Try having a quick chat with Grey London Chief Creative Officer Laura Jordan Bambach and you'll be able to spot, in just a few minutes, the very source of her success in the industry. A caring leader, an empathic creative and a driven entrepreneur, Laura has many a beautiful story to tell and all extremely inspirational at that.
From being a maths nerd and an art fanatic at school to founding her own business to get her through university, Laura has always had that entrepreneurial spark and she's constantly been looking for that extra push to drive change in the industry. 8 years after founding Mr President, she is now leading an amazing team of creative pros at Grey London, which she joined in the middle of a lockdown. And her inspiration and creative energy do not show one sign of fading out.
Today we are Getting to Know one of the most influential female leaders in the industry, and one of our Top 100 Creative Industry Influencers of 2020.
Tell us about your current role!
I’m Chief Creative Officer of Grey London, as well as being a founder of a number of social enterprises: SheSays, Ready For Business and CANNT Festival for starters, in my spare time.
I love what I do. I love my team. I love their brilliant ideas and brains. I love working to transform brands (and sometimes the world) for the better. I love sometimes feeling uncomfortable and pushing through. I love curiosity and creativity. I’m very lucky.
How did you get to your current position? What was the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge? There have been a lot of challenges, best thing to do is take each obstacle one at a time and chip away. Find creative ways around them. Treat people with respect and most importantly make great work. I love a challenge because the satisfaction you get on the other side if you do overcome it is great.
What is your personal background and what role did it play in your career?
I was as much a maths nerd as I was an art fanatic at school, and so falling into interactive media at art school was a great crossover of both. When I realised I could use my digital skills as a business I founded my own company working with advertising and design agencies, to put myself through uni.
So I’ve always had that entrepreneurial streak. That hunger and tenacity has been a big part of my career, and the joy of making things that no one has made before has never left me either. I also love the feeling of leaning into the unknown! It’s why I founded my agency Mr President 8 years ago, and also part of why I joined Grey this year.
Which individuals and/or agencies do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?
When I was D&AD president years ago, I was fortunate to be able to meet creative people outside the local market and really connect globally. I love some of the independent design studios around the world, like Rice Creative in Vietnam for example.
Or my dear friend and incredible talent Morhiro Harano from Mori-Inc in Tokyo. Of course I have a bunch of people closer to home I love the work of too – but my heroes are more often than not outside the industry.
What is your biggest career-related win? What is your biggest loss?
My biggest career-related win has to be the Honorary Doctorate I received from UAL/Norwich for services to women in graphic design. Not only was it an incredible honour, but john Hurt was the dean at the time so I got to dress up in a ridiculous gown and hang out with him.
Loss? When I’ve seen amazing people that have left advertising and design because of bias and an unworkable culture. As an industry, we’re terrible at retaining the amazing talent we have, and we’re poorer for it.
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
Something broadly creative for sure. Something where I can solve problems and make an impact on the world.
What’s your secret to keeping the team inspired and motivated?
There’s no secret, and it’s tough for everyone at the moment so I’m spending a lot of my time with the Grey creative and design crew. It’s just listening, helping and supporting people get to the best work of their lives and actually giving a shit about everyone.
How has COVID-19 affected you as a leader?
I’ve had to onboard completely remotely, so I miss some of the things that really feel vital to what I do – walking the floor for example. So I’ve been looking for other ways of creating that sense of inspiration and being together. I’ve always been very concerned about mental health (I’m a mental health first-aider) but I’ve had to double down on that too, checking in with everyone. Most importantly I’ve had to put aside worries about whether I know what I’m doing – no one does right now! It’s all new.
What have you learned from 2020?
That I’m more resilient than I think, and that I love really getting stuck into the problems that matter – in life and for my clients.
What is your biggest hope for 2021?
That all the amazing interns and students that have really been struggling with placements and jobs get a break.