The Drum’s 50 Under 30: outstanding women in creative and digital, part 3

50 under 30

The Drum’s 50 Under 30 celebrates the world’s highest achieving women in creative and digital under the age of 30. For 2019, we present our first ever global edition of the 50 Under 30 after asking our readers across APAC, Europe and the Americas to nominate the talent they most admire.

Below, you'll find the third set of inductees to this year's list. We’ll reveal who’ll be joining them in a series of articles published on thedrum.com each day this week. Make sure you don’t miss them by registering for our daily newsletters.

And if you haven't read part one and part two yet, catch up now.

Erin Evon, senior art director, R/GA

Based in New York City, Erin Evon is the brains behind the ‘It’s a Tide ad’ Super Bowl campaign. Evon’s work has been recognised by the Emmy’s, Cannes Lions, D&AD, The One Show, Andy Awards and Clio Awards. She previously spent five years at Saatchi & Saatchi, rising to the role of art director before making the move to R/GA where she helped launch Shopify into the market with their first campaign.

What advice would you give to someone getting started in the industry today?

Leave your ego at the door! Be a pleasure to work with and someone others want to be around. I've found that the nicest, humble people are usually the best at what they do. They don't have time to clout their ego because they are too busy creating great, inspiring work. This advice applies to everyone beyond agency colleagues to directors, editors, sound mixers, composers, and everyone who helps bring your ideas to life. If people like working with you, they will want to keep working with you.

How would you explain what you do to a taxi driver?

I'm a creative person in advertising. This means I come up with ideas that are expressed through film, visual, and experiential executions to get people to feel something. Often, the ideas are for brands. Sometimes they're simply meant to inspire and help people. But all of them are crafted to grab attention and make people think, "Hm, that was good." Because these are the ideas I know are great.

What keeps you awake at night?

There's a time in your career where your ideas keep you up at night. Then you reach a level of success and people actually want to hear them. That's when a thought sneaks in: imposter syndrome. I've learned that with great success, there's fear of personal failure. It's the number one fear in a 2016 poll of Americans. But what I've realized is fear is good. It means you care. It's the natural response to an important situation. So, ultimately, what keeps me up at night is caring... about ideas and the work.

Bee Pahnke, head of voice, Dragon Rouge

At Dragon Rouge, Bee Pahnke helps clients to find the right voice to fit their brand identity. With her background in creative writing, Pahnke is able to use her skills to help clients understand the value that language can add. From her London base she also uses her skills to run seminars on period poverty and write articles on industry topics she is passionate about.

What's one thing would you do to change the industry for the better?

Increase diversity and representation. The work we do is responsible for shaping society's ideas of 'normal' in a myriad of ways. But our agencies don't reflect the real world today. The lack of women, black, Asian and minority ethnic people in our industry is staggering. And that lack of diversity affects the way we portray the world in the work we create less than 20% of advertising shows minority groups. When everyone in our industry looks the same, how can we represent the true diversity of the world we live in, or the people we're talking to?

What brand would you love to work on?

I'd love a chance to be part of the conversations Bodyform are leading. I'm a firm believer in breaking down taboos, and the way society has treated periods and menstruation is one of my biggest bugbears. (You can read more about that in my article, Tackling Taboos.) I'd love to get my hands on Mooncup too. I'm a huge advocate of the product, but there's a lot of stigma around it. I want to change that. With the right approach they could change people's perceptions of the brand and product, but they could also influence a huge behaviour-change in society.

How do you switch off from work?

I love learning, exploring, and doing things that make me a little bit afraid. I'm always curious about how things work or how they're made, so I do a lot of courses and workshops, like glassblowing, coppersmithing, pottery, spoon carving, calligraphy, silversmithing! I also do stand-up comedy. Prepping for a gig is a great way to stop thinking about work. And I live in Wapping, so have a gorgeous walk along the river right on my doorstep for when I need some space to think.

