In praise of Young Lions: How to nurture up and coming creatives
A view from Tim Nolan

In praise of Young Lions: How to nurture up and coming creatives

Take care of your young creatives. It's our responsibility to help guide them to success, writes Huge's Tim Nolan.

In our fast-paced, ever-changing industry, future generations are the key to success and longevity. As executive creative director at Huge, one of the most important roles I play is to grow, inspire, and cultivate the talent inside the agency. However, It’s also essential to play this role beyond the walls and into the greater industry.

The growth and culture of an agency start with the people we rely on to do the work. The art director who will grow into a creative director, the junior copywriter who will become an associate creative director, and the designer who is fresh out of school are the people that deserve my full attention. Besides clients of course.

It may be stating the obvious but it is this group of talented men and women that will be the face and voice of the agency and our industry. It’s my responsibility and yours as today's leaders to help guide, protect and serve them.

Think of it as an investment. Treat them with respect and challenge them. Give them the responsibility to own their work. Allow them the time to discover their abilities and steer them towards success. You may be surprised at what they can do.

It is this group of talented men and women that will be the face and voice of the agency and our industry. It’s my responsibility and yours as today's leaders to help guide, protect and serve them.

Over the years I’ve always been surprised and delighted by the talent of those who are just starting out. They will almost certainly have a completely different point of view or opinion.

As marketing and advertising professionals we preach constantly to clients about how they need to create an open two-way conversation with their audience. I suggest we apply that same thinking to those we work with.

At Huge the kids I love the most are those that push back on ideas. The ones that stand up for their work. The ones that challenge me and do not just blindly accept the word of the executive creative director as if it were written in stone. 

The more we can have real conversations and less internal presentations, the better the work and the culture of the agency will be. By levelling the playing field, the work will elevate itself naturally.

Spending a week here in Cannes, year after year, I have grown to truly embrace and engage with the Young Lions program. It’s without question the best platform for young talent to gain recognition and interact with industry leaders.

The Young Lions after-party gives us a great opportunity to mingle with these young, devoted individuals who exhibit such a high level of passion and dedication to the art and craft of producing industry-leading work.

It’s my role as an executive creative director to guide and lead emerging talent. But, as well as being available to hold their hand, it’s even more crucial to know when to let go. For me, the most rewarding moments at work aren’t those when I crack a brief alongside a planner or account director.

The best bits are when I open a deck or read a script that the teams tackled on their own after a short creative sprint, and realise how far they’ve come.

Set them up for success and young people will always win.

Tim Nolan is executive creative director at Huge