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Where Are They Now? 5 Questions with MSLCE Alum Aleksa Narbutaitis

What is your current role(s)/project(s) and what are your responsibilities?

I’m currently the Creative Director at the Chicago-based personal branding and creative services agency, SimplyBe. Agency. I was hire #1, and my CEO and I have built the company from two to eight full time staff over the past two years. My core responsibilities as Creative Director are to oversee all of our company’s as well as all of our clients’ visual brands, and to partner with our strategy team to lead our visual branding projects including full brand style guide and website creation. My job is essentially to make sure that our clients’ value props are always being communicated and supported by the visual components of their brands.

Tell us about any interesting or unique projects you worked on during your time in the MSLCE program.

My favorite projects of the program were conceptualizing and building a business plan in Cory Sandrock’s Economics of Creative Enterprises course, as well as defining my own vision of leadership in Gail Berger’s Leading Creative Teams course. Both of these projects challenged me creatively, but in two very different ways of critical thinking. What I loved most about the MSLCE program was the amount of brainpower that we were constantly challenged to use—the courses were equal parts creative and analytical, and really set us up for success in the creative business landscape. 

What was your favorite experience with MSLCE?

Both the quarterly site visits and the industry immersion trip were such a value add for me. Being able to get out of the classroom and into the world to see the inner workings of the creative agencies we aspired to join post-grad was incredible. And honestly, the MSLCE faculty and staff truly made the program so special. 

What did you learn in the program that you’ve been able to apply to your current endeavors?

My biggest takeaways have been time management and accountability. Grad school in general is a totally different animal than undergrad. The experience is richer overall (99% of your classmates are in the room because they WANT to be there, and this makes for an incredible classroom dynamic), but you get to make it what you want. As most things in life, the harder you work, the more you get out of it. This was a major takeaway for me and I’m proud to say that it’s something that I bring with me to my office each and every day now, professionally. 

What advice do you have for anyone considering the MSLCE program? Why did you choose MSLCE?

Do it! There is no greater investment on this earth than in yourself and in your own education and brain power. I had the luxury of experiencing “the real world” prior to the MSLCE program, but I feel that this program empowered me to be even smarter and even stronger when I jumped the second time around. The uniqueness of the MSLCE program allowed me to refine my business mind while still serving as a major outlet for creativity. The balance here is what really sets this program apart, and I recommend it to anyone considering a career in the creative sector!