In our Design Leader Series we catch up with the people who are shaping Design in some of the leading companies across Europe. In this edition we catch up with Leticia Alameda, Design Strategy Lead at The Cocktail in Madrid (https://the-cocktail.com).
How would you summarise your career to date?
Started in Madrid, Spain as an account executive until I moved to NYC and developed a career in Brand Planning. From the Hispanic market into General Market, and after an adventure at Hyper Island I jumped into Innovation, where Strategy takes a whole new meaning and impact. I am glad to work not only with brands but with organisations´ products, services, culture, vision and business. I have taken risks when I needed to and have never stopped challenging myself and questioning what planning/strategy could and should be about.
What are your ambitions for Design Strategy at The Cocktail?
To evangelize Design Strategy as a growing practice and philosophy within The Cocktail, pushing for work around broader questions and challenges, not only for our clients, but for us as an organisation, and contributing to the definition of our Value Proposition for the market.
What advice do you wish you’d been given when you started out in your career?
Find the right balance between trusting/improvising and controlling/designing your own career. Speak up more and trust yourself. Do not second guess yourself that much. Find strong, female allies and look up to the few right role models.
What has been your proudest career moment to date?
Being contacted and seriously considered for a Head of Strategy position in a multinational org. (some day!). Briefing that one agency on a mutual client strategy. Shifting careers even though I would make less money. Working in Madison Ave.
Is it important to find your “niche” early on in your career?
I don´t think so. I think keeping yourself open and learning from different markets, industries, practices, methods, etc. makes you more interesting, and a better critical thinker. It is important to be exposed to different environments, people, and points of view to be a good generalist, which is what a Strategists is.
How do you stay relevant and learn?
What’s your best advice for maintaining a healthy work/life balance?
Learn to say no without feeling guilty.
TRUST your colleagues and expect the same.
Be organized. Don´t waste your time and others´.
Educate other people on your preferences and respect theirs.
Be willing to (maybe, and sadly) make less money, at least in Spain, but value and enjoy your free time more.
What’s the hardest career lesson you’ve learned?
Don’t change jobs only based on economical reasons. Culture, people, the kind of daily work you will be doing, with whom, etc. Those things matter.
Which design leaders do you admire?
Tim Brown & Leonardo Da Vinci
Finally … what’s your favourite interview question?
One of my dearest mentors asked me in an interview which historical decade I would have liked to live in. I said the 60s and 70s because of the social revolutions and the cultural freedom. I guess she liked it because she hired me.
The Cocktail lead end to end transformation stories for their clients. Their team covers the whole discipline spectrum for online presence and business development: usability, information architecture, design, SEO, web metrics, back and front programming, marketing and research. You can connect with Leticia on twitter and linkedin.