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Next Creative Leaders: A European Union

By Alixandra Rutnik Posted on Jul 15, 2021

Following up with our NCL 2020 European Regional Winners

Last year, The One Club’s Next Creative Leaders — in partnership with The 3% Movement — collectively decided that our annual portfolio-based competition that celebrates women and non-binary creatives around the world would welcome even more outstanding talent into the spotlight. And so, in addition to our usual showcase of the ten top-scoring entrants, we introduced a class of regional winners, highlighting exceptional creatives from every corner of the globe.

That first year was a tremendous success, and it brought our attention to a collection of incredible women beyond our American scope. Today we are spotlighting two of our our European regional winners: Nian He, Art Director; and Teresa Verde Pinho, Copywriter, who is part of a winning duo.

With the Next Creative Leaders 2021 submission deadline nearly here, we followed-up with these regional-winning women from 2020 to get you all hyped to stand in their footsteps this year.

Why did you decide to switch from Journalism to Advertising?

Studying advertising in college was my original intention. The university I chose appeared to offer a comprehensive curriculum covering all different disciplines of Communications, including journalism, film-making, advertising, etc., but only after I started there did I realize that their focus and specialty was just in journalism.

I still tried my best to learn to be a good journalist and found it quite interesting. However, I didn’t forget my dream in advertising – creating my own ideas and making new things happen still seemed more exciting and satisfying to me, than reporting about what already happened. After graduating from college, I went to Miami Ad School Hamburg and rerouted my path to advertising.

"I didn’t forget my dream in advertising – creating my own ideas and making new things happen still seemed more exciting and satisfying to me, than reporting about what already happened."

Who has most influenced you in your career thus far?

I have surely learned and benefited from a lot of beautiful people throughout my journey in advertising, including my six-year-long creative partner, Tiago Beltrame. We’ve grown and evolved together since ad school, as well as many other outstanding creative minds who crossed paths with me, inspired me, and lifted me in different ways.

I want to thank the CCOs of my first job out of school at Havas Germany, Eric Schöffler and Darren Richardson. My team partner and I had the honor of directly working with them on various projects, in particular Repicturing Homeless, which was the first idea we had in our professional career.

It was incredible how they let us two freshly graduated Juniors hold such a big project so hands-on by ourselves, only providing support and guidance when needed. They always carefully listened to what we had to say regarding all aspects of this idea and firmly stood by us when we fought to push the project for the better.

I cannot begin to express my gratitude to the autonomy and freedom they granted us to find our voice, the trust they put in our ability, and the effort they made to nurture us into better creatives. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have been so comfortable standing up for what I believe is right, and proactive in making an idea the best it can be.

What is your secret creative talent, and how do you use it?

I don’t think I have a secret talent, but what has helped me greatly in creating ideas is my curiosity, in combination with a photographic memory, that often surprises people.

From anthropology ethnography to the latest celebrity gossip, I am eager to search, read, watch, and learn about almost anything. When thinking about a certain brief, related pieces of information from a wide range of topics that I garnered in the past will quickly re-emerge in my mind – thanks to my good memory – so I can make more unexpected associations or tackle the brief from a lateral angle.

In addition, I am also a pretty resilient perfectionist who never takes no for an answer, which means I won’t stop pushing until I’ve tried absolutely everything in my ability to produce a good idea.


What are your top three challenges in influencing and supporting equality in the ad industry?

The salary taboo, which perpetuates the gap. The lack of maternity rights. The industry doesn’t support young families– for example, late nights are standard. The lack of celebration of female work due to gender bias in award juries. The lack of awareness that being a woman is an asset. Oh, sorry, it was just three. I can go on and on and on.

If you could go back in time, what pivotal advice would you give yourself before your first day as a professional in the creative field?

I would tell myself to follow people, not agencies and investigate exhaustively who I would be working with before accepting a job. I would also make sure they’re creatives I admire and people who are interested in investing their time in making me a better creative.

"I would tell myself to follow people, not agencies and investigate exhaustively who I would be working with before accepting a job."

How do you strive to empower women and non-binary individuals in the ad industry?

I think there's no better way to empower female and non-binary creatives than by passing on my expertise and "leading" by example. I do it in many ways.

I make sure the assistants and interns get a voice no matter at what table I’m sitting. I try to ensure the casting criteria for every brief are fair and diverse. I make sure that every female creative suffering from discrimination at work knows I’m someone they can speak to and count on.

I guarantee that the insights I use in my work are not misogynist or perpetuating a chauvinist society. I reference brilliant female directors, DOPs, and photographs that should be included in the production reel lists. I share initiatives like Invisible Creatives, See it Be It, She Says, Next Creative Leaders, Girls in Film, and so on, with all the female creatives I know.

I actively try to challenge our male creative peers to create more inclusive work by giving them my female perspective. And I have after-work conversations with Miami Ad School students and interns on how the industry works so that they are prepared and have tools to navigate through it in the most innovative way.


NEXT CREATIVE LEADERS 2021 IS HERE! The submission deadline is JULY 16.



Winning Work

Repicturing Homeless

Space On Earth

No Means No

Sequeira In Its Rightful Place


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