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Sometimes the gifts and opportunities that come with Mentoring go far beyond the reach of expectation.  Participating in the 2017/2018 American Marketing Association (AMA) – Toronto Mentor Exchange program as a Mentee, I was incredibly fortunate to not only be paired with one of the most brilliant marketing minds of North America as my Mentor, but out of the program I also became part of an invaluable new professional development network aptly coined “The Masterminds”.  The Masterminds was the brainchild of two mentees in the program, who after meeting many fellow accomplished, talented, mid-career marketers throughout the Mentor Exchange events, had the idea that perhaps we could continue to learn and grow from each other beyond the scope of the program.  

Out of a Mentor Exchange networking event, The Masterminds were formed – a group of 6 Toronto marketers representing a broad range of industries, from finance to consumer-packaged goods, agency to client side, and private industry to public sector.  Each with a diverse background, skillset, and area of marketing savvy, every member of the Masterminds brings a unique perspective and contribution to the collective:

Nancie Jung,
Director, Marketing, AST Canada

Paloma Bentes,
Marketing Director, Campbell Company of Canada

Anthony Luceno,
National Marketing & Communications Director, KPMG Canada

David Pullara,
Principal at dp Ventures, Former Chief Marketing Officer, Schulich Marketing Instructor, AMA Board Member

Sean Pavlidis,
Director, Level 5 Strategy

And myself, Katrina Rudy,
Senior Marketing & Communications Advisor, Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) & Freelance Brand Communications Consultant

2020 marks the 2nd Anniversary of the formation of the Masterminds. The group’s mandate and rules of engagement have gradually evolved since inception.  Initially meeting on a quarterly basis for dinner in a different downtown location of one member’s choosing (on a rotating basis), each member was tasked with setting specific goals that were achievable, and to be completed, by the next quarterly meeting.  Reporting back to our peers provided a sense of accountability beyond one’s own self, pushing each of us to accomplish more on an ongoing basis. 

Beginning as a group focused on discussing marketing trends and industry insights, our quarterly sessions expanded to offering career advice to each other, providing a sounding board for new ideas, and supporting each other through career and life transitions. We began as marketing industry peers, but grew to be so much more – now both colleagues, and friends.

Inevitably, as we helped each other develop as marketers, we also helped each other grow as people, a mentoring collective of sorts.  Goals are now no longer limited exclusively to professional objectives, but have expanded to include personal aims, like improving our physical health through new exercise regimens, reading more, starting that novel one’s always been meaning to write, or even learning how to DIY renovate a bathroom. There’s an acknowledgement that bettering one’s self through expanding personal interests, developing additional skillsets, or establishing healthier habits simultaneously makes us better and more well-rounded professionals. 

As we’ve recognized the value of what the Masterminds brings to each of us personally and professionally, the frequency of our meetings has increased from quarterly to bi-monthly, and our purpose has expanded to include attending industry and other professional events of interest, whether it be a monthly AMA event, a Rotman speaker presentation, or other noteworthy happenings in Toronto. In addition, as the cycle of mentorship now comes full circle, many of the Masterminds are currently serving as Mentors in the Career Accelerator program, the AMA’s Mentoring program for junior marketers. 

Giving back to the organization out of which the Masterminds was born as Mentors has moved us into the group’s newest initiative: inviting our own Mentees into the fold, which we began in spring 2020. Through the Masterminds we have learned from each other, grown our professional networks through each other, and advanced together. Our aim is to facilitate that for our own Mentees, connecting Mentees with other Mentors, and Mentees with fellow Mentees. 

A skilled marketer quickly adapts to the changing needs of any situation, and in midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Masterminds have most recently modified our meeting format from in-person dinners to post-dinner Zoom sessions from home. The 2020 AMA Career Accelerator program kicked off with a virtual event in the spring, followed by mentoring sessions currently being conducted by video. One day (hopefully soon) everyone will be able to physically gather together again, but in the meantime, we can all stay connected, continuing to learn and grow together. 

One can never predict the potential outcomes of uniting a group of bright, motivated young marketers – perhaps the next iteration of the Masterminds’ concept lies within this next generation of promising, talented Mentees.  The possibilities are limitless.

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