Sarah Tildsey, 38

0 Posted by - September 26, 2014 - 2014, Tampa 2014

Principal and Creative Director, ChappellRoberts

Sarah Tildsley made an investment in the potential of Tampa’s design and advertising community 15 years ago when she selected her first job after graduating from Ringling College. And now she feels like that investment paid off.

As principal and creative director of ChappellRoberts, Tildsley oversees about one-third of the company’s 32 employees. Tildsley is part of the 3% of female art directors in the country, and one of the youngest creative directors in Tampa. She credits her success to Colleen Chappell, owner of the agency, who saw her potential and gave her the opportunity “to marry her strength in business and creativity.”

Tildsley caught the creativity bug in high school, knowing she felt a tremendous creative passion, but not getting excited about traditional art classes like painting portraits. Thankfully, through a high school elective, she quickly realized she had a flair for design. She even remembers her first logo, a zebra for a fashion company.

Since, Tildsley’s work has been recognized by the Telly Awards, Graphic Design USA, Create Awards, and ADDY Awards from the Tampa Bay Advertising Federation.

Tildsley thanks her tough critics throughout her career for really developing her potential. “I wouldn’t have gotten where I am today without mentors starting all the way back to my school days with teachers who provided hard-to-swallow feedback on my work,” she says.

Tildsley’s advice for young designers is “put all of your energy and passion into something you believe in. Eventually you’ll meet your goal, and then you keep going.”

— Traci McMillan Beach

Q&A

City of residence: Tampa

Twitter handle: @stildsley

Birthplace: Knoxville, Tenn.

Years on the Gulf Coast: 20

Marital status/children: Married with 1.5 children (baby number 2 is due first of November)

Alma mater: Ringling College of Art and Design

Best place to network: I enjoy all the activities, programs and interactions I have with students, staff and alumni at Ringling College. It’s grown so much, and it is a real hub for creativity and innovation.

Coolest business experience: With more than 14 years of business experiences, it would be hard to name just one. I’ve been on Wall Street with financial services clients and ridden on million-dollar earth movers, but at the end of the day, the coolest experience is watching any creative project deliver positive change to our clients’ bottom lines.

The most important business lesson I’ve learned: As a creative, it’s not always easy to navigate the business of advertising. The true success stories happen when you meet at the intersection of creativity and business.

One website that makes your job easier: Ad Age is an industry-focused publication and website. Digital continues to shape our business at a rapid pace, and staying on top of the latest work, the latest trends and all things advertising keep me inspired and focused on producing great work.

One community group you’re most involved with: Zimmerman Advertising Program at USF was started by industry legend Jordan Zimmerman. This revolutionary advertising program is designed to produce business-minded creative professionals by combining a four-year business degree plus a one-year immersion in strategic communications that results in a master’s degree. Many of my agency peers serve on this board. It’s inspiring to have an organization that brings us all together, and it’s inspiring the resources that come together to shape the next generation of advertising professionals.

Favorite off-hours activity: Spending time with family, with a very active 3-year-old, that usually entails time at any outdoor venue.

Two people, dead or alive, you’d like to have dinner with: My creative side would love to be inspired through a one-on-one with Paula Scher, my longtime design idol who was the first female principal at Pentagram. My business pick would be to have the opportunity to have a conversation about women in leadership roles with Sheryl Sandberg.

Best award you ever received: Last year, our agency leadership team received an international Gold Stevie Award for 2013 Management Team of the Year. This is huge – the Gold Stevie Award trophy is one of the world’s most coveted prizes and has been awarded for achievement in business in more than 60 nations since 2002. Our leadership team won the business services category for marketing, advertising and PR, and for leading our integrated agency in delivering its highest revenue in its 30-year history.

Most adventurous thing you’ve ever done: For our honeymoon, my husband and I rented an RV in southern Arizona and set off for a week with no plan. It was the best way to start our life journey together.

What’s at the top of your bucket list: For my family to travel to my husband’s ancestry home of India. I would love for our family to experience the colorful culture, cuisine and environment firsthand.

What new skill would you like to learn: Straight HTML coding – it is the digital language we speak every day. Our agency team has experts with this skill, but I believe having a deeper understanding would equate to building more meaningful user experiences on digital platforms.

Who would play you in a movie about your life: Natalie Morales. I’ve been told we have similar hair and other features. In addition, she’s a professional, a mom of two and an exercise fanatic – she’s probably got a handle on how all those roles come together.

If I had a magic wand I’d: Make more than 24 hours in a day. As a creative professional, our No. 1 resource is time. In addition, I’m committed to being a good wife and mother, and making time to work out, be healthy and fulfill my passions. With a little more time in the day, that sure would seem to be a little easier!

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