Behind the Scenes with AMA Volunteers by Debbie Bolton

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Read how dedicated volunteers turned Canada’s Marketing Hall of Legends program into a virtual success story and how our April Rockstars’ quick thinking and fast turnarounds have contributed to AMA Toronto’s success.

Behind the Scenes of Canada’s Marketing Hall of Legends (CMHOL)

CMHOL’s virtual gala on April 22 was a great evening where 262 people celebrated the contributions of 10 inspiring marketing Legends who have transformed Canada’s marketing and business landscape. We also recognized a high potential Marketer-on-the-Rise who is leading us into the future. But behind the scenes of the CMHOL gala is a story of reinvention, resilience and endurance that spanned years and has included the efforts of an extremely dedicated and hard-working group of AMA Toronto volunteers.

CMHOL VP Jacob Kessler and his former co-VP Xzavier Ramphal started working on a relaunch of CMHOL in 2017. A new strategy and visual identity were developed. In 2019, the program was expanded from an annual awards gala to also include a year-round program including the new Legendary Leadership Series, featuring conversations and interactivity with CMHOL Legends. To date the CMHOL and Events team have hosted 6 Legendary Leadership events (4 in-person and 3 virtual) and shared the learning and perspectives of 8 inspiring leaders with the AMA community.

The CMHOL program has many other facets as well. Volunteers promote and organize a Legends nomination process that includes input from the broader business community. Nominations are collected and researched with detailed and curated profiles. This year we received a record number of 65 Legend nominations and 33 Marketer-on-the-Rise nominations. Then under the guidance of volunteer Jury Chair and former Legend inductee David Kincaid, a diverse volunteer jury panel of 12 senior marketers selected the new inductees according to clear criteria which ensure an objective representation of Canada’s marketing community.

COVID has impacted the world and of course CMHOL. Our plans for an April 2020 in-person gala were cancelled, rescheduled, rescheduled again and then eventually transformed into the virtual gala that occurred on April 22, 2021.

The AMA team were determined that the gala should not be “just another Zoom call”. Yellow House Events and Legend Anthony von Mandl’s Mission Hill Family Estate Winery, helped the team provide a virtual gala experience. I hope many of you had the pleasure of joining us and sipping some excellent Mission Hill wines.

A huge thank you to the team of volunteers who have helped breathe new life into the CMHOL program in the last few years. It literally takes a volunteer village to run this program.

CMHOL team: Jacob Kessler, Taylor Marsh, Ashley Edmonds,
Abirame Pannerthasan, Xzavier Ramphal (past), Brittany James (past), Sharyn Abelson (past)

Gala assistance: Miglena Nikolova, Craig Lund, Tina Portillo

Events team (gala and LLS events): Malaika Palmer, Meerah Jayakumar, Shrija Srivastava, Faizan Shujaat, Katelin Richards, Sanaz Koosha, Nadia Di Carlo, Ruby Sohi (past)

Jury: David Kincaid (Chair), 24 volunteer jurors from 2020 and 2021 jury panels

Gala Legend Panel Moderators: Andrea Southcott, Tony Chapman

Gala Lounge and tech hosts

PR: Rob MacLean

Marcom: Santo Ligotti, Barbara Boyd, Noha Diab, Derrick Simpson, Akshay Ahluwalia, Jelin Philip, Jessica Zuckier, Sonika Kamra, Minnie Karanja, Owais Qureshi

Meet our April Rockstars

AMA’s Legends and our CMHOL volunteers are not the only people who deserve recognition this month. Last but not least, meet our April Rockstars who are outstanding contributors.

Olga Pigeon Director & Shalini Jerath Manager: MNG Events (Membership team)

Olga and Shalini are a new stellar Marketing Networking Group (MNG) team and have already shown great leadership under pressure. For their first event in February, they learned all the Zoom ins and outs, practiced multiple times and held a technical walk-through. But we realized mid-event that the AMA Zoom account had expired and auto-reverted to the free version causing the event to stop. Did that stop them? Not a chance. With the help of another always dependable Rockstar, Sanaz Koosha of the Events team, they quickly fixed the account issue. The show went on and prompted a successful and important conversation about diversity and inclusion and how to help new Canadians land marketing roles in their new country. Quick thinking and a great save ladies!

Igor Purwin Account Director Membership (Marcom team)

Igor is the master of the quick turnaround. He flawlessly leads all communications for the busy Membership team. These include promoting monthly MNG events and communications for the recently launched member retention journey and the new Peer-to-Peer Slack channel. Igor has been a volunteer with the Marcom team since June 2020 and has taken on increasing responsibility, ultimately taking on the Membership file as Account Director last fall. Thank you, Igor!  

Thank you to the many volunteers who help lead the Toronto Chapter. We couldn’t do it without you!

If you’d like to learn more about our volunteer community and opportunities, please contact me at [email protected]

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