We’ve been working in partnership with our friends at Publicis Sapient over the last couple of months. We’re there to help them grow their experience design function and futureproof their hiring strategy.

Spending so much time on site has meant I’ve got to know the team pretty well, and I’ve been amazed by the intelligent, inspiring, and genuinely lovely folk that make up Publicis Sapient.

So I’ve invited a few of them to share their stories with you all as part of FFS (Futureheads Five Stories), our regular interview series where we speak to people who have interesting stories to tell.

And we couldn’t resist the acronym.

Greet Jans is Creative Director of Experience Design, D&AD Digital Design judge, mentor for the School of Communication Arts in Brixton and Who’s Your Momma and mum of one.

What’s the story of your career so far?

After graduating as an Industrial Product Designer, I moved into Experience Design almost by accident.

I considered designing eyewear, but I worried it would bore me after a couple of years. I enjoyed the human interaction projects we did as students, so instead, I decided to join a company that did a wide variety of things, including designing interactive physical products to order food in museums, screens for interactive tv and a game using palmtops (I’m showing my age here!). I’ve never looked back.

I started out in an innovation centre in Belgium, then moved to a small advertising agency. From there I worked client side whilst freelancing on the side before I moved to London and joined Publicis Sapient.

Since then I’ve worked in various markets and teams, before becoming a mama, which was the best thing that I never knew I wanted – but I always stayed the same ‘Greet’ along the way. After my maternity leave, I changed companies within the group, before coming back to Publicis Sapient earlier this year.

Alongside my day job, I’ve always invested time in supporting the design community. I’ve been a mentor at the School of Communication Arts since Jan 2016. About eighteen months ago, I also started working with Who’s Your Momma, who connect up-and-coming creative talent with mentors. It’s been so rewarding to support other women in the creative industry, and I’ve learned so much from my mentees – I can’t recommend it enough.

What’s it like to be a Creative Director at Publicis Sapient?

I make sure the creative briefs we work on are good and help to define the creative output. Sometimes this is strategic, and sometimes it’s all about rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck in.

The other big part of my job is helping others. Sometimes it’s being someone to listen, to bounce ideas off, to mentor, or to help make decisions to move things forward. It’s certainly never boring, and it’s super rewarding. A big part of being an effective Creative Director is giving your team confidence. When they feel that you believe in them, they are inspired to do wonderful work.

I joined Publicis Sapient as a Senior UX, then moved to Lead, then to Associate Creative Director, and then into my current role, so I understand what progression at Publicis Sapient is really like – and do my best to help others make the same journey.

What do you love most about what you do?

The variety of what we do and the people we do it with.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?

Don’t be afraid to ask people to help you talk through ideas. It has made me a better creative and produced my most rewarding work. I will always try to surround myself with people who complement my skills and challenge me. Work with people you like, trust and respect and who feel the same about you.

In this industry, it’s super important to be nice to each other. It goes a long way and makes the job we do so much more fun.

Since I became a mum, I care less about what others think, which helps me to focus on what is important. What I’ve learned is that you need to do what works for you – whether that’s working less, working more or working more flexibly.

Once you’re clear on what is right for you, you need to find a business that can support your goals. I’ve been lucky to be well-supported by Publicis Sapient to be the kind of parent I want to be.

Many of the barriers to overcome are the ones you’ve put in your own head. More often than not, you have the power to change things – so don’t wait for others to change it for you.

What do you think is going to be the biggest challenge in our industry over the next twelve months?

Technological innovations shape the way we create and consume design, but the work that really stands out and makes a difference solves a real human need and is based on a great idea. Recently, we’ve seen a lot of products that use Ai only because it’s trendy, but those won’t last.

Keeping things simple is way harder than making them complex! I think we all need to go back and do fewer things, but do them better, to focus on what really works and differentiates a brand.

Want to find out more about working with Publicis Sapient, or fancy being interviewed yourself? Come and say hello at andrew@wearefutureheads.co.uk.

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