All of you have worked in different countries. How working cultures differ across borders
Sam: I moved to Sweden for the opportunity to work in a new market. I’ve noticed there are deep-seated values in the Nordics. In work it translates into a clear, human sense of design that’s very connected to Scandinavian values.
Talya: I completely agree with Sam. I come from New York – a place where you live to work. Sweden is the opposite. I appreciate the work life balance we have at AKQA, and I believe it’s similar across Northern Europe in general.
Sam: Here the level of representation is also refreshing. In Nordic business many women are in the lead. I worked with major brands in Britain for years – it was rooms full of men, all the time. In Sweden, I’ve had a great opportunity to build inclusive, diverse teams from the ground up.
Lasse, Senior Account Director at AKQA Sweden: I can vouch for representation as well, because internationality attracted me to AKQA in the first place. In our Swedish studios it’s probably a 50/50 split between Swedes and people from elsewhere: there’s Brazilians, Canadians, Brits, Spaniards, Portuguese, and Japanese colleagues. I moved to Sweden about six years ago. My Swedish wasn’t great but things quickly improved, and people here have been really understanding of my finnsvenska.
Some creative ideas can challenge the client. How do you get clients on board with your most visionary work? What you’d like to see more of from clients?
Talya: Business incentives for doing the right thing are growing: we’re moving towards a green economy, finding circular ways of doing things, and applying inclusivity in messages. I hope that more brands become brave with their purpose, and as creatives we need to match this direction. We might want to question briefs and help our clients see the potential in ideas they initially write off. Our job is to encourage, even if it might make the client a little uncomfortable at first.
Lasse: Sometimes the best way to help clients make decisions is to help them see the outcome of great work. It requires education, support, and even therapy of sorts: clients need tools to find the right mindset. Change can be scary, but when a client gets into the idea of testing faster and learning through failings, it becomes the new way of doing things. Sometimes you need to find that one person on client’s side who’s brave enough to take things forward and has the power to do it.
Sam: Also consider the time your idea needs. If you really believe in an idea that responds to a current event or a trend, client’s bureaucracy and democracy might get in your way. When you have a great responsive idea, your only option is to encourage to client to act fast.