Valerie Epidi is a student of the Ajayi Crowther University and the winner of the 2022 FCLA Roger Hatchuel Prize sponsored by CHINI Africa. In this write-up titled "Get Out of Your Comfort Zone", she shares her experience attending Cannes Lions and the Roger Hatchuel Student Academy.
“Get out of your comfort zone” was one of the key takeaways from the Roger Hatchuel Academy 2022. It sounded like a command and made me realize that truly, getting out of my comfort zone was what led me to win the Future Creative Leaders Academy's (FCLA) prize. It led me to travel to France to be a part of the biggest international festival of creativity - Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Winning the competition was a big win and a game changer in my life. It is the best thing that has ever happened to me.
I got to the Cannes Lions festival a bit lost and had no idea on the next step to take. However, the academy dean, Serfi Altun made things easier with her progressive leadership style. She personally introduced me to the class. I met with people from different countries around the world, who were considered to be the best in their countries.
Initially, I struggled with imposter syndrome and the diversity amazed me. It was something I wanted to be a part of. However, my initial fear dissipated as soon as I had the best moments with speakers from different parts of the world. They all sounded like they were born to know what they taught. I loved all sessions including sessions from Roger Hatchuel Academy Alumni. My mindset changed just from the first day and my passion for creativity and advertising grew stronger. Attending the award shows also made me grab some lessons and watching the different advertisements interested me a lot in going deeper into the world of advertising. I wanted to be like the speakers and the winners and I was motivated a lot by their different talents and attributes.
The rest of the week was fun and exciting as I met with great people and had the opportunity to interact with many of them, including the girl-child education advocate, Malala Yusuf. My favourite class was the "Immersive Creativity Workshop" where I got to learn about virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence. It was a topic I was keen to learn about and it was given to me with lots of tasking class activities and interactions.
I also had an exciting opportunity with my team members as we were to work on a brief given to us by Deloitte. That was a challenging yet sweet experience as we had little time. I felt great working with intelligent people from different parts of the world as everyone had their ideas and was unique in their own ways. We shared experiences from our countries, personal experiences, from schools, and especially from the academy and brought them up to our table. It was all fun. We all learned from one another and everyone was willing to be attentive and expressive at the same time. We had a great presentation, learned from the judges, our tutors, and learned from other presentations.
One of my biggest pushes from the Academy was letting go of fear. I was really scared to be a part of class activities and practical assignments but as I got to partake in them, it made me more confident, excited and got me really out of my comfort zone.
The learning experiences at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity were limitless as I learned the beautiful part of other cultures and diversities; met new people, tried new foods, learned some skills, and got inspired to do more.
I am thankful to God for everything, CHINI Africa for this priceless opportunity, the Ajayi Crowther University to fly its flag, my lecturers in the department of mass communication for their impactful lectures, my competition supervisor for bringing the best out of me; my friends and families, and Cannes Lions for an experience of a lifetime.
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