Enterprise and Management for the Arts at LCC.

Over the past 10 years I launched architecture projects around the world, worked for major cultural events and design fairs – including La Biennale di Venezia, Salone Internazionale del Mobile di Milano and Design Shanghai – as well as manufacturers, art galleries and institutions in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Australia and UK. I love the opera and languages. I speak Spanish, Portuguese and French.

What do you hope to achieve through the scheme?

I hope to guide students and younger professionals through a journey of self-discovery and motivation, helping them develop industry knowledge and experience. In doing so, I hope to learn more about myself, and how to inspire people. I also hope to get them passionate about the industry I work in, where there are plenty of opportunities for talented and curious individuals.

What skills and expertise do you think you bring as a mentor?

My daily job consists of advising clients across architecture, design, property and culture on strategic communications campaigns encompassing marketing, branding, media relations, events, collaborations, business development and networking as well as digital and social media. I work closely with senior management teams and personally advise clients on thought leadership, messaging, networking and stakeholder relations as well as crisis management.

I also have well established relationships with UK and international organisations and institutions, and experience of working in China, US, Australia and across Europe.

Why did you consider LCC for a mentor scheme?

I am a proud alumni so where else? LCC is such a diverse environment in terms of cultural, professional and educational backgrounds. Every year the college sees so many talented individuals with the right set of skills graduating and take off to work in one of the most challenging and exciting creative sectors in the world. I love to think that I can help some of those achieving their career objectives.

What knowledge or advice do you hope to share with your mentees?

I can help develop networking skills and build self-confidence, while also defining a career path based on personal interest and skills. To those looking to start a career, I provide advice on how to articulate their experience, skills and passion.

I can help prepare for job interviews and compile CVs and cover letters than can have a positive impact on potential employers. I am keen to facilitate relevant introductions that might lead to job opportunities or possible collaborations for the mentees.

I have a Diploma in Journalism and excellent contacts within the global media industry so can help those who want to start career in journalism also.

At ING, we are always in the lookout for talented individuals with a passion for communications and the build environments so there are definitely opportunities to work with us for those interested.

Why do you feel it is important for graduates to get industry knowledge and experience through a mentor?

Gaining industry knowledge and experience through a mentor is a great opportunity. It can speed up the whole process, and help the mentee be more focused and targeted in his or her approach.

The meetings and one-to-one sessions become opportunities to brainstorm, discuss and explore various career options and how best to approach them, they are very much tailored to each individual case. At the end, the relationship between the mentor and mentee is one of personal of trust and support, which can lead to a fruitful, long term connection.

What might postgraduate students gain from partnering with a mentor?

Direct access to the mentor’s personal experience and contacts. Concrete, selfless advice, tailored to the mentee’s personality, skills and interests. Wish I had one when starting my career!

How did you get started in the field?

After graduating from LCC, I started freelancing for smaller companies. I knew I wanted to work within the cultural industries and tried not to lose sight of this. I accepted a part-time job as International Communications Manager for a biannual awards series called Art & Work Awards, which at the time were held in conjunction with The World Architecture Festival, taking place in Barcelona. A friend of a friend happened to be attending the Festivals also so I invited her to join one of the Awards events. When back in London, she told me about an Account Manger vacancy at ING, where she was a Director at the time. Although I had a passion for the sector already, I had no idea such agency existed. It seemed just perfect. So, I went in for the interview, and the rest is history.

If there was any advice you wished you had received when first starting out, what would it be?

Those I still try to follow every day: Never stop learning and be kind to others. The LCC Mentor Scheme embodies both very nicely.

Find out more about LCC’s Industry Mentoring Scheme or follow Laura on Twitter.