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From consultant to creative | #GettingToKnow Izgi Yapici

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We’re all for reinvention here at Creativepool, particularly when a late game lane change leads to more creative path. Izgi Yapici left a career in consultancy to literally go back to the drawing board and work her way up in the world of branding.

In her own words, it’s something she was naturally drawn to as she “always loved finding the meaning behind information.” Now, as the Executive Creative Director at Superunion in New York, she gets to transform that information into exciting stories every day. Having also served a stint as Creative Director at Interbrand and won countless awards for her work she seemed like an ideal candidate this week’s getting to know feature.

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Tell us a bit about your role! Is there a “typical” day?

There are no typical days, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Every day, we have new and exciting developments to respond to. As the Executive Creative Director, leading our creative team in New York, there are two daily activities that I look forward to. 

One is our creative team meeting, where we update each other and exchange ideas. The other is working closely with Ross Clugston (CCO North America) and Mick McConnell (CEO North America) to ensure that our decisions lead to revolutionary creative work.

What was the biggest challenge in getting to your current position?

I don’t have the same background as most people in my position. I began my career in consulting and after 14 years and a successful track record, I decided that it was no longer the right career for me. I quit, did some soul searching and eventually identified my passion for visual design.

I went back to school and started again as an intern. I never thought of this as a challenge as I was going through it. But as I look back, I realised that it was a period where I underwent a lot of personal growth, where I found out what was important to me and what I should value in my career. 

What is your personal background and what role did it play in your career?

I grew up in Turkey, went to college and started my career there too. I moved to the US after getting a job offer from Deloitte, thinking that I would enjoy the experience abroad and go back home after a few years. 19 years passed since I moved to the US and I’m still here because I was captivated by New York City, which I call home now. 

That makes me an immigrant in this country – from a country that has quite a different culture. And English will always be my second language. Yet I decided to pursue a career that involves having cultural insights, understanding people and their needs, and developing communications that appeal to them. I gained confidence in my ability to succeed as a creative once I realised the power of empathy and curiosity. 

With those skills in our toolkit, we can all understand each other regardless of our backgrounds. As for my language skills, one of my mentors at Deloitte once told me “No matter what accent you speak with, people will listen to you if you know what you’re talking about.” That made me work harder to really get to the bottom of a problem before offering solutions. I’m grateful for that advice.

What is your biggest career-related win? What is your biggest loss?

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The opportunity to lead the creative team at Superunion’s NYC office is tremendous. But to take this opportunity, I had to say goodbye to my team at Interbrand. And before that, to find Interbrand, I had to leave my first creative home – JKR.  

Which individuals and/or agencies do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?

I love Tibor Kalman’s work. His stance on design’s role in society and his sense of humour are inspiring.

If you could go back to your teenage years, would you have done things differently? Do you have any regrets?

None. I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m not proud of everything. I definitely made some mistakes. But I have no regrets.

If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?

I would continue working in consulting. I love solving big puzzles. In branding, I get to combine that with creating expressions.

What’s your one big dream for the future of the industry?

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More diversity, equity, and inclusion. We work in a field that’s very influential. We need to bring in everyone’s voices to make the right decisions and influence positive change.

What are your top tips for aspiring creative professionals?

How you work is as important as what you work on. Be respectful and be there for your team.

What are your top tips for other creative leaders?

Listen. Listen to your team. Listen to your client. Listen to the news.

When you think about your team, what is the thing that matters to you the most?

I would love my team to come away feeling like they’re learning something new every day. I find growth, both professional and personal, to be the most valuable benefit. And I have always looked for environments that allow for growth.

Do you have any websites, books or resources you would recommend?

I try to read books that are not related to the creative field. I love reading memoirs and fiction because it helps me in seeing the world through another person’s eyes. I also find documentaries very helpful in understanding people's behaviours, how they made decisions and what was important to them. Those are the things that inspire me, anything that will get me in the mindset of someone else.

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