TBWA Sydney creative Chloe Saintilan has come a long way since she completed AWARD School in 2014. Not only has she now shifted sides from student to tutor, but she was recently named a winner in B&T’s 30 Under 30. She talks to The Communications Council about her advice for today’s AWARD School students, the learnings that have stayed with her to this day, plus her own role models and inspiration.

TCC: What learnings from AWARD School have stayed with you to this day?

CS: That good work can come from tight deadlines, that you can definitely beat your first ten ideas, to actually try having another crack when a creative director tells you to ‘keep going’, and that agencies really like their beer and chips.

TCC: What was your favourite brief and how did you attack it?

CS: My favourite was definitely the open brief because we weren’t limited to a specific medium. I responded with an app called Seek Redemption (for Seek Volunteer), which lets you confess terrible things you’ve done recently, and be given a volunteering opportunity that will recharge your karma.

TCC: What was your hardest brief?

CS: Definitely print – I found it really difficult to execute visually in one A4 ad. I still don’t even understand where I was going with the ones I ended up submitting. And it didn’t help that I’m an absolutely atrocious drawer, so to make it worse I resorted to ads that were just big headlines.       

TCC: Now that you’re on the other side what would you have done differently? Equally, what do you think was your biggest strength?

CS: Now working at the agency that tutored me for AWARD, and now knowing how insanely busy my old tutor Russ is all the time, I wish I had been less annoying emailing him so much in between classes! But at the same time I think my biggest strength was really getting the most out of my truly world-class tutors – their advice was invaluable.

TCC: What overall advice would you give AWARD School students now?

CS: My overall advice is try to impress your tutors, because a lot are actually looking to hire juniors out of their class. This means having a good attitude, coming with loads of ideas, and respecting/taking their feedback on board. I had both agencies get in touch about employment after the graduation (and I didn’t get in the top 10), and have been working at one of them ever since! Final advice – don’t be disheartened if you don’t get in the top 10, because it really doesn’t matter in the long run. If you have a good attitude and ambition, you will eventually get hired.

TCC: Outside of AWARD School, what is your favourite project/campaign you’ve worked on to date?

CS: Probably the interactive music video we created with NERVO that educated girls about how relevant engineering is to their worlds – super fun to make and the great reception of it was really exciting and humbling.

But I’ll also always love the terrible first ad I ever made straight out of AWARD School – Workout Your Breakouts for Nivea men:

TCC: Do you have a secret strategy for unlocking your creative process? Can you share any tips?

CS: Instead of following other peoples’ strategies, start to take note of what you naturally resort to doing every time you start thinking about a new brief. Whether that be researching, thinking out loud in a room, brain dumping into a notepad, or starting a Google Doc. Personally I found that having been a strategist in a past life, Googling insights became the beginning of my process. When I get a brief I research the hell out of the product, brand and audience and that’s never failed to leave me with some sort of creative inspiration.

TCC: What sources do you look to for creative inspiration?

CS: I tend to do things outside of advertising for creative inspiration as opposed to reading ad blogs and award annuals. The usual suspects are gigs, Netflix docos, plays, and interesting events like Creative Mornings, General Assembly’s talks, Vivid and Semi Permanent.

TCC: Who do you look up to in the industry?

CS: I’m honestly inspired by a lot of my peers the TBWA Collective both at our Sydney office and abroad. Out global network is now connected on Workplace by Facebook, meaning that we all get to be inspired by one another with work, ideas and thoughts posted on the newsfeed daily.

Outside of TBWA, Chloe Gottlieb (ECD at R/GA NY) is also a role model for me – a powerful creative/tech whizz who is driving hugely innovative solutions for global brands (and global brands of the future in their accelerator program). I also look up to Nils Leonard, because he’s a super smart creative and entrepreneur – having just launched his own sustainable coffee company.  

TCC: What are your wider career goals?

CS: Definitely start an agency down the track, and also write a really trashy chick lit novel.

TCC: If you weren’t in advertising what would you be doing?

CS: Probably in marketing or at a start-up.  

TCC: What’s your passion outside of work?

CS: Music, art, cinnamon scrolls, and petting other peoples’ dogs.