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Experiences that made me Junior Gonzalez

26 May 2023

In this series, we ask Imagination talent all about the experiences that have made them who they are. This month we spoke to Junior Gonzalez, Senior Strategist at Imagination Middle East.

A bit about me…

Very curious by nature. I like to find the why behind things – from why a word is called what it’s called, to why we behave a certain way as humans. Too many interests to list out and too many to be an expert in anything.

A creative experience that influenced me the most…

Probably watching cartoons as a kid and then trying to figure out what the characters would do if I had to finish the story. I distinctly remember watching Pokémon at age 6 or 7, and wondering, first, why everyone was speaking Spanish if it was based in Japan, and second, how somebody (or a team) of people created a whole story that was able to be understood by everyone. I didn’t realise it then, but I was learning about the power of storytelling and how it can inspire or demotivate the masses.

Pokémon guide I read about 100 times as a kid

My Industry hero is…

I can’t say I have industry heroes – hero is a pretty strong word for people just doing their jobs.

I see certain people as sources of inspiration, though. For instance – somebody like Margaret Atwood (author of Handmaid’s Tale) that’s able to create one of the most horrifying narratives imaginable, but weave in a message of hope and a glimmer of light at the end of the suffering.

Someone closer to home would be my own brother – I’ve always admired how he has been able to repurpose and redirect his career, always aiming higher, whilst remaining true to his principles.

Me (left) and my brother (right). Ages 1 and 5.

The piece of work I’m most proud of…

Probably a competition for a Middle Eastern investment fund, in which we were pitching against some of the biggest names in architecture and master planning (think Norman Foster and Zaha Hadid). It was an extremely ambitious project in terms of the quality of the work, as well as one of the largest projects in terms of scale that I had ever worked on - probably the biggest.

It was an absolute learning curve – and our core team, being younger by several decades than the rest of our consortium (composed of architects, engineering companies, environmental experts, cost consultants, and a big etc.) was able to lead and guide industry heavyweights in the right direction.

We ended up being selected as winners by a very distinguished jury, covering many disciplines, raising the bar for the kind of work that Imagination is seen as being able to deliver.

The piece of work that makes me cringe…

The first project I delivered in the region – was for a design school. It was the very first live project I was doing with this agency, and everything was new. I had never used design software like that. I had never been in a process with an agency like that. I had never been spoken to like that by a client.

Now it makes me cringe because, looking back, it wasn’t complicated at all, but at the time, I was driven by misplaced pride in pretending I knew what I was doing. However, despite a lot of stress and 25 days of working without a break, everything somehow got easier after that project.

And we managed to deliver projects a thousand times more complicated afterwards, even getting to a global stage like Expo 2020, working on multiple pavilions at the same time.

The experience I wish I had created…

The experience of having pets.

Whoever was (or were) brave enough to try to domesticate a feral cat or a wolf, giving us today’s cats and dogs - those few people are responsible for mitigating loneliness more than any self-help book ever could.

Advice to my 18-year-old self…

  1. Buy Bitcoin the first time you read about it.

  2. The difference between a successful person and a person with no success greatly comes down to one thing above all – having the audacity. The audacity to think that you are the person to lead the conversation, or the project, or the company. The audacity to think that you can take on the biggest responsibilities. The audacity to convince everyone that your voice needs to be heard.

  3. Buy Bitcoin the second time you read about it.

What’s next?

I’m looking forward to our reworked offers and go-to-market approaches. We are working on some exciting stuff right now, and I’m curious to see what kind of work we’ll land once we launch it.

I’m also wondering what will happen to the creative industries as artificial intelligence has this continued uptick in being used for productivity purposes. I’m not sure how it will change our work, but it will be different.