Taariq Latiff

On the Mic: Taariq Latiff

Taariq Latiff

On the Mic: Taariq Latiff from Open CPT

We recently asked Taariq Latiff, BTech Product Designer and Creative Director at Open CPT, to share some insight into his life as a designer and creative in the world of internal communication.

By Aneeqah Samsodien, Communication and Brand Specialist (March 2019).

How did your career in design start?

I was commissioned to create a logo for a hair nourishing product by my first client during the third year of my studies, which then grew into brochures and packaging. I went into depression when I started my first job after studying,  designing POS units for the makeup industry. There wasn’t much room for creativity and I resigned after just three months. I vowed that I would never again work for someone or a business where I was not growing creatively. I picked up some clients, started freelancing, and gradually grew into an independent creative studio.

How did you end up at Open, specialists in internal communication?

I went for an interview at Open after a friend referred me to see what it was about. The more I heard about internal communication, the more I felt that this is the type of thing I’ve been looking for, but didn’t know existed.

What is the purpose of creating meaningful design when communicating to employees?

Design is essential when you’re communicating with employees. It’s about using a modern approach to communicate stories simply and visually across different contexts and using different materials. We are visual beings that respond to visual communication, and this should be reflected in modern-day internal communication as well.

What do you like most about working for Open?

It’s always challenging. It keeps me on my toes and I am constantly learning new techniques. The system we work within is also really great as it gives me the ability to adapt and grow. I work with really amazing designers and strategists abroad, who are specialists of their craft and always have different ways of approaching a problem. I have access to a wealth of information that wouldn’t typically be readily available due to my location.

Where would you say your specialty lies?

I love conceptualising and having a broad understanding of materials, manufacturing processes and systems, making me a good problem solver.

What are some of the first childhood memories that made you realise you had a knack for design?

From a young age, I would spend a lot of time watching my mom – a signwriter and a real perfectionist – paint signage, posters and banners. Our dining room would always be filled with poster paper and paint brushes and I’d always play with the scraps. I would find cartoon characters I really liked and would spend hours trying to redraw them until I got the correct proportions.

In primary school, I was tasked to create a show-and-tell project of what my dream job is. I used our computer and, in Microsoft Word, I designed my own chocolate bar wrappers (I’ve always loved chocolate). I even created unique names for each of the imaginary chocolate bars. That’s pretty much how my design journey started.

As a designer, name one project you have always envisioned that you would like to achieve in your lifetime. 

I’ve been blessed – I have worked on and created most of the projects I’ve conceptualised and wanted to try thus far. I’d meet a client and they’d describe the product they would want and it ends up being something I had already thought about. Most of my dream projects have been given to me and the best thing is, I got paid to do it.

If we’re talking about personal projects, I would love to design food products or create my own perfume brand.

What are some of the creative challenges you face regularly and how do you remedy them?

I love working on multiple tasks at once; that’s how I’ve been operating from a young age. At Open, using time effectively is vital to everyday life. I get a variety of tasks to manage, but there is usually one big task or project that grounds me.

Why do you do what you do, and could you see yourself doing anything else?

Frustration fuelled my desire to become a designer. When I saw poor signage, visual communication products and architecture, I noticed gaps where people weren’t paying attention to the design and how it could be improved.

If I weren’t a product designer, I would probably be an artist or a chef. I would also like to design a hydroponic garden in my backyard one day (I love plants).

On the Mic is a series of blog posts that invite internal communication professionals to share their take on employee communication, their view on trends within the field and what rocks their boat. Feel free to send us tips on who should be ‘On the Mic’ next.


On the Mic: Lene Mi Ran Kristiansen

On the Mic: Lene Mi Ran Kristiansen from LM Wind Power

We're so glad to have Lene Mi Ran Kristiansen, Senior Manager, Communications & Sustainability at LM Wind Power, sharing what she sees as key when communicating sustainability and carbon neutrality.

By: Betina Sørensen, Senior Creative Advisor (March 4, 2018)

 

What’s on the top of your employee communication agenda right now?
Strategy execution, GE integration, and sustainability with our carbon neutrality program #CleanLM at the very top!

What was your latest success and what made it a success?
Recently, we did an interactive workshop session for the top 130 global leaders of the company, challenging them to play a huge cardboard game: Go Carbon Neutral in 30 mins.

It was their first in-depth experience with our ambitious sustainability program and it worked brilliantly because the format and game design dynamics compelled our leaders to learn about the concept and methods to go carbon neutral. To be able to finish the game they had to collaborate, negotiate, and agree. It made them reflect on the challenge and daunting task we as a business have taken upon us by setting this ambitious goal.

It was a very effective way of creating awareness and ambassadors who now are able to articulate what we are doing to their teams and other stakeholders, helping to foster further interest, support, and hopefully inspiration so more colleagues get engaged.

Why is it important to communicate your carbon neutrality pledge internally?
Many LM Wind Power employees have taken what we call ‘the green pill’! They genuinely care about the fact that they work in a green company and make a positive difference every day.

#CleanLM gives them another reason to be proud and it is absolutely crucial to ensure they are aware of this pledge, so they are able to engage in the delivery of the program or in the communication about it to their networks.

