The Drum’s 50 Under 30: outstanding women in creative and digital, part 5

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 fifth and final set of inductees to this year's list. If you've missed our series revealing the full 50 this week, catch up on parts one, two, three and four now. Our thanks go out to everyone that participated this year and we wish a huge congratulations to all of our 2019 50 Under 30 honorees.

Melissa Chapman, chief content officer, Jungle Creations

When Melissa Chapman joined Jungle Creations at 22 she was the company’s third employee. Since then, she has overseen the content team's growth to 75 people, built 12 new teams across London, New York and LA whilst leading the growth of Jungle Creations' audience from 1m to over 115m followers.

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

Don't let age and years of experience be the sole determinant of your value, especially in this industry where things change very quickly and what you know today may not be true tomorrow!

Which industry figure do you most look up to?

I look up to Susan Wojcicki. What she's done at YouTube has literally changed the world. We now have a generation of young people who would prefer to watch YouTube rather than any other form of media, what a huge impact to have on the world and how it consumes news and entertainment. The platform has gone from strength to strength since its inception and sees no sign of stopping. It's an incredible place for content creators and a lot of that is down to her leadership.

What book should everyone in the industry read?

The One Thing by Gary Keller is really interesting. He identifies that no matter how success is measured, personal or professional, only the ability to dismiss distractions and concentrate on your one thing stands between you and your goals. Putting it into practice can be tricky, because of course there are so many distractions but I've found that giving my time and attention to my role here at Jungle has reaped the benefits, so there must be something to it!

Jenny Zhang, strategy director, Superimpose

Having previously been appointed global brand manager of Asos at just 25, Jenny Zhang has now been strategy director at Superimpose for the last two years. In that time she has helped the agency expand to LA, lead the digital strategy for the first series of the global partnership between Gucci and GQ, as well as the campaign strategy for the Adidas x TFL campaign – the biggest product collaboration ever seen in London. She was also responsible for launching a progressive partnership between Superimpose and D&AD to explore subjects such as new types of creativity and diversity in the workplace.

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

I'd like to see this industry to become more open and provide more opportunities to younger talent or those aspiring to join. The language and the protective nature of some businesses makes it feel inaccessible. We need to demystify a lot of the industry myths and jargon that surrounds creativity, media and advertising. When leaders create an unnecessary subtext or convoluted concept to prove the quality of work, it makes it even more confusing. We're in the business of connecting to audiences - it's about being relatable it all respects - not rocket science.

What brand would you love to work on?

I would love to work with VisitBritain. The tourism sector (for marketing) in general lacks the innovation, funding, and calibre of creativity it deserves. They should represent the best of the country but this is always a challenge due to the complexity, the multiple stories that needs to be told and the diversity of people that inhabits. Amidst this current socio-political climate, there is a lot to be said to reaffirm Britain amongst the global arena. This would not only be a creative challenge but one that has to represent the situation in a fair and encompassing way.

How do you switch off from work?

I do a lot of yoga and meditation. I like watching cartoons and reading about aliens.

Meryl Draper, chief executive officer, Quirk Creative

At 22, Meryl Draper became account director at Ogilvy & Mather in Bangalore, leading emerging market advertising for IBM. While coordinating campaigns across three continents, then working brand-side at a VC-backed startup, she saw the need for a faster and leaner agency offering a hybrid of video production and strategy and founded Quirk in 2015.

What brand could you not live without?

Away. I'm constantly on the road for shoots, meetings, and speaking engagements, and their thoughtfully-designed, modular suitcases and carry-on bags are a lifesaver for making travel easier.

What’s your favourite ad?

There's something about that Natalie Portman - Miss Dior ad that just does it for me every time. Maybe it's my hidden romantic side, but the delivery by Portman of that last line, "And you, what would you do for love?" makes me want to leap into a pink convertible and throw all my money at the brand. Sigh.

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

In a moment of career panic a few years' back, my dad once told me, "if not you, than who?" It's a great reminder that I am capable (we all are!), even when I don't feel all that capable.

Olivia Downing, copywriter, TBWAManchester

A former comedian, Olivia Downing is now a copywriter for TBWA\Manchester. She is the founder of Chicks in Advertising, a bi-monthly meet up for women working in the creative sector in Manchester and the creator of a student bursary scheme that provides support for young female creatives. In 2017 she was a winner of the School of Thought, an intensive 12 week creative competition based in Manchester.

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

On an average day, what I do can put a grin on someone's face, even if just for a minute. On a great day, it can change the way people see themselves, and interact with the world around them. Honestly, I still can't believe I get paid to do that.

