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Y.E.S! Vancouver: 2012 Signature Panel Event, by Feature Writer: Natalie Wise

Y.E.S! Vancouver: 2012 Signature Panel Event
Feature Writer: Natalie Wise

On Wednesday night I had the pleasure of attending  one of Y.E.S! Vancouver's Signature Speaker series on “Building Brands in BC,” featuring 4 highly-respected panelists: American transplant Aaron Magness, the VP of Marketing at ClearlyContacts.ca; Cynthia Enns, owner of Naramata boutique winery “Laughing Stock;” Dennis Kim, Senior Director of Digital Media at one of Vancouver's greatest fashion success stories, Aritzia; and the hilarious and insightful Juggy Sihota, VP of Client Experience, Strategy, and Development at TELUS.

All panelists had their own unique stories to tell and it was an interesting contrast between the four as they each occupy roles in a variety of industries and fields. What I found to be particularly fascinating was that Aritzia's Dennis Kim has a degree in Urban Geography and previous to heading Digital Media at one of Vancouver's seminal fashion houses he spent 6 years with the Canucks and following that he was with VANOC and the Canadian Olympic Team. As somebody who would love to break into the world of sport I could not help but feel a combination of benign jealousy (what a career!) and serious awe (what a career!).

Perhaps as a result of Clearly Contacts intensive customer satisfaction initiatives or Sihota's role as the driver of TELUS' client experience programs the evening was somewhat themed around the power of consumer word of mouth and the traction that a brand can gain from a satisfied client or customer. Your brand is what is being said about you when you are not speaking and in particular, Clearly Contacts is quite “focused” on having the end user tell their story. It is undeniable that positive consumer experiences and good B2C relationships will go a long way in helping to shape your brand!

We have all heard it before and now it has become somewhat of a platitude but social media is changing how consumers interact with brands and Kim offered that many now resist “in your face” marketing tactics and he prefers how social media can initiate something more organic. Additionally, Magness was adamant that social media is not a cheap way to reach the masses but rather a means of facilitating greater engagement with your consumers. How can your business use social media to enhance the B2C relationship? In the case of Enns' winery, social media is not necessarily a part of their marketing strategy – “know your audience!”

The panelists entertained several questions via both Twitter and the floor and the discussion shifted to  personal branding and success in the workplace. Sihota has found that in order to achieve a certain level of success you will need the help of others – no woman or man is an island! She also charges that you should not discount the value of moving horizontally in your career. Since joining TELUS in 1995 she has occupied a variety of roles within the ever-changing company and she has found that having a multi-functional skill set has added great value to her personal development.

Both Kim and Magness reiterated that career development is all about word of mouth and you must be open to serendipitous interaction! Put yourself in situations where you will have the opportunity to meet key people in your field and rather than dealing out business cards like it's a Vegas blackjack table make sure that you take the time to have a quality conversation. While in the workplace, you are the one who controls when you are present – if you are the first one to arrive and the last one to leave you will undoubtedly be there for the important conversations. Sihota also stressed that you must be deliberate when managing your personal brand, it is all the more about what you say rather than what you do.

 

As a first time attendee to one of Y.E.S! Vancouver's fabulous events I was very impressed and the underlying agenda of the organization makes you feel good just by showing up! Side bar, for anybody who does not know, Y.E.S! Vancouver raises funds for “Dress for Success,” a registered Canadian charity that helps low and no-income women to transition into the workforce by providing professional attire. Wednesday night's event had some great prizes they raffled off at the end of the evening and the panelists were lovely and charming as they stuck around to network with audience members. Fellow athletes can relate to this: the food was good and I could not help but gorge myself on the pita and hummus. I was slightly more restrained when it came to the wine but big ups to Cynthia Enns of Laughing Stock winery, you have certainly created something delicious. Additionally, I re-connected with somebody I had not seen for years who now happens to be working in the same industry, thus proving that in many respects Vancouver is still quite small.

If Wednesday night was anything to go by I am certainly looking forward to Y.E.S! Vancouver's next event!

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