John McPartland is a Senior Art Director at the Havas Lynx Group. This year John was selected to represent the Havas Lynx Group at the prestigious London International Awards (LIA) Creative LIAisons in Las Vegas, a four day programme consisting of talks from leaders in industry, networking and more. In the first of a series of blogs on his time at the LIA, John talks about his first impressions of the event.

As you arrive in Las Vegas you are met with a familiar atmosphere of a busy metropolis, but as you look closer it is unlike anything else. The normally beige and soulless airport lounges come alive with the clicking and ringing of slot machines. The hotels become towns within themselves, and even as you walk down the street, you are constantly surrounded by plants that serenade you with Jack Johnson and James Blunt.

It’s a fitting place for an awards show unlike any other.

Prestigious awards shows follow a tried and tested formula. Work is entered, judged and the winners then spend the weekend collecting their metal (or wood) and partying in the south of France.

In 2012 LIA decided to buck with this tradition, rather than making the whole awards show about the winners, they realised it was a great opportunity to give back to the creative community, especially the young creative community. Creative LIAisons was born, and with it a programme that would help nurture and inspire the next generation of CD’s, ECD’s and CCO’s. A four day programme consisting of talks from leaders in the industry, sitting in on judging of work and networking with other likeminded creatives from around the world.

Arriving at day 1 there is a nervous excitement within the room, that nervousness was instantly dispelled as radio legend Ralph van Dijk took to the stage to introduce the programme and shamelessly plug his podcast Don’t Judge Me.

The first speaker of the day was Riccardo Wolff, who after being on the first Creative LIAisons programme had moved on to become ECD of Innocean Worldwide. It was a fascinating insight of how his experience of the programme helped to shape and develop his career.

We also heard from Pum Lefebure of Design Army and Matt Eastwood, former Worldwide CCO of JWT. Each talk offered us different insights into how they approach their work, the common thread, passion and tenacity. Not taking no for an answer can sometimes lead to creatives being seen as stubborn, but listening to these leaders of the industry talk makes you realise that to do great work, sometimes you just need to fight for what you believe.

As we moved into the afternoon (or late night as my body clock was telling me), Matt McDonald gave an impassioned talk on selling ideas. You could hear the collective understanding as he spoke of great ideas not being bought, then shared some tips on how as an agency they set about changing that. The work they are producing is testament to that change in approach.

Day 1 has already offered decades worth of insights and inspiration, it’s been intense, but an experience unlike anything else.