The World's Most Creative Women: Lizi Hamer, Octagon

Lizi Hamer, Regional Creative Director at Octagon

In a continuing drive for greater diversity and inclusion in marketing and advertising, a new feature by The Drum highlights conversations with top creative women in the industry.

All were nominated for The Drum’s global Woman of the Year award at The Drum Creative Awards, sponsored by Facebook, One Minute Briefs and in partnership with Creative Equals. The award is designed to push equality boundaries within the creative industry to spark discussion and action.

From icons and pioneers to prominent creative directors and designers, we asked each of them how diversity creates better work, the positive changes the industry can make, what keeps these creatives going in an ever-changing world and how greater diversity can grow the business.

This series will reveal more of The Drum's Creative Women over the next few weeks.

Today, we speak to Lizi Hamer, regional creative director at Octagon.

From your experience and point of view, how does a more diverse creative team create better work? What have been some examples of that in action?

Diversity of thought is powerful and attainting it in creative teams is essential. When people are coming up with creative ideas their background, work and life experiences play a significant role in what they’ll produce. Having diverse creatives considering the same problem from different points of view means the range of solutions grows. New perspectives, novel concepts and conflicting opinions come when people from diverse backgrounds work together to push their thinking.

Living in Singapore has given me an amazing amount of understanding when creating work for the APAC region. Singapore itself, I often refer to as a Noah’s Ark, there is literally one of every type of person living here and it’s fascinating.

Our current creative team has been built from a range of backgrounds, and our latest successful hire has never previously worked in an agency. She brings a new presence to the team, questions more ‘why we do things in certain ways’ and pushes us all to be better. Casting the net wide and bringing in people with diversity in gender, background, thinking styles and energy types allows us to produce better novel work.

How are the conversations around creativity, and specific work/projects, different with a more gender balanced team?

Gender-balanced teams can spark bigger and braver thinking as the range of solutions created is increased. The diversity of brains on a project can ensure a multitude of elements are considered and developed. As I heard in the Cannes Jury room, “Less funny one-off ideas win at Cannes these days, as the balanced jury ensures it is the real creativity that is recognised.”

What changes around inclusion should the entire industry embrace today?

The industry needs to consider diversity as an opportunity that we all benefit from. There are plenty of business cases that show the financial benefit for the change. But we also need to embrace the personal benefit of working in diverse teams, the challenges we’ll face and overcome, the new ways we’ll learn and develop as people, to become better creatives.

The entire industry needs to examine their hiring policies, their support of diverse people into the industry and their internal retention programs. I don’t believe you can just hire diverse people and not support them inside the company and industry.

With all of the issues women face in the creative sector, what keeps you in the industry?

I eat, live and breathe creativity and couldn’t imagine life in another industry. As creatives, we have the ability to affect positive change in today’s world, we are allowed to earn the attention of our audiences and entertain them in new ways. The creative sector is vibrant, constantly evolving and never has two days the same. The fast-paced nature and dynamic need to problem solve suits my personality and pushes my thinking. I thrive in spaces I’m not always supposed to be, I love to challenge sameness and want to shatter these glass ceilings.

Will greater diversity in the industry ultimately save/grow it?

Expanding diversity not just in gender but in the creative team’s socioeconomic background, thinking styles, beliefs systems and energy types will save the industry. Creativity drives brands, creates sub-cultures and can push social agendas; we need to ensure the industry is respected for its impact and the more novel thinking that can be created the more we will all thrive.

The Drum Creative Awards puts creativity back in the spotlight and flies the flag for creativity during the digital revolution. These global awards are open to advertising agencies, design consultancies, digital agencies, production companies, marketing agencies, PR and more.

To register your interest for 2018, go to the event website.

This years awards were sponsored by: Facebook Creative Shop and One Minute Brief and partnered with: Creative Equals.

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