Conference Recap


Brian Akers

Creative Director

October 16, 2019

On Thursday, October 3rd 2019, I attended the Brandemonium conference in Cincinnati where I had the pleasure of gaining key insights on the next generation of talent. The lectures by Nick Cromydas, Sean Rugless and Tyson Betts were especially instructive for me as a Creative Director tasked with landing top talent—but I believe all hiring managers can keep these takeaways in mind. 

In Nick Cromydas’ lecture titled “The Tension of Next Generation of Talent,” we learned that the trajectory of our new workforce is not typically linear. Career paths “used to be” graduating college, finding a job and staying within that company by moving up to middle management and executive levels within a 30-year trajectory. However, today’s candidates change jobs an average of four times over their careers and also change their industries two to three times. According to Cromydas, this is largely caused by the speed of social media and digital activity where candidates are bombarded with multiple opportunities on a daily basis. This can create the idea that the grass is bit greener somewhere else.

For example, LinkedIn has approximately 260 million monthly users who actively engage with the platform. 40% of these users access it on a daily basis and 40 million students and recent college graduates also rely on this network to find jobs ( The speed and increased accessibility of jobs from LinkedIn is a primary method for young talent who are starting out or switching careers.

Another key takeaway from Cromydas’ lecture details how contemporary candidates want transparency: they want to be told if they are doing well and how they can improve their work.  Moreover, they do not want to be tethered to an office and prefer worksites with flexible schedules, work-from-home opportunities and direct access to company leaders. Is your organization purpose-driven? They like that, too. 

Lastly, the relationships between managers and new talent need to work both ways. New talent should recognize that working with a company and an individual manager is not just a transaction to get to the next great thing, but it’s a relationship. For managers, it’s up to us to nurture that relationship and see how it grows.

The second lecture I attended was Sean Rugless and Tysonn Betts’ “Embedding and Connecting with Diverse Talent” that focused on how to identify top talent. Currently, there are many more career choices than ever before. Notably, Art was added as a key discipline alongside Science, Technology, Engineering and Math—changing the popular acronym from STEM to STEAM. Although this is a step in the right direction to communicate to students they can pursue art, we need to go further to demonstrate the diverse range and potential of art careers. As of now, when kids are asked what they want to do when they grow up, they commonly respond with police officer, teacher, doctor, vet or ninja chief. Very few aspire to be marketers or designers. As a result, we need to introduce these fields as possibilities early on by getting involved in our local schools and speaking to our communities. By increasing the depth of the pipeline, we can secure the right talent!  

But how do we identify ‘the right talent?’ How do we know if a candidate can solve the relevant marketing challenges of tomorrow? According to Rugless, the combined segments of African American and Hispanic consumers comprise three trillion dollars of buying power. However, these segments have been consistently ignored or even tactlessly treated by marketing agencies of the past. So, the challenge is to develop a brand proposition that connects with historically-neglected consumers. These solutions will not emerge from inside a conference room or through a one-way mirror. Instead, we must embed this talent right in our organizations and build cultural understanding (while avoiding missteps). We will not make it very far if we do not first include the right talent on our teams—but we must also empower them to speak up. 

Art is about inclusion and discovering new possibilities—let’s abide by the principles that motivate our careers by increasing our professional marketing and design pipeline. Let’s be sure we’re taking a hard look at our work and determining how we can include the right talent to solve each new challenge.