Avery Akkineni, vice president, VaynerMedia Singapore

With over decade of digital-first media expertise, Avery Akkineni has deep familiarity with digital marketing. As vice president of media at VaynerMedia, Singapore she’s led the agency’s global expansion into APAC. Prior to her role at Vayner, Akkineni spent six years at Google, where she worked with some of its largest agency partnerships on cutting edge strategy and campaign execution.

If you had an extra hour in the day, how would you spend it?

Who wouldn't love an extra hour in the day? If gifted with an extra hour daily, I'd spend it tackling a new project from my "Wonder List," my ever-evolving list of startup ideas. I've launched a few small businesses, from media consulting to Amazon party packages to travel guides, and I love the challenge of building something new from scratch.

Where do you do your best work?

At work, in the mornings! I'm totally a morning person, and always do my best work before lunch. Days are busy at VaynerMedia, and we're lucky to have an energy-packed office. My favorite time of day is first thing in the mornings, at my desk with a glass of Cold Brew. It's when I plan my day, catch up on emails, build presentations, and think most strategically about upcoming challenges and opportunities.

What brand could you not live without?

Rent The Runway! I love the sharing economy, and the concept of designer clothing rental is a fantastic product for fashion-forward, professional and/or social women. I love RTR for work events, weddings, special occasions, and more. It's an affordable way to express creativity and style; and to try new things with clothing and accessories. After my recent move to Singapore; I am campaigning for them to open a South East Asia presence! Absolute brand loyalist.

Ruxandra Drilea, creative copywriter, Publicis Romania

In her five years as a copywriter, Ruxandra Drilea has already secured a Young European Creative Award, and was selected as one of the next generation female creative directors through the Cannes Lions' See It Be It initiative. Her impressive list of clients includes Coca-Cola, Burger King and Fuzetea. Based in Bucharest, Drilea also mentors young women through the IAA in her spare time.

What book should everyone in the industry read?

I think there are a lot of great must-read advertising books. They'll teach you evything using examples and with relatable agency situations. And they are important. But I think If you re-read what you loved when you were younger, you'll realise that you missed things that were in plain sight and it helps you learn that you can see things like an entirely different person. This experience makes you "re-read" anything you encounter in your job from that point. Sometimes we can be caught up in "I already know that".

What advice would you give to someone starting in the industry today?

Be the maximum version of your character. Never tone yourself down to please. Don't settle for one area of expertise. Have fun, you don't have to save the world with advertising.

Which industry figure do you most look up to?

Jessica Walsh is a walking crash course of inspiration. She's proof that there are no traditional models of success, because success is fluid. It has ups and downs. Its turning down jobs, interning, starting over, always learning something new, never being one dimensional.

Hannah McElhinney, senior creative, Vice Asia

After her stint as a radio DJ, Hannah McElhinney joined Vice where she has worked on accounts ranging from big banks to P&G and Unilever brands. From her Melbourne base, McElhinney is able to use her creative touch to help NAB talk to millennials about finance, create a gameshow about growing up for AHM Insurance, execute a hi-art escape room for BMW and produce a series of documentaries about unconventional love for CloseUp.

What brand would you love to work with?

My true dream is to work on the NASA brand. I find space and science so interesting, but I never bothered to learn much about it because high school had a way of extracting all the wonder out of it. I think creativity is the missing ingredient from science, so I'd love to be involved in making NASA's work more engaging and accessible for people like me.

Where do you go for creative inspiration?

Definitely not advertising! I get inspiration from pretty much anywhere else. Novels, music videos, galleries, film festivals and talking to friends from all different areas of my life.

What was your route into the industry?

I got my start in the industry like a lot of other creatives, through Award School. After I made the top 10 I got a job in an agency as a creative and worked my way up from there. I took some time out to work at Triple J as a presenter for a year or so, but then eventually returned and found my new home at Vice.

Modupe Ogunniyi, social media and content manager, Cath Kidston

Prior to joining Cath Kidston, London-based Modupe Ogunniyi flexed her impressive skills at Mothercare and Media Bounty, where she pitched and won the Oxford Street Confashionals campaign. She has also run social channels for Bodyform, Jerome Russell and Plenty.

