I began my marketing career in my fourth year as a member of the University of Toronto Entrepreneurship Hatchery team. Upon graduating, I was applying to every role that had “marketing” in its job description. After countless coffee chats and 100s of job applications, I realized that this approach did not work. It was one of my mentors who pointed out my lack of focus and suggested understanding what each role in marketing actually entailed and to self-evaluate my attitude and aptitude for success in those roles.
My first career job post-graduation was a Sales Consultant role at an energy consulting firm. I took the opportunity to learn sales, one aspect of marketing, and better understand the B2B marketplace. A few months later, the company I worked for was seeking a full-time Marketing Manager and I applied internally. Perhaps it was a bit of luck, but if I didn’t accept that initial Sales Consultant job and give it a shot, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to become a Marketing Manager.
To me, communication is a critical component for both professional and everyday life. Without marketing and communications support, the world we know today would be a very different place. Forms of communication in various settings, particularly a corporate environment, and how communication processes, information technologies, and mass media shape and transform our societies, cultures, and perspectives.
I started my marketing career at General Motors, two weeks after my last day at university. It all happened so quickly; I barely had a chance to catch up. I love the automotive industry and wanted to experience everything it had to offer, so after a few years in manufacturing, I moved over to retail. I always wanted to be my own boss… at age seven I drew up a business plan to start a bakery and convinced friends to lend me money. In 2011, after reading Richard Branson’s ‘Losing My Virginity” twice, I quit my job and started a marketing consultancy.
I’ve always been fascinated by the way information can influence people’s beliefs and behaviours. This curiosity led me to study Communications in my undergrad and seek marketing and communications roles after graduation. After taking on increasingly senior positions, I struck out on my own and launched Compass Content Marketing. Around the same time, I began teaching digital marketing courses at the college and university level. Now, I am affiliated with Humber College and McMaster University, and I regularly speak at marketing and business-related events across Ontario.
Growing up I always thought I wanted to be a teacher, which is what I originally pursued after high school. As I headed down that path I realized that while I loved the idea of educating, I had a lot of passions and skills that I likely wouldn’t get to call upon as a school teacher. After a lot of research and self-reflection, I became focused on marketing, and more specifically the field of PR, which seemed to check all the boxes for me. All at once, my life plan switched pretty drastically.
I got started in marketing because someone took a chance on me! Given both my undergraduate and master’s degrees were in disciplines outside of business and marketing, I didn’t really have a leg up on other candidates in this field. Understanding my disadvantage on paper, I was determined to get in front of as many people as possible and tell my personal story firsthand and highlight all of the transferrable skills I had acquired that would help me succeed in sponsorship and marketing.
My biggest challenge was finding a marketing position on the client-side that I would be happy with. Client-side opportunities, especially intern positions, are much rarer than they are on the agency side. Once I landed my first job at Mercedes, the biggest challenge was adapting to the practices for corporate culture.
I view success as creating and implementing programs that empower marketing and business development professionals to drive top-line growth within their organizations. And on a personal level, establishing yourself as an agent of change within your firm and as a trusted resource to both your colleagues and peers in the industry.
"I started my marketing career working for Wunderman which is a direct response marketing agency. I was a shared resource between the account service and media departments. It was actually a perfect entry-level role - I learned very quickly about how to measure a campaign and the how to apply those results and insights on the creative development and the media buy. I got a big picture view very early on in my career."
I love the storytelling aspect of marketing. When marketing is done well,it creates a story around a product or service that enhances a consumer’s enjoyment of it.Nike understands this implicitly when they market their performance apparel and shoes. That brand building and storytelling is the reason I got into marketing in the first place and continues to be the reason I enjoy it today.
"I got my foot in the door through a reference. In university, I joined a literary journal and became friends with my Editor-in-Chief and mentor, who eventually decided to pursue marketing as well. I reached out to them post-university and was lucky enough to get an interview with Brainrider through them. The rest is history."
"Technology has always played a role in growing marketing. What’s important for marketers is to stay abreast of all the technologies that the consumer is demanding. Being ahead of what’s next shows a continued commitment and engagement with the client. Embrace the change and see it as an opportunity to be even more connected with your customers.”
"My advice to studentslooking to get into the industry would beto get real-lifeexperience; volunteer, seek relevant summer placements or internships, and find mentors! If you come across someone’s career profile that sparks your interest, setup an informational interview or ask to grab a coffee. Growing your network is a must in the marketing industry and never stop learning!"
"As a student interested in pursuing a career in marketing, first, establish your own set of core values. Live them out with integrity leading the way. Second, keep learning, try new things and be a team player."
"Finding myself, was my biggest challenge when I first started out. It may seem trite but sometimes you have to ‘kiss a couple frogs before you find your prince’. The important thing is to get everything you can out of every role you take. It’s surprising how two jobs in completely different industries, could have transferable skills that will allow you to grow and strengthen your skill set."
“There have been so many times in my career that I have stepped out of my comfort zone, sometimes not having a solid plan, that has turned out for the better. Whether it was that I made a decision to leave a job, get in front of a classroom and teach, incorporate my business, or take any other sort of risk, it has always paid off for me in the end. Always find that silver lining and stay positive.”
“When I was 13, I blew up the microwave. The day started like any other, only I wanted to have a hot chocolate in hand for my walk to school. I popped my thermos in the microwave, went upstairs to grab my things for school, and returned to a kitchen full of black smoke. My brother quickly followed and asked ever so lovingly ‘Why the hell would you put a tin thermos in the microwave?’”
The NXT Blog - Every great story has a beginning, middle, and end. It has a point of conflict, sometimes disaster, triumph, and lessons learned. The Storybook is where you will find stories about marketers journeys, their advice for young professionals, and their insights on soft skill development to help you succeed in your own journey.