Cultivating Creative Talent: kyu Representatives at SXSW 2017

From March 10-19, 2017, people from across the world gathered in Austin, Texas for SXSW, an annual conference and festival celebrating the interactive, film, and music industries. On the first day of the event, four kyu member companies—SYPartners, IDEO, Sid Lee, and Red Peak Branding—collectively held a panel discussion focusing on the theme “You’re an ‘Innovator.’ Then What?”

The speakers were Deborah Hankin, VP of Talent at SYPartners; Duane Bray, Partner and Global Head of Talent at IDEO; Peggy Boustany, Lead Talent Recruitment at Sid Lee; and Susan Cantor, CEO of Red Peak Branding. True to kyu’s collective spirit, the panel was only made possible through group effort: Last summer it was proposed via SXSW’s pitch system, and after winning enough public votes, it was officially included in the 2017 speaker schedule.

In a fully packed room the speakers explored the lifecycle of innovation talent – i.e. how to keep innovators feeling creative, fulfilled, and committed as they grow in their careers.

“With an engaged audience of 500 people, we had the opportunity to showcase some of the best practices regarding innovative talent at kyu,” commented Deborah Hankin, who moderated the panel.

In terms of recruitment, for example, the panelists discussed the difficulty of delivering the true value of a company’s culture, tone, and manner to candidates through largely text-based communication—such as a standard job description.

To this point, Duane Bray shared IDEO’s strategy: “We’ve found that when hiring candidates it is less important to focus only on their skills. Certainly, it is important to see someone’s portfolio and how they demonstrate their knowledge and craft. But what makes the biggest difference as to whether someone is ultimately successful at IDEO is whether we share the same values. We want to work with people who have a clear sense of the impact they want to have in the world and how they achieve it. We want to know that the values we hold dear—such as collaboration, optimism, making others successful—are also important to the candidate.”

Another interesting discussion focused on the importance of giving feedback, which is important for people who are in the recruiting process as well as for current employees. For potential new hires, it is important to show that the company cares about them and to develop a strong relationships with them.

The panelists then shared ideas and actual practices their companies have implemented, such as performance evaluation systems, personal career kits, establishing a constant feedback loop, career journey map, digital tools, and other such methods to maintain positive relationship with their innovative talent. For instance, IDEO has a system and tools to support how their employees grow in their careers. Similarly, SYPartners has an app to support career development for their staffers.

The panel also had an added benefit: inspiring deeper collaborations across the kyu network. “The panel was a wonderful way to get to know our kyu colleagues and collaborate together on the compelling content we shared,” Deborah noted. “I hope this panel inspires others at kyu to think about unique ways our sister companies can work together.”

Clearly cultivating creative talent is something that all kyu member companies value deeply, and the session ended with unanimous applause. As kyu comprises of some of the world’s most sought-after creative companies, it will continue to lead the network of creative and innovative talent on a global scale.