Liz Da Ponte Speaking at the Schulich Marketing Association’s Winter Conference

I recently had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion about digital disruption in the B2B space. The panel took place at the Schulich Marketing Association’s (SMA) Winter Conference.

I shared the stage with Sheetal Pinto, President at Mint Copy, Hanoz Tabak, digital marketing manager at GE Capital and Jazz Samra, Head of Channel Sales Canada – SMB Google. The panel was moderated by Robert Kozinets, Professor of Marketing at the Schulich School of Business. Those in attendance were Schulich MBA students.

The conference took place on March 6th at the Toronto Star building in downtown Toronto. It was originally set to take place at the York University campus but it was moved because of the strike by Teaching Assistants.

Sheetal has written a great post on the 8 key takeaways from the day. For me, it was a great experience not only being able to share my insights, hearing from others working in the B2B space, but also hearing from the students.

The panel began with Robert asking each of us to describe ourselves and to share with the group what keeps us up at night as marketers. When it came to my turn, I spoke about what my days at PwC are like, what kind of projects I work on and the people I work with.

As for what keeps me up at night as a marketer, that was a pretty easy question to answer: the rapid pace of change. When you work at a large, traditional company, adoption and keeping up with change is a difficult thing to do. Maybe at a start-up, or a smaller company, the culture is more agile and adapts more easily. Then again, who would have thought 5 years ago that a company like PwC would have a Twitter account with almost 14,000 followers?

The other question Robert asked us was what advice we had to give to the MBA students. The other panelists had some great insights like always be eager, show that you have ideas and that you’re willing to learn about the business. When you’re interviewing or just starting a new job, you can often feel like you have to prove that you know everything about the business.

The panel let the students know that it’s not the case. You don’t have to know the business when you start, but you do have to show that you’re willing to embrace the company, the culture and be ready to show what value you can bring.

What advice did I give the students? I left them with 3 things:

  1. Show that you know the difference between strategy and tactics. One of the best things you can ask at the beginning of a project or campaign is, “What does success look like?” It’s surprising how often that question catches people off guard.
  2. Get comfortable with technology, especially if you’re thinking of pursuing digital marketing. I taught myself CSS and HTML and have no problem working in Content Management Systems or other software. Having that technical knowledge has helped me tremendously throughout my career.
  3. Keep learning. You don’t stop learning just because you graduate from school. Things change so quickly, it’s not enough to rest on your degree. There is no shortage of resources available – podcasts, blogs, influential Twitter accounts – there’s no excuse to not stay current.

It was a great session, I appreciated the opportunity to speak at the conference and to hear from the students. I would like to thank the Schulich Marketing Association for inviting me to this year’s Winter Conference.