What brand could you not live without?

Sharpie. I'm an avid note-taker, writer, to-do list maker (if that's even a thing) and I love laying plans out on paper. Colours just make everything look better!

What’s your favourite ad?

Dove's Real Beauty Campaign - the first ever one. I remember using this ad as a case study when writing my undergrad dissertation. My dissertation was on how brands can convey their core values through advertising, and that ad was one that truthfully achieved that. Till this day, brand values and storytelling is something I'm still super passionate about, whether that's through Social Media content, on a blog or through email.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Just start. I'm a big idea person (annoyingly the Adobe Creative Personality Quiz labelled me as a Dreamer) however, fear disguised as procrastination can sometimes hinder me from executing my ideas. So, the advice 'just start' has encouraged me to do just that. Even if I feel ill-equipped or unmotivated. The worst thing you can do when you have an exciting idea is to sit on it; it's better to try and fail then not try at all, right?

Jessie Ayala, digital engagement manager, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

With a background in photography as well as marketing, Jessie Ayala has thrived in her role as digital engagement at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. Ayala has demonstrated her commitment to ensuring the people of San Francisco are reflected in art, dedicating 2/3 of the museum’s social media posts to celebrating those who have been underrepresented in history and in museums, including women, people of colour and the LGBTQ+ community.

How would you explain what you do to a taxi driver?

The job I was hired for is to promote our museum and collections across social platforms. But the job as I see it isn't to sell people on our art museum - it's to sell people on caring about art. To recognize art museums have an elitist reputation and focus all of our digital efforts on making art accessible by explaining not that we have an artwork in our collection, but what it means, why it's relatable, why it was created. Everyone should have a fair chance to develop an interest in art, it's my job to get them there.

Which industry figure do you most look up to?

The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) released a pledge campaign that challenged institutions to make changes towards supporting gender equity. I'm so impressed that this museum is dedicating so much of their marketing efforts to putting pressure on other arts organizations. I look up to them and all the aspiring change-makers across this industry who speak up in meetings, raise the difficult issues, and remind art museums of our missions to serve the communities and bring art to all. For some museums, it's the majority of staff, for others, it's one brave soul. That's who I admire.

What keeps you awake at night?

Racial injustice. No, really. There are a lot of parts about my job that keep me up -- the fact that people are intimidated into visiting museums instead of being welcomed by them, how to help young people develop a passion for art -- but I would be lying if I said those are what keep me awake. What keeps me awake is thinking about how I can use my influence as a marketer to get people to take action towards the racial injustices present in this industry and others. (Told you I was inspired by NMWA.)

Crystal Eisinger, strategy and operations manager, Google

A Cambridge graduate with a background in history, politics and philosophy, Crystal Eisinger now dedicates her impressive intellect to strategy and operations at Google. Based in its London office, Eisinger was a 2018 Marketing Academy Scholar, an inaugural member of School of Marketing's Founding 50 and 2019 recipient of WACL's Future Leader Award.

If you had an extra hour in the day, how would you spend it?

I'd spend: 20 minutes speaking to my parents, keeping them updated on what's going on in my life and hearing about their day rather than broken calls between the office and tube! 20 minutes learning, either reading or listening to a podcast. I love reading both fiction and non-fiction, for me it's the ultimate escape. In terms of podcasts I find Helen Tupper & Sarah Ellis' Amazing If Podcast the best way to start my day or Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History for some brilliant storytelling! I'd spend the final 20 minutes writing - either journaling or working on my book!

Where do you do your best work?

This is a tough one. In truth, my brain needs different environments depending on the type of work I need to get done. For deep thought, strategy and planning something as close to a library is best. I love being surrounded by books, the silence and solitude help me get into deep thought. The low-fi version of that is when I'm in transit - in the back of a car, on the tube, on a flight. Conversely for creative thinking and activation I need to be around people, absorbing the chaos and soaking up other people's perspectives. So, it depends!

What brand could you not live without?

