Rekha Dhanaram

Visual Designer
Sydney, Australia
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I’m a maker of visual things and an all-round aspiring creative. In 2018 I graduated in Design in Visual Communication and Creative Intelligence and Innovation from the University of Technology Sydney. My time there was spent exploring my curiosities, building my creative thinking and embracing a transdisciplinary mindset and approach. I truly enjoyed getting involved in di􀃠erent types of projects, so I continued to pursue this as I went on to work at an innovation consultancy. The past year was spent delving into multiple new worlds. From learning new acronyms, to designing and conducting ideation workshops and facilitating consumer research, the list goes on. But throughout this whole time, design has continued to have a gravitational pull on me. Unable to ignore this, I put my hand up to do design work within my consultancy as well as externally through volunteer work and personal interest projects. After a year, I have now left the innovation consultancy to let gravity do it’s thing and 􀃕nd my place in the world of design. But, I’ve left with so much more than I could’ve imagined - a true understanding of the value of users’ opinions, a new found love for language and writing, and a trust and belief in the process versus the outcome. If anything, it’s got me really excited - excited to use all this knowledge I’ve gained and apply it in an entirely new context all whilst learning and growing in a 􀃕eld I’m incredibly passionate about.

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Work Experience
How To Impact
Junior Project Manager
2018 – 2019
UTS Faculty of Transdicisplinary Innovation
Freelance Designer
2016 – 2017
The Full Bench UTS Law Magazine
Creative Director and Designer
2018 – 2019
University
University of Technology Sydney
Skills
Illustrator, Photoshop, Lightroom, InDesign, Photography, Sketch, FontLab
Vouched by
Featured work
You should select me because

From where I stand, I believe that I'm the best candidate for WGI as I'm prepared to give it everything I've got. I'm a dreamer but also a doer and I believe a program as unique as this is made for a dreamer - for someone who is open to new worlds and isn't afraid of the unknown.One of my greatest skills is bringing empathy and a depth of sensitivity to everything I do. I enjoy talking to people and more greatly, listening to what they have. In my past job I worked on several projects where consumer research was the heart of our insights work. After uncovering the core insights we would evolve them into ideas and concepts to test, a process that translates into design. If anything these skills

1. Why are you interested in wgi?

I’m ready for more. I’m ready to take what I’ve learned and then learn some more. I’m ready to take design head on. During my time at the innovation consultancy one thing I felt I was missing out on was mentorship in design. Whilst I received incredible mentorship in innovation, I always felt like I was ready for a designer to sit down with me and give me feedback or bounce ideas off. Whilst I tried to seek this mentorship through volunteering and creative collaborative projects it never felt complete. Reading up on the World’s Greatest Internship (WGI) got me excited. The fact that such an opportunity exists, still blows me away but if anything, WGI feels like the answer to the mentorship I have been seeking. I’m interested in it because it excites me, it fills me with an urge to keep creating and exploring, but it also reminds me that the world is filled with incredible and unique minds.

2. What are you looking to gain from an experience such as WGI?

In university I remember noticing how design varies so much from country to country and from context to context. Yet, at the same time it is incredibly universal and allows us to communicate, transcending any borders. This thought is something that has stuck with me and I want to pull it part in an effort to truly understand why design works this way. Through WGI I want to see design from the lens of different countries, contexts and designers. At the same time I want to understand it’s universality, it’s complexity and draw a connection between disparate yet connected minds and practices. I seek to broaden my world of design. I want to get up from behind the screen, scrolling through the works of creatives I admire and instead get my hands dirty and immerse myself in foreign spaces.

3. What would be your goals after completing WGI if you were selected?

I see WGI as both a personal opportunity as well as an opportunity that’s bigger than myself. Naturally if I were to be selected for WGI, upon completion my goal would be to take everything that I learn, both about design and myself and apply it as I move forward with my dreams. However in seeing this opportunity as something that is more than just me merely doing an internship, my ultimate goal would be to share. Storytelling and sharing knowledge has a transformative power. As such I hope to share my experiences, ponderings, reflections from WGI and through that, empower more women, people of colour and underrepresented groups to continue, or begin to pursue a journey in the design scene. I remember as a student, seeking and continuing to seek out conversations with anyone whose work, view or thoughts excited or intrigued me, and after those conversations I would always leave feeling inspired, supported and driven to keep creating. If anything, I would love for my experiences at WGI to provide this same feeling for others as well shine light on designs ability to do good and in turn our ability to create for good.

