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Careers In The Making

Çağla Büyükkoç Sütlüoğlu's story

Creativity is at its best when it’s nurtured with care and consideration. Çağla Büyükkoç Sütlüoğlu, Founder and CEO of Walrus Creative Works, and member of the See It Be It 2023 cohort, is flying several flags at Cannes Lions 2023. Not only for her native Turkey, but also as a champion for mental health positivity, and changing the perspectives of an often uncompromising industry. Watch her story here:


Read the transcript

I'm a storyteller. I'm a child at heart. My biggest inspiration is my own childhood. As we grow older, we start to feel afraid that we're going to sound stupid, we're going to look stupid. But as a child, you are stupid and you are like, oh, hell yes, I'm stupid. I embrace it. I own it.

When I'm creating my childlike, curiosity feeds into everything that I do. So when I'm stuck, when I'm in a rut, when I'm having a writer's block, for instance, I just try to get back to that feeling. If I'm very overwhelmed, I actually listen to the Sims Two soundtrack because that pure joy, that pure curiosity, that never ending energy. I need that in my life as an adult to stay sane, to keep creating.

I started searching for a new job. I had like, 30 interviews in two months. I couldn't find somewhere where mental wellbeing was prioritised, where inclusivity was actually really prioritised. So I said, I'm going to build somewhere that I can be happy and where we can be happy.

"I saw the power of a mental wellbeing first culture. No one was left behind and I was not left behind either. "

Çağla Büyükkoç Sütlüoğlu

Founder and CEO

Walrus Creative Works

Çağla BüyükkoçfillLike, I started my own business last year. I hired my friends and six months ago I had a full blown panic attack. I was diagnosed with anxiety, major depression. My first panic attack is actually the month after earthquake took place. By the end of the month, some of our clients said, we won't be able to pay you because of the earthquake. We don't have the money. And that's when I first took out a loan. And the second I hit like that, I accept buttons. I froze.

Like, I couldn't breathe, but I couldn't hear or see anything. I was just so frozen and traumatised and I thought, oh my God, I'm not cut out for this. What am I doing here?

Initial reaction was, okay, I had this one thing. Now I'm going to let it go and I'm going to heal and it's going to all be better. I thought I could get through it by myself, but I couldn't. It was very lonely.

At Walrus, what we try to do is create a mental wellbeing first culture. We have a channel on Slack to appreciate ourselves or we have a sorry detector. Anytime we said sorry, we started putting $1 in the jar and at the end of the month we just donated it to an NGO of our choice.

There are also bigger things, like we have mental health days off. I was implementing these things and they were good for my team, but I was not doing them for myself. And I always thought, as the CEO, I should never reflect any weakness because that will panic my team. My team was there for me all the time and they were actually the ones who told me we don't think you're doing really good.

That is when I actually saw the power of a mental wellbeing first culture. No one was left behind and I was not left behind either. Right now.

It's all about being transparent in the workplace with each other. It's the age of authenticity, in a way.

My name is Çağla Büyükkoç Sütlüoğlu, and I'm the Founder and CEO of Walrus Creative Works.

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