Cameron Adams co-founder at Chief Product Officer of Canva

Sunrise Speaker Spotlight: Cameron Adams, Canva

Date Published:
September 8, 2023

We are just two weeks out until Sunrise Aotearoa, and once again, we're lifting the curtain on some of our most inspiring speakers.

Meet Cameron Adams. You may have heard of Canva, where he's been at the creative helm for ten years, mixing tech wizardry with a dash of human insight. Cam is keen on doing good and leading purposefully. He's not just about the boardroom; he's fuelled by music, climate action, and the occasional chocolate indulgence.

Ready to dive deeper? Grab your tickets now for Sunrise Aotearoa. They’re selling out FAST, and you won't want to miss this one (get yours here)

Blackbird: If you were to summarise your career in a single sentence, what would you say?

Cam Adams: 20 years of smashing together creativity and technology, bringing along as many people as I could find.

Blackbird: What are some of the key values that drive your approach to creativity, innovation, and leadership?

CA: A few things come to mind. Listening (to users and team members) is the most important thing I can do as a leader. This includes taking the time to explore multiple possibilities before settling on a route and remaining open to pivots along the way.

I firmly believe in the power of a well-communicated vision to inspire and motivate teams, but it must be backed up by action – at the individual level – for it to hold weight.

When it comes to creativity, I look for ways to create “collisions” between ideas and people—in other words, finding unexpected or new ways to solve a user problem or engage an audience.

These are all very intertwined with Canva’s values, which we refer back to constantly. One that pervades how we lead design our products and beyond is to ‘be a force for good’ or empower others. Many decisions are made with an eye toward what will best impact the world around us.

Blackbird: As a co-founder and chief product officer at Canva, how do you balance your creative vision with the practical aspects of building and scaling a global company?

CA: It’s always a tricky balance, and I’ve learned that it will not stay balanced all the time. Often, you have to focus on going deep on one thing before reframing your focus and applying thought to another. Dedicating time for reflection and vision-setting is important, as the practical aspects of growth and running a company don’t stop. I’ve found it important to carve out time for myself, whether that means reading, exercising or enjoying various hobbies. It helps to balance you out emotionally so you can confidently approach whatever lies ahead that day.

Blackbird: Outside of your role at Canva, what other passions or interests fuel your creativity and inspire you personally?

CA: Music is my primary creative outlet, but I also enjoy reading (usually sci-fi) and helping my kids be creative. I’m involved in a number of environmental causes and projects. It’s an area that I’ve always had a personal interest in and that we prioritise at Canva, and recently, my wife and I have taken this a step further with the launch of Wedgetail, a climate-focused venture fund. And if none of that is working, chocolate usually does the trick.

Blackbird: Thinking about the current NZ start-up community, what is one thing you’re excited to discuss or learn more about at Sunrise Aotearoa?

CA: I’m eager to hear how startups in NZ are defining their own identity and trajectory on the world stage. Identity is important on the individual founder and company level, but also collectively. We’ve enjoyed representing and engaging with the Australian start-up community. We think there can be a lot of value in working together to draw attention to a city's or a country’s growth and success because those positive examples compound into a thriving ecosystem.

Cam has so much more wisdom to share, and we’re fizzing to host him at Sunrise, Aotearoa ✨

Haven't got your tickets yet? Hurry to avoid disappointment, they’re selling out QUICK.