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Posted Jul 20

How MPC’s Leah Beevers shifted from artistic to management roles

by Jane Bracher
How MPC’s Leah Beevers shifted from artistic to management roles by Jane Bracher

Not everyone is comfortable being a leader. Leah Beevers, MPC’s Global Head of Creative Operations, is certainly among the few who are.

Leah, 31, is thriving in a role that has her responsible for teams in Montreal, Bangalore, and London. She oversees the supervision teams and the creative heads of department as well as manages all the casting for new shows. She also makes sure workflows across different shows are consistent and finally, she manages all kinds of changes in the creative process.

In this line of work, Leah is constantly figuring out solutions to problems, and it’s exactly what makes her tick.

“I'm a problem solver at heart,” she tells The Focus. “I make decisions and think I'm passionate about making improvements.”

But she did not start out on this path.

Passion for leadership

Leah, who grew up in Devon in the UK, began her visual effects career in 2010 working in the Technical Animation department at MPC. She was fresh out of Bournemouth University, where she studied Computer Animation in a bid to merge her passion for math and the arts. During her interview for that first job, she had admitted she was unable to do what they were asking of her. Yet she was hired because of her potential.

Her first project was the film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. After spending time as an artist, she progressed to a role as a Lead and soon afterward became the head of MPC’s TechAnim department in London. MPC was proven right to hire Leah. In 2015, she was called to be the Head of Tech Anim in Vancouver. She stayed in the position for five months before returning to London.

Leah then moved up to various roles within MPC across various projects, including Head of Department while working on The Jungle Book and then CG Supervisor for King Arthur, Transformers: The Last Knight, and The Lion King. She was offered the role of Head of Creative for MPC Montreal at the end of 2017 and successfully moved from a purely artistic career path into one combined with management.

“I love having a bigger view on everything and I love building teams,” she shares. “The best bit about the management role is being able to influence someone's career and helping them do what they want to do. And that's why I love this job.”

The responsibilities and challenges that come with being a leader do not deter her either. In fact, she relishes them.

“I like chaos,” admits Leah, who does not see herself ever leaving MPC. “If a show is in trouble, I like being the person that helps solve the problem. My competitive streak comes out and I will try my absolute best to solve it.”

Team player

This kind of work in a management role lends itself well to Leah’s predilection for the structure and dynamics of a team – something she nurtured as an active player in team sports such as basketball.

“I think being part of a team is super important and I would encourage it for everyone,” she says. “You learn to be reliable, to work together, to balance emotions, and to be on time.”

She derives motivation and fulfilment in seeing people she works with carve out their own career paths and helping them along.

“If I can see that I'm making it easier for my team to do their jobs, I'm more motivated to help even more,” she says. “I love seeing people grow and taking on new things.”

Women in leadership

Leah understands, as a young female leader, the rarity of her circumstance in visual effects. It is widely accepted within the industry that there aren’t enough women in leadership positions in VFX. That there are typically older men in her position only encouraged Leah to prove herself, albeit she too was unable to dodge insecurities.

“It was definitely more difficult when I first started the job as opposed to now,” Leah says. “Today, I walk into a room full of men and I’m proud to be the only woman in there. Now, I don’t really mind because I'm more comfortable and confident in my role.”

Asked about the future of women in the industry, Leah emphasises the need for a much more diverse and balanced talent pool from which to hire.

“I'm all about getting the right person for the right job, based off their talent,” she explains. “That's very important to me. However, I think there should be a more even balance of men and women to be able to choose from.”

She notes the current gender disparity for women in visual effects, citing her team of 10 people as an example, in which there is only one woman.

“I think that's the problem. I should have five women and five men to choose from. For the future, I’d like to see the team a bit more balanced.”

She advises more confidence, even if it is an uphill battle.

“It's a very female thing to not back yourself. You can do it. Trust yourself.” - thefocus.com

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