#EmbraceEquity with judge Paulina Van Vliet

A Q&A with 2023 Photography & Illustration judge

March 8, 2023

#EmbraceEquity with judge Paulina Van Vliet

In recognition of this year's International Women's Day (#EmbraceEquity) we wanted to celebrate all the talented hard-working women in our industry and so, we approached the women jurors of our three 2023 Awards competitions –  Photography & Illustration, Design and Student - with a Q&A. We wanted to provide them with a space to discuss their experience in the industry today as well as share their advice to up-and-coming creatives.


Paulina Van Vliet, Senior Designer, CUSP, Edmonton, AB

How did you end up in the industry?

I was originally studying for a Bachelors in a different industry and took an Art and Design class as an elective because it seemed fun. In that class, I learned that people actually worked as full time designers and could make a career out of it. I had always enjoyed Art and drawing, but never considered it as a career. I completed that degree, but then pivoted into a design program and haven't looked back.


What were your goals as an up-and-coming creative?

I felt like there was some parental doubt that this career could work out for me, so I was very driven coming out of school to get a job and succeed there. I did a lot of networking, portfolio reviews and trying to make some connections to get me into rooms where I may not get in on portfolio alone. I wanted to work at a larger agency and create work that would be seen by a larger audience.


Who was your mentor?

I have had several people along the way who have helped me and given advice, but the most influential was the mentorship I received from Howard Poon when I worked at DDB. He took the time every month to talk through goals for my role there, as well as over all career goals.


What was your experience climbing the creative ladder?

It has been a tricky balance. I have wanted to move up and have received some promotions, but I also do not want to stop designing. I want to be in a position where I can be heads down and design most of the time and not be stuck in meetings and managing projects all day.  


Do you feel the creative industry has evolved when it comes to fairness to women in the workplace?

My experience has been relatively good. I can't say there has been a significant change since my career has started.


What is your advice to young creative women seeking a career in the industry today?

Career success, in my experience, has been connected to networking and who you know so much more than I was expecting when I started out. Every job I have had is partly because of a connection I had to someone there - from events, or portfolio reviews, or mentorship programs. And a lot the early student networking stuff I did was super awkward and hard to do, but helped me out a lot in the end.