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Making a creative leap with Lauren Maynard #GettingToKnow

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FutureBrand – the brand-led business transformation company that has helped transform household names such as American Airlines, Sanofi, McDonald’s, NatWest and Barilla – has appointed Lauren Maynard as its new Global Chief Growth Officer

In her new role, Maynard will be responsible for overseeing FutureBrand’s global marketing efforts, as well as driving the strategic growth across all 20+ offices globally. In particular, she will focus on ensuring the breadth of the agency’s offerings are aligned to help clients connect their brands to experience and design creativity that reaps a tangible return on investment. 

We caught up with Lauren this week to discuss not only her new role but her creative journey thus far.

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

I have the immense pleasure of working with people in all 20+ FutureBrand studios across the globe, which makes for a really interesting – and not particularly typical – day. In my role, I am focused on what makes FutureBrand the global business that it is – enhancing our connective tissue from market to market. 


We are a big business with both deep and broad capabilities – from the things you would expect like brand strategy, brand architecture, identity, and packaging – to some things you might not expect, like employee engagement, retail design and construction, and shopper design. On a given day, I might connect with some of our offices and capabilities to talk about what they have coming up that I should know about or to connect them with experts in the network they may need to talk to on a particular client challenge. 

I oversee our marketing strategy, therefore it’s a big part of my job to discuss something we are launching and how we can take the learnings and share them in the most engaging way possible. Another part of my role also involves working with the McCann Worldgroup and IPG networks to drive growth, so I likely will have a call to discuss how FutureBrand can help a current client with a challenge, or how we can engage with the network on an upcoming opportunity. 

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

The leap from management consulting to the marketing services world was a bit of a shock. I am a very framework-driven thinker, and I like to take an idea then go get it done. In large global organizations, this can be tricky. There are a lot of stakeholders; plans change quickly; dependencies pop up out of nowhere. The last five years have taught me – through both successes and ample failures – to try to do less, but with more focus.

A lot of work ends up on the cutting room floor. That’s ok, but I need to be laser focused on what’s important and the stories of impact I want to tell at the end of the year. And then I have to say NO to some things, or to let some things die. Right now, as I start this new role, I am trying to remember this and to constantly reassess my priority list. Ask me in December if this went well or not!

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

From English Literature major and aspiring ski bum in New Hampshire, USA to FutureBrand CGO in London seems circuitous but with each major decision I have made, I have focused on opening three doors I’d be happy walking through, picking one, and seeing where it leads. That means I have choices and flexibility.


When I graduated university, all my older friends had gone to NYC and hit the “wow adulting is expensive and also there aren’t a lot of days off” stage, so I took a crazy leap and applied for jobs in Seattle, Portland, and Boulder – where I could adventure outdoors when I wasn’t working.

I took a job I really loved and got the chance to work very hard while also playing hard outside – skiing and biking. It was joyful. When I am feeling stuck at work, or uninspired, or am playing it too safe and not taking risks, I try to give myself a challenge outside that gives me a refresh. 

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

I don’t have a single specific win, but I absolutely love winning with teams. There is nothing more joyful than digging deep and working hard together, and then getting to celebrate collectively when we win. 

My biggest loss – I applied to grad school and didn’t get in. Anywhere. I was devastated and pretty embarrassed about it. I was unhappy in my job at the time, and I think that lack of passion was crystal clear in my applications. But then – I found a job I LOVED, and one that helped me cut my teeth as a leader.

And a few years later, when my husband got a chance to move to London for work, I had everything I needed to throw in a last-minute application to grad school, my passion showed through in my application, and I got the chance to get my MBA with an incredibly international peer set in London. I think about this journey ALL the time. It's not the one I planned for, but it was the one I was meant to be on.

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

So much of my career is owed to the mentors and sponsors who took the time to open doors for me, to remind me I can push further, and to be there as a sounding board.


For me, that’s it – the people who take time to grow the talent below them. 

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

At a micro-level, I had a really bad haircut my senior year of high school. I thought I was giving Meg Ryan but…I was not. I would also be a bit nicer to my parents, whom I love dearly. Other than that, I have the benefit of seeing how all my adventures and missteps have led me to a life with a lot of joy. So, no regrets. 

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

In the winter I would be a ski patroller, and, in the summer, I would do emergency response operations for wildfires. I absolutely love emergency management. I was a ski patroller and Emergency Medical Technician in university.


When I lived in Colorado, I used to listen to the operational response radio channels during fires. Very, very niche. But I think it translates to something in my life today – I like the challenge of cleaning up a mess. 

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

I think our industry is incredibly awards-focused. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but at the end of the day I’d prefer our success externally was more judged on client outcomes. While those are hard to measure, they are the reason we exist as a business, and I’d like that to be a more central part of the broader industry conversation.

What are your top tips for other creative leaders?

As someone working in a creative industry, I would say it’s important to make space for that which you do not understand. I don’t speak a creative language – that’s not what my job is about – but if I don’t ensure I am immersed in that culture I won’t be able to understand how we as a business can attract the best talent and deliver the best outcomes for clients. 

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

Fallibility. My standards for excellence are incredibly high, and I expect it of everyone. But I think truly great work doesn’t come without a bad first draft; a failed attempt at a new approach; needing to rely on others to get to an answer.


10 years ago, I would have just said excellence, but I’ve realized that making that the focus sometimes excludes the stumbles that lead to even better results. 

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

A truly American answer: The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe. It is history told as a fable, which is a wonderful lesson in storytelling. It has incredible entrepreneurialism, risk taking, and a bit of a cowboy spirit. And it also is a peek into Cold War propaganda and marketing stories to the American public. It’s good to keep around for a dose of adrenaline. 


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