Creative passions are usually just that—fun activities that you are content to keep as just a hobby. Whether you want to become an actor, musician, writer or filmmaker; most people will tell you that artistic careers are usually unrealistic or impossible to break into. But, some are able to defy expectations and turn their creativity into a profitable career. What is the secret to their success?
Iôna de Macedo is the Associate Dean of the Bachelor in Communication and Digital Media. In the latest episode of the “Going to IEU” podcast, she joined the hosts to shed some light on this interesting question. Iôna’s passion for filmmaking and storytelling has allowed her to build a long, illustrious creative career spanning several decades of work in the audiovisual industry.
She shares her experience of starting out in the movie business and her upward career trajectory—from working at leading companies like Sony to eventually making her way to IE Business School.
Iôna’s Story: a unique career trajectory
Iôna initially studied English literature and communication in the US, but her real passion lay in theater and live performances. She vowed to work in that industry behind the stage—or camera—as a producer or art director.
As time went by, however, her love of storytelling started to blossom. She pursued her postgraduate studies in the literature field before eventually starting her PhD in Linguistics in Paris. It was there that, after falling sick and spending a month in the hospital, she made the decision to go into the entertainment business.
Iôna started from the bottom: in the mailroom at Pandora France. But she soon worked her way up, eventually becoming a senior executive at Sony Pictures for Latin America and Europe. Without any experience or background in the movie business, Iôna worked hard and used the skills she had mastered to move up the proverbial ladder. Her curiosity and sheer ambition drove her to carve a rewarding path in a business that is known to be cutthroat.
Curiosity is key!
Iôna eventually came to IE Business School as an associate professor teaching various language and communications modules. Teaching is something that she’s always done along the way, in conjunction with her film career. She admits, “I’ve always loved teaching; that was a passion.” She pursued her PhD with this in mind, stating that “I wanted to finish my PhD and become a professor…so being an associate professor here gave me that kind of outlet that was really cool. I loved doing it.” And, from that love for teaching, she spread her know-how and expertise to her students.
“I’ve always loved teaching; that was a passion. Originally, I wanted to finish my PhD and become a professor. And so being an associate professor here gave me that kind of outlet that was really cool. I loved doing it.”
Going from associate professor to now associate dean, Iôna transformed the Bachelor in Communication and Digital Media into a program that was more practical and comprehensive. Students become highly skilled jacks-of-all-trades—with a hands-on foundation in both social and visual communication—rather than just learning the theoretical aspects.
To succeed in this field today, Iôna believes that students have to be effective storytellers with high-level technical skill and social media savvy. Communication degrees are very employable with a wide variety of jobs across a whole spectrum of industries. Sharpening and adding on to your skill set is essential to unlocking more opportunities in your career.
Most importantly, students interested in a communication-related career have to be—as Iôna put it perfectly—“curious.” Just wanting to start a communication or visual-sector career isn’t enough. “You have to be a junkie of the projects and products that people make,” Iôna advised. Unless you’re an avid watcher of movies or television series, you won’t get very far in a career that is dedicated to film!
Apart from visual media, she also notes that “reading is important, from reading great novels to reading books or articles about the industry.” For Iôna, “if you’re curious, you’re always listening to something, reading something or researching something.”
“if you’re curious, you’re always listening to something, reading something or researching something.”
Towards creative success
The final poignant advice she gave to students was this: “A rolling stone gathers no moss. You have to keep on rolling because the moss keeps you from moving forward. And you have to keep on moving and doing things.” To find success, you have to seize the opportunities that come along in life. Iôna never stopped grabbing ahold of the golden opportunities that came before her, even if they sounded crazy. In the end, they have allowed her to build a fulfilling career and life.
“A rolling stone gathers no moss. You have to keep on rolling because the moss keeps you from moving forward. And you have to keep on moving and doing things.”
Iôna’s story is not only inspirational, but also useful for students in any creative program. It proves that curiosity, hard work and a readiness to explore can turn any creative passion into a rewarding career. By following Iôna’s advice, you can become the next creative success story.
Listen to the full episode here.