2 Minutes With … Cherish Bailey, Director of Growth at AKQA

On WPP Open X, developing a work ethic and motherhood

Cherish is director of growth at AKQA, where she drives business development and marketing for Coca-Cola across North America. With more than 15 years of experience, Cherish has helped lead, manage and pioneer initiatives for brands such as Delta Air Lines, Chick-fil-A, BMW and Bridgestone.

We spent two minutes with Cherish to learn more about her background, her creative inspirations and recent work she's admired.

Cherish, tell us …

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I am proud to claim Georgia as my home (go Dawgs!). I spent a short stint in Chicago early in my career and then came back to Atlanta. It is a big city near the mountains and the beach, and a great place to raise a family. 

How you first realized you were creative.

The first sign might have been when I was in high school. I would write all my outfits daily on a monthly view calendar to ensure I didn't wear the same things within three weeks of each other. The careful planning and creativity in outfits was my intro to resourcing and project management. 

A person you idolized creatively early on.

Anytime I would see a motivational speaker, often within the walls of a church. I was struck by the way they could deliver a message with such authority and conviction. I've always wanted to be a motivational speaker, someone with a voice to help drive positive change.

A moment from high school or college that changed your life.

My mom died when I was 13. She was a single parent and it changed everything. It forced me to grow up. If I wanted anything, I was going to have to work hard to earn it. It taught me that everyone is fighting their own battles, whether we can see them or not.

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

GOHU is an artist and the alter ego of a creative I greatly admire. I love when people can follow their passions outside the workplace. 

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.

I enjoy the How I Built This Podcast by Guy Raz. He asks successful founders and entrepreneurs how much of their success depended on hard work and how much is luck. I think people are crazy if they don't think there is some amount of luck in their success. 

Your favorite fictional character.

Ted Lasso. He's authentic, charming and just so dang positive. The show is brilliant and clearly people are hungry for more feel-good content. I love the authenticity of the characters.

One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on. 

I am incredibly proud of the work we've done through WPP Open X with Coca-Cola. It was the biggest pitch in WPP's history. I loved how our team rolled up their sleeves to pioneer something new. It has allowed us to operate globally and scale quickly in a way that a single studio could not have done alone. 

Someone else's work that inspired you years ago. 

My husband used to do these film competitions with a company called Mofilm. He came up with an idea for one, wrote it, recruited his dad to act in it, and filmed and edited it all by himself. What a hilarious spot! It is a reminder that you don’t always have to have a lot of resources, time and money to make something great. The spot went on to win the best overall film in the competition.

Your main strength as a creative person.

I consider myself an extremely hard worker. I am scrappy and like to come up with unconventional ways to solve problems. I ultimately try to do what is best for others. My main strength is leading a team to the finish line. I am a bridge builder, someone who celebrates wins, even if they're small, and I try to motivate those around me to do great work.   

Your biggest weakness.

My soft skills. It is something I am trying to improve. I appreciate directness and will often preach that "clarity is kindness." I’ve spent a lot of time on my tone, even the speed at which I talk, and I'm working to sharpen my empathy skills. Leadership as a female can be hard to manage. Two key traits that I want to be known for are kindness and authenticity.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.

Something in the nonprofit world. I love the notion of being part of something bigger than yourself. My most important job is being a mom. This quote from Andy Stanley has always stuck with me: "Before I got there and after I leave, people will take on what I'm doing. In my life, my only unique role is [mother] to my children. My greatest contribution may not be something I do, but someone I raise." 

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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