3% Q&A: ROTATE Residency

February 20, 2023

Kat Gordon

Kat Gordon is a Creative Director turned social change entrepreneur who has been named "Visionary of the Year" by Advertising Age and one of "30 Most Creative Women in Advertising" by Business Insider. 12 years ago, she launched The 3% Movement to spotlight the enormous underrepresentation of women in creative leadership. Through the movement's events, research and culture consulting, female creative directors now account for 29% of the industry. Kat lives in Napa Valley where she coaches creative leaders and hosts creative retreats. She has two young adult sons and a Black Lab named Trixie.

Tell our community what ROTATE is and why you started it. What differentiates this program from other internships?

What is ROTATE?

In a nutshell, ROTATE offers diverse, creative talent that otherwise may not have easy access to our industry, a unique opportunity to work across multiple companies (ad agency, tech and brands). Residents rotate from one company to another, exponentially increasing their work experience and professional network. Not to mention giving them exposure to different industries so they can see which one they gravitate towards. From the company’s perspective, ROTATE seamlessly manages all aspects of this 6 - 12 month paid ‘apprenticeship’ program.

In ROTATE’s recent New York pilot with Wieden+Kennedy and YouTube, 50% of the Residents were offered positions. With the possibility of more offers coming in the next few weeks.

Why did we start it?

In the last few years we’ve watched the DEI landscape change. Most companies in the creative industry are taking their own approach to solve their diversity initiatives. Unfortunately, we’re just not seeing a big enough impact.

“There’s no denying that when it comes to diversity the creative industry is still a work in progress. Only 11.4% of industry jobs are filled by Black, Asian and minority ethnic people, and just 11.5% of creative directors in the US are women...” -d&ad

History has taught us that in order to create big, social change, we need to work together. And that’s exactly what ROTATE was built to do.


What differentiates ROTATE?

ROTATE is a paid Residency program that redefines and innovates the talent model by inviting the most sought after creative companies to collaborate vs compete to attract the top creative talent with diverse perspectives.

Not only do Residents get the opportunity to learn, grow and network across categories within our creative industry. ROTATE Residents also receive a competitive salary, healthcare benefits, transportation stipend, access to Macbook Pro laptops loaded with the full Adobe Creative Suite, curated Speaker Series, as well as organized city events. Residents get a Mentor at each company and they will have the opportunity to work on real projects & briefs. Lastly, ROTATE is not only for entry level talent, it is built and designed for all ages to participate.

For participating companies, ROTATE provides the opportunity to not only attract the most sought after talent in the country, but also helps companies mentor, shape and retain this valuable talent.

As a side note, when we talk about creative talent, we mean (of all ages): Creators, Makers, Innovators, Strategist, Producers, Designers, Writers, Visual Artists, etc.

If it’s helpful, below is the list of talented people that were a part of ROTATE’s Speaker Series

Below are the city events we organized for the Residents & Mentors:

ROTATE Residents NY 2022 - 1

Can you describe some of the outcomes of your first Cohort in 2022?

During ROTATE’s Residency program, our 6 Residents, ranging in ages 21-35, collectively worked on 30 briefs across 15 clients and partnerships, including FIFA World Cup, YouTube Shorts, YouTube x Universal Music, NOCTA x Nike, McDonalds, Lil Baby, Ford, Mariah Carey, Duracell, FanDuel, Heinz and New Business Pitches.

Residents grew their networks 2x faster through the connections they made at YouTube and W+K, not to mention the networking they did among their own Resident Cohort.

At the conclusion of ROTATE’s New York Residency (January 2023), 50% of the Residents were offered jobs from a participating company. There’s also talk about offers being extended to a few more Residents in the coming weeks (fingers-crossed). Given the current economic climate, this is a statistic ROTATE is extremely proud to announce, and we’re even prouder of our Residents for their hard work & dedication throughout the Residency.

Below are the ROTATE Residents starting their new roles at Wieden+Kennedy’s New York office:

We'd also like to share a few quotes from our Residents about their experience throughout ROTATE Residency:

Speaker Series & City Events:

  • “The speaker series was phenomenal. To have two heavy hitters from the jump really gave me insight on how my mind can operate in this industry, for the better of course.”

Lessons over the past 6-months:

  • “The future is changing rapidly. I think being at both YouTube and Wieden showed me different tools that will be critical for future creatives (AI etc) I also learned what I don't want to do which is just as valuable as knowing what I want to do.”
  • “I've learned the most about myself, and that I should always feel confident about my opinions.”
  • “No rock left unturned, and I take that to heart in everything I do now.”

What's been the most rewarding aspect of your ROTATE experience?

  • “The most rewarding aspect has been meeting other creatives who have similar ambitions. It has opened me up to a new world of what is possible in my own career and future.”
  • “Getting to experience how working at both companies was SUPER valuable. It's awesome to be able to get a trial run before committing to a place. And meeting and working with my cohort. I hope that these work relationships can continue to grow.”
  • “My cohort mates, honestly. Especially Simone and Malvika, they have made this experience life-changing and I hope to stay connected with them for a long time!”

What was the most impactful thing about your ROTATE experience?

  • “The most impactful thing about my ROTATE experience was growing my network! Meeting so many talented and dope people at both Wieden and Youtube is going to be huge help as my career continues to grow.”
  • “The self growth. Opening myself up to such a new experience has allowed me to grow in new ways and I am very excited to see what adventures come next.”

ROTATE Residents NY 2022 - 2

How can the 3% community support your efforts? What specifically do you need to bring this experience to more young creatives and agencies?

We are lining up companies who want to participate in ROTATE for 2023 and beyond. We are hoping to have our next round of Residency programs in New York and Portland, OR while continuing conversations in other key cities. Our goal is to have a ROTATE Residency going in every major city around the country.

The key to bringing ROTATE Residency to more underrepresented creative talent is to get agencies, brands, and tech companies to partner with us to bring more Residencies to life. We would love for the 3% community to help us spread the word out about ROTATE Residency to your vast network. We need companies to understand that by working together we can create real impactful change among creative talent, while also helping companies with retention.

 ROTATE Founders & Residents (New  York, 2022)