Some people think of creativity as what qualifies painters, musicians, or designers. Others define creativity as the basis of humanity, a trait that sets our species apart from other animals. Regardless of how you define creativity, leveraging and implementing creative practices into your day-to-day life significantly contributes to your own personal and professional success.

This month, we are focusing on creativity. Figuring out what it means to develop creativity in your life and career can be difficult if you’re not in what you might think of as a creative career, so we did some research for you!

We contacted five experienced alumni and posed this question: What role does creativity play in the work that you do every day?

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Carrie Henderson (‘98) is a program and project manager in environmental science, primarily focusing on federal environmental projects. This means she works to provide technical and policy expertise in environmental matters across disciplines, as well as develop and coordinate communications, data management, training, and administrative elements of projects. 

Carrie often works “to find technical solutions to client challenges that meet regulatory requirements, that are within budget constraints, and that align with sustainability goals.” Carrie is responsible for considering all factors when developing solutions, almost like she’s putting together a huge, one-thousand-piece puzzle. When considering her success at work, Carrie reflects, Creativity comes into my job through problem solving.”

Man with blonde hair in a suit smiling at the cameraJosh Strickland (‘13) serves as Student Athlete NIL Vice President, Partnerships and Manager, Roll The Quad in Winston-Salem, NC. Because the Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) industry is one that is brand new to college athletics, Josh states that, “having to be creative and innovative are paramount in the early stages in a lot of ways.” He and his team are “having to write the playbook for success in the industry as one doesn’t exist yet.”

In the midst of developing this up-and-coming industry “with multiple sports, schools, and brand partners,” Josh and his team “challenge themselves regularly and think outside the box.” He states, “Paying attention to competitors and like-minded industries and adding your own individual spin is a constant practice.”

Woman with brown hair in an orange jacket smiling at the cameraCary Lambert (‘13), a brand manager in the esports industry, specializes in brand management and strategy development, with a passion for human performance and wellness. She remotely leads a program focused on human performance and development for professional gaming athletes at Logitech G, headquartered in Silicon Valley.  

“As a brand manager, creativity plays a key role in helping us tell our company’s brand stories, and in bringing our mission, vision, and positions to life for our consumers and our community.” Cary largely channels her creativity through storytelling in order to be more successful at work. She states, “What’s helped me develop and grow as a marketer is really understanding that marketing today is no longer about the products, items, or services that we provide, but about the stories we tell.”

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Juliet Kuehnle (‘06) is a mental health therapist and Founder & Owner of Sun Counseling & Wellness in Charlotte, NC. Juliet also serves as a mental health consultant, frequently appearing on local media, podcast host (Who You Callin’ Crazy?!), has two magazine bylines, and just finished her first book. She tries to show up anywhere and everywhere to further her mission of ending the stigma and normalizing and elevating the dialogue around mental health.

When it comes to Juliet and her practice, she believes that “ALL of us are creative and would benefit from tapping into that creativity.” In simple terms, Juliet defines creativity as “ideas or possibilities that come to us. It can be in asking questions, learning something new, or simply allowing ourselves to play or explore.” She explains that an “attitude of curiosity, open-mindedness, and flexibility around creativity enhances our mental health individually and collectively.” This means that, as we focus less on the outcome of creativity, “we can begin to understand creativity as a process” and get into the “flow of creating.”

Amy Shack Egan (‘14), Founder and CEO of Modern Rebel & Co. in Brooklyn, NY, works as a wedding planner and entrepreneur. Some days Amy is working on a color-coded, Excel timeline for an upcoming wedding. Some days she’s tasting cakes. And other days, she’s meeting with lawyers to make sure that her business is properly set-up to sustain itself and thrive. She finds that her role as an entrepreneur is also bent on relationships, maintaining them and creating them.
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When considering the role of creativity in her career, Amy reflects, “Creativity as an entrepreneur can just mean stepping back and seeing something at a different angle, taking a funky route to get to your destination, or finding a unique way into a new network.” As opposed to simply a helpful tool, Amy states that “creativity is a necessity. It’s not a fun by-product of my work – it is the work!”