The Garden adds three new staff

A designer, strategist and project cultivator help flesh out the creative shop's core team.

The Garden Hires

The Garden’s latest hires, from left to right: Mike Kovacs, project cultivator; Sarah Philips, strategist; Adriana Mahalean, designer.

The Garden has added three new staff members to its Toronto office, hoping to flesh out the core skills that are becoming more vital to its permanent team.

Mike Kovacs has been hired as project cultivator, a new role that combines client services with project management and production duties. Kovacs joins from Juniper Park\TBWA, where he was an account supervisor working primarily on the Nissan Canada and Petro Canada accounts.

Shari Walczak, co-founder of The Garden, describes the project cultivator role as “both pilot and air traffic control,” someone who finds the best creative solution for a project and manages it going forward, as an alternative to traditional client managers.

“They make sure we stay on plan and adjust that plan accordingly when the situation calls for it,” told strategy via email. “This works particularly well in our environment, which is characterized by project assignments rather than agency of record contracts. Rather than employing layers of individuals in client management roles – which is required by an AOR, billable-hours structure – we have slimmed the communication process down to a single project cultivator who can act quickly to get the answers and actions needed to keep a project moving forward.”

Meanwhile, Sarah Philips, who has been freelancing with The Garden for the past year, has been hired permanently as a strategist. Prior to joining the agency, Philips has had stints at the account teams at Zulu Alpha Kilo, MacLaren McCann and 6 Degrees.

Adriana Mahalean has also been hired as The Garden’s newest designer. Joining from Toronto branding agency Goods and Services, Mahalean has worked with brands including LCBO, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Herman Miller and Sun Life.

When The Garden launched at the beginning of 2015, it relied heavily on bringing in freelancers and partners in order to have the right range of skills sets on hand for any given project it might be working on.

“As we’ve evolved over the past 18 months, we’re discovered that there are certain core skills we are calling on with greater frequency and those people are starting to form more of The Garden’s core permanent team: strategists, designers, project cultivators,” Walczak says.

The Garden has also added to its leadership team this year, bringing on Dic Dickerson as managing director and Omar Morson as design director. In terms of work, The Garden is currently working on project for a number of clients, including Standard Innovation, Scene, The United Way, WirelessWave, Tbooth Wireless, JustGotThat!, BiblioCommons, MetrolandMedia, Workopolis and TradeRev.