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

'Work will out'. My first CD gave me this gem. When you start out, it's easy to get lost in agency politics/impostor syndrome etc. Inevitably, your work suffers. But if you stay focused, pouring everything into the work, you'll produce amazing creative. And no one can argue with that. No one can say you're too junior, too old, the wrong gender. Have no doubt - great work will get you everywhere. Oh, and buy 'Hey Whipple, Squeeze This' by Luke Sullivan. It's the first advertising book I was given, and I still use it as a reference/doorstop all the time.

Which industry figure do you most look up to?

Dolly Parton. Bear with me. In terms of creative output, unmistakable branding and changing the world, Dolly is my idol. Her story of coming from nothing, harnessing her ferocious creativity, all while being a woman in a heavily male dominated environment is something I really relate to. She's unapologetically herself, and giving so much back to help support others is something I try to do too, with my own event. I strongly believe that our greatest creative inspiration comes from outside our immediate bubble, and Dolly is a great case for this. And who doesn't love 'Jolene'?

Anna Meacham, founder and chief executive officer, Huxley

After nine years, Anna Meacham left Purple PR as head of entertainment where she managed the reputation of superstars like Prince, to found Huxley in 2018. With a talent roster that boasts Frank Ocean, Zayn Malik and Bjork, she creates meaningful connections with verticals like fashion, technology, and activism. Her work for Adwoa Aboah includes global events, speaking alongside Hillary Clinton, and contributing to legal change around period poverty.

Where do you go for creative inspiration?

Travelling outside of major, capital cities to more rural areas is so inspiring; I think it's important to maintain perspective outside of your bubble.

What was your route into the industry?

At seventeen, I was touring across Europe with metal bands. A far cry from where I am at now, but it taught me a lot and trust me, I saw it ALL on the road; so nothing can shock me now. From there, I ran an independent merchandise company until I left home at eighteen to move to London, where I interned at music magazines and fashion and music agencies. My first job was working on the film Enter The Void, directed by Gaspar Noe, and from there I went to a music publicity agency until I founded Huxley.

How do you switch off from work?

Very loud hip-hop, and deep sleep.

Amy Bishop, director of strategy, Epsilon

At Epsilon, Amy Bishop has established a reputation for excellence - increasing revenues, seeking new opportunities for business and clients, and re-imagining the firm's marketing strategies with Google Assistant. Bishop's begun making waves in the industry, hosting the World Forum Disrupt Digital Strategy conference in San Francisco earlier this year.

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

This year I've actually re-prioritized my time to seize the hours I already have, and in the process, I've found more time to read. Reading more often has helped me boost my creative thinking, reduce daily stress and expand my knowledge of the world. From psychological thrillers and best-selling romance novels to dystopian classics and even essays on American social economics, reading gives me the opportunity to be more open minded and creative.

Where do you do your best work?

I thrive in a dedicated office environment with the space to focus on projects independently and also creative areas to collaborate with colleagues. My office allows for serendipitous moments of inspiration and collaboration with my coworkers. As a strategic consultant, daily face-to-face time also builds necessary trust with my colleagues and clients. I love the excitement of the spontaneous learning that occurs in a office — it's helped me quickly expand my knowledge as a strategist.

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

Finished is better than perfect.

It's easy for me to slip into perfectionist mode, fine tuning the minor details of my work beyond what is necessary. This advice reminded me that with every creation, there's a point where the changes no longer make it better but just different. So, early in my career I added an extra layer to my own personal form of perfectionism — in order for a project to be "perfect" it must be done in a reasonable amount of time without lingering too long on the details. Like Voltaire said, “Perfect is the enemy of good.”

Christina Miller, director of social media strategy, VMLY&R

At VMLY&R, Christina Miller has led the social growth of brands such as Wendy's, building and mentoring a team that has helped make the fast food brand stand out. Projects like 'NuggsforCarter' and 'WeBeefin' saw growth in sales growth and awareness for her client.

Which industry figure do you most look up to?

Matt Jarvis, 72andSunny CEO. I had the opportunity to see him speak in the Young Lion program at Cannes last year and he has the most inspirational presentation about what being a leader means. I'll never forget his presentation and how it made me think (and act) differently in my role as a leader following that.

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

I'm a talker. I guess it's the Midwest in me! I always ask questions about their life, both in and out of the cab. Sometimes that leads to come really weird scenarios....like me buying a CD from the cab driver that he recorded in his garage the night before or getting invited to Thanksgiving dinner and being referred to as "fam" for years to come with another. What can I say, I like to make friends, and cab drivers are always good ones!

