Click here to register and hear more from Bobby Sahni, Partner & Co-founder at Ethnicity Matters, at the upcoming CMA NXT Marketing Career Night on January 31, 2023.
Ever since high school, I’ve always had a strong appreciation for the arts. After discovering marketing through a co-op program at my high school, I landed my first on-the-job, hands-on marketing position, which became a creative outlet for me. Going into university, I nurtured my artistic needs by studying drama while pursuing a science degree. What drew me to marketing was learning to empathize with an audience and appeal to their needs.
There are two fundamental core values that students and young professionals need to develop to be successful in marketing. First, you must be able to show genuine empathy to others. Marketers must understand how to serve people better while recognizing that one person’s needs will differ from the next. Never assume that your preferences or experiences will speak for everyone. Making that distinction and using empathy will make it easier for you to understand people from different walks of life. Second, you must continue to be curious and ask questions, questions, and more questions. To be successful, you must maintain your curiosity and aim to improve on what you’ve done in the past.
I love teaching in all forms, whether a lecture at a college or university, delivering keynotes, lunch-and-learn webinars, or seminars. While I have taught courses, I have yet to teach at a college or university level. Although trends in the marketing industry inspire our content, me and the Ethnicity Matters team develop everything we teach. We draw parallels and inspiration from case studies and examples, even if they don't relate directly to my field, multicultural marketing.
Initially, I didn’t understand what mattered most and which factors were essential to driving success. Corporate and personal objectives must be aligned and combined with rational thought and emotional intelligence. I've always been passionate about marketing because I love to explain, pitch and sell my ideas. The balance between rational thought and emotional intelligence can influence decision-makers to take a bold step that sets the company on a new unexplored path.
For many young marketers, the most significant barrier they face may be the one they build themselves. Recent graduates or those new to the country may feel underqualified because of their limited industry experience. They may doubt themselves, question their contributions or wonder whether they should or should not speak up. Young marketers have a competitive advantage over veterans with a decade of experience as they represent a new demographic. Whether you're a young marketer or an international student without Canadian work experience, be aware of your unique skills and talents. Demonstrating your potential will provide you with a boost of confidence and your clients will value your input and perspective.
I started volunteering in elementary and continued through high school and university. I'm a big advocate for volunteering because it prepares you to work alongside others in any industry. Volunteering teaches you to work selflessly, where the only reward is the gratitude from helping those less fortunate. It’s also a great way to gain experience, broaden your network and absorb knowledge from the people you meet. For young marketers, it’s essential to learn about the decision s colleagues have made along the way. While another’s journey is inspirational, marketers can carve their path through curiosity and innovation.
Since starting my own multicultural marketing business, I've noticed that diversity and immigration are changing the face of Canada. A more diverse workforce could be the most significant growth opportunity for Canadian companies, regardless of industry or brand. Immigrants have cultivated unique ideas and preferences from their cultural backgrounds, which may be why immigration has become a strategy for population growth in Canada. Marketers, advertisers and business leaders need to understand the community's evolving needs as the country continues to become more diverse. We need to be attentive to the unique needs of Canadians, whether they continue to work with us or leave and join other organizations. Regardless of what they choose, these marketers will take that knowledge with them and prepared to continually adapt to the changing face of Canada. Failing to address the needs of our communities will result in losing their trust and business to competitors.
A decade ago, I left the comforts of the corporate world and started my own company while my wife was pregnant with our second son. It was challenging, and ten years later, it's still one of the proudest and most rewarding accomplishments in my career. To this day, we hire from various colleges and universities. We’ve helped create jobs for people from all walks of life and employed over 60 international students in the last few years, giving them their first marketing experience in Canada.
We have aligned ourselves with many causes that serve multicultural and new immigrant communities. We've been active members of the marketing of advertising fraternities through organizations like NABs. Charitable giving is highly encouraged at Ethnicity Matters because charity, through donations of time or money, is essential.
Travelling has always been a passion, and a great source of learning. Whether discovering countries abroad, Canadian provinces at home or exploring the city and appreciating different walks of life, the more we travel, the more we learn. Travelling and getting to know people with different views, opinions, upbringings, and cultural backgrounds shapes our thinking and understanding.
To the next generation, take time to understand yourself and be aware of your unique strengths and areas that could be improved. Being self-aware, confident, empathetic and curious is the formula for the marketer of the future. I hope cultural diversity continues to flourish in marketing and advertising. As one of the most multiculturally diverse countries worldwide, more companies must embrace diversity. After all, different thoughts and opinions drive business forward.