CREATIVE CAREERS CONFERENCE 2021
How might we bridge the gap between emerging creatives and the industry?
During the pandemic and lockdowns, I independently built and launched a virtual conference from scratch, attracting a global audience and featuring directors from Ogilvy and AT&T. I organised everything from the conference strategy to hosting the live discussions.
With 125 signups from 5 continents, this event was run independently from any sponsor or institutional body.
Skills I Used
Creative Direction Advertising
Tools I Used
Creative Director/Host: Daiki Shinomiya
Creative Strategist: Leoni Fretwell
Branding: The New Kid Collective & Daiki
Project Management: Felipe Melhado & Daiki
Not enough interactive virtual events targeted at students at the start of the pandemic
Not many "creative" events at non-art schools
A gap in the market to bring together emerging creatives and the industry
Bridge the gap between students and the creative industries through interactive, virtual events
The Creative Careers Conference was a global virtual conference bridging the gap between students and the creative industries. We aimed to provide a platform for emerging creatives to make their mark — organised entirely by students, for students.
The conference involved a live "Pitch Your Side Hustle" session where three selected students pitched their creative endeavours to a panel of industry-leading judges for their feedback, and a "Filmmakers' Fireside Chat", featuring impactful filmmakers from around the world.
Sign-ups in 2 weeks
Attendees during the live event
Countries in 5 continents
Dan Bennett (Consulting Partner & UK Lead, Behavioural Science · Ogilvy Consulting UK)
Nicole Yershon (Founder, NY Collective)
Bernard Yee (Regional President, AT&T APAC and Canada)
Sam Bennett (Independent Film Director)
Kristen Brancaccio (Independent Film Producer)
Madi Boll (Independent Film Director)
Alex Qian (Independent Filmmaker)
Simeon Costello (Independent Film Director)
Ok, but how does a university student actually launch a global conference from scratch?
You're not alone – I was asking myself the same question in late 2019.
Don't worry – I've been running events ever since I was 16
This idea came about after noticing several gaps in the student experience and opportunities in the creative industry.
The original vision for the conference was born – before any planning or team was put together.
We didn't know where to start so we looked towards our strengths
The "chicken or egg" paradox, where we needed speakers for events and needed events to get speakers
We took a platform business model strategy – the conference serving as an exchange of value between industry speakers and a global student audience.
We hosted brainstorming sessions – at times with members across four timezones in three countries – to collaborate come up with event ideas and the brand identity.
Miro was our platform of choice, allowing for seamless collaboration wherever our team was. We used methodology such as brain dumping, combined with Miro's highlighter feature to vote on ideas.
The primary objective for any event was to make it as interactive and engaging as possible. We aimed to revitalize the current saturation of video content by emphasizing interaction over one-way speech.
Among the initial event ideas included:
Live brainstorm workshops where attendees work collaboratively on a creative brief for an NGO
Networking workshops for a post-pandemic industry
Non-traditional entry into the creative industry
Game shows with creative quizzes Live pitch events
Engaging panel discussions
However, as this was our first time organising a virtual event of this size, we decided to scale down and focus on three key events.
In the end, we decided to run with a panel discussion of filmmakers, a live pitch event, and a speed networking session.
We went through several iterations of the brand identity before settling on the final one. We initially took the ambitious approach of having "Creative Careers Conference" be the umbrella organisation, with students organising a new themed event every year. The kickoff event would have been named "Creativity that Sticks".
In the end, this proved to be too ambitious for just a small group of students with no institutional backing or funding, and so we opted to stick with just "Creative Careers Conference" as the event name.
LIVE PITCHING SESSION
Pitching skills and side-hustle (side project) development are crucial for emerging creatives. This event enabled three emerging creatives to pitch their side hustle ideas to a panel of industry-leading judges for their feedback and insights.
This event focused on courage, understanding of self-worth, and metacognition – attributes especially important for these creatives.
In the end, we secured Nicole Yershon (Founder of NY Collective and Ogilvy Labs), Dan Bennett (Consulting Director of Ogilvy Behavioural Sciences) and Bernard Yee (Asia Pacific & Canada Regional President of AT&T) to be judges for the panel.
FILM PANEL DISCUSSION
With the pandemic disrupting the film industry, we wanted to host a discussion between filmmakers from different industries and stages of their careers exploring the impacts of the pandemic and the future of film.
We secured inspirational filmmakers including Sam Bennett, Kristen Brancaccio, Simeon Costello, Madi Boll and Alex Qian.
I, having just directed a short film at the time, was perfect to moderate this session.
PLANNING AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT
I quickly realised why students do not often run global virtual events – it's a lot of admin. However, I was able to effectively organise the necessary documentation to make the onboarding process for speakers as smooth and streamlined as possible. Liaising with and organising speakers spread across 4 time zones was made easier using tools like Moleskine Studio's Overlap, Google Calendar and Calendly.
Onboarding forms allowed me to get all the necessary information (such as speaker bios and video links for the filmmakers) in one go. Event outline PDFs sent to the speakers prior to the conference let them have everything they needed to know all in one place, from joining instructions to the structure of the event. Tools like Figma and Microsoft Forms were vital to these processes.
From one of our earlier decks....
to one of our final decks:
SOCIAL MEDIA & EVENT MARKETING
With less than a month to market the conference, we decided to stick with a predominantly Instagram-focused marketing strategy.
By outreaching to like-minded creatives around the world, we were able to build a global network of students to help spread the word of the event.
With student clubs from 10 universities on board, we only needed 10 attendees from each to obtain 100 total signups (SOM).
I designed the bright, eye-catching graphics that helped sell the event and give it a professional look. We wanted to convey to students that this was an event organised entirely by students, while also demonstrating a level of professionalism to any professionals and interested speakers.
In just two weeks, we had 125 sign-ups from emerging creatives across 5 continents.
The graphics and promotion boosted professionalism and positioned public perceptions away from a student-run event and towards an established, professional event.
Hosting and moderating live discussions from speakers across 4 timezones
My previous public speaking skills and workshop experience was invaluable in ensuring a smooth conference and encouraging engaging discussions between the speakers.