Being a creative digital consultancy means making creative investments, so at this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, we stepped up to sponsor the Young Lions Academies and competition. And we sent one of our own along to experience the week from the inside.

For over 20 years, Cannes has been helping to train the creative community across the industry. In that time, the Cannes Lions School Young Creative Academy has evolved from a single competition geared toward rising hot-shots to a week’s worth of competitions and learning programs that span creative disciplines and career stages. This year was no different.

In late June, a host of creative professionals, all under the age of 30, came together at the Academy to work with and be mentored by industry power-hitters. Not only were Heat + Deloitte Digital the official sponsor, this year’s delegation included Deloitte Digital’s own Marry Tonnu, an art director based in Chicago. In that week, she was able to rub elbows with her peers and her idols, as well as gain new perspective on how she approaches her work.

In her own words:

This year, I was given an amazing opportunity to be part of the 2017 Cannes Lions Young Creative Academy. My class was filled with 30 creatives from over 11 countries, and the Academy carefully curated about 30 speakers to come in and spend time with all of us. They generally spoke about how they got to where they are in their career, thoughts on where the industry is going, sharing experiences, and having informal Q&A sessions.

Unlike the standard conference talks, we were able to meet with the speakers on a personal level. The students guided the conversation, as opposed to just listening to a fully scripted presentation.

Fight for your idea

My big takeaway from this year’s academy was a focus on our uniqueness as artists, but there were a few other ideas from the presenters that hit home with me. Like Ryan Seacrest saying,

 “It’s because we love what we do that we are available all the time,” and “I’m a huge believer of ‘make as many mistakes as you can and make them all,” from David Nobay.

I walked away with some pretty important things to think about, like Pip Jameson’s idea that “if we all think the same, we’re going to produce the same stuff,” but I think Mario Testino said it best: “Nobody can be you because the experiences you lived are only yours. The more you go in, the more you have something personal. The more you follow, the more you lose.”

I left the academy feeling extremely inspired to push my creative self to the next level, bring uniqueness to projects that I’m working on, and find ways to inject what I love into what I produce.  We don’t always work on the perfect projects, but there are ways we can add our unique personality to every project that, in the end, helps make it more beneficial for ourselves and the client.