Sarah Hunter is the senior digital asset coordinator for the lingerie, clothing, and beauty retailer Victoria's Secret. She recently completed SC&I's Digital Asset Management (DAM) Certificate program. DAM is the practice of making media content (photos, video files, audio clips, animations, and many others) accessible and available for all stakeholders within and beyond an organization. As Sarah knows, organizing, classifying, and retrieving these assets for use is a challenge for organizations today. Pleased with the content of the DAM program, she kindly agreed to share her thoughts with us.
SC&I: What drew you to SC&I's Digital Asset Management (DAM) certificate program?
SH: I was working at various start-ups, sourcing and managing photography resources. During this time, I was learning more about formalized asset management and the industry in general. I was fortunate enough to help implement my previous company's first DAM. Being part of the launch team and helping establish guidelines around the new asset management workflow opened many new opportunities. Even though DAM played a small part in my overall role, I quickly gravitated to this work and realized this industry is where I belonged because it spoke to my love of organization and structure. A desire to learn more prompted me to seek supplemental education and led me to SC&I's Digital Asset Management program. It was ideal in terms of flexibility and manageable workload and offered immeasurable quality due to industry leaders guiding the program. Professional Development Studies instructors David Lipsey, Yonah Levenson, and Thomas Stilling's years of professional experience enriched and rounded out the coursework.
SC&I: What skills and insights did you learn?
SH: These are my most notable takeaways from the program:
- Document as much as you can, as often as you can, from pre-planning to post-mortem.
- Listen and gather insights from all user types and establish a superuser group—this subset will become your main advocates for program and process improvements. Also, understanding how all users work in the system will inspire a more holistic approach when establishing workflows or sourcing new vendors.
- Develop a metadata standard by determining what your audience needs and maintain consistency to streamline searchability. Use or adapt existing metadata schemas instead of re-inventing the wheel.
- DAM and asset types are always evolving. Do your best to plan for the unknown by always factoring in scalability and archival options when considering new platforms and processes.
- Create measurable, trackable DAM goals that fit into your organization’s overall goals and contribute to positive ROI.
- Strong governance practices and regular audits ensure the health of your DAM to enable and protect business outcomes.
SC&I: How are you putting your DAM skills to work?
SH: The skills I developed from the DAM program serve me well in this fast-paced, ever-evolving industry. Incorporating metadata best practices will play a considerable part in overhauling our standards by thinking about how our users will enter and search metadata. Creating a business-driven taxonomy and consistent file naming will allow all users to speak the same language, boosting user adoption and overall usability. Also, having a better grasp of DAM has allowed the team and me to effectively plan for scale and preservation as we grow our digital presence. Being responsible for user roles and permissions has helped me ask the right questions to better monitor and safeguard our assets. I directly attribute this latitude and evaluation to the skills I obtained through the program.
SC&I: What advice do you have for someone considering taking this program?
SH: If you've thought about a role in asset management or are currently working in the industry, I recommend this program. I found engaging with knowledgeable, experienced professionals spanning dive.rse backgrounds incredibly valuable. The aggregation showed me how far-reaching DAM could be and provided the realization that skills attained through the program are transferrable across various business settings. This environment also allowed for networking and the opportunity to join the incredibly supportive and expanding DAM community. The connections I made and the relationships I developed with industry experts have been two of the most rewarding parts of this program. Even post-completion, I've kept in close contact with professors and connections I made through guest speakers and introductions that would have otherwise been near impossible to make in such a short time. I will also add the instructors are accessible and truly invested in helping achieve your career goals.