Incredible brands have a phenomenal product that empower people to live their everyday lives better (be that feeling more confident, more informed, more understood, more connected). So the brand I couldn't live without is Google. It helps me to do more every day whether it's collaborating with brilliant people using the G Suite (docs, slides or sheets) or using Maps to prevent me from being foiled by my terrible sense of direction! Most importantly Maps and Reviews have been responsible for many gastronomic discoveries, be that an incredible hummus shack in Tel Aviv or a hidden sushi bar in Tokyo.

Georgia McGillivray, chief executive officer and founder, The Social Club

A born and bred Kiwi, Georgia McGillivray initially started her career working in the social media industry in the US and the UK. After a spell at Ogilvy Australia, McGillivray settled in Auckland to co-found The Social Club, which is now New Zealand's largest social and influencer agency. The Social Club has over 10,000+ influencers in their community and has generated results for well-known brands such as HelloFresh, Jeep, Visa, BMW & Mini.

How do you switch off from work?

I love being near the ocean, especially swimming, surfing or paddle-boarding. When you're surfing, you have to concentrate so hard you don't have time to think about your to-do list! In the ocean, I can be fully focused in the moment and I find it invaluable to be able to switch off and relax. I love that our industry is so high paced and there is a need to constantly think on your feet, but the ocean allows me to slow down and appreciate where I have come from, and where I am going.

Where do you go for creative inspiration?

Depending on what type of creative inspiration I'm looking for, I go to a variety of different channels. It's great that many of our influencers offer inspiration for different things through their channels, for example, Emma Galloway (@mydarlinglemonthyme) for recipe inspiration, Rambo Estrada (@ramboestrada) for surf location inspiration, Ruby Jones (@rubyalicerose) for powerful messages in creative artwork. It's inspiring being in an industry where I can see influencers doing some pretty epic things. For campaign and strategy inspiration, I follow a lot of blogs and podcasts to keep up to date with new successful and creative campaigns in the market.

What was your route into the industry?

I started my career in advertising interning at a boutique agency in California. I was studying Marketing & Communications at The University of California and was lucky that during that time, social media was just starting to take off and was given to the most junior person to own and upskill themselves on. This opportunity and experience set me up to move overseas and land a role at a larger agency, allowing me to specialise in digital and social media marketing at a time when these skill sets were in high demand but few and far between.

Nala Annous, account manager, The Trade Desk

Nala Annous was previously an account manager at Google before making the move to The Trade Desk. Out of its Singapore office, Annous advises clients and teammates on best practices, suggests product or market opportunities, and facilitates chances for learning within the industry. She was also responsible for coordinating the first Singapore Trade Desk career advice session for the next generation of students from her alma mater, the University of Canberra.

What brand could you not live without?

Spotify has been a life changer for me given I spend majority of my time in transit. Spotify is unique as it offers an undisrupted experience to adapt to my mood but also can influence my vibe with a solid playlist recommendation. The algorithm always seems spot on and is my constant while everything around me is ever changing. Spotify also happens to be a client of mine, which has been intellectually and professionally rewarding to help spread the word on the magical world of Spotify and run awesome campaigns in the process.

What’s your favourite ad?

With the rise of personalized advertising, I think the big, signature moments in advertising have gone. As a consumer I value stories or campaigns that mean something to me. In this context, precision targeting, rather than the single big ad spot, is more meaningful for users and more measurable for advertisers. We can see smart watch brands that use of technology to reach audiences at an incredible scale. Brands have been able to serve personalized creative based on the editorial the audience is consuming. Your favourite ad is going to be one that was written specifically only for you.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Profound advice from my mum after the loss of someone very special in our lives who was a huge gamer: "Life is like a game and we're all here to play our part with people finishing at different levels. Therefore, it's important to enjoy each level because you don't know when your game is going to end". Going to the next level in my career, I've also realised that each level or location carries unique value and to appreciate what you are learning at every level as it may help unlock new bonus levels.

If you're interested in learning more about The Drum's 50 Under 30, contact Lauren McCreath at lauren.mccreath@thedrum.com.

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