Career Spotlight: Julie Nord, Account Director at Aino Agency
We talked to Julie Nord, Account Director at Aino Agency, about how she built her successful design career, learnings from her experiences within the ecommerce industry and advertising, and why she left a large Norwegian design agency to work at an artisan ecommerce agency in Sweden.
Hi Julie, thank you for taking the time to talk with us! First off, could you tell us a little bit about your career journey – where did you start, and what challenges did you face?
I started working in advertising as an art director, later taking on the role of project manager, leading a creative team. I have always loved being creative and also enjoyed planning and structure. So when I got an opportunity to work with both, I jumped on it. After a while, I got more curious about the design world and started looking more into the creative agency scene. That’s when I got an offer to become a senior project manager at Heydays, a large design agency in Norway that works with branding and visual identities for digital products. Entering a new field with both small start-ups and large international clients was challenging, but extremely rewarding. I gained an incredible amount of knowledge and built many valuable relationships, people that I still turn to for advice and input today.
What advice would you give your younger self at the start of your career?
Definitely to be less scared of things, like presenting your ideas, speaking your mind, and challenging the status quo. I realized that nobody knows what they're doing 100% of the time. There is always room for other inputs, which are often appreciated. Nobody is ever fully developed regardless of their position, and we can all learn from each other. So, my advice would be not to be afraid to express your opinion, to ask questions without feeling foolish, and to believe in your capabilities.
What made you start working at Aino?
During the pandemic, my husband and I decided to move to Sweden. I was looking for new job opportunities, mainly in design agencies, and got in touch with David Hellsing, the founder of Aino. I immediately got a good vibe from him, and Aino seemed like an exciting workplace with a very healthy company culture. When I was offered the position of Account Director, which included leading the design team, it felt like the perfect fit for me. Aino is full of talented and respectful people, and every new project is a good challenge.
Aino and Centra have a very close collaboration. How did it start?
Aino first contacted Centra many years ago, when we were looking for an e-commerce platform for one of our long-term clients, Nudie Jeans. Since then, our collaboration has been tight, and we’ve had many successful projects together. Centra is an important partnership for us and a crucial part of most of our big clients' e-commerce projects. Together we’ve launched many great sites like All Blues, Emma S., and Sweet SKTBS to name a few. I am super proud of all our work and look forward to all our future projects together!
"Express your opinion, ask questions without feeling foolish, and believe in your capabilities."
Julie left the large Norwegian design agency Heydays in 2020 to work at Aino, an artisan ecommerce agency in Sweden.
Do you have any specific “career moments“ that you are especially proud of?
Probably moving to Sweden and taking on the position I have today. That was a big step for me, where I had to take on a lot of new responsibilities in an area I had yet to learn from and build up a whole new part of my life from scratch. I’m very proud of how it all turned out!
You’ve had a successful career so far, despite working in an industry where leadership positions are still unevenly distributed between men and women. What have you learned along the way?
I learned early on in my advertising days that, as a woman working mainly with male colleagues and bosses, it's crucial to learn how to speak your mind and make sure you are heard. Your voice matters as much as everyone else's. I think it’s vital to remember that many businesses are still very unevenly structured, and we have a long way to go before the thought of a woman in a leadership position is as obvious as that of a man. With that said, I have thankfully had very good experiences since joining the ecommerce business and always felt like a part of the team with my male coworkers.
“It's crucial to learn how to speak your mind and make sure you are heard. Your voice matters as much as everyone else's.”
The partnership between Aino and Centra was born many years ago when one of Aino's long-term clients, Nudie Jeans, were looking for a new ecommerce platform.
How does Aino as an agency work to champion equality and prevent discrimination in the workplace?
Aino has a very strong non-tolerance discrimination policy, which I'm proud of. For example, we once turned down a very big client when they expressed they didn’t want any women on their team. Even though we lost money by turning them down, it made me feel very supported and proud of Aino for taking a stand on this matter. I feel lucky to work at a place with such a strong equality policy and hope it will become a standard in every workplace in the future.
Lastly, do you have any tips for other ambitious individuals interested in having a career in the ecommerce industry like yours?
In addition to having a relevant education, it’s a good idea to intern somewhere where there are role models to learn from. I feel strongly about internships because I know they can be demeaning and non-valuable if not taken advantage of properly – and the total opposite if the internship is being prioritized. As an employer hiring interns, we always try to make their and our time as valuable as possible, to maximize learning for both parties. As an intern, my best tip is to seize opportunities and give it your all – make yourself invaluable so they have to hire you afterward!