Getting into marketing was mostly an accident. It started on a cold and windy day in January at Queen’s. The snow was stubbornly stuck to the streets, the wind was blowing across campus like it wanted to toss me into Lake Ontario and the seminar room, where a 30-something alumni was about to speak, was cold and crowded with students all thinking the same thing. I need a job.
January was only months away from graduation. But it was January ’92 and Canada was in the midst of a deep recession. Jobs were scarce. Careers even scarcer. My generation – the “bust” generation labeled by David Foote – has from the day we left school had to work harder, for less and live with a type of career insecurity that wasn’t exactly what we imagined when we started out in Frosh week.
When we arrived on campus for the first time as Frosh, we thought we’d leave it just like our parents or earlier graduates. Companies would show up in our final year, looking for new recruits and we’d eagerly apply and get scooped up. Well, it didn’t quite work out that way. So when a company like Ogilvy & Mather showed up and talked about the ad business and how to break into it, you made the time to get to the seminar.
That day I learned a lot about the ad business. And it made me run out and buy Ogilvy on Advertising – the most famous book written on advertising. I loved the book and it fueled my passion to land a job in the business. One of the things that David Ogilvy wrote about was how the company’s most important assets go up and down the elevator every day. ‘The people’ in Ogilvy’s eyes were the company’s most important assets. That thought has stayed with me and guided me in every job I’ve ever had since university. It’s at the core of my leadership style.
In the last two and a half years my team has done amazing things at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Our marketing has driven outstanding business results: the biggest audience in 5 years, our biggest string of sold-out shows, and over 23,000 new first time customers. Our success has been stellar. And it’s all because of teamwork.