This month we asked Delanie West for some InSight into who she is and what her career path was to get to where she is now.
Your full name:
Where do you work? What does your company do?
Faber-Castell is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of office supplies, art supplies, crafting products, high-end writing instruments and luxury leather goods. The Faber-Castell Group employs a staff of approximately 7,000 and does business in more than 100 countries. We’re based in Cleveland, Ohio.
What types of services do you specialize in?
Product Development, Project Management, Creative Direction, Design, Illustration, Industrial Design, Packaging, Social Media
How many people make up your team?
Your title/role within the company:
Vice President Product Development / Creativity Center. US Operating Committee Member.
Share a best-practice leadership experience:
Listen to all parties, and when time allows wait a day or so before making a decision or coordinating team consensus.
What are you working on now that you’re excited about?
Launching some exciting team projects with my Global counterparts which give me the opportunity to learn and experience new markets and consumers.
If you could share one piece of advice for an up-and-coming creative leader what would it be?
Take on tasks that you know nothing about, learn from experiences that you at the time were not trained for.
Never take an easy project, take on difficult ones that drag you out of your comfort zone. Soon there will be very little that intimidates you and you’ll have lots of experiences that others won’t.
What inspires you?
Goodness there is much, but I will offer two categories of inspiration.
Smart, cerebral creatives.
I love those who approach aesthetic solutions with well planned strategy. It’s so easy to present simple visual solutions but to bolster those ideas with bullet-proof research and support excites me.
Nature It’s usually the opposite of what I touch, smell and feel throughout a workday. It’s the ultimate engineered product.
What is the first thing you do each day to organize yourself?
I review my calendar while still in bed, and as best as possible, print out any documents I need for my morning meetings. I find that if I eyeball my schedule each morning I’m on schedule.
Can you elaborate on how you went from designer to VP in your career path?
Starting out in my career fresh from college with a Fine Arts degree, I was fortunate to work for a company who believed in constant education and investment into the business and their employees. I was on a flight headed to Taiwan to meet with the manufacturers of our product only weeks after accepting a junior-level position as an illustrator. I learned quickly how the art I created was processed and manufactured. I was able to apply in very early stages of my career, an understanding of manufacturing ability and equipment, so I’ve always incorporated the understanding of manufacturing into my design work and have made sure that my creative development teams learned the same.
Being employed as a creative in a small, fast-growing family owned business, one that was absent of politics and silos, allowed me and the other creatives to work in an almost start-up capacity. Under the direction of the brothers who owned the company, we worked on many start-up brands. As a graphic designer/illustrator, I was given projects that were really better suited for industrial designers, but in that challenge, I learned how to develop and design three dimensional products.
As I was promoted through the ranks, I established the companies first industrial design team, which was a challenge to convince our executive leadership to invest in, but paid huge dividends in productivity and first to market product.
Where were you born?
Columbia, South Carolina
Where do you live now?
What is your favorite indulgence?
I love imported cheeses. I love soft sweet and strong flavors. I’ve never meet fromage type I didn’t like!
What talent do you have that most people may not know you possess?
I can make a pretty impressive wedding cake or other super fancy decorated celebration cake.
What was your very first job?
I worked for the Mayor’s office as a summer associate for four years planning summer community events. It’s the reason I chose design over politics!
What is your favorite food?
I’m a pescetarian 10% of the time and a vegetarian the other 90%, so I love ALL vegetables, with brussel sprouts being the favorite. Add some cranberries, pistachios and olive oil and bake on 400 for 25 minutes!
What do you plan to do when you retire?
Travel the world and live a minimalist existence with only the possessions I can carry with my two hands.