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Creative perspectives

Creativity is one of the most-in demand skills desired by employers today, and it’s set to become even more important post-pandemic as companies seek innovative solutions to new challenges. We asked four alumni for a perspective on what creativity in the workplace means to them.
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Creativity is one of the most-in demand skills desired by employers today, and it’s set to become even more important post-pandemic as companies seek innovative solutions to new challenges. We asked four alumni for a perspective on what creativity in the workplace means to them.

Understanding your audience

Emma Vites Patel
(Psychology and Sociology, 2003)
Account Director, LinkedIn

I’m really creative in my role and it’s been the formula for my success. I resist the temptation to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to my work and instead take time to listen to my clients, understand their specific needs and adapt my solution accordingly. I view my job as a problem solving activity, and if my client has an objection, I think creatively on how it can be solved.

The best way to be creative in your career is to truly understand people and discover their true needs. I’m an IMA practitioner and this is an amazing tool to help me understand the preferred language style of my customers so I’m able to adapt my approach to suit them. You can take a short questionnaire online to find your colour and learn how you can modify and adapt to suit others.

A positive mindset

Doreen Anene
(PhD Animal Sciences, 2021)
Founder and Program Director, The STEM Belle and PhD Researcher, University of Nottingham

A crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic is a powerful catalyst for change, creativity and innovation. We’ve been working creatively to devise new strategies to engage both teachers and learners in STEM education to ensure no-one is left behind. In my role, I’ve remained creative by demonstrating ethical leadership, and developing new ideas such as leading my team to increase our digital footprint using the art of visual storytelling as a tool for social change.

Thriving amid changing circumstances like COVID-19 requires all team members to have a renewed and positive mindset. Recognising the opportunities of the current situation can be a game changer for team creativity. Creating a positive virtual working environment, where innovation is recognised and rewarded is important to spark creativity and new ideas within your team.

Getting out of your comfort zone

Richard Hillson
(Law, 2002)
Founder, Hillson Consulting

After 10 years as CEO of an investment bank, I founded Hillson Consulting in January 2020 to work with wealth managers. Then came March – COVID-19, quarantine and travel restrictions closing off the usual business development channels. Throw in the towel or have a serious rethink?! I gave myself a crash course in digital and social media marketing and content creation and moved to using LinkedIn as my central hub for business development.

Creativity to me means finding ways to have meaningful interactions with prospects and clients, and to pivot and be flexible depending on circumstance. Historically, I was perhaps the least creative person I know, very set in my ways and inflexible. Challenge yourself daily to get out of your comfort zone. Ironically, I tell my clients this daily when it comes to investments – broaden your horizons, and evolve or die. I just wasn’t doing it myself until my hand was forced.

Breaking down cultural barriers

Rob Avey-Phipps
(International Relations, 2013)
Founder and Managing Director, China-Britain Regional Initiative

After completing my masters at Nottingham’s Ningbo Campus, I founded the China-Britain Regional Initiative (CBRI). The concept is to generate meaningful and economic-focused projects between UK and Chinese “sister cities”. Pre-COVID-19, our way of working was very traditional. Most activities between cities was done face-to-face. It was tiring, slow-paced and resource intensive, but it’s the way international relations has always been conducted so there wasn’t even a concept of innovation.

The rulebook has now been ripped up. We can no longer travel across the world, but with improved technology (and a new acceptance that this is normal), why should we? Over the past six months, CBRI has been developing the concept of a “virtual trade mission”. We ran one in the summer and to everybody’s surprise…it was a success! What would have taken months of planning, a massive time commitment from decision-makers, and a huge carbon footprint, only took a morning. The technology has its limitations, but with creativity and innovation, it can help break down cultural barriers.

What does creativity mean to you?

We asked you for your perspective on this topic on LinkedIn. Here’s a selection of what you said:

"I’m an educator so for me, creativity is allowing both students and teachers the agency to excel. I use the Mantle of the Expert imaginative approach to empower my students by using their imaginations to ignite their creativity. This in turn allows me to facilitate creative learning communities where collaboration, creativity and curiosity are paramount."
Louise Ryan

"I work within the wellbeing space and creativity plays a big role. It’s always fun helping people to understand that creativity is much broader than art – which is good, given that I can’t really draw. Creativity is also important in performance at work. I help people to understand how to make an impact, what motivates them and how to identify this. People who are obsessively creative (in a good way) we term the Game Changers!"
Shantonu Chundur

"Creativity is about turning new or visualised ideas into reality. It’s also about analysing patterns and trends (especially in behaviour) to generate solutions. In short, creativity is about getting out of your comfort zone to have continuous development to a desired outcome."
Woon Chin Yeung

"Creativity is like the twilight space between being awake and dreaming, where the real and the imagined meet."
Mark Whelan

Thank you to everyone who commented on LinkedIn.