The Jump from Corporate to Creative | Thoby Solheim
Transitioning from the structured, formal world of the corporate and career ladders of Investment Banking to the more informal, less structured, and creative world of a digital media agency in Cape Town.
Corporate Versus Creative
Corporate: adjective or noun meaning an association legally given by law the rights and liabilities of an individual; having qualities associated with large organisations, such as commercialism or lack of originality; derived from Latin corporare “to make into a body”
“Creative: adjective meaning to have or to show the ability to make new things or conceive of new ideas; derived from the Latin creāre “to produce or to cause”
If one looks at the etymology of both words corporate and creative, there is a different Latin root implying motion: to form into a body and to produce. Through the ages the static qualities of “forming into a body” have become compared with the more expansive qualities of “producing new and original things”, and in terms of the word corporate, not favourably.
The root cre- in creative implies the movement towards new and original things, for example a creature: something alive when it was produced, and, naturally, original. This can be contrasted with the term corporate adjectively: often used disparagingly to infer inflexibility and a lack of originality. Indeed, the phrase a “Creative Corporate” might be seen to be an oxymoron. Leviathans such as Google and Apple might beg to differ.
From Investment Banking To A Digital Marketing Agency
I didn’t so much leap out of corporate as slither into it and out of it again. Somewhere between the ages of 17 and 40 I managed to forget about my dreams of becoming a doctor and obtain a Masters in History at University, an act that, confusingly, lead me to the most corporate world of finance: Investment Banking in the City of London. It was a fast-paced action-packed career: but always I felt like a tiny cog in a huge machine, bound from creativity by bureaucracy. My mid-life crisis saw me slide out the other side, back at university studying a second Masters, this time in Management Coaching. But, the spark had been ignited: I wanted to move towards a creative second career, and my studies represented that desire. Once I had dusted off the grey matter the mind responded well to the learning: coaching, grounded in psychology and corporate philosophy, became the tools of a new trade. It was the practical execution practicum of a pro-bono coaching programme that lead me to the door of RT7Digital.
Three years later, I find myself running a team of creatives in a small Digital Media Agency in Cape Town. There are many assumptions about the idea of being creative and the digital world: powered by social media platforms that connect people across the globe, slick websites, content-writing, design and email marketing to the darker arts of search engine optimisation and analytics. There is also the stereotype of multi-coloured offices with ping-pong tables and barefoot, bearded hipsters drinking espresso coffee whilst devising the next brilliant social media campaign to reach a bigger audience.
But for me, uniting my business experience as a banker with the creative world of a Digital Media Agency is the opportunity to showcase the purpose of a client’s business online. Peter Drucker, described as the founder of modern management and a foremost writer on the philosophy of modern corporates declared that a business exists to create customers. For a business to create customers it must have a purpose, a mission. It is my belief that an effective Digital Media Agency must help businesses disseminate their mission to their existing and future clients online.
We are here to create that purpose as imaginatively as possible. If we can do that effectively, then not only do we have all the creative tools of the digital world at our disposal, we also have our own mission statement. Now what could be more creative than that?