Next Creative Leaders: Alexandra Sobiecki
on Oct 28, 2017
Art Director - Spotify New York
Three words you’d use to describe yourself?
Curious Earthy Bangs.
What work are you most proud of and why?
As President Barack Obama’s term was nearing an end, Spotify offered him his first public job. We had our CEO, Daniel Ek, tweet out a job posting on our careers page for a President of Playlists. A job with very, very exact requirements that only Obama could ever qualify for. The idea was covered in over 300 press articles and 175 TV segments, including the BBC, CNN and Comedy Central. On social we hit No.1 on Reddit, and were also a No.1 Twitter Moment. Spotify received over 900 applications.
It was incredible how this idea came together. Within minutes of us presenting it, our Creative Director started making calls to see how we could pull it off. He quickly got the idea in front of our head of PR, then our CMO, and finally the Spotify founder Daniel EK. Mobilizing everyone from PR to HR in a matter of minutes is one of the great benefits of working internally.
What does leadership mean to you?
Being a great leader to me means being a great listener. Simply listening can inherently empower everyone around you and build long term trust. It also protects yourself from discounting any ideas or thoughts others might have.
What’s your “breaking into advertising” story?
After winning The Young Ones Student Awards in 2010, I used my Leo Burnett scholarship money to fly to New York for the event. My copywriter and I went to a portfolio review hoping to get in front of Gerry Graf. Time ran out and they shut off the lights on us, but Gerry stayed to review our portfolio in the dark. He asked us where our dream job was and promised to personally call the Chief Creative Officer to get us an interview. Sure enough, we woke up to a text from him saying that he had done just that. If felt completely unreal. After that, we took to the streets and literally knocked on the doors of every agency asking if there was anyone to have a quick look at our work. Lots of Creative Directors gave us time because they thought we were bold for just showing up. We ended up with multiple offers, and landed at CP+B Miami working with one of the most penciled creatives in the industry.
Your mom is an immigrant from Poland. How has that shaped your life and point of view?
My mom came to America when she was 21. She is the strongest, hardest working, and selfless person I know. Those qualities fueled my drive and pushed me to never settle. Her fight gave me great perspective on why I need to appreciate all the little things, the bad things, and even the exciting things.
You have dyslexia. What effect has that had on your creative path?
It was near impossible for me to read so I was naturally drawn to the arts from an early age. I fell head over heels for cinema which taught me so much about the art of storytelling, technology, color and photography. It was the perfect foundation for my career now.
You have an awesome technique for testing the strength/validity of your ideas. Can you share that with us?
It’s a technique embraced strongly at CP+B. We submit our ideas in “Press Release Format.” This means you distill your idea the PR headline you’d write about it. This helps make sure your thoughts are as simple as possible, and fueled by a strong tension that makes it buzzworthy. In any order, you state the client, what they did and why. [Client] did [idea] to prove [ your tension]. An example of this is CP+B’s famous Burger King Whopper Freakout: Burger King removes the Whopper to prove how much people love it...
You recently left the advertising world for Spotify. Why did you make that choice?
I was getting disenchanted working on products that I didn’t believe in. I wanted to find a client that I felt passionate about day in and day out. Spotify is one of those rare companies that makes a positive impact in people’s lives. Getting more music in the hands of more people is something I can really get behind.
Additionally, working with musicians directly has been incredibly inspiring. They are so venerable when it comes to making their music and extremely selfless when it comes to their fans. I have gained a next level appreciation for artists since working at Spotify.
Any tips for creatives who who would like to make that shift from agency to internal creative team?
Find a company that you wholeheartedly believe in — both their values and their product. This can be anything from your favorite fashion label to a film production company you are obsessed with. Shoot for the moon — these days creatives are an invaluable asset to any company.
You recently “woke up” to the experiences of professional women. Can you talk about that?
This gets back to communication for me. Finding someone in a leadership role you trust and can confide in is really important. I’ve found that here. Before joining Spotify, I had this perception that if I spoke up and shared how I felt, it would be a sign of “weakness” or would come across as “complaining.” I was building my own walls.
I also felt the need to be super competitive with other women — something I want to work on. By building close ties with other creative women we can learn, trust, and empower each other more. I feel so much stronger emotionally and creatively since I began openly collaborating and having honest dialogue with my female creative colleagues.
Who’s your biggest #Shero right now?
Jackie Jantos, the VP of the Brand and Creative department at Spotify. When I was interviewing at Spotify I did a little research on Jackie and I was blown away by her motto: “Be hard on ideas; be gentle on people.”
Jackie fast tracks bold ideas and then asks to push them to the edge. She pushes trust to the forefront of judging ideas and nurturing relationships. She is exactly the kind of leader I want to work with — and hope to become.