Summer School alum story: “The Scandinavian way of teaching and learning appeals to me – it’s all about collective well-being”
Margo Camus grew up in Chile, Canada and Australia. As a little girl, her dream job was to tell other people’s stories through photography and journalism. Ever since, Margo has lived, worked and studied all over the world in countries like the UK, Denmark, Finland, and Australia; and is currently based in Germany, working as a freelance Global Brand Communications Lead at adidas. For the past ten years, she has worked in marketing with a focus on sustainability and fashion and says that working in this sector is, in fact, her dream job.
What has your career path been like thus far?
I got my first taste of working in fashion when I graduated from the University of Queensland in Australia, where I studied business with a major in marketing. Upon finishing my studies, I started working for a marketing agency, where I, among other things, developed the social media strategy and content plan for Uniqlo’s launch in Australia, and worked with some of Australia’s biggest shopping centres and brands. I learned a lot during this time, but I also saw first-hand how much the marketing for many brands is driven by consumerism and a push to buy.
This led me to think about the footprint of fashion and consider the impact my work was having on people and the environment. By coincidence, I was approached by a sustainability agency focusing on sustainability projects around energy consumption, and jumped at the opportunity.
I have always had a huge love for Nordic design and lifestyle, and during my master’s, I undertook exchanges at Copenhagen Business School in Denmark and Aalto University in Finland. It was also around this time that I decided to look for job opportunities in Europe, as I wanted to expand my horizon and gain new experience.
I remember arriving in Finland for the first time during my short-term exchange at Aalto University, seeing Marimekko worn and loved by everyone around me, and understanding that Marimekko is truly a national treasure in Finland. Not only is it a Finnish design brand that has a lot of rich history, but it’s also an icon of the Finn’s passion for design and sustainability.
The exchange at Aalto solidified my move to Europe, as I got a taste of the thriving sustainable fashion scene, and began to build a great network in this space. It wasn’t until then that I was able to combine the two separate areas I felt so passionately for – fashion and sustainability.
How would you say that you work towards your own sustainable values?
adidas is a leader when it comes to sustainability, and I am lucky to be surrounded by a work community that is extremely passionate about making impact. On a personal level, I believe that the most sustainable thing you can do is buy from brands with a strong sustainability ethos, repair what you have, buy second hand, and invest in super long-lasting products.
What are some of the biggest challenges that the fashion industry faces right now?
For sustainability to truly work, I believe the focus should be on sustainable innovations – how can we do things smarter, with less resources, whilst also minimising our impact on people and our environment? I hope that brands can focus on presenting their sustainability efforts with hard facts and evidence. This way, we can move away from marketing tactics and greenwashing, and educate consumers at the same time.
You have lived and worked in many international settings and in many different countries – what kind of cultural differences have you experienced?
As I’m currently based in Germany, I could really see a significant difference in how feedback is received here compared to Australia, where the input is not as direct, and you tend to be a bit vaguer when providing constructive criticism. German culture is very honest and direct, which is refreshing (when you get used to it!).
I was also surprised about the frequency that people bring up work topics outside working hours. In Australia, it’s not too common to talk about your job during your free time as there’s a greater focus on work life balance, whereas in London for example, it’s usual to actively talk about work in your social life. It goes without saying, but every culture I’ve experienced has enriched my work and outlook on life.
You took the Digital Business Master Class by Aalto University Summer School a few years ago. Have learnings from the course helped you in your career?
The Scandinavian way of teaching and learning appeals to me – it’s all about collective well-being, sustainability, and bringing all stakeholders together to achieve positive outcomes for a whole ecosystem – rather than just being profit-focused.
Where are you heading next?
I am moving back to London in a few weeks and can’t wait to reconnect with friends and colleagues after the pandemic. One day, it’s a huge wish of mine to move back to Australia and contribute to make an impact back home, but it feels like my journey in Europe is just beginning.