Team Talk: Siobhan and Suraiya
Siobhan Joffe and Suraiya Lorenz are a creative team at Ogilvy Melbourne. Driven by unreasonably high family expectations and guilt, they reflect on their differences, their families, and noodle soup.
Siobhan Joffe, Copywriter
A Jew and an Asian walk into a bar.
They pull out their sketch pads and order two glasses of red wine, stat.
The two girls sit in silence staring blankly into the distance, lost in thought. Seemingly out of nowhere, one of them blurts out an outrageous idea causing them both to shake with laughter. “Write that down!” one of the girls insists as they settle in for a long night of brainstorming.
Looking at the two of them, you’d assume they’re from different worlds. And you wouldn’t be far off. The Jewish girl, Siobhan, was born in South Africa and looks to be a relative of Casper The Friendly Ghost. Across from her sits Suraiya, an Adidas-clad pocket-rocket born in Malaysia.
So how did this mismatched duo end up in an Australian bar, spouting nonsense?
I’d love to tell you. If you haven’t caught on by now, I’m the aforementioned pale girl and my raven-haired accomplice is Sue, my Art Director and creative partner. We’ve been a creative team at Ogilvy for just over a year now.
Although Sue and I are from diverse backgrounds, we’re actually incredibly similar. For one, our families are practically the same.
Now you must be thinking, what could a Jewish family and a Malaysian family possibly have in common? Unreasonably high standards is what. And guilt. “What do you mean you’re going to be a ‘Creative’?” “You mean copywriting isn’t about intellectual property? I thought you were studying to be a Lawyer”
But, despite our different cultures, we share the same values. Our traditions may be different, but our intentions are the same. Family, honesty and a big bowl of noodle soup is at the core of who we are.
We also share an impressive knowledge of song lyrics that we flex on the daily. On any given day, you can find us harmonising to the likes of Mariah, Beyoncé, Lizzo and Lauryn Hill. Challenge us to karaoke and you can find out for yourself. But fair warning, we’ll need a couple of glasses of red wine first...
Suraiya Lorenz, Art Director
As I adjust the collar of my blazer with sweaty palms, my face begins to radiate. The Sahara Desert is located at the back of my throat and nails dig deeper into the back of my leg. I look over at Siobhan who is nodding along, somehow immune to the tropical heat wave that has suddenly struck the room. It’s almost our turn to present.
Absentmindedly I begin to fiddle with the sleeves of my blazer. My mother wore this exact same jacket when she was my age. Things were a lot more difficult when she was in my place, striving to become an independent Asian woman.
My mother was 21 when she left Malaysia and came to Melbourne in pursuit of a better life. With no friends or family and speaking little to no English, she found a job as a butcher at Victoria Market.
Surrounded by the pungent aroma of raw meat she would announce the day’s specials to passers-by.
On a good day her broken English was met with apathy and on a bad day, a disgusted, ‘Speak English’. She worked tirelessly over the ensuing years and traded her job at the butcher for one at a top tier Accountancy firm.
The days of the butcher’s apron were over, and the days of the charcoal blazer had begun.
30 years later, the weight of that powerful blazer drapes across my shoulders. For a long time, I told myself that it was the jacket that allowed me to channel her strength, to take on another challenge. But in reality, it’s been so much more than that. While my mum had to endure hardship on her own, I’m fortunate enough to have someone by my side.
I look back at Siobhan. I know that however this presentation goes, she’s got my back.
As we leave the room, Siobhan whispers “Good job Sue-y” accompanied by a fist bump.
It’s this sense of support that has helped me grow professionally and personally. With my mum’s blazer and my creative partner, I feel invincible.