News and communications run deep, it is in my blood. As well as cells and plasma there are ‘the five W’s’ – Who, What, When, Where and Why? – the elements of an inquiring journalistic mind that help shape everything. So what made Darren Ingram?
Where my inquisitiveness came from I don’t know, or at least remember. I was the first journalist in the family, but my mother said that even as a child I asked rather a lot of questions and had a nose that could ‘see around corners’. Maybe journalism was inevitable.
During high school in the early 1980s, I was bitten by the computer bug and I got hooked on electronic publishing and online services. It was a different time back then before the Internet became mainstream, and small-scale family disputes did break out over the size of telephone bills, how I blocked their line and why I got grumpy if they dared pick up the receiver to make a call and disconnecting me in the process… I needed my own telephone line – a rarity in itself – and this led to me starting an online service and expanding my media interests.
I was never that engaged at school, for whatever reason, and I drifted from school to college, studying business and marketing, yet I was not inspired. Since birth, I have had a few permanent visual handicaps (so I cannot drive a car for example) and many jobs require you can get around the country. What to do?
The only thing that inspired me was news, but I had assumed my poor vision would stop me working in the media. In any case, without having a ‘plan B’. I started a one-year journalism course (ran for the newspaper industry) to teach things like law, media work and shorthand. The interesting thing was that we HAD to use a typewriter and the lecturers refused to allow the use of computers on spurious grounds, despite I had used computers for publishing for over six years at that time AND my first newspaper attachment had used computers too).
What to do? Electronic publishing ahoy!
So after this course what to do? The old vision got in the way of what I might reasonably have wanted to do. Without any grand plan I had continued my own electronic publishing on technical subjects (giving the content away mostly, as it was more of a hobby) and the odd bit of freelancing. A bit of a pivot later and I ramped up the freelancing, tried to make money from my own publishing (slowly) and things went well.
The Internet wasn’t commonplace, so making a print-based newsletter with optional fax delivery was the norm. The business grew and I had to employ people to help with administrative and editorial work. New products came and one day (for reasons I don’t recall, but probably based on irritation with Quark xPress crashing) I decided that we would stop print and fax services. You would have to receive the products electronically, by e-mail (!) or through an external database. Oh, brave new world!
Yet things worked out in those pioneering days and over the years many news products were added to the company’s roster. A press release distribution service joined the mix, along with consultancy and advisory services. The company kept growing, we outsourced non-core services ahead of the outsourcing trend and focussed on our primary competencies.
Despite its successes, boredom started to creep in. I personally did less journalism and more management, and not necessarily exciting management at that. During an internal refocus and housekeeping programme, with one aim of taking in additional leadership so I could focus on more interesting stuff, an approach was made to possibly acquire the company. Such things came often, but this seemed to be a bit more serious: it was. I agreed to sell my ‘baby’ and in February 2006 I was free, but thankful for the good times and opportunities that it gave.
Too young to become a pensioner, I worked on a few development projects, created a (not-for-profit) music archive and kept my hand in with some writing and consultancy. I have been fortunate to have had the freedom to do this over the years.
Refocus, reorientate and move on
In 2014 I hit a metaphorical brick wall. I wanted to do something different but not set up another company on my own. So I went back to school to get some qualifications I didn’t get as a young man, since running a company was more important. In Finland, where I now live, having the right bit of paper can often trump real-world experience.
It is fair to say I’ve got the academic bug, a new fire in my stomach, and this has also enabled me to refocus future developments. That said, I cannot leave journalism and the media entirely behind. I can combine academia with my other business, communications and media experiences. I can even, with limited availability, help others when they have an interesting challenge or two.
The future may still be bright and interesting.
Learn more about some of the ways I can help you and your company. If you don’t see what you are looking for then ask, as I am a flexible enabler of communications-led activities and if I don’t know the solution…
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