When passion is involved, any pursuit seems possible, and for Sarah Liou, a fifth-year Commerce student, her passion for marketing is limitless. Combined with her inquisitive mind and obsession with consumer behaviour, this marketing career story is only just starting.
If I were to describe myself in one word, it would be passionate. Whether it’s about the welfare of our environment, my favourite TV series, or a new project I’m working on, I always care a little too much. But once I’m invested in something, I become extremely dedicated towards it and am constantly sharing it with other people. Working within marketing allows me to do this on a much larger scale, by contributing to awareness increase and conversions for a product or service that I am passionate about. I’m interested in marketing because I love the creative side but also the importance of data and how it can affect decisions.
I am a fifth-year Commerce student, returning for my last year after being on a 16-month marketing internship at a digital analytics company. I am currently working as a Senior Career Mentor at the DeGroote School of Business, where I work with students to help develop their career skills, and a Social Media Director at the DeGroote Marketing Association, promoting marketing networking opportunities and workshops to students. I will be graduating in April 2020 and am excited to discover new marketing opportunities to develop my skills further!
My biggest inspiration is my mother. She is creative, hardworking, intelligent, and always goes above and beyond to ensure her work is outstanding. She also cares so strongly about everything, whether other people or a project she’s working on, and that is something that definitely inspires my passionate nature. In addition to displaying admirable characteristics, she always encourages me to take on new opportunities and is very supportive in everything that I do. When I was younger, I used to watch television with my mother and when the commercials would come on, I would always make comments about them. I remember being around twelve years old, telling my mom that I don’t think it was a good idea that this makeup company chose a specific spokesperson because they catered to younger teens and their brand was aimed towards an older target market. That’s when she said, “You should really go into marketing”. That encouragement and the creative aspects of the field plus my interest in understanding consumer behaviour drew me to marketing.
Then, after taking some business courses in high school, I realized that I had a love for presentations and creative projects. Also, with my somewhat unhealthy obsession with shopping, I started to take an interest in how organizations were marketing towards me, which fueled my desire for understanding consumer behaviour further. For motivation, I always fixate on the finished product, because I find great satisfaction in working towards something and then seeing everything play out afterward.
My greatest achievement was when I won the Google Cloud and United Nations Foundation global competition called Visualize 2030. It consisted of using World Bank data to display the relationships between our 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through data visualization, as well as offering potential solutions to help achieve these goals by 2030. Five winners, myself included, and their data stories were featured at the 2019 World Economic Forum, and I was invited to San Francisco to attend the Google Cloud Next conference and be interviewed for Google Cloud’s YouTube channel series.
I was also asked to host a roundtable at the Google Cloud Next Analyst Summit, where I presented my winning data visualization and led data-driven discussions with global analytics leaders. Not only was the topic of the competition something that I was already strongly invested in, but it ended up leading to many amazing opportunities and helped to build my confidence.
My ideal career path would be to work in brand management or the buying department at either a non-profit organization, such as Sick Kids, or a consumer products organization, and eventually teach as a marketing professor. I am fascinated by the power of a brand and how influential it can be on consumer behaviour. However, the organization that I work at is equally if not more important to me than what specific role within marketing I end up in. Due to my passionate nature, once I’m working towards the success of an organization with values or products that I strongly admire, my dedication and creativity are incomparable.
I am very intrigued by the general trend of the shopping experience, moving from in-store retail to digital. I personally love shopping at retail stores, but the cost-savings and the data availability in the digital shopping experience have made a clear difference. After working at a digital analytics company and learning about Google Analytics, it’s very interesting to see how valuable online data can be when making decisions to optimize a website, similar to optimizing the layout of a retail store to encourage purchase behaviour. Again, this interest is strongly supported by my personal love for shopping and recognizing how store displays or website user experience affect my own purchase behaviour.
The main challenge for me is getting an interview. Especially since I put a lot of effort and customization into every job application so it can be frustrating to apply to many jobs and not know whether someone will even read my application. The best way to overcome this is to just keep applying to more jobs and to stay positive. I constantly remind myself that every rejection happens for a reason, and it’s leading me towards the opportunity that is a better match for me. I also find that networking and making strong connections are crucial to job search success, which is something I strongly encourage all my career mentees.