The Future is Inclusive
By Alixandra Rutnik Posted on Aug 18, 2022
Catching up with this year's Next Creative Leaders jury
Our creative future is inclusive, and The One Club for Creativity provides many opportunities for all creative individuals to thrive in the ad industry. The more diverse perspectives there are, the better the work and the workplaces will be. So here’s to our future Next Creative Leaders!
The deadline for submissions to Next Creative Leaders 2022 — our exclusive portfolio competition for women and non-binary creatives — is just around the corner. You have until next Friday, August 26 to enter, giving you just one week to get everything together and put your best foot forward!
If you need some inspiration before you hit that "submit" button, we talked to a handful of our fabulous 2022 Jury Members. Not only will these superstars be viewing the entries, but they also know what it's like to be in this position, as they are all Next Creative Leaders winners themselves! Meet Erika Reyes, Senior Creative at AKQA; Nopparath Eksuwancharoen, CD & Head of Art at Sour Bangkok; Paula Essig, ACD at Droga5 Sãu Paulo; Teresa Nyamirambo Makori, ACD at Isobar - Dentsu Kenya; Eduarda Nieto, Designer at AKQA Sweden; Katarina Matic, Senior Art Director at Bullfrog; Jackie Moran, Art Director and Creative Strategist at TikTok; and Julia Mota, Creative Director at GUT São Paulo.
Of course, this is just a small selection of the industry pros will have their eyes on your submissions; you can check out the whole jury here. Nevertheless, the words of these eight stars here should give more than enough incentive to complete your entries by the 26th!
Describe the moment when you found out you won!
Erika Reyes: I was on a flight with wifi on my way to Colombia, my girlfriend told me that some of our friends won, so I supposed I didn’t, as I hadn’t received an e-mail by then. I refreshed my inbox over and over again. I cried a little bit in my plane seat. 8 hours later, I landed and refreshed my email one last time, and surprise, surprise, the e-mail was there. I cried a little more.
Nopparath Eksuwancharoen: It was an incredible feeling. I was so excited that I screamed a little to my friends. And then I rushed to tell my boss who nominated me for this title.
Paula Essig: I can remember that it was a very sunny day here in São Paulo. I was working from home when, suddenly, this special email appeared in my inbox telling me that I was named as one of the influencers in the future of the creative industry. I needed to read this message many times again to be sure that it was reality. Then I sent a print screen of it to my two best friends (female creatives like me), of course. The rest of my day was about processing it and understanding the whole meaning behind it.
Teresa Makori: It was October 15th in the year of our Lord 2021. The time was 6.46 p.m. and I was just settling into a chair in the kitchen, trying to convince my best friend and housemate Cynthia, to let me sleep because my head was pounding from the COVID vaccine shot I had received a few hours earlier. She dragged the chair from the living room so I could keep her company as she began dinner preparations. My head, which felt like it weighed a tonne, was rested on my hand, when I felt my phone vibrate. I laboured to lift my head to see if it was anything important and froze when I saw the subject line on my notification bar. It read NEXT CREATIVE LEADERS/ IMPORTANT INFORMATION/ ACTION REQUIRED.
My best friend’s voice faded into the background as I apprehensively clicked on the email. My eyes landed on the first words - “Hi Teresa, Congratulations!!!” For the first few seconds I forgot how unwell I was feeling and jumped out of the chair, startling Cynthia. “ I made it! They emailed! Oh my gosh Cynthia I made it!!!” I screamed and shouted so loudly my head started pounding even more.
Cynthia is now jumping with me asking what we have made it into. I couldn’t articulate it in the moment so I just shoved the phone in her face. She scanned through the email and joined in with screaming of her own. I immediately took a screenshot of the email and sent it to three of my mentors, one who had first introduced me to NCL, one who nudged me into re-entering after I had failed to make it a year or so before, and one who helped me think through what work to enter and how to enter it. And then I retired to bed to nurse my debilitating vaccine after-effects in high spirits!
NCL is about more than just a great portfolio. It's about showing leadership and a point of view. What will you be looking for from this year's entrants?
Eduarda Nieto: I believe what makes NCL so exciting as a prize is not only being based on the portfolio and advertising creations, but also being focused on the impact that personal/advertising ideas can have on the world. How do you actually speak to your community through your creativity? I look forward to seeing people who make a positive contribution to their communities. I think it's important to talk to our tribes first, and then reach out to the world.
