Next Creative Leaders 2021:
By Laurel Stark Akman on Nov 02, 2021
She / Her / Hers
Hometown and country:
Current employer, city and role:
Impact BBDO DUBAI, Associate Creative Director
How did your upbringing, family or hometown shape you as a creative?
Having grown up in Lebanon, I was always surrounded by cultural tensions and issues. And, as a young member of the society, I didn't feel that I could create an impact alone - which is why I chose an industry that spoke the loudest and could provide me with the opportunity to change that world.
What’s your “breaking into advertising” story?
The penny truly dropped for me when I was 18 years old, about to open my first bank account and I had to make sure it was the perfect signature. The craft, the composition, the layout, the shape, the typography - were all under the microscope of my art direction. Perfection was key and I attempted to reach the final result a thousand times. And now, I get to meet my standards with brands instead.
What’s the piece of NCL winning work you’re most proud of and why?
The New National Anthem Edition was more than just a piece of work, it was a life changing experience. I finally got to impact the society I grew up in through advertising by creating a meaningful piece of work that revolutionized the lives of a nation.
What’s the lesson another creative can take away from that successful creative experience?
A piece of work does not have to be on a Golden pedestal with doves floating around it, sometimes all you need is the right message with ears who are willing to listen.
What does being named a Next Creative Leader mean to you?
It’s an absolute honor to be considered part of a group of already successful NCL. I have looked up to these women for many years and to be named one of them will continue to drive me by challenging myself in everything I do.
Who has most influenced you in your career so far?
As cheesy as it sounds, my mom has influenced me the most thus far. From having taught me how to be the women I am today, to being the ideal target audience for messages I'd like to share with the world, she is truly a pillar of support and inspiration in my life.
What is your secret (or not-so-secret) creative superpower and how do you flex it?
The ability to look at a situation, no matter what it may be, and always give the energy it needs. If it means providing quick solutions or simply playing a song to liven up the mood, I'm the one you can call.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing the creative industry right now and how would you solve it?
While the world is moving into a space of empowerment, advertising (as progressive as we may seem), still has a strong narrative of the Mad Men Era; it's not to say that women are not being given opportunities, but it's having to ensure that those opportunities come to them not because of what the world says, but rather their capabilities.
How has the pandemic changed your creative process or the way you work?
The pandemic, as isolating as it was, actually opened up my eyes into the lives of the people I interact with. How? It's amazing how people are shaped by their houses, their on-screen cats, their personal lives and more. The era gave us all the chance to really see what makes us human, which is something I feel we should all appreciate a little more.
Our jobs can be exhausting even in “precedented times.” How are you caring for yourself right now?
You just need to always remember that at the end of the day, this is a job. Your mental health, your family, your paddle tennis comes first too.
How are you working to celebrate, support, or elevate other marginalized voices and experiences?
In all the work I do, I always incorporate a strong sense of support for those who feel as if they aren't included. I'm fortunate to be in a position of leadership and mentorship, which not only allows me to hear the voices of younger talents, but also be their voice in times of need.
Creativity can save the world. What real-world problem would you want to tackle with creativity, if time, budget, and logistics were not an issue?
I'd love to continue creating work that makes a difference and empowers women to be recognized in the Middle East.
Where do you turn when you need to spark your creativity?
Believe it or not, it's TikTok. It's a treasure chest of insights for you.
How are you leaving work, the workplace, or the world a better place than you found it?
I want to be remembered as the person who always added a smile to everything I touched – from a social media post to an award-winning campaign.
What is a story you feel uniquely set up to tell?
Given my heritage and history, I feel that it's my responsibility to tell the stories of Lebanese people and specifically, women.
Who is inspiring you right now and why?
I'm inspired every day by the talent that surrounds me; from juniors just starting off to the leaders who I've looked up, there's always a tale to take away from every experience.
If you could go back in time, what pivotal advice would you give yourself before your first day as a professional creative?
No matter what, the work always gets done.
Be sure to check out all the winning work for the Next Creative Leaders of 2021!