In the latest in GENIE’s creative mind series, Naomi Walkland, VP EMEA marketing at Bumble, talks to us about what makes a ‘creative mind,’ and what inspires her creativity.
As Vice President of Marketing at Bumble, Naomi is responsible for leading the women-first dating app’s strategy in over 15 markets across EMEA and APAC. Having joined the brand in 2018, and being made Director of Marketing at the age of just 28, Naomi is passionate about driving innovation and democratising opportunities in the sector.
This means recognising that everyone has the potential to be creative, she says – and that good mentorship needs to be about nurturing that creativity.
Here, as part of GENIE’s creative mind series, Naomi tells us a bit more about how she goes about doing that in her role at Bumble, and how as a new mother she’s finding time to be creative herself.
Q> What do you think makes a ‘creative mind’?
Naomi> I think curiosity makes a creative mind.
For me, thinking about the teams that I lead at Bumble, fostering curiosity means paying attention to what hasn’t yet been done. How can we come up with new ways to drive creativity across the board? And how can we make sure that what we’re doing is different from the work that has come before it?
That’s where I really see innovation and creative breakthrough happening.
Q> Do you think the creative mind is something you’re born with, or something that’s learned, developed and nurtured over time?
Naomi> I think everyone’s creative in their own way. Sometimes we can assume that being creative and being ‘artistic’ is the same thing, especially when we’re younger. But creativity can take so many different forms. At school I was never any good at art but I now know that I’m creative in other ways; I’m creative when it comes to strategic thinking, for example.
But I also believe creativity can – and should – be developed and nurtured over time. Some of my best mentors have been the ones who encouraged me to think in new ways, and that’s helped me build my creativity.
Q> Is there something specific that inspires your creativity?
Naomi> I became a mother eight months ago and so I no longer have as much time on my hands as I used to! With that, I’ve realised that many of the times when I feel the most empowered – whether that’s at work or in my personal life – are the times when I’m able to be creative.
But motherhood has also helped me to prioritise making space to be creative; I need to find windows of time, and they don’t have to be long, even just twenty minutes can really help to clear the mind. At Bumble we have ‘Focus Fridays,’ where we have no meetings and no Slack messages. It’s designed to give us all an opportunity to clear our minds and think creatively, free from distraction.
Q> How do you think the modern world is changing what creativity looks like, if at all?
Naomi> I think the modern world is definitely changing what creativity looks like.
If we take social platforms like TikTok and Instagram, we’re in a really exciting space where people’s creativity is encouraged and is taking centre stage. We’re in this moment of real self expression and I think you can see that in the rise of reels, for instance.
Technology also means that we’ve got the tools to be able to access and find particular niches of creativity that inspire you, in a way that just wasn’t possible 15 years ago.
Q> Have you seen a piece of work that you feel exemplifies how the creative mind looks at things differently?
Naomi> Something I saw recently that caught my eye was the creative around the new Nike and Tiffany partnership.
The reason I liked it was because I think that it can be so hard to generate cut-through that often, as marketers and advertisers, we end up forgetting about our consumers. We don’t think about how we can add value, or create something that is going to become part of the cultural zeitgeist. But in the case of this partnership it was generating genuine conversation. So many people were talking about it – importantly, not just other creatives and marketeers.
This was partly due to the fact that these were two brands that you just didn’t expect to come together, I think.
Q> How do you think technology like GENIE enables creativity to thrive, if at all?
Naomi> I’m particularly passionate about democratising opportunities in our industry, so I find technology like GENIE incredibly exciting in that respect. It provides the opportunity for creatives to pitch for briefs they might not have otherwise had access to.
From a client perspective, there’s so many brilliant creatives out there that it’s sometimes hard to find the right fit for a specific brief. So to be able to receive ideas from a curated network of specialists doesn’t just speed up the search, it also fuels creativity.
This article was originally published in Little Black Book.