Ina Behrendt: Combining Creativity, Marketing and Education to Bring Digital Transformation to the next level

The Most Influential Women in Leadership to Watch, 2021

As the whole world is running after technology there is still a need for people who can combine creativity and innovation together. While facing a shift from an Industrial Nation to a Knowledge and Creative Economy – the Creative industry in mutual synergy with a knowledge-based economy creates conditions for a strong and sustainable creative economy. The creative economy has a cultural and social impact that is likely to grow even further and that needs such thought leaders who combine these fields of expertises. One such creative individual is Ina Behrendt, Chief Innovation Officer at Miami Ad School Europe & CEO at Infinity Campus. She possesses unique skill sets, creative ability levels, ideas, ideales and motivations, and merges them all to create a digital creative community and platform. Ina is a thought leader and expert in the field of digital transformation with a strong focus on the creative marketing and education industries. Also, she is a public speaker at tech/innovation conferences and summits globally.

Ina Behrendt truly believes that a leader should be able to translate a vision into reality. By collaboration and empowerment of everyone involved, she’s a ‘WE’ person; a real team member. For Ina, it was never about the leadership role itself, but about the ‘goal’ and making a difference. She strongly follows her passion and vision.

For over 20 years, Ina has been in the creative industry that includes both the creative and marketing side of things, as well the educational & economic side. She made her way up, next to her excellent knowledge – through passion, collaboration, excitement, and always with a vision in mind. She not only knows what it means for the next generation, as a young, especially female creative being in the industry and working hard to be heard and recognized and honored, but she also realized, quite early on, that the industry was shifting and going into and through a massive transformation.

From Passion to Creating Position

“Challenges do make you stronger and let you grow,” says Ina. At the very beginning of her career, there were just a handful of female executives in the German creative industry, so almost no female role models. As the men were mostly ahead, they were mainly the ones who called the shots and made the decisions. Ina just didn’t let that impress her, as she always tried to raise her voice, have a say, and prove it through her work, mindset and team spirit. She noticed that many of her male superiors often felt undermined by this competence, but she didn’t let it get her down. It was a lesson to become stronger in her mind and abilities. She took harsh criticism as a lesson to learn from it and do better herself later to find her unique language for leadership.

Years later, in New York at R/GA, the digital agency of the decade and inventor of Nike+, she got introduced to a new mindset and culture in her industry. With great gender equality and diversity and inclusion there she also found female role models in leadership roles, as R/GA had a large proportion of female leadership roles on the management board, such as Kris Kiger, Erin Lynch, and Chloe Gottlieb at that time.

She asserts, “To boost your power and feed it, you have to collaborate, share your knowledge and ideas and even sometimes take a step back.” 

A Creative Stage for All

Ina’s unique understanding of inventing new ways in the field of ‘INNOVATION IN EDUCATION FOR THE NEXT GENERATION of CREATIVES’ (by Ina Behrendt) led her to initiate and co-found the online education Platform Infinity Campus (infinitycampus.online). Next to her Chief Innovation Officer role at Miami Ad School Europe, she’s driving education and life-long learning to the forefront of contemporary education, together with her business partners and visionaries, Sabine Georg (COO) and Philip Wogart (CTO).

Miami Ad School Europe is one of the best and most successful, creative, and innovative schools in higher education in the world. With its two-year portfolio program of Art Direction & Digital Design, Creative Concepting & Copywriting, and Creative Technology, Miami Ad School Europe unites many different schools in one. The students gain world-class room experience and business knowledge, including three international internships to choose from out of hundreds of the best-known companies and most awarded agencies around the globe. Their graduates work for the best creative agencies, innovation companies, and tech brands worldwide.

Since 2019, the European branch of Miami Ad School has been developing even further and relying on female double power at the top to clearly separate different, excellent expertise in areas of responsibility and to jointly steer the course even more intensively towards the future and digital competence. Collaboration at its best! In July 2019, former Google manager Sabine Georg – Ina’s partner in crime – joined as CEO of Miami Ad School Europe. Collaboratively these 2 leaders drive their vision of establishing a kind of “new” school for the creative economy. Together they foster more critical thinking and exuberant creativity at the intersection of design, story and experience telling, technology and innovation, business, communication, collaboration and leadership and therefore catapulted the school to the forefront of contemporary education.

