A Dream Come True
By Alixandra Rutnik on Oct 26, 2020
Mentor & Creative led to amazing success for Palak Kapadia and Nicole Gausman
For the past few weeks, we at The One Club for Creativity have been showcasing the experiences of our Summer Mentor & Creative program. It has been a great initiative, allowing advertising students and recent graduates to grow – as well as a crucial opportunity for agencies to look into and experience the talent of the younger generation. And while everyone involved got something out of the opportunity, a few got just a little bit more.
Young Ones 2020 winner and Copywriter Palak Kapadia was recruited and hired by Weiden + Kennedy Delhi after the summer Mentor & Creative session. On top of that, Young Ones 2020 winner and Copywriter Nicole Gausman is working with her team and their client from the summer Mentor & Creative session to produce their campaign for real.
We had the opportunity to talk to Palak and Nicole about both of their successes that derived from our very first Mentor & Creative program.
Palak, congrats on getting hired by W+K! Tell us how this opportunity came your way!
Thank you so much! It’s a dream come true. I’m really lucky to have this opportunity because I wasn’t expecting it in the slightest. Back in August, Dean Wei, the ECD at Wieden+Kennedy Delhi saw my book and subsequently, their recruiter reached out to me on LinkedIn to see if I’d be open to chatting about an opportunity with them. I obviously said yes. Then she explained to me that they were on a hiring freeze but wanted to talk to me for when the world rights itself, well, at least enough to resume hiring. I figured, at the very least, it would be a good way to build connections and I was happy to talk even if there wasn’t an immediate opportunity available. I had two interviews, one with Creative Director Jossy Raphael and the second with Dean. Honestly, the interviews were more like nice conversations. Jossy and Dean are both incredibly kind people and I loved talking to them.
Incidentally, around that time, Cata and I were wrapping up our campaign Her Street that we’d created as a part of TOC’s summer Mentor & Creative program at W+K NY. So when I sent a thank you note to Dean the day after my interview, I also sent the Her Street case study over to know his thoughts. He had great things to say about it.
About a month later, I heard from the W+K Delhi recruiter again and she said they had an immediate need for a Copywriter and asked me if I’d be available to join. As fate would have it, I had already submitted my application for an O1 employment visa to come back to New York City. I didn’t know if I could commit to something long term in India. I was absolutely torn between having to pick between my dream job and my dream city. Ultimately, I figured I wanted to be in New York more. Saying no to W+K was one of the toughest decisions I’d ever had to make. What kind of an idiot turns down Wieden+Kennedy?! I was so worried I was gonna wake up a week later and 100% regret my decision.
"They say if something is meant for you, it can never pass you by."
Thankfully, it didn’t come to that. Dean was kind enough to write back to me and tell me they’d be happy to work with me for as long as I am in India, no matter how long or short the duration. They say if something is meant for you, it can never pass you by. Maybe that’s what happened, or maybe I am just blessed to be working with the kindest and most understanding people? Whatever the reason, since October 5th, 2020, I’m officially a Jr. Copywriter consulting at W+K Delhi, and I’m still pinching myself!
On my first day, I met Gautham Narayanan the Managing Director and he said that people come to Wieden+Kennedy to make the best work of their careers. I can’t possibly find better words to sum up what I look forward to accomplishing in this role. I have the good fortune of working with very talented people on massive brands, so every day is new. In just three weeks, I’ve worked on social, digital activations, emailers, film scripts, and a full pitch! The team even gave me the amazing opportunity to present parts of the pitch to the client. I don’t know too many leaders who’d show that kind of faith in a junior creative and I’m so fortunate to have found ones who do. Frankly, I don’t even know what I did to deserve this, but I am grateful. I do know that I’ll constantly keep learning, working harder, and being better so I can rise up and feel worthy of that faith.
Can you walk me through your project– Her Street– that you worked on this summer with Cata and W+K during our Summer Mentor & Creative program.
