Works Five: No Risk, No Reward
International Women’s Day — celebrated on March 8th — is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This March, we’re turning our focus to the Women of the Works. Each week we’ll highlight a few our outstanding people, and share their answers to key questions about mentorship, their successes and what they hope for the next generation of young creative leaders.
Lindsay became part of the Works Design team in 2018, bringing a wealth of experience in print and packaging design and production. Having worked in Sweden, London and Toronto, she has an appreciation for detail, timing and accuracy. In the studio, colleagues appreciate Lindsay’s great taste in tunes — her Spotify playlists are tough to beat.
Kate Heron: What do you remember about your educational experience?
Lindsay Trajkovich: I only really started to enjoy school once I was able to take courses in areas I was interested in. I had a great university experience where I studied Graphic Communications Management and Marketing at Ryerson. I liked the balance of academic courses with hands-on learning. I participated in an exchange semester to Sweden which was a highlight of my educational experience, since I was able to take classes in a completely different learning style and do projects that were reflective of the work that I would be doing once I graduated. One of the projects involved rebranding a local company, and I was able to see the new design and packaging in the shops a few years after working on the design. It was practical learning experiences like this where I gained more knowledge than accounting or finance courses, so I figured that would be the direction I should take my career.
KH: Would you say you have had any mentors or role models that have influenced the way you do your job?
LT: I wouldn’t say I’ve had any mentors in my career, however I’m lucky enough to have family members from the graphics industry, which I can only assume is what led me to where I am today. My grandfather started his career processing printing plates in Belgrade, Serbia, and that skill was how he was able to start his own printing company here in Canada. My father eventually started his own printing company too and is still consulting in the industry. My father likes to talk about all things ~cool~ in the print world; however I think it’s his and my grandfather’s entrepreneurial mindset that’s had a significant influence on my career.
KH: Tell me about the very first place you worked on or around design or communications.
LT: I worked at Harbourfront Centre as the Director of the photography camps over the summer and March breaks while I was studying at university. I loved this job because I was able to build a program and mentor my counsellors and campers around a topic that everyone was interested in. It was a challenge to teach campers some of the technical skills I was learning at university in a fun and engaging way, and it was incredibly rewarding to see how proud they were of their final projects during the open house.
KH: In your professional career, what is the bravest thing you’ve ever had to do?
LT: I made the move to London, UK in 2016 – a year after graduating from university – in an effort to gain exposure to the world and accelerate my career. I felt quite stagnant in my current situation because besides a brief stint in Sweden for university, I had spent my entire life in Toronto and I was curious to see what else was out there. This created countless challenges for me, but in the end I was able to find a few great jobs, make some amazing friends, and explore London and Europe as much as possible. I applied to my current role at Works Design while I was in my final weeks in London, so it was great to have this opportunity lined up and have something to look forward to while I was moving home.
KH: Everyone faces different challenges at work. How have you overcome obstacles in your career?
LT: I think the best way to overcome obstacles, at work or in life, is to be as realistic as possible about the situation at hand and to be as diplomatic as possible when working with others.
A graduate of Sheridan College’s photography program who also studied fine art in Italy, Kate joined Works Design in 2013. She uses her talent and insight in combination with formidable analytical, organizational and interpersonal capabilities on our marketing and business development team. Kate’s skills were honed as an Account Executive with a leading branding and marketing agency, and as the Production Manager for one of Canada’s top commercial photographers.
Caleigh Alleyne: What do you remember about your educational experience?
KH: Critique. I studied photography, and the cadence of that program was assignment, produce, then come together for critique. Everyone put their work on a giant wall, and we had blind critique. The instructor would talk about what made work successful or not successful and it was very objective. We were also encouraged to weigh in, but in a constructive way. We would use the format of “what’s working about this is…” or “what would take this to the next level could be…”
This was a game changer for me. In high school you send essays out into a void, and they come back with feedback and a number that’s very final and concrete. Creative work can be very fluid, and having the opportunity to look at lots of different approaches to the same design challenge, to discuss things and debate — it opened up my world, and I’m so grateful for that.
CA: Would you say you have had any mentors or role models that have influenced the way you do your job?
KH: Yes. Karen Oikonen was the first Creative Director I ever worked for. I’d admired her work from afar for a really long time, and I was incredibly nervous to meet her in person. I had never worked in design before and oh boy, it showed! She truly loved the craft, she loved design. She taught me a ton about working with creative people, with designers. She taught me that even though I wasn’t responsible for “creating” or designing, my success hinged on building great relationships with creators and designers around me. With everyone in a studio, really. You can’t just focus on your piece alone. You make better things if you understand how design happens, and respect what it takes to make great work.
She was also a lifelong learner; getting her master’s the entire time we worked together. She was studying strategic foresight, co-design — all kinds of really interesting practices, and I really respected that she was building on what she loved to do and taking it to a different place. I’ve carried that with me, and tried to act on that attitude.
CA: In your professional career, what was the bravest thing you’ve ever had to do?
KH: Leave the photography industry. I had been a producer for almost a decade, but with the rise of stock photography (royalty free, especially) and the advent of the camera phone, the bottom dropped out of the industry. The money was just gone, and I knew I’d hit a real ceiling. I worked for a few different agencies before I landed at Works Design. And Works Design had been a client of mine since my very first day as a producer. So I’m proud to say I’ve worked with people like Nelson for my entire career — 16 years. He may not remember me from back then, but I remember him. He’s still the same guy. An amazing creative leader, and all-around outstanding human.
CA: Everyone faces different challenges at work. How have you overcome obstacles in your career?
KH: With the support of the women around me. This is a really personal subject for me, and centres around my time at Works Design.
I had a really profound moment about a year after I started here — we had a fabulous production manager named Sonya — again, someone I worked with my entire career. She was a very special person who had the sensitivity to have a very difficult conversation with me — she confronted me with a hard truth. She told me that my deafness was holding me back. And it was true. She told me that I was smart, but that when I didn’t understand what was happening, or didn’t respond appropriately, it confused people. It could give people the impression that I wasn’t smart. This was difficult for me, because accepting that my hearing loss was so profound was not something I felt ready to do. But I will always be grateful to her, for having the wisdom to know how to frame it for me. She made remaining functionally deaf totally unacceptable to me. I refuse to ever be perceived as stupid.
The leadership at Works Design was unbelievably sensitive and supportive. Adriana (our VP) and Bahar make sure that the equipment in the studio is suitable for me, and fought so our benefits plan includes money for good hearing aids. I want to stress how uncommon this is. Most deaf or hard of hearing people don’t get this support. I think the women that lead our company understand that if you invest in equal access and opportunity, employees can do their best work. I can now. And I do.
CA: What do you hope to accomplish before you leave this industry?
KH: It’s kind of a two-fer. I’ve always dreamed of speaking at a conference. I’m not shy, but speaking in front of crowds does make me nervous and I’d love to bust through that wall. But it’s more than that. I have multiple disabilities. And that’s been tough, but I’ve thrived – because of the women of Works Design. The leadership, and other women too. They’ve been with me every step of the way. It’s my story, but also our story. I would love for Lorie or Diane and I to talk to people about what happens when you engage with an employee about their disability in a collaborative way. If you work with an employee to reimagine how they work, you create conditions for their success. You both gain so much. I want companies to hear that when you consider the person, consider the human, amazing things happen.
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