Next Creative Leaders 2018: Evelina Ronnung
on Nov 06, 2018
Hometown and country:
Current employer, city and role:
Forsman & Bodenfors, Stockholm, Art Director
How did your upbringing, family or hometown shape you as a creative?
I grew up partially in Gothenburg, but mainly in a Swedish ski resort called Lofsdalen with 101 inhabitants. Moving back and forth between those polarized places made me feel like an outsider, constantly having to prove myself in new ways. I guess that kick started my ability of creative thinking.
What’s your “breaking into advertising” story?
I soon fled Lofsdalen to pursue a career in the capital of Sweden, Stockholm. After attending Berghs School of Communication for about two years, I was soon recruited by Åkestam Holst, one of Sweden’s biggest advertising agencies. In April 2016, I became the ”young creative of the year” in Sweden, and I hadn’t finished ad school yet. The following two years at Åkestam Holst I won numerous accolades, both personal and for my work, finishing off with winning my first Pencils and Cubes this year for the IKEA Pee Ad.
What’s the piece of work you’re most proud of and why?
It’s the Billboards Beyond Borders Initiative for Reporters Without Borders. That piece was really a matter of engagement and probably my bravest yet. My philosophy is that the cornerstone of every successful environment is honesty and the possibility to think and say whatever you want without being limited or judged. If you silence yourself out of fear there is no end to that dark road, and that’s why this particular project meant a lot to me – both on a personal and professional level.
What does meaning this award mean to you?
I’m very proud to win this award, but with that said, I’d rather my work be awarded than me.
Who has most influenced you in your career thus far?
Magnus Jakobsson, the Creative Director at Åkestam Holst. He gave me the biggest gift you can give a creative at the start of their career - confidence. It’s something I will never forget and in my career make sure to pay forward.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing women right now (work or non work related) and how would you solve it?
Imposter syndrome. Too many of us feel that we don’t deserve our jobs and will be found out at any moment. We constantly underestimate our abilities and performance, and we worry more about being disliked or grabbing too much attention than our male counterparts. The consequence of this is that women are denied opportunities and their doubts stop them way too often. I wish there was an easy step-by-step solution to bridging the confidence gap, but there isn’t. But there are a few (pretty cliché) things we can do such as: focusing on our strengths, speaking up in meetings, frequently asking questions, accepting that we cannot do everything perfectly, fighting back when we need to, and really knowing our stuff.
If you were CCO of your company, what would be the one thing you’d change (if you could just wave your magic wand?)
Create more equitable organizations. Workplace structures and norms tend to reflect masculine values, experiences and life situations. I have the privilege of working at an agency that was founded in Sweden, so I’ve seen the benefits of organizations based on Swedish values: We have more of the framework required for creating equal opportunities: our structures, policies, equality initiatives and revised recruiting procedures all support that. But structures and policies don’t create equitable organizations on their own. The hard work has to be done within every individual to truly create a cultural shift. Unfortunately, that is something no CCO can achieve alone.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career so far and how did it pan out?
In April 2018, I decided to quit my job at Åkestam Holst to move on to Forsman & Bodenfors for the chance to work on a global scale. The agency had just opened their first offices outside Sweden and had several global accounts like H&M and Volvo. I’m very happy I made that risk. It taught me that change isn’t something to be afraid of.
How do you “fill up your cup” creatively?
Silence and meditation, being alone and paying attention to my own thoughts. The stereotype is that creatives listen to music and watch movies to “fill up their cups,” but for as long as I lived, I’m ashamed to admit I don’t identify with pop culture as much as I should. I’m not trying to sound sophisticated (I spend way too much time in front of my Playstation!)—I just fail to understand what makes pop culture so popular.
What’s currently inspiring you?
My colleagues and the unlimited potential of the new Forsman & Bodenfors. Only good lies before us, and being a part of this global journey is so insanely inspiring.
What would be your dream project and why?
I want to affect as many people as possible, and make changes that are as possible. That’s when I’m having the most fun at work. And in the end, that’s something bigger clients allow for. So my answer is ”something big.”
How are you leaving the work, the workplace or the world a better place than you found it?
I’m trying to fight conformity and mediocrity in ideas. That’s actually my one and only mission in Adland: praising diversity of thought, of action, of speech, of expression. The real danger lies in sameness—we have to be obsessed with challenging the ordinary. Advertising can be about opening narrow minds or just making people laugh. Either way, it’s every creative’s job to make this world a place worth living in.
What’s the biggest piece of advice you can give to women embarking on a creative career?
Don’t take any advice. Almost nobody knows how to get where you’re going.