As part of an ongoing series highlighting young talent in the industry, Branding in Asia brings you “One Under 30” – a special feature that focuses on up-and-coming talent in the ad world, one person at a time
This week we feature Shyan Gershon, the 27-year old Creative Group Head at TBWA\Sri Lanka.
According to Gershon, fate led him to his current career. “If I am being honest, it was an accident. I had no intention of joining the ad industry.”
Name: Shyan Gershon
Agency: TBWA\Sri Lanka
Position: Creative Group Head
Hometown: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Current Location: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Education: Marketing Degree from The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), but learned the ABCs of advertising from seniors around me and the industry itself.
How did you get your first break in the industry?
If I am being honest, it was an accident. I had no intention of joining the ad industry. It so happened that after I finished my schooling, I had no clear idea in which direction to proceed. During this time, a friend of the family offered me an internship at a boutique agency.
During my internship I did everything; I was involved in copywriting, designing, videography, composing, and singing jingles, and so forth. I can’t be certain but the management would have seen my potential because after my internship ended even though there was no existing vacancy they created a position for me at the agency. This opportunity put me on the path that I am on now for which I am extremely thankful.
What is your personal mantra?
“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today?”
It’s a quote that reminds me to continuously push myself and make use of every second so that I am always engaged in doing something that truly matters.
From what person, place or thing have you drawn your greatest creative inspiration?
As someone who is passionate about innovation and product designing, my greatest inspiration is Steve Jobs. Apart from everything that he has achieved as an inventor and entrepreneur his entire life story with all its ups and downs, successes and failures have an inspirational lesson attached to it. I think there is a lot to learn from the life journey of Steve Jobs.
What do you love about your job?
It always has been, and always will be, the people. It’s a unique industry unlike any other where you get to be surrounded by amazingly talented people who come from different backgrounds with diverse skill sets. It’s fascinating because everyone brings different values to the table.
What about your job are you not too crazy about?
If you take a good hard look at the creative and marketing industry today, everyone is running the race to catch up with the next technological leap or the latest trend and they are confused about the whole digital revolution. However, most of them have forgotten the foundation of creativity, the true purpose of our industry, and have lost the connection to the real world, which I find to be very disturbing.
What is some of the work you’ve done that you are most proud of?
There are a few projects I am proud of, however, if I had to choose one it would be the ‘Aura Incense Barricade’. This project focused on providing a non-violent solution to the human-elephant conflict which is a big issue in Sri Lanka and in many other countries around the world. Essentially, we turned an everyday incense stick into a powerful elephant repellent, which resulted in elephants staying away from villages and thereby avoiding a conflict with humans.
The project required collaboration with the Wildlife Department of Sri Lanka, and testing in the conflict areas prior to its launch. I was personally part of every step of the project and I attended each of the testings which was an experience in itself.
After a 4-year long journey of hard work and perseverance, the product was successfully launched in Sri Lanka, and it ended up saving the precious lives of both humans and elephants. This project has been the most awarded creative work in Sri Lanka in 2020, so it’s safe to say that it holds a very special place in my heart.
If you could choose another career what would it be?
It would be any career that I am passionate about, that is a given. Saying that however, I have varying interests. I love music, film, and science, and in that sense, I can see myself in those fields either as a musician, a film director or as an inventor.
While those fields are still in the realm of the creative, I’ve also had an interest in a completely different area, which is to be a trader in the stock market.