A Story of Determination

After Ina created the foundation in the industry through having worked for some of the most well-known agencies and innovative clients on an international level, she always used her drive and passion out of a different perspective. She has achieved success by throwing herself out of her comfort zone and stepping into new areas while never stopping learning. It somehow evolved naturally and organically, with a fearless attitude and not being afraid of what’s behind that door, what comes next, and what it means. She was recognized and awarded for her work and always loved to take on new challenges, and most of the time she created her own.

Based on Ina’s history of being a Diversity Advocate – she also co-founded ‘Women in Tech’ for the Australian market – she is pushing diversity in STEM fields across Europe and now running the innovation arm for a school that not just only has 70% international students on campus also out of 35 different nations from all sorts of different backgrounds. She constantly fosters collaboration and partnerships for more diversity.

Success; Disruption, Innovation, Collaboration

Ina’s definition of success consists of 3 approaches and angles; one is disruption, one is innovation, and the other is collaboration. She believes that one needs this triangle to build or strive for something new and better that was not there before. She asserts, “If you want to be ‘successful’, everything you aim for should generate energy, inspiration, passion, and solutions for the better.” 

Over the years, Ina became an internationally well-known award-winning, integrated Creative Director and Head of Design with over 15 years of experience with digital marketing, traditional agencies, and clients worldwide. She gained tons of outstanding industry recognitions around the globe. Ina was living abroad in Sydney, Australia, and New York, USA, and working with the most influential digital creative agencies like R/GA, New York, inventors of Nike+, and Razorfish Australia – creating game-changing and award-winning campaigns, platforms, and services for clients like Nike, eBay, and McCormick.

From Management to Creative Milestones

Ina is working as Chief Innovation Officer for the INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF CREATIVE INNOVATIONS – Miami Ad School Europe, where she is driving the school in regards to the digital transformation. She is instrumental in re-inventing the school’s educational program for the digital age. Ina is responsible for the product innovation process, and developing new capabilities, architectures, and methodologies, together with different experts and professionals. As a marketing and design professional, Ina is also leading and optimizing the communication process and strategy and is responsible for the identity and design manifestation.

Visioning to Transform Creative Space

CREATIVE DIGITAL SPACE
With other professional partners and experts in the field, the leadership team shares a common vision to continue to foster closer relationships with students and build a network for creativity, marketing, technology and innovation that all can access.

It was and is necessary to use the learning from the COVID-19 crisis to establish the Infinity Campus as a robust and innovative new e-learning platform based on the foundation of INNOVATION, DIVERSITY & MINDSET to create unique courses and expansive networks independent of physical locations by mixing even more technology into the creative bloodstream.

CREATIVE PHYSICAL SPACE
The pandemic indeed accelerated and amplified many things on many levels. Miami Ad School Europe also had to change, invent and innovate even more and even faster! This has led to many changes, such as the new Factory Berlin location, in addition to new collaborations. It reflects what the school stands for: a program that is fit for the future, in an environment that is full of possibilities. A state-of-the-art infrastructure with fast digital access and human connections – enriching and inspiring! They find all of this in Berlin with the Factory Berlin Partnership, which offers a vibrant community and a strong context for its students. With start-ups and creative tech companies next door, a library, in-house cafés, artists-in-residence and plenty of co-working spaces and ‘sandboxes’ to develop award-winning ideas.

An Advice from Expert

Ina’s message and advice are to never stop learning, observing, and collaborating. To come up with new products, services, and business models, it is essential to foster collaboration together with partners and experts to gain for the better. She states, “It’s always a ‘WE’ never just a ‘ME’, so empower people and collaborate to help them achieve their best through your own leadership definition and language and shine a light on them, to create something bigger and better together.”