Subashini Nadarajah is the global executive director of Equity, Inclusion & Belonging at VMLY&R. Since moving into this role, she has worked tirelessly to ensure all employees feel welcome, safe, and heard by building cross-cultural communication and reducing culturally based prejudice and inequality. From instituting new programs to fostering partnerships to taking full advantage of talent pools and pathways, Subashini has made it her mission to promote diversity at VMLY&R and increase cultural literacy, awareness, and acceptance within the agency and across agency partnerships.
Prior to this role, Subashini — an artist by nature and by trade with a master’s in commercial design — served as VMLY&R’s director of design. She worked with client teams to provide design and branding counsel, and throughout the course of her tenure transformed the design department into one of VMLY&R’s most prominent and celebrated units.
Additionally, Subashini previously served as the creative director for the retail visual merchandising team at Hallmark and held roles across print, advertising, and television at River City Studio, Bernstein-Rein, and Blacktop Creative. In these roles, she worked closely with household brand names, such as Walmart, McDonald’s, Sprint, Bayer, Kansas City Zoo, Kansas City Power & Light District, Disney, and Godfather’s Pizza. For her exemplary work, she has been recognized by and earned awards from The One Show, the Art Directors Club, and the ADDY Awards.
Although some described her move from design to DE&I as a major career change, Subashini is not new to her current sector. As a designer whose work has always reflected a human-centric philosophy, this undertaking was not a pivot, but an extension of the work she had already been doing. Her 30 years of design experience — of understanding the human heart through art — was a prerequisite for the work she does today. In her current role, Suba works in a formal capacity to challenge the status quo, cultivate equitable environments, and champion members of underrepresented groups daily.
Subashini believes that art and design are storytelling vehicles that bring people together and instill a sense of connectivity in our world, and she hopes to spread this belief through education. She is an active member in the design community and, on a local level, has been an adjunct professor at the Kansas City Art Institute and University of Central Missouri, where she taught branding, guerilla marketing, and design systems.
When not at VMLY&R or teaching, Subashini is a closet architect. She designed her own home, where she resides with her 9-year-old rescue blue merle sheltie, and her kitchen was even featured in an online Dwell article titled “Room We Love: Sunny Modern Kitchen in Kansas.” She is a trilingual world traveler, photographer, avid walker, aspiring equestrian, and Pilates lover who finds balance in life through meditation and mindful living. In fact, guiding meditation and sharing how to live a mindful life has become one of Subashini’s many life aspirations. In a recent KC TED Talk, she discussed how powerful our breath can be when we are mindful of its virtues and powers.
For Subashini, the IRC matters because storytelling and finding intersectionality in inter-multiculturalism can bring people together and instill a sense of connectivity in our world.