It’s rare to find someone in the creative industries who will “tell it like it is” without sounding like an entitled brat but Paulo Pimentel is one of the few ‘white, middle-aged male executives’ who admits he is ‘part of the problem’ but is trying to do something about it.
The European Creative Director for IBM at George P. Johnson is very much a force for good in the creative world - a family man who extols the virtues of experiential advertising, transcendental meditation and the young people waiting in the wings to wrestle for his crown.
Paulo is also a qualified Architect with a career spanning over 20 years in which he has developed hundreds of innovative solutions across a multitude of project types. His work can be found everywhere from the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin to the Millennium Dome in London and the National Museum of Qatar but it all holds that same dramatic and innovative spark.
I caught up with Paulo this week to discuss his background, what drives him and inspires him and how he hopes to creative industries will evolve in 2020 and beyond.
Tell us a bit about your role
I’m the European Creative Director for IBM at George P. Johnson (GPJ) Experience Marketing. I’m responsible for all the creative output the agency produces for IBM in Europe. This includes experiential events, conferences, exhibitions, as well as campaign content and activations in 2D, 3D, written and digital form. I also oversee other agencies delivering work for IBM across Europe, ensuring the brand is consistent across every touchpoint. Every day is different and a new challenge!
Tell us about your background and how it has equipped you for today
I’m an Architect by profession. I qualified just before the millennium and got into experiential design by working on projects like the Millennium Dome and the Guinness Storehouse. Architects have the ability to understand the big picture, pull together all the disparate pieces and drill down into detail when necessary. This has put me in good stead for my current role. There are so many moving parts, individual projects, different people from different disciplines, all working towards the same goal. This breadth of variety means it’s essential to be able to keep the account overview front of mind and understand the endeavour as a whole. I no longer think of separate projects in an isolated way. The IBM account is the project.
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
If I hadn’t become involved in those experiential projects by chance back in the late 90’s, then I’d probably be practising as an Architect now. Looking further back, I was really into nature and biology when I was at school, so maybe I’d be a marine biologist studying coral reefs and helping protect the oceans.
What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?
Working with young people and giving them a platform. I cannot deny that, whilst I may be leading the team, I don’t always come up with the best ideas. The very best creativity and lateral thinking often comes from the junior ranks and being humble enough to realise it and help them fulfil their potential keeps me motivated. Their success is my success.
What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?
It’s very hard to pinpoint as, over a career spanning two decades, there have been many ups and downs! I worked on a consumer-facing project in the energy sector that made a real impact on that brand’s public perception and highlighted the challenges we will face in the future. I get a genuine sense of achievement when I use my creativity to effect change by raising awareness through meaningful stories.
How do you recharge away from the office?
Spending time with my family is really important to me. Supporting my children and being part of their development is a really inspiring source of joy but also full-on! So, when I need headspace, I head out to the countryside on my bike to both challenge myself physically and reflect at the same time - I’m a big cyclist. I’ve recently taken up Transcendental Meditation which has had a really positive effect on both my creativity and my ability to deal with stress. There are some very inspirational creative people out there who meditate, David Lynch, being a prime example. I’d recommend it to anyone.
What’s your one big hope for the future of the creative industries?
I think there’s still a long way to go with inclusivity and, being a white, middle-aged, male CD myself, I recognise I’m part of the problem. I hope that, in time, the diversity I see coming through now will be leading the charge in the future and inspiring creativity for the better.