Ander Hernando Balsells, Head of integrated design at JWT Melbourne shares his secrets to career success.
With the digital team in JWT Melbourne
1. Bring digital into the conversation from the beginning
I started my career in a traditional agency but I felt that the way we were using digital was not quite right. I wanted to learn how we could use digital in a more effective and engaging way, so I left advertising for a few years to focus on digital design.
Since then it’s progressed rapidly, and stopped being an extra add on to a campaign. Digital is something that should be discussed in the ideas stage of a campaign, at the very beginning. Adding into the conversation can change the campaign entirely – you become more story and user focused.
It is important to involve someone with good understanding.
2. Specialise in something but be curious about other areas
Your work is only as great as your team.
When looking for designer you can find people who are highly versed in a specific area of expertise and learn by drilling more deeply into a particular field or people who have broader skills and knowledge and learns by linking up different perspectives from different specialties. Both profiles are great but because advertising and specially the digital space is constantly changing I find that people with broader skills are better at making connections and starting conversations that bring really interesting ideas to the table.
When thinking about your role, make sure you find an option that aligns with your individual progression goals.
3. Use the research
For many years I followed design intuition when it came to visuals. People can be very swayed by current trends and personal taste.
UX changed the game completely – you can’t argue with fact and research. Every meeting, brief, client presentation, conversations should be underpinned by solid research.
Solid research creates more effective designs. It’s better for the client as it’s a fact backed spend, and it’s valuable for the relationship as it takes emotion out of the conversation.
4. Stay on top of your game
The industry has evolved rapidly over the last few years; it’s showing absolutely no signs of slowing down, and it’s no one’s responsibility but your own to stay on top of your game.
If you’re not passionate about the field to want to put in the extra hours staying up to date, you’re probably not going to get much career satisfaction.
Surround yourself with people with very different backgrounds and interests. I spend time crawling the web looking for inspiration every day.
I normally go to FWA, Awwwards, Behance and Vimeo for inspiration. I also follow a couple of blogs like It’s Nice That or Fubiz. Another thing I find really inspiring is to attend as many conferences and festivals as you can.
And of course listen to podcast, a few of my favourites:
• Design Details. (Digital Design)
• Design Matters. (Design and creativity by Debie Millman)
• Lecture in Progress. (Creative in general by It’s nice that)
• Yeah, That’s probably an ad (Advertising by Adweek)
5. When the time comes, give back
As cliché as it can sound, one of the most rewarding parts of progressing through digital is being able to help people grow.
It is very important to share knowledge with your team mates. Here we have a really good team with very different skills and we all learn from each other. As a senior designer you get to work closely with junior designers and it is very rewarding see how they grow and develop their skills. Here in the agency we are trying to get the senior creatives to mentor young ones, and by doing that we are not pretending to be teachers, teachers explain but mentors inspire.
Good designers trust and follow the creative leads they trust and respect.