You can’t always judge a book by its cover. Camila Marcondes certainly has an easy-going charm and relaxed sociability, as befits a Brazilian brought up in Rio de Janeiro. But behind that lies a highly driven and independent spirit, who loves to challenge herself to break new ground.
As a child, Camila’s first ever word was “street”, as she pointed outside. Her mother realised from that point that her daughter was destined to get out and about as a world citizen. And indeed, Camila has since become Brand Genetics’ first ever intern, she has pioneered many innovative new methodologies, and she now finds herself heading back home to open and lead Brand Genetics’ first overseas office.
Born in Leblon in Rio, Camila was first inspired by her entrepreneurial mother, who founded Grupo Dialog & Instituto Dialog, an institute of sustainability and social innovation, and her engineer father, who project managed Rio’s first underground transport line.
“I truly believe in innovation,” Camila enthuses. “For some people, it’s just another buzz word. But for me it’s the marriage of creativity and strategy, with a touch of future intuition. That’s how to create something new.” So perhaps it’s unsurprising that Camila has made a career out of breaking new ground and remaining restlessly curious.
Camila gained a BA in Marketing from ESPM, Rio’s top university, and got a taste for innovation working at ESPM Junior, a marketing consultancy run by students. She joined creative Brazilian agency Biruta Ideias Mirabolantes as an Innovation Planner, where her talent was quickly recognised. She was later featured in The Guardian having set up a website to show the Brazilian national protests in real time – so people could access information without media bias.
But it wasn’t long before her inquisitive and independent side got restless again – and this time the new challenge required a new continent as well. “I remember trips around Europe as a kid, and I always loved London,” recalls Camila. “It was cooler than New York, with rock music, contemporary art, new exhibitions and the film scene. My mood was always positive in London, so ever since I was 14 years old, I always wanted to do a Masters in London.”
Camila moved to London in 2011, driven by a desire to gain the academics to develop her love of innovation. She gained an MA in Media Communications (with a distinction for her dissertation on the future of advertising), and then a scholarship into Goldsmiths College, where her MSc was in the Management of Future-Focused Innovation.
It was during her time at Goldsmiths that Camila came across Brand Genetics, who were looking to recruit their first ever intern; she was attracted by the company’s insight and innovation work for businesses such as ABInBev, Bacardi, PepsiCo, RB & Unilever.
“It was a chance to put everything I’d learnt into practice, and to work with great clients in what was then a very small team, so lots of hands-on experience and the opportunity to learn, grow and develop fast. I felt at home immediately in the very collaborative and mutually supportive environment, where my opinion was sought and valued from the start. I am really proud to have seen and helped the business grow so rapidly over the past 4 years.”
Camila’s own experience at Brand Genetics has spanned helping ABInBev understand the passions of football fans (a dream project for a Brazilian), creating innovation pipelines for four of Muller’s lead brands in just 4 days, identifying innovation opportunities for Brazilian cleaning brand Veja and guiding Jägermeister on how to move beyond the world of ‘bombs’.
“I love ethnographies and immersions in other countries, getting to see people in action, and living their lives with them,” she says. And she has done this all around the world, from Argentina to Belgium, Brazil to France, Colombia to the US. “I love bringing the findings together in a visual and engaging way – telling stories to really convey the human truths that can help drive change.”
So what about the next challenge, heading back to São Paulo in her native Brazil to head up Brand Genetics’ expansion into the LatAm region? “I’m really excited, and feel like I’m going full circle, taking all my innovation learning, knowledge and experience back to Brazil. It will be great to do something for my country and also across the continent, commissioning LatAm focused projects. It’s an entrepreneurial move, both for Brand Genetics and for me personally – and I’m relishing the opportunity of getting out of my comfort zone once again. I think that’s always when you learn the most.”
And what about her inquisitive, risk-taking spirit? How will Camila satisfy this once she’s back home? “London has been terrific, but I’m an outdoors person, who loves surfing, climbing and hiking – the more radical sports, with a bit of risk to them. It’ll be much easier to follow these passions back in Brazil!”
An entrepreneurial challenge, a business to build on a new continent, and risky adventure sports as well. It seems Camila’s latest challenge is just tailor made.