interview by Romanita Oprea
I’ve met Cristina Roman, Communications & Business Development Manager – Europe D&AD & Founder SheSays Spain and Laia Miret, Head of Art PlayGround & Founder SheSays Spain while being invited in Romania as speaker at ADC*RO’s event – Lady Steps. We had a lovely conversation about feminisms, gender balance, leadership and creativity that I am happy to be able to share with you today.
Laia Miret: In my case it’s a matter of editorial point of view. As long as the cultural scene fits our editorial line, as it happens also in advertising – if a brand wants to do something with us, we need to make sure that is aligned with our point of view and our style as well.
Cristina Roman: I don’t define myself by only one of the things that I do. We women are diverse and good at multi-tasking. In order to feed our passions, we work on one thing and then on the side we need to do more things than only our normal work, in order to feel alive. If I will only stick to my work I would feel like missing an arm or a leg.
There is a lot of work, as I do sell art at national fairs, I organize music parties, I perform. It’s crazy. People that don’t know me are amazed about how much energy I have.
Laia Miret: We are always connected. Sounds hard, but we are always working. I am very severe with the timings at work, at my job. At 6 I leave and I always try to make my hours, but my brain is constantly rolling ideas, I am always paying attention on what is going around me and everywhere in the world. I am always connected to what I am interested in.
Cristina Roman: The work we do outside work is passion.
Cristina, you work for D&AD, but you are also passionate about arts. How do they combine together?
D&AD is an educational site that has been existing in London for 55 years and we are worldwide recognized or organizing one of the most prestigious awards in the world of design and advertising. It’s basically commercial creativity. There is a brief, a client, a brand and people respond with creativity and make it work that way.
Besides D&AD what is on my personal side, in my spear time is where I do performing, I do painting arts or where we do the music thing. It’s kind of like.
So where do you say that it lays more your passion and it represents you the most: the work that you do commercially (the day to day job) or the passion related projects that you coordinate in your free time?
Laia Miret: For me, PlayGround, where I work, is also my own project as well. Everything I solve there for me is a personal challenge and something that I almost take it as an art project, as it is very related to research. For me, it’s the same. I cannot separate them.
Cristina Roman: We are both related to the world of ideas. We are constantly thinking about how to make it happen. It has a baseline on how to make creativity real. They are all very related, even one side pays more of the bills than the other.
I like all of these worlds: the business, the art, the performance. And, somehow, are part of the same thing.
Laia Miret: With being a good leader I don’t think you should know about only one specific thing, you must be professional about this subject, but at the same time be curious and want to learn more about other aspects as well. To be able to relate and coordinate ideas and to make possible what other consider to be impossible. If you are isolated in only one discipline you’re never going to do it.
This is how creativity and inspiration work for you as well, no?
Laia Miret: Yes. Sometimes people that talk about creativity only think about design, architecture, advertising, arts, writing storytelling, but creativity is everywhere. You can be a great businesswoman and be creative. Actually, you really need creativity in business.
Cristina Roman: You can be an accountant and be really creative. Sometimes, people within the advertising/design industry, with more of a classic background believe that they are the only ones that are creative. We are for the democracy of creativity. The human being is by definition creative.
What inspires you?
Cristina Roman: I get a lot of inspiration from the nature. In the world, in the environment. Women and men that work towards an objective that has a social impact, inspire me. To see them working for everybody’s good, inspires me.
Moreover, my friends inspire me. I am surrounded by great women and men. “Purpose for good” is my thing.
Laia Miret: I would say the same thing, but I would add that I am very obsessed with people in the consumerism world. How do we behave when we consume, when we buy stuff, when we do stuff and also when we are in social media or interact with content. I take a lot of this data, I analyze it and try to be creative with it and try to solve it, by approaching the content in a different way.
Cristina Roman: Sustainability is also really important for us.
Consuming is changing the world. We need to teach the brands about their social impact.
Cristina Roman: Three years ago we launched D&AD Impact, our awards, that are based instead of London in New York and we contacted the United Nations, because we wanted to evolve from the classical awards. The D&AD Impact is aligned with the UNs 12 missions.
Laia Miret: We also work with UN and have these 12 principals to make a better world and when we work with brands we have these charts with the principals and we always identify which one or ones are going to work with a brand to create meaningful and social impact for the brand.
Cristina Roman: The social impact is about the consumer, bringing the power to the consumer. We empower ourselves to force a change in the brands and the way they behave. We train the agencies and the studios to be more social only for the good of the planet.
Laia Miret: With the social media, we have a multi-directional communication. It’s time for consumers to empower themselves. The paradigm has changed.
When commenting in social media about problems, if the brand doesn’t do anything or it does, but only short term, do you believe that on the long run the brand will suffer or not? Do you believe that people tend to forget fast about these problems and forgive the brands or not?
Cristina Roman: I think the attitude is here to stay and the brands are going to be more and more political, they are going to need to be more and more activist and to have their own opinions and voices. If you don’t know what you stand for you are going to be lost in the middle of many others that are going to take that position for and from you.
Laia Miret: The old conceptions of advertising are dead. Now it’s time for branded content – brands need to become content generators and when you do that you have to expose yourself. This is the present and the future.