What keeps you awake at night?

Ideas. The nights I can't sleep it's because my head is spinning with ideas--the things I don't get to during the day but excite me with their possibilities. Everything from a way to approach a piece of work I am on to ideas for a trip or adventure with my friends. I love thinking about the possibilities of tomorrow...so much so that I can't sleep because of the excitement of it all.

Kate Darby, founder, Dovetail X

Kate Darby is co-founder of Dovetail X, an app that helps agencies and freelancers form their own collaborative networks. Outside her work, Darby hosts the Design Work podcast, where she interviews trailblazers from all over the world. She also hosts a New Zealand chapter of The Design Kids.

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

Build a platform that creates opportunities for talent to be part of flexible, scaleable teams. As it happens, that's what Dovetail X is all about. We constantly hear there's a shortage of talent, but I think we need to reframe the problem and ask; how can we make better use of existing talent and cultivate it? By helping creative directors and talent managers organize and access talent in one place, Dovetail X makes it easy to utilize parents returning to work, bright graduates and other great people that typically get lost in spreadsheets or inboxes.

What brand would you love to work on?

I'm a big fan of Allbirds and how they've innovated the whole shoe production process, and translated that into an epic brand. I love brands that prove purpose (real social purpose, not something we brainstorm in the boardroom for taglines) and profit can go together. Climate change is by far the biggest threat we face today and there are so many exciting technologies and initiatives working hard to change that. These need just as much, if not more, help from creatives to help them tell their story.

Where do you go for creative inspiration?

I'm a massive fan of museums and art galleries, especially when I'm travelling. They are just endless sources of incredible creativity. I also love getting out in nature. We're very lucky in New Zealand to have an incredible backyard of mountains, beaches, lakes and forests on our doorstep. A bit of time hanging out with Mother Nature always charges the creative batteries right up.

Jasmine Xie, chief executive officer and founder, Nova Universal Ltd

Jasmine Xie started her first business at just 19, and is now chief executive of production company Nova Universal. Based between Beijing, Hong Kong and London, Xie's team has produced campaigns for clients such as Sony Music and IQIYI.

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

This is a very broad industry and nowadays marketing could entail so many things. That is why it's very important to find a gap in the market and add a value that other's cannot ad. As a marketer that's an innate ability one has to hone. My best advice is to be original; I say this in the sense of creating your own intellectual property or brand. Regardless if this means original content or your own distribution platform on social media, create something that cannot be copy and pasted and is reliant on it's own platform to influence.

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

I founded a creative talent and production agency. We represent behind the scenes talents such as directors and photographers who have media value such as social following or traditional media coverage. We also create and produce our own content including China's first bilingual web-series with IQIYI as well as original scripted short and feature films.

What book should everyone in the industry read?

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It teaches so much about the human psychology and how we are wired. At the end of the day, what we are doing is servicing or entertaining or appealing to the mass. In order to do so, we need to understand how the human mind works. This book shows that it's a lot more simple than what we assume.

Olivia Salau, creative project manager, Ocean Outdoor

Ocean Outdoor's Olivia Salau has made a name for herself delivering cutting-edge campaigns such as augmented reality work for Kraken Rum and interactive projects for Dulux. She's a member of the company's Voyager Program, an accelerator scheme that aims to mould marketers that can guide Ocean's future development.

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

I would spend it playing. I find that being silly, doing something different is the vehicle for engaging so much of yourself. Your mind is able to go to a relaxed, open and creative place. It can open you up to the discovery of new things and most importantly it is fun. As children we are so connected to our sense of imagination and exploration, we are uninhibited and unburden by the stresses of the real world. We come up with weird and wonderful things. I think playing is a great way to reengage that creative energy.

What’s your favourite ad?

My favourite ad is the Dream Crazier ad featuring Serena Williams. The first time I watched it I found myself crying. Aside from relating to it as a sport woman, I felt utterly inspired to see a snippet of the stories of these brilliant women. To me, it epitomised not only the power of advertising, but also the power of representation.

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

It's hard to answer this without leaning into cliches, but I would say 'Don't be afraid to ask for help'. It's applicable to so much of life. It's OK not to be able to do everything yourself and there are always people around you that are willing to lend a hand. Get a mentor, talk to your boss about the project you can't get your head around, call someone that cares how your day went. The more open your are to the support and brilliance of others the more your own brilliance can grow.

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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