4. How did you hear about wgi?

I wish I could say some magnificent story of chance encounters and an ‘it was meant to be’ moment. Instead, it’s a story that’s all too common today - a series of stalking instagrams, that led me from a designer I truly admire, Christopher Doyle, to reading the stories and journeys of the first participants of the World’s Greatest Internship. I’ve been hooked ever since to the point where I’ve brought it up in nearly every social encounter and regardless of the non-fantastical story, the WGI is truly magnificent.

5. Share an example of a time you were most motivated and a time you were most demotivated.

I’m driven by the energy of the people I’m working with. I love it when others share the same enthusiasm and excitement towards a project and strongly believe in it. It really feels like you’re on the brink of something new and disruptful. This is how I felt when I was working on a fundraising initiative called Race to Raise that myself and a group of other young people initiated. Whilst it started as a small scale event for a charity, we saw its potential to grow beyond that and so in the year of 2018 we pursued it as a separate project entirely. Race to Raise is a one day Sydney-wide scavenger hunt. It sees teams fundraise to participate and then on the day of the race they face a series of riddles and challenges in 5 different zones across Sydney. I had the opportunity to own the visual branding and promotional material in the lead up to the event I also got to curate the actual experience of the day. From their initial experience as they came up to register and receive energy packs to the ongoing communication with the teams throughout the race and everything in between, it was an experience that saw me dablle in everything. The whole event was a highlight but the build up to the event was definitely when I felt most motivated. In a matter of months we went from conversations on the possibilities of the event to partnering with a Canadian social app to run the race and all in all, ended up creating a fun and competitive atmosphere. The result was 30 teams with over 200 people raising a total of $35,000 all of which went towards rebuilding rural villages in post-war Sri Lanka. I still feel that buzzing energy when I talk about this, not only because it was a success but becasue we're continuing to develop it this year, scaling and refining it. Ironically, a moment where I recently felt really demotivated was also in the context of doing volunteer work. I usually thrive in volunteer work in the sense that it gives me a different kind of energy, one that keeps me coming back to do more. However, in this instance I had quite the opposite experience. It was a combination of a very poorly planned workload and extremely direct instructions with no room for any proper input from myself. The combination of these made it quite a rigid yet sporadic system of workflow which built up to a point where I felt that I could not sustain it for much longer. I hoped to change this experience by communicating my concerns to the CEO who I was liasing with. However the response I received didn’t provide much support at all or a proper discussion that saw us find a workaround or build. Rather I was told how other volunteers work at all hours of the day and that volunteering on this requires this intense level of commitment. In that moment I felt low. Whilst I do believe that timelines are good in providing parameters and can motivate you to be efficient, I felt that I wasn’t able to work with the scattered yet demanding nature and invest enough time accordingly. I was extremely unmotivated to continue doing the work as I knew I didn’t have the ability to give it any more energy, especially as there wasn't much room to put my creative thoughts. This was incredibly tough on me as I wholeheartedly believed in the value of this not-for-profit organisation’s work, yet the lack of support, discussion and poor communication made me feel like I wasn’t being heard or valued. It felt like I had to choose between my mental and physical health or contributing to a social cause - an ultimatum I never thought I would have to face.

6. In your opinion, what creates a great culture at a company?

For me, fundamentally the culture of a company is dependant on a few key factors, including a positive shared vision for the work being produced, effective communication, connection and a sense of playfulness. A great culture requires cohesion across the company through a clear understanding and vested interest in the vision. People need to feel like they are making a difference both in a collective sense and on a personal level with their own goals and motivations. Communication through discussion and open debate leads to new worlds of thought, enabling employees to participate in the evolution of new ideas. It's also crucial to understanding the people you're working with and devloping a great relationship with them. Playfulness is something that we all inherently have. I believe that the sense of playfulness that kids' possess is truly magical. As such I feel that a level of playfulness through room for experimentation, collaboration, and trying your hands at opportunities beyond the definition of your role is key to fostering creative thought and getting comfortable with ambiguity, something that all companies face one time or another. Alongside many other smaller foundational components, I feel that if these three areas are present, addressed and integrated, a company is able sustain a great culture.

