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Why everything you've ever lost was not meant for you – With the Creative Strategist at Teads | #GettingToKnow

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Some things are simply not meant for you. In the family of Sophie Evans, no one worked even remotely in anything creative. Healthcare was the obvious choice for her, to become a doctor and meet the expectations of everyone around her; and yet, Sophie's spirit was already purely creative. So when she found out that a career path existed in creativity, she found ways to dive into it head first, and has never looked back since.

Sophie now works as a Creative Strategist at Teads, sharing creative insights and providing guidance to brands and advertisers as a leader in media. There's no denying it was a long journey; and an incredibly satisfying one at that.

Sophie now knows that everything you've ever lost was never meant for you. She may not have 'made it' as a doctor, but does that matter? If that pushed her on the right path to enter the creative industry, we'd say everything worked out perfectly in the end. With such a compelling background, we're certain the industry would be poorer without Sophie's hard work.

Today we are Getting to Know Sophie, to learn more about her path into the industry and her general hopes for the future of the industry. 

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

As a Creative Strategist at Teads, I work with advertisers to ensure their ads work as effectively as possible on our platform. On a typical day this will involve sharing creative best practices through presentations or workshops. The highlight for me is when we collaborate with advertisers in our Atelier sessions, which involves brainstorming and optimising creatives in real time with our design team, with the goal of having a suite of approved creatives ready within one day. It is intense work but hugely satisfying.

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

The biggest challenge for me was not knowing this sort of career existed, which then led to years of struggling with imposter syndrome while finding my feet in the industry. As I had no experience or qualifications specific to this role, I was terrified of being ‘found out’. It was very isolating to feel like this, but now I know that many people share this experience and talking about it really helped me.

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

No one in my family or circle of influence worked in anything remotely creative. Although I had a natural attraction to the arts, I was put off by teachers and family who didn’t believe they would lead to career opportunities. So my goal as a teen was to become a doctor, but due to various challenges things didn't work out. I have always been a hard worker, working from the age of twelve after school and at weekends. When I left university I was fortunate to get an internship with a small media owner. Hard work was the key to my initial success, and when I was made redundant due to the recession, my tenacity and dedication meant I was rehired by the same company for a media sales role. This is what really kick started my career and brought my creativity back to life. Fast forward fourteen years and what was originally a stop gap while I tried to figure out what to do has become a fulfilling and rewarding career.

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

My proudest work was years ago now, for Classic FM and Cancer Research UK. Nothing has quite toppled it due to how personal the topic was, but the idea was also amazing. The team at Classic FM are outrageously talented; we followed the journey of composer Howard Goodall who we commissioned to write a piece of music inspired by the work of Cancer Research UK, which he premiered at the Royal Albert Hall and released with the profits going to the charity. I still feel emotional about it. More recently, at Teads, the level of creativity and the wins that we experience as a team amazes me. Having the trust of some of the world's biggest advertisers; to work with their beautiful ads is really fun and stimulating.

My biggest loss is harder to pinpoint. Anything I’ve ever lost was not meant for me, and all the brilliant experiences I have subsequently had are worth any loss.

What’s your secret to remaining inspired and motivated? 

As much as I love my work, its primary purpose is to help me enjoy my life. Keeping inspired and motivated always comes back to assessing goals and values whilst finding ways to meet them. A lot of the time, the work I do aligns with and supports my life goals and the things I care about, which is a fortunate place to be.

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

I have so many, but I’ll narrow down to two. Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England mentored me while I was in my mid-twenties. His books Creativity: Why It Matters  and The Arts Dividend: Why Investment in Culture Pays highlight the importance of creativity in our society at a time when arts and creativity are so threatened and undervalued, so he is heroic. I was also lucky enough to take part in a 6 week course hosted by the amazing Amy Kean earlier this year called Practice Makes Unperfect. Amy is a true inspiration, not only talking about issues that matter but actually making significant changes in the work she does. She fights for equality and calls out bullshit in a way that gets me fired up with positive energy. Follow her and take part in her courses – she’s ace.

How has COVID-19 affected you? 

Our Atelier sessions had to pivot to online due to remote working throughout the pandemic. Initially this seemed like an impossible challenge, but we’ve worked it to our advantage. We can be super flexible with the scheduling, more efficient with our time and resources, and more inclusive and collaborative with international attendees. A recent session hosted participants from the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Romania, Italy, and the UK. As a result, I’ve seen the standard of creativity elevated, and we create more locally relevant outputs.

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

I would have never given up on the arts! I live in Doc Martens and for the most part of my adult life had a tiny art school fringe, so it would have suited me perfectly. Maybe there is still time.

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

Most likely working in a health-related field; although I abandoned that career route, I wouldn’t rule it out for the future. These days I am much more interested in eastern medicine and natural healing methods. Perhaps I could merge two careers into one….a healing centre for advertising professionals.

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

I wish this wasn’t a dream, but for advertising to be genuinely diverse and inclusive in the environments we work in and the work that we produce. I would love to see equal opportunity for everyone no matter what their gender, age, race, beliefs, background, or sexual orientation. Related to this, I think a total revaluation of how we select and welcome talent is key– is a degree essential for creative roles? I don’t have one and it doesn’t hinder me. We miss out on masses of potential talent with a barrier for those who, for whatever reason, have not had the opportunity of higher education. I’d love to see the rule book ripped up on this and everyone given a fair shot. I also strongly believe in the power of advertising to influence society; it should not raise eyebrows or be cause for celebration to see reality reflected in the advertising we see which is real, unfiltered, reflections of society. It should just be the norm.

What is your one piece of advice to aspiring creative professionals? 

Be the biggest you that you can be. Never dilute yourself or your ideas. Your uniqueness, everything you are, is what makes you so great. Nurture your own talents, help others, and do great stuff. Oh, and relax -it's meant to be fun so don’t worry too much.

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

I am actually terrible at reading, my attention span is comparable to that of a brick. I do use apps though and recommend the Calm app to help ground yourself and gain peace and perspective in the chaos of life.

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