I think it is fair to say that they are the most important stakeholders and key enablers for us as an organization to achieve the target but also the reputation benefit that comes by being a pioneer. Just imagine the impact if we manage to engage 10,000 people as green ambassadors inspiring others to follow our lead!

What did you learn during the process?
In this process we were quite concerned about the level of detail and complexity of our game would be too advanced for the limited time we had available. The audience was the top leaders in the business, so stakes were high – as would be the exposure if we failed.

We spent a LOT of energy on wording and simplifying the concept and content over several iterations until we were satisfied. It was a matter of finding that delicate balance where the audience is intrigued and challenged but not overwhelmed while maintaining some of the complexity from real life in the game.

This experience actually reflects one of the most important lessons I have learned on my 10+ years in corporate communications. When you have really invested that extra thought and care into your content and campaign you can create something with long durability and relevance which ultimately becomes a recognized franchise in the company’s communications mix.

When people start adopting and adapting it to their own communications purposes, you have really succeeded. We have done that with our first sustainability campaign featuring four mascots – The Sustainables – which were introduced five years ago but still going strong and even getting new family members from time to time. With #CleanLM we aim to create a strong internal franchise again but this time, the potential for using it externally has been considered almost equally important. We are on to something greater than ourselves and inspiring others is a huge part of measuring our success.

What is your best advice/tip to other employee communicators?
Take your audience seriously and invest the necessary time and care in learning what works with them. Do pilots, focus groups, or test runs with small samples of employees and be ready to adjust according to what you learn. Then dare to challenge and tweak to surprise and inspire! And finally, consider how you measure success already when you start designing your campaign. We all want to be able to show that our work made the intended difference.

You can read more about Lene’s activating leaders and employees in the carbon neutral agenda in her LinkedIn blog post: Watch 130 leaders go carbon neutral in 30 minutes! (LinkedIn, February 23, 2018)

‘On the Mic’ is a series of blog posts that invite internal communication professionals to share their take on employee communication, their view on trends within the field and what rocks their boat. Feel free to send us tips on who should be ‘On the Mic’ next.

This post is done in collaboration with Open – to go to the Open blog, click here.


On the Mic: Steffen Støvelbæk from Nilfisk

On the Mic: Steffen Støvelbæk from Nilfisk

Recently, Nilfisk was listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange – an exciting event both internally and externally. We're so glad to have Steffen Støvelbæk, Head of Communications at Nilfisk, sharing what he sees as key when communicating a stock exchange listing internally.

By: Kristina Malther, Associated Partner & Senior Communication Advisor (16 January 2018)

 

Why do you find it exciting to work with employee communication?
Because it is about people! And about interacting with people and interaction between people. Effective employee communication is really the glue that connects people with the company and the strategy. I find contributing to creating this alignment and bigger purpose and adding value for everyone a big privilege. I am responsible for both external and internal communication globally across Nilfisk. However, it becomes harder and harder to distinguish between these two disciplines, as messages of course need to be fully aligned and transparent across all channels.

What was your latest success and what made it a success?
Recently, Nilfisk was listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange. A listing process mainly targets investors, analysts, and other external stakeholders but we also wanted to make this an internal event. We managed to turn the listing into a successful internal celebration of a milestone in the history of Nilfisk. I think that was a great achievement and something that has left a positive mark on the company.

Why was it important to communicate the Nilfisk Stock exchange listing internally?
These types of events are not often communicated on internally because of their strong financial scope and at Nilfisk, a lot of the employees outside of Denmark didn’t really care when we communicated about the listing plans. Most of them found it irrelevant to them. We decided to use the listing as an opportunity to acknowledge the achievements of all Nilfisk employees in making this happen and to create a sense of excitement, pride, and unity around it; across all our 60+ locations worldwide. Technically, this was a demerger from Nilfisk’s former owners NKT, and we also wanted to make sure that this was seen as something positive, and not as a threat.

What did you learn during the process?
I learned that it really pays off to make an event like this a people-centered celebration, paying tribute to the employees and what they have created together – instead of only focusing on finances and investors. It is also important to get the managers onboard as early as possible in the process to support local communication activities across all sites. We used a mix of live webcasts, prerecorded videos and interviews, and Q&A’s. The unity it created across our many different locations was great.

What were your greatest communication successes in communicating internally about the listing?
We succeeded in encouraging employees across the world to use social media and share their celebrations locally. This created a nice vibe on the different SoMe platforms and a strong sense of unity internally. We really saw that aligning and bridging internal and external messages supported our employee promise and brand.

What is your best advice/tip to other employee communicators facing a Stock exchange listing?
Remember to celebrate! With the busy day-to-day grind, we often forget to celebrate and mark our achievements and successes. As human beings we all like and need that, and a listing is a great opportunity to do this. The bottom line is that the employees have all contributed to and created the company that now is financially strong enough to be listed and attract investors. That’s something to celebrate, isn’t it?

‘On the Mic’ is a series of blog posts that invite internal communication professionals to share their take on employee communication, their view on trends within the field and what rocks their boat. Feel free to send us tips on who should be ‘On the Mic’ next.

This post is done in collaboration with Open – to go to the Open blog, click here.