Dear Millennial: An interview with Why? Brand Design's Managing Director
Cecile Ayed has been in the design and branding game for over 20 years between London, Paris, and now Singapore.
As the Managing Director of Why? Brand Design, her focus is not simply on creating and growing FMCG brands in the region but also building the best team to help clients get there. Her global experience within the industry has led her to embrace and value diversity and practice inclusivity, as such, she nurtures her team, prioritising the understanding of diverse cultures in Asia.
Here’s Cecile’s take on her career, the best mistake she’s made, and how she celebrates culture at Why? Brand Design:
On her beginnings
After university, I joined an independent branding agency in London (even though I graduated with a degree in finance and marketing). From there, I moved to a global branding agency where I handled international accounts as a Project Manager, and a few years later I became the Client Services Director. I really loved my time there!
After a little over 10 years at this firm, I decided it was time to move on to a firm with a more entrepreneurial spirit. Through this new experience, I was introduced to design thinking and innovation, where I realised the importance to associate human sciences to design when creating anything for the consumer.
On what she learned outside of school
Almost everything! When I started working, I learned that you need to jump in and take some risks to progress, a very non-linear approach to growing your career. This is why I liked (and still like) working in design agencies - you work with people from different backgrounds and experiences, and you challenge things you would never otherwise challenge.
Leading a team of 38 with 14 different nationalities and embracing the diversity of all key SEA markets is part of what’s exciting at Why? Brand Design. Even though I can use some of my skills, I have to always take a step back to see if it’s relevant for this environment.
The best advice I ever received? Always have an objective when you enter a meeting but be prepared to suspend your agenda. Whether you’re with a client, your team, a partner, or your boss, you have to be an active listener. I like people to feel that they are heard.
On her best mistake
I underestimated the power of company culture. When I moved from the company I spent over 10 years at for a similar role to another, I didn’t think much of it as a challenge. I took for granted what I learned during my career to that point, thinking my way was the only way to do it when in reality, there’s no one way to do something. The company culture was very different. It definitely took time to adjust!
On Why? Brand Design’s culture
At Why? Brand Design, it’s always an adventure here. Nothing is ever impossible! We are always keen on trying new things, and part of this is because we are an independent agency. We also know the importance of speed in the region - time to market is key for our clients and for us. At Why? Brand Design, once you share a vision, people are excited about it, and the next thing you know, it is implemented in a world-class manner.
On what it takes to be part of Why? Brand Design
Come and meet with us! FMCG branding is not something people learn in-depth in schools, so we want to share our knowledge around the region and meet people who want to learn.