AWARD School alumni Chirryl-Lee Ryan was recently appointed Head of Experience Design at Isobar in Hong Kong. She reflects on her road to success, her memories of AWARD Copy School and the one thing she wishes she knew when first starting out.

TCC: How many years has it been since you did AWARD School?

CR: It’s been so long I’d rather not say…Doesn’t the saying go a lady never reveals here age? But I can tell you it was pre-Facebook, pre-iPhone and pre-Millennial.

TCC: What have been your career highlights since then? Any favourite campaigns?

CR: I’m a firm believer in work that works, not work that wins. Seeing as most of my best work is ‘invisible’, I’d say the best bit is that design has allowed me to travel the world, work with the smartest, most talented people and design things that make people’s lives better – what could be better than that?!

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

CR: I was lucky enough to have Bryce Courtenay as an AWARD Copy School mentor. In fact, I still have the copy of ‘The Craft of Copywriting’ he gave out. I will never forget the passion he had for writing and the stories he told about his copywriting antics.

TCC: What do you wish you knew then that you know now?

CR: That I’d go further being myself than trying to be something I’m not. Back in the day, design was a dirty word, and the ‘young me’ desperately wanted to be acknowledged as a ‘creative’. But the truth was that I was creative, just not in the traditional advertising sense. Luckily a few years later a little thing called human-centered design blew-up – and the rest is history!

TCC: Has there been a key mentor or role model that you’ve continued to look to from then until now?

CR: Every place I’ve worked, every project I’ve worked on and everyone I’ve worked with has taught me something and made me who I am today. I learn from the people around me every single day. They say to be successful you should try to be the person you needed when you were younger – and that’s what I try to do.

TCC: What have been your biggest challenges along the way and how have you dealt with them?

CR: Explaining what I do, what design (in all it’s forms!) is and the value design can offer. I definitely didn’t understand those things when I was younger and I continue to learn about them – but at least now I understand the complexity!

TCC: What do you think the creative director of the future looks like?

CR: A robot?! Seriously, everyone has the capacity to think creatively – it’s the thing that sets humans apart. So, maybe in the future everyone will be their own creative director, curating their own world? Perhaps with Instagram, deep data, machine learning and black mirror, or something else. It’s already happening…

TCC: What sort of creative do you think you’ve evolved into? What further evolution would you like to achieve?

CR: Change is hard but inevitable. I hope I can keep working with amazing people, help people get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and continue to constantly learn and evolve so I can share whatever I have to give people the skills, tools and confidence they need to create the change they want to see in the world.