Inspirational Woman: Sophie Lutman | Executive Creative Director, Siegel+Gale

Sophie LutmanSophie brings 25 years of creativity to Siegel+Gale’s worldwide clients. A lot has changed in that time, but the power of a great idea continues to excite and inspire her.

Having led the Siegel+Gale EMEA Creative teams for just six months before Covid-19 forced us all to work remotely, Sophie was provided an opportunity to build her team’s employee experience in new ways. By setting a key theme of celebrating culture as a guide for her team, removing borders and barriers to collaboration for both colleagues and clients was the target for 2020.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

Born and raised in South East London, I’ve been creating brands for over 25 years, and worked with some of the world’s biggest clients. Some of those include Telefonica, BBC, Deloitte, EY, Credit Suisse and Capgemini. In those 25 years, I’ve enjoyed learning new things and driving great ideas and craft. I’ve always felt its important to protect the craft of what we do, and support specialists like photographers, typographers, and animators, to ensure we’re constantly pushing for new and better.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I have always had an eye on progression and back at the beginning of my career, becoming an Executive Creative Director (ECD) was my goal. But I’ve always enjoyed being a designer and I make sure that I’m still very much hands-on today. I believe if you continue to chase the targets you set yourself, then you will get where you want to be in your career. I do try to remember however, that it’s not only about reaching the goal. The journey is just as important. Making mistakes and learning from them along the way is what makes people better leaders. Whether that’s managing the business or guiding the people within it.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

There will always be challenges in your career. One I’ve faced that springs to mind is, finding a shared ambition with a client can be tough sometimes. Often you need to take a client out of their comfort zone and getting them to trust you and be brave can be difficult. Sometimes they’re highly attached to something that may need to change.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

To be honest, I don’t really look at things like that. There are so many things I’ve done in my life that I think had a positive effect on me as well as those close to me. Often what we consider success can have a negative effect on us. Should we still consider that an achievement? Becoming an ECD was not originally about managing people for me, but I’ve found working with all of the various teams over the years to be the most rewarding part of my career. Seeing people progress, gain confidence and do great work drives me to do better as a manager.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Honesty, transparency, and returning stronger every time you are knocked back are key to success. It’s important to never think I have all the answers. Focusing on enabling others to do their best work and operating as a team; we all need each other to move forward and do great work. I try to make sure that I stay curious and keep the team around me curious too. When fear of failure replaces curiosity, it prevents us from growing.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

Of course, I have had people guide me, and I have tried to do the same. But I try to do it in a less official capacity than mentoring. I try ensuring our team can relate on a human level. And I believe we can. We’re similar people with similar interests and passions. Again, being honest about who I am allows me to offer honest guidance.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

We need to continue to support each other in positive ways. I find it easier to move forward if we learn from the past but don’t use it as a stick to beat each other with. We are moving forward, and we’re getting there quickly, but we still need to be mindful that we need to take everyone with us on that journey.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Keep doing what you’re doing, be honest, and go with your instincts as they’re usually right.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

First thing I hope to achieve is to get through this pandemic and get back to normal. But it has been nice to be able to see the more personal side of people. Working through screens has allowed us all to share a bit of our personal world with each other. With both colleagues and clients, I think it’s made us more human. Maintaining that level of humanity with people is the challenge I’ve set for myself when we go back to doing things like pitching in person.

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