Twelve months ago it would’ve been difficult for me to really understand how attending the Cannes Lions Creative Academy would directly impact my career. For the past two years, my experience of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has been shaped by the Academy, first, as a student of the creative academy in 2018, and then as the inaugural 2019 Young Lions ambassador. As an art director in Dallas, attending a creativity conference in the French Riviera seemed like a long shot goal. Funny enough, what seemed like even longer shot was making it back the next year. That was until it actually happened.
After completing the week-long academy in 2018, I returned to work spinning, trying to implement everything we learned into my workflow. Instead of becoming overwhelmed, I reminded myself that change doesn’t happen overnight but rather happens through many small daily actions. I’ve always had the ability to articulate my ideas which ends up being a large part of what our jobs entail as agency creatives. This is why a large part of the academy was not only learning about understanding award-winning work but also developing our own voices: how to bring our voice, our experiences, and our humanity back to the work. After my time at the academy, I returned home with a stronger voice along with the tools to use it. This led to more responsibilities: moving to Los Angeles, joining a new team, a new client and a merited promotion. Developing my creative voice has been key to my growth over the past year, which couldn’t have happened at the speed it did without the impactful week in the Creative Academy.
So earlier this year when the academy was seeking to fill a new role, I jumped at the opportunity to apply. As a Young Lion ambassador, my role was to help the next class prepare in the weeks leading up to the academy as well as be a voice for the program. Returning to the festival this year I had a new goal: to nurture a creative community. The first step was to create a communication channel with the next class of Young Lions and me. We started with a private Facebook group where we could all introduce ourselves and created the first Young Lions Instagram community page. These two channels helped us connect in the weeks leading up to the event, plan meetups, and share a short video series called “Ro’s guide to Young Lions Week”.
Being the voice of the academy was an experience that challenged me to go beyond my comfort zone. While it was initially difficult, it was well worth the reward of mentoring academy students from all over the world. In between sessions or dinners, I had the privilege of bonding with the future leaders of the industry from the media, marketers, creatives and the Roger Hatchuel academies.
For most of us, the tools we learned through the Young Lions academy will continue to shape our work and our careers. I’m thankful for two extraordinary experiences the first of which fuelled my personal growth, to use my voice to champion the work, in turn, fuelling those around me. The second and the biggest takeaway of being academy alumni was to continue purse creative education, mentorship, and most important investing in a creative network.