From intern to head of production: Marta Szymanska.

Opportunities mean nothing if you don’t have the guts to seize them. From studio intern to a part of the senior leadership team, Marta Szymanska talks us through her journey, where luck met honest hard work and ambition to pave the way to success.

Passion, proactivity and discipline are the stepping stones to achieving great work, and Marta’s journey from intern to head of production at DixonBaxi is the prime example of how hard work pays off.

Originally from Poland, she went to university to pursue script writing but ended up working on the production side of things. She did well, but “without much love for it”, so she made the decision to drop out. She took her next risk by moving to London to pursue her dreams as a creative. Luckily, things lined up for her: she joined the DB team as a studio intern and immediately got stuck into exciting projects like DixonBaxi’s filmTiger Raid and Premier League. From then on, her relentless curiosity drove her to take on bigger and bigger challenges. She was not afraid to put herself forward for projects; by taking on responsibilities above her job title, even as an intern, she shot through the ranks.

“I didn't have the right vocabulary and I didn't understand how all of it fit together, but I wasn’t scared to ask questions and over-communicate and that’s how I figured it out.”

Her refusal to settle for good drove her towards better until she reached great. From day one, Marta was putting herself forward to pitch. One month in, she went from being the studio intern to a production coordinator. She recounts: “I got involved in organising shoots and producing the audio part of the Premier League project - the Premier League anthem. I didn’t realise how big of a project that was at the time, it was just little old me trying to figure out what I was doing.”

Within three months, she was offered a junior producer role. The speed of her progress was extraordinary, but it would be a disservice to her to call it miraculous; this was a rapid milestone backed by pure hard work. “When I was coordinator, because of my hunger, I was taking on more than I was directly responsible for,” Marta explains. “I was producing projects, small ones, but I was already starting to get my own projects at that time which is unusual. I was learning through doing. So then it was a really natural progression to move onto junior producer and get that recognition.”

“I love competition. I love proving myself, even if it’s just to me. So I had a goal to get as far as I could.”

The next big leap in her career was her jump from the role of senior producer to head of production. Because she’d been so ambitious since the beginning, she had already been taking on some of the responsibilities of head of production as a senior, like managing the production team and client relationships. But now these responsibilities were explicitly hers; her leadership could make or break the team. There were more eyes on her than ever.

Giving up the production side of things was hard. Marta says that each pitch was “a massive dose of adrenaline” that was as challenging as it was fun. “Transitioning to management is one of the hardest things. Letting go of producing was really hard because I genuinely love being part of the projects. Letting go of that was a big thing.”

But this shift meant that she now had the time to envision a future of the agency right alongside Simon and Aporva. “I encourage the team not to worry about minutiae but to think about the bigger picture and support each other so we can do the best work possible. That’s my approach, it always has been.”

There’s no doubt that the agency’s encouraging environment helped her grow into her role, and Marta credits the support from everyone around her as motivation to become even better, but it all came down to her willingness to give everything to a project.  DixonBaxi gave her a place to evolve, and in return she gave the agency a leader that could get things done fast, and get them done well.

Her eagerness to jump into different projects throughout her career made her an all-rounder, but now she had to learn how to delegate tasks to different producers and put faith in them to produce excellent work. “We’re lucky because we have a team of talented people who take pride in what they do, which makes my life easier - they take creative feedback really well and everyone’s constantly evolving.”

“Hard work and passion - if you have those two things, you’ll succeed. All I needed was an opportunity. All you need is for someone to believe that you as a person can bring something new. Someone did believe in me and here I am.”

Marta describes her working style as “open, nurturing and demanding. It’s cheeky, but I let the team be the best versions of themselves; I teach them everything I know and share everything possible when asked. But I’m also demanding in the sense that I have very high standards and I expect people to listen and learn when things aren’t going well.”

Mistakes are inevitable. Marta herself admits that “If I hadn’t made the mistakes that I did and learnt from them, then I wouldn’t be where I am now.” What was important for her, and what she hopes other people will take away from her story, is that these mistakes were valuable lessons that made her instincts sharper.

Reflecting on her time at DixonBaxi so far, Marta believes that the amount of work you put into a project equates to the amount you get out of it: “the job is what you make it.” Collaboration and guidance are also integral. She says that in the DB process “we’ve created guide rails where we have opportunities for people to come in and discuss challenges or flags and we can brainstorm and develop solutions in a collective way.”

There’s still more work to be done - there always is. Marta hopes to see meaningful conversations about sustainability and inclusivity in the industry. More work needs to happen around the climate crisis, and she wants the creative industry to be a part of initiating change that matters. She also wants to address the gender imbalance in directorial positions. “The industry has very few women creative directors and these types of issues need to be talked about, and if they are being talked about then we need to be louder.”