Freelancer in the Spotlight - Meet Nancy Duncan
We recently interviewed Nancy Duncan, Freelance Pitch Expert, to find out why she chose freelancing and more about being a Pitch Expert.
What is a Pitch Expert, and what do you do?
I lead pitches for international events or campaigns ranging from the Olympics and World Expo to product launches, festivals and ceremonies. I normally lead a team which can range from me, myself and I (!) up to 20 people across disciplines including creative, strategy and design to production and engineering.
In the past 5 years I've won over £60 million worth of business for a range of clients across Technology, Automotive, Government, Sport and FMCG.
I thrive on nothing more than a blank piece of paper and a deadline in which to articulate a unique proposition and a compelling story! I love the problem solving element of a pitch at the intersection of strategic, creative and commercial thinking underpinned by storytelling.
How did you become a Pitch Expert?
I am curious about everything and worked as a producer, experience designer and strategist before creating my own niche as a Pitch Expert. My varied background and curiosity means I appreciate the different disciplines it takes to create a pitch proposition that answers the brief on time, budget and in a unique and compelling way.
Nancy worked as a Freelance Project Director on the Saudi Cup Launch Event (late 2019 to March 2020). It was a very challenging project due to the tight turn around and small budget. We were extremely stretched at the time so despite Nancy being new to Imagination there was not sufficient time to guide and induct her into the Imagination processes we would normally, so I was very impressed with how quickly she picked everything up and got things done. She knew exactly when to escalate issues to me and when to resolve them herself. Nancy also goes above and beyond her role as a Project Director and offers up insights into better ways of working. At the time I was keen to offer her a full time job but she preferred being freelance. The clients loved her and I found it a real joy having her part of the team. I wish her the very best.
Cassy Harris, Business Director
How long have you been freelancing?
Why did you decide to go freelance?
I grew up in a freelance environment and have always loved the variety of projects, people, ways of working, learning and being pushed out of my comfort zone.
What's the best thing about choosing to be an independent professional in your field?
The diversity of projects and being fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to choose to work on some amazing projects and curating my portfolio to compliment my personal interests and passions including trends, culture and technology.
Has there been any negatives of your choice?
2020 has been challenging for everyone, and like many my work disappeared over night and I wasn't eligible for much furlough but still grateful for what I got and I was lucky enough to have savings.
What's one thing no one ever told you about freelancing you wished you'd known at the beginning?
Never trust a project confirmation until it's in writing and don't feel the need to be too transparent when juggling multiple pencils!
How has YunoJuno helped you as a freelancer?
It's an exciting community to be part of with lots of interesting projects
Nancy has worked with us on some of our most complex and ground breaking work. Her creative, yet pragmatic approach ensured that we delivered amazing work for our clients.
Can you talk about a project you're proud to have worked on?
I've been fortunate enough to work on a range of amazing pitches from the Olympics and World Expo to FMCG campaigns and product launches to museum concepts and launching horse racing in Saudi Arabia. One of my favourite projects was a concept phase report for the UAE Host Pavilion at Expo 2020 which consisted of seven chapters over a 45-minute experience journey. The purpose of the experience was to showcase connections, educate an international audience on the UAE’s past, present & future, provide moments of wonder and excitement worthy of a host pavilion. The concept report covered audience insights, strategy, creative development, narrative development and digital integration.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to become a Pitch Expert?
I think it's important to get a solid foundation across different disciplines so you can appreciate the different roles of everyone on a pitch team.
A key component to being an effective pitch leader is to balance leadership traits, for example, giving the team space to be creative but adhering to deadlines; being a visionary & inspirational leader but organised and grounded in process. I'm naturally curious and fascinated by trends, technology, psychology and culture which means I'm always devouring the latest insights and trends but I'm also organised and like structure, if only to rebel against it!
After 15 years of pitching, I have developed my own tools and techniques which are based on organisation, project administration and effective communication to allow everyone in the team to be heard.
If a client was reading this, why should they hire you?
I have a broad range of experience across many verticals and am an early adopter always on the lookout for the latest innovation, trends and technology. I’m passionate about planning and producing pitches that communicate messages in an innovative & engaging way to ensure success. In addition I'm fun to work with and stay calm under the inevitable pressures of pitching!
Nancy was brought in to Donaldson Creative to develop the winning proposal for a high profile charity campaign culminating in a festival of events. She single handedly developed the creative concept, established partnerships and delivered a detailed proposal. Her can do attitude and ability to get stuck into a project quickly was absolutely crucial and I very much look forward to working with her again in the future.
Sara Donaldson, Founder
Nancy is a freelance brand & marketing professional with over 15 years’ experience. She has a track record working internationally for high profile clients including Tokyo 2020, Rio 2016 & London 2012 Olympic Games, London Fashion Week, automotive, FMCG, technology and other consumer brands, governmental organisations and start-ups.
Nancy's diverse experience includes strategic problem solving, business planning, brand marketing, digital marketing, creative development and stakeholder management. She also specialises in the art of the pitch for which she has developed her own tools and techniques.