7. What brands and companies do you admire and why?

I feel that I can appreciate individual elements of an endless list of brands and companies, but to truly admire a brand or company they have several elements that I look up to. To start off it felt right to talk about Lush, a company I use the products of and as such admire. I admire Lush’s sustained efforts to be ethical across not just one but many categories including fighting animal testing, sourcing ethical ingredients and ensuring good working conditions. I look up to their innovative work style where they are continuously challenging themselves to do better and never settle with their current success. This can be especially seen with their ongoing efforts to reduce waste in packaging and provide more long term solutions as well as their Lush summits that invite panelists to talk through the bigger global issues that are at hand. I’m impressed by their ability to see the bigger picture and ithe mpact of their products as well as their distinct voice and tone which is built around transparency. Most importantly I admire how as a brand, Lush have influenced my lifestyle in a positive way, to consider ethical purchasing beyond the world of cosmetics. Another company is one that is closer to home. Co Curious and sister company Curious Works is an arts company based in South West Sydney that seeks to tell stories of a contemporary Australia. It seeks to reflect the diversity in the community on screen and stage. Through mentorship of writers across all ages and backgrounds, they prepare storytellers to tackle the arts industry and produce work for a big audience.Their programmes and projects nurture creativity and make it accessible to marginalised communities including refugees, females, and people who are struggling financially. Having seen firsthand their productions, I’ve truly been mind blown by the quality of work. I admire their continual pursuit of creating long lasting change by educating younger generations and fighting to remove barriers in a traditional and competitive industry. The brands and companies that appeal to me are those that want to achieve impact beyond their offering. They are ones who understand that they are part of a bigger ecosystem and work towards long term betterment.

8. What do you do to stay sharp and improve your craft?

There’s a lot you can learn from changing your behavior in an intentional sense and that’s something I try to do to stay sharp. It might sound strange but things like taking a different route to work on a weekly basis, even if it’s just one different street turn, or writing 6 word stories randomly in my notebook are just some of the odd tasks I intentionally do. I feel that they force me to either observe more or think harder in a way that I wouldn’t traditionally do through an unfamiliar medium. I also enjoy the lack of a strong purpose or output to these tasks highlighting how skills go beyond proejcts and are a part of how you work as an individual. In the same realm is an ongoing project of mine, born out of that odd moment where you find you making yourself laugh. In the spirit of being a somewhat hoarder, I love to record or photograph signs, and seek to find new meanings, and humour in such established items. It’s odd I know, but it allows me to exercise my skills in the sense that I’m learning to create new perspectives and challenge the traditional view of these ignored everyday interactions with signs. It also sees me explore humour in the context of visual language and is something that I hope to incorporate in my design work as I move forward. It also quite simply lighthearted and requires low technical skill but more conceptual thinking. In a completely different setting, I would say my pursuit of volunteer or collaborative projects is a means of me trying to continually exercise my design and technical skills. Regardless of whether it’s a poster for a friend’s short film or an annual report for a charity, I treat it like paid work. Going through this process of being briefed, presenting concepts, receiving feedback and iterating designs is something that has definitely assisted me in sharpening my skills. It has also seen me improve my ability to communicate and work with others. And last but not least is doodling. Whilst I believe that it’s important to continually learn new technology I’m a believer in the basics. I thoroughly enjoy doodling and its therapeutic quality. I don’t think it gets the recognition it deserves but scribbling, sketching and writing is something that is fundamental to my craft.

9. What’s your favorite quote?

**“Don’t be afraid to act like you f*king care” - Timothy Goodman** It’s not some eloquent or metaphorical quote, but I came across this two years ago and it’s provided me with comfort and still does till today. It’s a favourite quote of mine because I find myself reciting it in my mind in multiple contexts. It encourages self-efficacy, an unapologetic attitude and drives you to be more bold but also makes caring about things sound cool, because it is. These are all things that I believe will make individuals, and collectively this world, better.

10. If you could solve one problem in the world what would it be?

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