Inside Wolff Olins: Tyler Gardon

Hey Tyler! Can you tell us a little about your role at Wolff Olins? 

I work on the growth team here in NYC working across all things New Business, which means helping find the right fit for new clients and projects we take on. The majority of that means pitching to clients, assembling a pitch team, and building relationships with prospects to help them see why we are the right agency to tackle their needs and ambitions better than other agencies. A lot of that is fortunately companies coming to us wanting to see how our strategic thinking and design expertise can transform their business, but it also extends to pursuing dream clients we’d love to work with.

Can you tell us about your background and what you wanted to be growing up?

It’s quite varied… Top Gun made me want to be a pilot... But when I grew up I went for the “practical career” of finance, feeling like I could apply it in any context in the future. I started in real estate finance doing all the numbers behind buying large commercial real estate buildings. My Dad is an architect and I always fancied I could do something more creative, and craved doing something I could put myself into… So I went back to school at the University of the Arts London and studied Visual Communication and Branding. Got enough to build a portfolio and land my first job as a designer at a branding agency in NYC (Carbone Smolan Agency). I worked for a while as a designer, but quickly realized that I may have overcorrected – going from one extreme of hyper-logical numbers to the other end being completely creative. I realized that something more in the middle is me, and that’s where sales and business development came in… I like the idea of it being business oriented, but still have room to apply a lot of creativity and personality in how you approach things.

How did you transition to the new business world?

After my shift to sales, I began to think about using my sales and business development experience alongside all I’ve learned as a designer. I feel like I’ve finally found a weird niche that satisfies my desires to be business-oriented, drive process, but still have a say in creative engagements with clients. Oddly enough, the skills I’ve pulled from finance, design, and sales over the years have all laddered up nicely to help me fit into a role like this.

What do you love most about your job?

The best part about the job is always getting to switch your brain and be across something new which fits with my personality and curiosity. It’s fast paced, you’re always learning something new, and the process can be exciting as you build partnerships and work towards signing on a new client. You get to meet a lot of new people, see all types of challenges, and work with a varied cast of team members to constantly chase cool new business. 

Why Wolff Olins? 

Wolff Olins is one of those names I’ve always known of and looked up to. I remember them popping up on Brand New and other avenues, and told myself I’d kill to be there one day. I’ve always felt the work was so smart, and moreover, that it cuts to the core of solving really big problems and shifts for companies. It’s not just pretty design – but thankfully Wolff Olins also delivers there. 

 

Is there a favourite pitch or project you’ve worked on? What was it and why?

I really enjoyed working with a fusion energy company, working hard to crack the nut on fusion energy to power the world in a more sustainable way. They were great clients that spoke the language from the get-go, and really understood the power of brand and experience. It was all the more enjoyable to be doing it for an exciting new technology that has the potential to power the world and combat the climate crisis. Good clients, good design, epic mission, and a win there, made it a great project to be a part of.

What advice would you give someone when approaching new client relationships? 

Show interest, do your homework, and be excited for the opportunity to work together. Clients want to feel that chemistry as a team, and know that they’ll have true partners to count on through a challenging process. Show some smart ideas, push back on their thinking, but be empathetic to where they’re at and their realities. Along those lines, don’t be afraid to push back and say no – better to weed out a bad cultural fit or a project that isn’t a good fit early on. 

What would your dream client be?

On a personal level, there’s three dream sectors I’d love to have a win in some day: Places/cities, luxury hospitality, and sports teams. It’d be a dream to rebrand an iconic city or up-and-coming city that has so much visibility to the public. I’m also obsessed with next-level hospitality and the attention they pay to every small detail, so it’d be a dream to work with someone along the likes of an Aman Resorts. Lastly, sports teams will always be a dream. Those opportunities are few and far between but I’d selfishly love to do a soccer team given that it’s a sport I’ve played all my life!

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