Dice HQ

Meet Sam Amponsah, DICE's Senior Project Manager who brings creative ideas to life

Words by Allyssia Alleyne
Photos by Charlotte Patmore

Getting into grime, gigs and prank-calling Craig David with the Creative team’s organiser-in-chief

On the Creative team, few people wear as many hats as Senior Project Manager Sam Amponsah. On any given day, he can be called in as master planner, inter-team liaison or crisis manager, and consulted for his takes on everything from design and copy to music and fashion. (Take a look at the merch and playlists he puts out through his lifestyle collective, AMPY FM, and you’ll understand why.) Here, he opens up about growing up in the grime generation, his take-aways from the agency grind, and why project management is far more than just whipping up briefs.

On the adidas advert that changed his life 

I grew up in east London, and was very much in that grime generation. I used to see a lot of the old-school grime MCs in my area – Boy Better Know, Ghetts, D Double E. When I was 13 or 14, there was an adidas ad featuring a grime artist called J2K, where he’s rapping and promoting their line, and I was like, ‘I want to make that.’ I didn’t know how to do it, but I knew I had to be in that world – editing, scriptwriting, casting, music. I wanted to find a role where I could contribute holistically to creative. After uni, my friends and I made a magazine called Motive Magazine, and put him on a cover. So there was a nice full-circle moment where I got to interview J2K and go in like, ‘Yo, you inspired me to get into the creative industry.’ I still see him from time to time – we actually went to Carnival together. 

On working for brands you believe in

When it comes to work, I’ve always prioritised my own happiness and tried to work for brands I’m passionate about. Because if you enjoy what you do, you’re going to produce better work and the experience is going to be more fruitful. So when I saw the role at DICE, it just made sense – I’d already been using DICE, and I’m always at a gig or an event, so I can speak on behalf of the consumer and influence how things are for fans from the inside. 

If
you
enjoy
what
you
do,
you’re
going
to
produce
better
work
and
the
experience
is
going
to
be
more
fruitful

On prank-calling Craig David

I’ve always been around music. I remember waking up on Saturdays to my dad blaring Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind & Fire – he’s got a wild vinyl collection. A lot of my family and extended family have worked in the industry, and we always had these really deep discussions on music. One of my aunties is a vocal coach, and when we were really young, my friends and I went into her phone and found Craig David’s number – and this was when his first album, Born to Do It, had just come out. So we phoned up Craig David and he was like, ‘How did you get this number?’ We obviously got in trouble, but we were still like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s Craig David!’ 

On the creative heart of project management  

There are certain environments where people believe that as a project manager, your role is to send a brief and talk to the stakeholders and that’s it; you’re just on the periphery of creative work. But to be a project manager – especially in this industry – you have to be creative as well or else there’ll be a disconnect between you and your team. You wouldn’t know when to challenge a brief, you won’t understand the problem being solved, and you wouldn’t be able to understand why certain choices were made. At DICE, the Creative team likes to hear my opinion; I’m always being asked what I think. They appreciate that as a project manager, your role is to bring ideas to life, through supporting, suggesting, and making things happen in the best way possible.

When
I
saw
the
role
at
DICE,
it
just
made
sense
– I’m
always
at
a
gig
or
an
event,
so
I
can
influence
how
things
are
for
our
fans
from
the
inside

On the joys of gigging solo 

Going to a gig by yourself is actually a nice thing to do, and I recommend it to everyone. I did it for the first time a while ago when I went to see Jamila Woods, who is an artist from Chicago. I told 10 of my friends that I was going and they were all like, ‘I don’t know who that is. I’m not gonna go.’ So I was like, ‘OK, I’ll just go by myself then.’ And you know what? It was pretty cool. I’m not rushing to meet someone beforehand, and I can leave early if I want to. I don’t need to awkwardly wait for somebody by the bar or the toilet. You’re just doing your thing. I’ve started doing that a lot more for smaller gigs where I want to focus on the artist. So just try it – go by yourself. No one cares that you’re alone. 

On keeping it cool 

Coming from agencies, I’ve worked through a lot of red-alert, code-red, level-four-panic moments. I think that experience has given me a thicker skin, and forced me to think quite quickly on my feet to find solutions. It helps to just put things into perspective when they go wrong. In our line of work, nobody’s going to die. Just tell yourself: ‘I’ve been in this situation before, it’s fine. We can do this. Don’t worry.’ You can push deadlines back, you can change designs, you can talk to someone to figure out a solution. Having a calm temperament has really helped me working at DICE, where things move fast, and there are so many different teams and stakeholders to interact with. 

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