Katarina Matic: Creative departments are becoming more and more diverse and have definitely come a long way from where we've been in the past. However, there is so much more work to be done in diversifying leadership and executive level roles - women, women of colour and nonbinary creatives are few and far between. Mentoring has a huge role to play in helping uplift the next generation of diverse creatives. I would love to see entrants who are actively paving the way for other women and nonbinary folk through mentoring and positive role modelling.
Jackie Moran: I'm looking for ideas that express the entrant's personality and values. Ideas and projects that aren't based just on what the new trendy technology is– something that shows not only their craft, but also their creative problem solving.
What advice can you give to those looking to empower other women and nonbinary creatives?
Eduarda Nieto: Be an open channel and keep yourself humble. In that way you will keep inspiring new creatives and leaders around the world.
Teresa Makori: Ladies, I would urge you to pay it forward. To do what you wish was done for you. To openly share your learnings, processes, failures, and triumphs in public spaces for those who are looking up to you to learn from you. I would encourage you to push for gender equality in the recruitment processes, remuneration, and even with your organisations partners. And to look out for and correct gender biases in the scripts and work that is put out in your organisations. Don’t only be the gatekeeper– be your sister’s keeper.
"Ladies, I would urge you to pay it forward. To do what you wish was done for you. To openly share your learnings, processes, failures, and triumphs in public spaces for those who are looking up to you to learn from you."
Katarina Matic: Creating work environments where women, women of colour, and nonbinary creatives feel emotionally safe, like their voices matter and their opinions are valid is incredibly empowering. For cisgendered white men and people in the status quo this means being cognisant of how much space you're taking up and how people who are not in positions of power (socially and within the workplace structure) may be keeping quiet or holding back. Next time you're in a group look around you and take note. Who is speaking and who is not? Who is holding and driving the conversation floor? How can you use your power to create space for others?
What is rewarding about being in a leadership role? And what is challenging about being a creative leader?
Julia Mota: As a creative leader, it’s rewarding when someone tells me I inspire them to believe in themselves. I’m 100% positive that self-esteem is part of the creative process– that’s why women need to trust that creativity is a female treat. When you’re comfortable with who you are, you’ll be able to come up with amazing ideas, win prizes, and make history.
Paula Essig: When you become a leader, you realize that you have a new job. Of course you are still using the knowledge you've been getting for so many years, but now it's time to share it adding your own vision about the direction we must go. All of this while you are still learning - probably even more. It's a big and very inspiring responsibility.
Nopparath Eksuwancharoen: To see people in the team grow is the best part of being in the leadership role. It’s even better than the actual work in the portfolio.
Teresa Makori: One of the most rewarding things about being in a leadership role is seeing your team gain confidence in themselves, and being a part of helping them own their magic. The most challenging thing about being a woman creative leader amongst very few women creative leaders is not having someone to guide you through the daunting imposter syndrome that occasionally comes your way.
Jackie Moran: One of the things I love about leading a project is the recognition I feel within myself– that the years of working have shaped me and my perspective. I remember when I was a junior, and I saw how quickly my CDs would problem solve or ideate, and I didn't think I could ever reach that level. What I find challenging is something I've been working on throughout my whole career and life really, which is that not everything has to be done or solved by yourself.
"One of the things I love about leading a project is the recognition I feel within myself– that the years of working have shaped me and my perspective."
In what ways has creativity shaped who you are today?
Teresa Makori: Ohmygosh what a question! Creativity has coloured my existence since I was old enough to read. I would get lost in the worlds created by different authors, and I never had a lonely moment when alone. Quiet moments were filled with creating my own worlds through writing, tumultuous times were escaped by reading, and everything in between by music, which is my next love. To have found a career that not only allows but requires me to expose myself to the arts and to human experiences with a creative lens is honestly kind of magical.
Jackie Moran: For me, my confidence in my creative ability and expression is one of the only things I've always felt stable in. I find that if I don't have a creative project to work on, then it can really affect my mental health. I think it’s also important to have a creative project that is separate from your work– something that no one else but you has to like or care about.
Katarina Matic: Creativity makes me feel like anything is possible and any problem can be solved. With creative thinking I've pivoted careers, found ways to advocate for myself, tackled societal issues, co-created movements, discovered better versions of myself, learned how to stay true to my values, expressed myself through drawing, dancing and design, and created a body of work that I'm proud of. Creativity keeps my mind curious and hopeful. And it brings me joy to express myself creatively.
"With creative thinking I've pivoted careers, found ways to advocate for myself, tackled societal issues, co-created movements, discovered better versions of myself, learned how to stay true to my values, expressed myself through drawing, dancing and design, and created a body of work that I'm proud of."
Will you be part of The Next Creative Leaders? The final deadline to enter your work is Friday, August 26.