We are teenagers in the use of social media and we need to re-educate ourselves in the use of the social media
Cristina Roman: The sooner you understand that and adopt it, the better your business is.
At the beginning you were talking about women leadership. How do you believe it has changed during the last years and what are your expectations for women leadership in the next 3-4 years?
Laia Miret: I like to talk more about female leadership than women leadership.
Cristina Roman: We both agree that it needs to be a balance in life, in nature, in the cosmos. It has to be a balance between masculine and feminine energy, just like it is for animals. That balance is very important in this moment and in the society that we live in.
Feminine leadership is about the balance between feminine and masculine energy, knowing that everybody has a feminine and a masculine side. At this moment in business is, unfortunately, only about the masculinity, the warrior, the sword.
Laia Miret: Certain objectives are linked directly to leadership or leader. And one of them is authority. Why do we need to be authoritative? Why? Shouldn’t be a leader more caring? Because we need more caring leaders in the world. And caring is a feminine quality.
What other qualities do you believe that women really bring into the leadership world and the men don’t have them?
Cristina Roman: Maybe they have them, but they are not allowed to show them. We are very cautious about what we say because we don’t want to upset anybody. It’s about understanding, empathy, what is the problem’s reason, where is it and how can we solve it, complexity, strength and power (but from a different point of view). Assertiveness. Intelligence.
In Romania the #MeToo campaign didn’t catch like it did internationally. How was it in Spain and how do it perceived it at an international level? Can we talk about before and after #MeToo?
Cristina Roman: For me, #MeToo is not related only to creative industries, I believe it’s a bigger movement. We live in a patriarchal society. To be a leader you need to have certain qualities that maybe don’t come from the balance of femininity, but are more from the masculine traits that you need to have in order to make it in a patriarchal society. I think the conversation goes bigger and deeper: if that society wasn’t patriarchal how would a leader be? Will the women and the men of today match that? Because when I look at Angela Merkel, Margaret Thatcher, Theresa May, I think: they are prime ministers and control the countries, but with what qualities? They are very masculine.
So, maybe there are a lot of women, but are those women a reflection of what would society be if we wouldn’t have to be claiming our position desperately against men? This is not something natural. We were talking the other days with a lady, high position in an advertising agency, and she was saying to us that sometimes she needs to answer certain e-mails with a certain accent and attitude. For example, she released a rhetoric question: “why do I pretend that I am upset for them to understand that they cannot act that way?” “If I don’t get upset, they are not going to follow me? Isn’t there another way of doing things? A better way?”
It’s just women pretending to be men, because that is the way the society is. I think we need to question the rules.
Laia Miret: We need more leadership in the creative industries. Maybe here in Romania is more or less balanced, but this about Hollywood, which is probably the best and most powerful advertising agency in the world. Think about how many women directors are there, how many mainstream movies have you watched that were directed by women? What does that mean? Every time they talk about love, is a very masculine vision of love. You’re being trained to understand the world from the masculine side.
Cristina Roman: Also the history books. Who has produced them? Men. Religion? Romania is a highly religious country, same as Spain. What kind of institution is the institution of Christianity?
Laia Miret: Another advertising agency.
Cristina Roman: So, what is the role of the woman? Basically, the model that has been imprinted on us is given by men, from the beginning. We must question everything. We cannot compare now women to men in this patriarchal society. We must go deep on that.
We are going to talk today about feminism. Because everybody sees it differently. We really like Carol Gilligan. One thing she says is “feminism isn’t anti-men”. And second: “patriarchy is against democracy”. Feminism is the biggest freedom movement of the history.
It’s all about imbalance and the fact that men are taught to be in top of everything. Women are taught to be selfless. Men must behave in a way that maybe sometimes even they don’t want to: they have to be strong, they don’t need to cry. Many boys get lost in the middle, pretending to be in a way that men are supposed to be.
We are feminists in the sense that we believe in balance.
Laia Miret: And equality.
Cristina Roman: Wikipedia is written by men.
Laia Miret: It’s happening worldwide now, but in Barcelona there is a group of women organizing themselves to check and rewrite the Wikipedia. And introduce powerful women that are not there at the moment. A lot of women are organizing themselves in a lot of cities around the world to work together on that aspect.
About Cristina Roman
She is a master (or not) of many things all of them in service of the Creative and womanhood.
A Business Development Manager Europe at D&AD.
Another Co-Founder of the SheSays Spanish branch.
A professional actress and performer.
An occasional Arts dealer.
A really good rave parties organizer.
An owner of some random educational diplomas: a Bachelor in Economics, Business & Management, a Postgraduate in Cultural Management and some other international acting diplomas.
A student in ‘Sound Therapy’ and ‘Shamanism’ and their links to unlock creativity on the brain.
About Laia Miret
She is a creative social impact generator.
A Head of Art & Design at PlayGround.
A highly energetic techno dancer.
A Co-Founder of the SheSays Spanish branch.
An owner of a bachelor in Advertising and in Graphic design.
An SVA ex-student.
A professor in creativity in several universities (I’m tough).
A wannabe singer of Ennio Morricone’s soundtracks.