Guest Commentator: Quynh‑Mai Nguyen, Director, Creative Services, PIDC @PIDCphila

Why is it important for organizations to support their creative leaders and teams with opportunities for professional development?

When you think of creativity, what comes to mind? Many of you might think of an artist standing before a paint-covered canvas or a musician strumming a guitar. Some of you might even imagine someone like me, a graphic designer, carefully choosing fonts and visual elements for an annual report or a website relaunch. But in today’s world and workplace, creativity is about a lot more than artistic expression. It’s an essential tool for almost every type of profession. Whether you’re brainstorming new ways to bring in revenue or creating a newly organized filing system from scratch, creativity is just another word for problem solving. It allows us to think beyond conventional solutions, tap into innovation, and most importantly, thrive in an economy that seems to change by the day.

In times like these, creativity is more important than ever before. This malleable and transferable skill helped countless organizations and companies navigate the last year of the pandemic. During 2020, did you have to reimagine your approach to service delivery? Come up with effective virtual meeting protocols? Design a distance learning module for your middle school class? Configure safe and comfortable outdoor seating for your restaurant? Pivot to serving your patients using telehealth? No matter what industry, all of these business decisions were made using creative energy. And creative energy is something that needs to be cultivated and nourished.

The best way to do this is to invest in professional development opportunities for your staff. This can look many different ways:

  • Continuing education classes or workshops
  • Membership in professional organizations
  • Attending conferences or symposiums
  • Participation in peer learning groups

Employers must take the lead on identifying opportunities and encouraging employees to take advantage of professional development to exercise their creative muscles. Last year, my company approached me and suggested I take part in one of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia’s Arts + Business Council programs, Designing Leadership. By doing this, they showed me that they value my continued learning and they valued me as a creative and essential member of the team. Their investment in my development made me feel great about investing my own learning and skills into the work I do for them.

So, even if you don’t find excitement in arguing about the differences between hot pink and fuchsia (trust me on this one), believe and acknowledge that everything you do requires creativity and that creativity needs outlets for growth and development in order to stay strong. No matter what industry you work in, investing in creative energy will always pay off.


Quynh-Mai Nguyen is a graduate of Designing Leadership, Philadelphia’s premier professional development program designed for nonprofit professionals in the arts and culture sector and creative business professionals in leadership roles.