The Summer Mentor & Creative program was a great experience for both me and Cata. In our first meeting, our mentors Alison Joseph and Katie D’Agostine from W+K NY asked if we’d be interested in creating an awareness campaign for the often-overlooked stories of black women victims of police brutality. Cata and I love ideas that can make a real difference in the world. Naturally, we were happy to work on this very important campaign. After multiple rounds of brainstorming, one thing we knew is that the fight for social justice is long and not immune to activism fatigue. So our idea had to be something that could organically live on for a long time. The only way to remember the names of these women is to never stop saying their names out loud. Or seeing them. Thus Her Street was born– a movement to rename the exact street where these atrocities took place, after the women themselves. So every time you want to say or write a street address, you have to say her name. We honor these women by transforming them into a landmark you cannot look away from and by having the streets become rallying cries for justice.
"We honor these women by transforming them into a landmark you cannot look away from and by having the streets become rallying cries for justice."
Cata, Katie, and Alison were in New York while I was in India and we worked transcontinentally. I loved working with this group of talented and inspiring women. While the end result is something we’re proud of, honestly, success to us looks like a world in which we never have to make a campaign like this again.
What type of valuable knowledge did you learn over the summer program that you will be taking with you into your new job?
Alison and Katie are brilliant creatives and even better people. We learned so much from them. Cata and I would like to think of ourselves as meticulous creatives, but the attention to detail and craft demonstrated by our mentors was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. I realize now this is an intrinsic part of the overall way of working at W+K. The program sure helped prep me for that!
Another interesting takeaway was how we could expand the idea over multiple touchpoints. It was challenging but very exciting to see how we could bring Her Street alive across digital and physical platforms. The big idea is only half the battle and often it’s the smaller, tactical stuff that helps make the idea so much better. Overall, it was an incredible experience and it opened more doors for me than I could ever have imagined. So a massive shoutout to Justin, Lou, and all you wonderful folks at The One Club for Creativity for making Mentor & Creative happen.
Nicole, your client decided to produce the campaign you made for them over the summer during the M&C program… that is amazing! How do you feel?
It’s very exciting! My two amazing art director partners Ramsey Chandler and Pedro Sacilotto and I had so much fun this summer creating an irreverent, playful product launch for our client, which is a tech accessories company. I can’t say too much about the campaign, but let’s just say that keeping it a secret has been half the fun. Writing for such an interesting brief with this talented team made working on this campaign a dream from the beginning.
At our final pitch, our client was already brainstorming out loud about how they could use our ideas. A few months later, we heard from Cactus that the client had bought our campaign and was interested in producing our ideas. And the best part? Cactus, my partners, and I are going to work on the project with the client every step of the way!
Since then, we’ve been working closely with our client and our team at Cactus to start making our ideas a reality. Watching our work grow from a concept to a tangible, real-world campaign has been incredibly gratifying and made me even more proud of the work we’ve made.
"Watching our work grow from a concept to a tangible, real-world campaign has been incredibly gratifying and made me even more proud of the work we’ve made."
Did working with Cactus over the summer inspire you in any new ways?
As a writer, my mentors at Cactus inspired me to continue trying to make work that makes me, my boss, and anyone else on the Zoom call laugh.
This program has helped prepare me for real-life work by teaching me how to be a better communicator. Watching my mentors express their ideas, think through a problem, or communicate how a particular idea answers the brief have all been teaching moments for me. Learning by doing and by example has already made me a better communicator than I was a few months ago.
What are you up to these days?
When I’m not busy working with my partners to cook up some really fun work for our client, I’m teaching myself how to sew my own clothes, spending time with family, and looking for my first job as a Jr. Copywriter.
Why do you think it is important for agencies like Cactus to get involved in programs like Mentor & Creative that educate ad students and recent grads?
I can’t thank Cactus and The One Club enough for making all this happen. Having the opportunity to work with my Cactus mentors Norm Shearer (CCO), Jeff Strahl (CD), Brian Watson (ECD), and many others has given me invaluable new insight into the advertising industry and how to become a better creative. Programs like Mentor & Creative are integral to the trajectory of a young professional’s career and I encourage agencies to take advantage of opportunities like this to cultivate the next generation of advertisers.
"Programs like Mentor & Creative are integral to the trajectory of a young professional’s career and I encourage agencies to take advantage of opportunities like this to cultivate the next generation of advertisers."
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