I first met Kelly when I was starting my second year of university at, Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU).
It was orientation week and it was my first time being an Ice Breaker (the WLU version of a Frosh Leader). A friend of mine in his third year, who was also on the same team as me, took me to our first team meeting. During our walk over he told me, ‘You’re gunna love Kelly. Everyone loves Kelly.”
Kelly was the Head Ice of the Gold Team that year (a very coveted leadership position to land in the world of the WLU Student Union).
As I walked into a sea of people covered in gold, Kelly easily stood out. She had a warm personality, effortless outgoing attitude, and natural leadership skills. Majority of the gold team that year agreed, this girl was going places.
Kelly was born in Buffalo, NY and grew up in Fort Erie, where she was the oldest of three girls. She earned her degree at Wilfrid Laurier University, Honours BA Communication Studies, with a minor in Philosophy. She then attended Humber School of Writer’s in the Post Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing program.
She is now the National Account Executive; Digital Sales at Shaw Media.
What does a National Account Executive do?
“My job is essentially brainstorming, creating and pitching ideas to advertisers. I take pride in listening to my client’s needs and target demographics, and sell through ideas that integrate advertisers into our digital sites. I’m always looking to execute a never-been-done-before idea!”
What does a specialization in digital media entail?
“I came from the broadcast sector and work for a broadcast company, so when I decided to make the move to digital media, I didn’t know what I was in for! It’s an ever-changing beast and to me, it encompasses everything from display and video ad media, to integrated online campaigns, to social media strategy and programmatic media buying. Being an expert in this field is understanding and embracing the way consumers engage online and adapting your strategy to their viewing habits.”
What did you want to be growing up/while in school?
“I wanted to be everything from an actress to a writer, to someone in media. I loved dancing, acting, writing and being in the spotlight, so I suppose it’s not that surprising that I ended up where I am today.”
What type of training did you need to complete to be in the career field you’re in now?
“The interesting thing about my industry is that everyone has a diverse educational background. Sure, some have an advertising degree or certificate, but I also work with ex- lawyers and PHD’s.”
What are some aspects of your job that people might not consider before entering it as a career?
“People may not consider the pressure of working with massive budgets, or understand the number of people it takes to execute a successful campaign. It’s so important to value and respect internal relationships as much as you value and respect your external/client relationships. It’s important to come to the realization that we’re all working towards the same goal, so why not enjoy the process and work as well as we can together?”
“I would also say that developing a thick skin and accepting constructive criticism is extremely important. I constantly ask where I can improve.”
One of the reasons I wanted to feature Kelly on FIO is her understanding of development and fulfillment outside of the 9-5, and how it adds to her career. Kelly has a passion for creative writing and started a well-developed blog during her down time. In addition to this, she completed her first novel Foreign Bliss, a young adult fiction piece that is, “packed with quick-witted characters who navigate their way through cultural nuances and humorous mishaps.
What are the passions you want to pursue out side of your job?
“I think it’s really important to pursue passions outside of your direct career/industry goals. I wanted to pursue creative writing and write a book, so I finally stopped wishing and went for it. I finished my first novel (and have started my second!), started running a blog, and am currently looking for literary agents. I have no idea where this path will lead me, but it has already been one of the most challenging, fulfilling journeys I have ever experienced.”
What is your blog about?
“My blog is named Write.Eat.Read.Repeat. I have a passion for food and literature and since it’s important for blogs to have a focus, I only picked a few subjects to write about. If you check out my blog, you’ll see that I spend a lot of my time reviewing books, especially Young Adult and New Adult literature, as those two genres are most similar to my own writing.”
I noticed you’re vocal about feminism on your blog (which I love). Could you elaborate on your thoughts on the concept?
“To me, being a feminist is simple: it means gender equality. I believe in equal opportunities for both men and women. We have come a long way in defining feminism, and while it is less of a ‘scary’ word now, we still have a long way to go. It blows my mind that in today’s Western society, people still dispute feminism.
My mom, a single mom and entrepreneur, and my grandmother, an independent woman and teacher, were a great role models. I was lucky that both my parents supported me and my sisters; there was never any doubt that we could do whatever we wanted in life. Gender didn’t matter.”
How much of your downtime do spend on your blog and creative writing?
“I never want my passions to feel like a chore. Instead of scheduling a daily routine, every Sunday I look at the week ahead and see little pockets of time that I can fit in my blogging, writing and editing. I set goals for myself with my writing partner every Sunday, and this helps keep me accountable.“
What kind of market are you hoping to gain or maintain with your blog? Do you see yourself utilizing it to become a public figure in Toronto?
“I’m a Friend of CANSCAIP (Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers). I attended a conference they held, where children’s author and publicist Vikki VanSickle spoke about the importance of building a community for yourself. I initially saw the blog as a way of putting myself out there and expanding my network, but it’s amazing how it’s taken off!”
I asked Kelly how much traffic her blog gets. But she told me it’s a general rule of thumb as a blogger to not disclose that info. (It seems like I still have a lot to learn about the blogging world.) She did tell me that despite her busy schedule, she manages to posts blogs weekly.
What has your blog and creative writing done for you professionally?
“My blog has given me a platform to discuss subjects I’m passionate about. I’m so thrilled to have joined the blogging community; bloggers are so supportive of one another! Taking creative writing classes and completing my post-graduate certificate has helped me to become more articulate and concise in my career. At Shaw, I write proposals and pitch ideas, and every writing course I have taken has helped me to massage my communication skills. The learning is endless!”
Is there a strong female representation in your field?
“The number of strong female leaders in media and advertising companies is growing, little by little. Barb Williams (President of Shaw Media) and Kirstine Stewart (VP Media of North American for Twitter) are two prime examples of strong, smart, inspiring women in the industry who are paving the way for other women. I think that since our industry is relatively open-minded, artistic, and liberal, there will continue to be more and more opportunities for women.”
What type of female would you recommend going into your field?
“It’s funny, because my industry attracts all types of personalities. I think to be in media sales, you need to wear many different hats, be willing to work hard and deal with all types of people and personalities, and love be passionate about what you’re creating and selling. I don’t want to say that being outgoing is a necessary character trait, but it is definitely a trait that I carry that helps me connect with people.”
What is your 5-10 year career plan?
“You know, I always get stumped on the “5 Year Plan” career questions. Since I started at Shaw Media, my goal was to reach the position I’m currently in (Account Executive), although I never thought I would specialize in digital media. In 5 years I hope to have grown, developed and become an expert in the digital and social media space.”
What would you have done differently to get where you are now?
“I try not to concentrate on regret, but I do believe in learning from past experiences and examining how they can shape my future decisions. I was extremely thankful for the interviewing experience I gained as a student leader at WLU that ultimately helped me land my job at Shaw, but one of the things I could have done differently is I could have networked more, and used my resources to my advantage. I should have reached out to women and men in different industries I was looking at and conducted informational interviews with them to learn about what they did. I didn’t know informational interviews existed’ until I started at Shaw.
I also would have taken a course or used my resources more efficiently to write more effective cover letters and resumes.
From an educational standpoint, it would have been beneficial to have interned more while I was at WLU in various fields that interested me. That exposure is priceless, as are the contacts I would have made.
On a personal level, I would also advise my younger self not to take everything to heart. I get worked up about the smallest things sometimes. I know it is a part of who I am, but rejection is a part of applying for positions and selling through campaigns. It’s important to remember that.”
Professional Development Sites Recommended by Kelly
Digital Marketing and Education:
Feminist related sites: