Finding the universal in the Rare

Rare’s mission is to amplify underrepresented voices in the creative industry. It is an initiative that saw 37 delegates from all across APAC complete an intensive course with the shared goal of changing the world. Our Associate Design Director, Sumita Maharaj was lucky enough to be selected as one them

By Sumita Maharaj, Associate Design Director - Re

Sep 2021

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The Rare with Google Leadership Academy course wrapped up last week.

Rare’s mission is to amplify underrepresented voices in the creative industry, creating a safe space for diverse individuals, and enabling future leaders to grow. It is an initiative that saw 37 delegates from all across APAC complete an intensive course with the shared goal of changing the world. I was lucky enough to be selected as one them.

This was not my first experience with Rare. I was part of their inaugural event in 2017. Upon completion of that course I remember a colleague of mine asking how I felt. I replied “I feel seen”. It was the first time I had said those words in my creative working life.

Fast forward to 2021, and this leadership course has left me feeling much the same way. Over the last three weeks I learnt about setting boundaries, challenging dominant cultures and maximising my worth – you know, the small stuff. But it was through the shared discussion in these learning modules, where for me, the bigger lesson was learn’t.

Being ‘rare’ can sometimes be tough. As a woman of ethnic decent in the creative industry I’ve often been the only one who looks like me in the room. Consequently, I’ve spent a lot of time in my past wanting to be anything but rare, diminishing my difference in the hope of fitting in with the majority.

What I have really valued from Rare 2021 was a sense of belonging I got from group discussions with my fellow delegates. While I always knew my stories were not unique, hearing these shared experiences really brought home to me how NOT alone in the creative world I am, and how valuable my individual perspective is.

In 2017 I felt seen and now in 2021 I feel powerful.

I highly recommend applying for Google Rare. It was a such valuable experience that I believe all creatives would benefit from. It's an initiative that is playing no small part in helping shape a creative industry that is truly reflective of modern Australia. Ultimately, every day should feel like Google Rare for diverse creatives, and it should be our collective goal to foster an environment where that is the standard and not the exception.

I’d like to thank all the speakers and contributors - Nadya Powell, Daniele Fiandaca, Emma Mainoo, Tolu Farinto, Nora Bank and Wan’gu Chafuwa. And special thanks to all my fellow delegates who turned up and had the strength and commitment to be vulnerable and honest.

Sumita Maharaj, Associate Design Director

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