Viral Careers: Megan Leckie
13 March 2019
In this series of interviews we’re talking to people about how they got to where they are. Find out about the key moments, and people, in the lives and careers of some of the creative people we most admire.
Name: Megan Leckie
Occupation: Company Director of BlockBuilders C.I.C.
Tell us about the work you do.
I am the co-founder and co-director of BlockBuilders C.I.C. We use Minecraft as a tool to create unique educational experiences within planning, design, ecology, and history. This has been my full time job since we founded the company in August 2014, just after myself and my business partner (Joseph Palmer) finished university. As an organisation we work predominantly with young people, as they are frequently left out of important decision making processes.
Our work involves us being hired by a client, which could be a private sector company like an architecture firm, being given a brief and building a Minecraft model around that. For example we could build a new proposed design for a specific area and use that as the model that participants will interact with. We then run workshops with local young people, either in a school or in a separate venue, where they get to put their opinions forward on the design and rebuild it the way they want it.
What did you want to do when you were 16?
I had just moved back to the U.K, after growing up in the middle east. At the time I was looking to work in film making, film has always been my passion, and it is what I eventually studied at university. Film was not something that was easily available as a subject where I grew up, but in Brighton I was exposed to many different art forms and saw that there were multiple careers within this industry.
I realised there were so many other careers, outside of film, that I had no idea about, and many more ways to work and actually enjoy what you do. Although I didn’t go into the film industry, realising that there were non-traditional career paths definitely helped me start my business and get to where we are now.
Was there a moment that opened up new possibilities and brought you to where you are today?
When I was in my final year at university I was living in a student house with Joe, who is now my business partner. He was studying design, and one of his tutors had asked him to be a part of his research group Community21. This led Joe to discovering Minecraft as a tool for working with young people, and asking for my help with the project as I loved video games. This was the start of BlockBuilders, and we have been growing since that moment over 5 years ago.
The important thing here was that we both said yes to new opportunities, and we were willing to try something we’d never done before. Within a few months of being involved in Community21, Joe and I ran our first workshop with a group of young people, something neither of us had previous experience with. We then decided to start BlockBuilders as a company when we graduated, and thanks to help from Beepurple at Brighton University, and the Brighton Digital Festival, we launched a few months later.
Who has influenced your career?
I honestly didn’t know much about running a business at the beginning, we just kind of went with it and worked hard. However, once we started, we received so much help from other organisations. I can’t pick out just one person, as we were very fortunate to meet a lot of incredibly helpful people. As previously mentioned, Community21, Beepurple, and Brighton Digital Festival all enabled us to start our business. We then received invaluable help from Exploring Senses, Stronger Stories, and Natalie Lloyd early on that led us to grow as a company and understand more about how to run a business. Since then we have worked with so many great organisations who have helped us to continue this growth.
What advice would you give your 16 year old self?
To say yes to opportunities, even if they might seem scary or out of your comfort zone. Know that you will make mistakes, but it isn’t the end of the world, and you will learn from them. Most importantly you can’t do anything alone, anything worth doing will be helped and improved by working with other people and organisations.
Opportunities in the creative industries can be difficult to identify and aren’t always accessible, or visible, to young people from all backgrounds – something that our Viral project aims to change.
Viral is a collaborative learning programme that provides production training, business development, mentoring, showcasing opportunities and peer-to-peer support for a diverse group of 16-25 year olds from Brighton and the surrounding areas.
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