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By Sue Varty, Founder and CEO, HeadStart Copywriting.

Bennie F. Johnson launches AMA Toronto’s inaugural Marketing Leadership Week.  Join Bennie for a virtual fireside chat about “Leadership in Marketing” on June 5th.  

About Bennie F. Johnson

Bennie F. Johnson is the Chief Executive Officer of the American Marketing Association (AMA). AMA is the largest community-based marketing association in the world, trusted by marketing and sales professionals to help them discover industry trends. AMA’s community of local chapters spans more than 70 cities and 320 college campuses throughout North America. AMA is home to award-winning content, PCM® professional certification, five premiere academic journals, and industry-leading live and virtual training events.

How has mentorship played a role in shaping your career?

Mentorship has been a tremendous part of my career. I think about the professional and personal connections I’ve made, especially those with people who've been pivotal in my career and life, evolving over time. Sometimes the personal relationship impact shows up professionally. Or vice versa, professional relationships can help you learn more about being a leader in your family and community.

The best mentors and guides in my career have grown and evolved as mentorship relationships over time. The lesson learned is that we don't get anywhere by ourselves, and mentorship reminds us of that. But it also reminds us of our responsibility to learn and to share with others. None of those relationships are one-way. They are multi-directional, multi-channel, and the best mentorships are often multi-generational as well. For example, older executives who are talking to younger executives for insights about up and coming trends and technologies.

How well is the marketing industry succeeding in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion? What can it do better?

My stance is that we can always do better. I want to progress in all areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion, whether it’s an education pathway, in professional development, in community leadership, or in a day-to-day job.

For me, diversity is never about checking a box, it is about having an intentional vision and version of the future. You won’t hear me stand on our laurels to say we've accomplished it. Because I always know in that moment, there's the opportunity to continue to do better.

Of course, the pipeline of talent is impacted by diversity. But there's also a conversation about our practices, our ethical practices, our standards, the way we work, and the role that marketing can play in building what we want to see in a better, more inclusive future.

As marketers, we have an opportunity to have a positive impact. And the beauty of our profession and our professional association is that you can establish the standards of how you want to show up in the world.

What is a fun fact about yourself that marketers may not realize?

I am now a proud minivan driver. My team and I always laugh about it because I was completely anti-minivan for a long time. I think everyone will be surprised that I am not that cool anymore, but I rock a minivan!

The minivan allows me to be flexible and agile, and I’m always ready to fill it with the stuff needed to get the job done. I can also invite more people to ride along with me and that’s a great metaphor for life. You’re always ready with a minivan!

Bonus question! What’s coming up for the AMA that you are excited about?

We’re hosting our first regional event in Toronto in November! I will be there and I'm excited about the work that Toronto is doing, putting leadership and marketing at the forefront. I'm happy to support our Toronto chapter that is doing incredible work. It really is the business heart of Canada. When we talk about the future of business, I want the AMA to be squarely centered in the future of that change. And I believe Toronto is a part of that.

Sue Varty<br>CEO, HeadStart Copywriting

Sue Varty
CEO, HeadStart Copywriting

HeadStart is a sponsor of the AMA and known for unlimited writing by subscription to create quality content with impact. HeadStart has been writing (by real people, for real voices) since 2012, and some current clients include AWS, Algolia, National Bank, CGI, and Icertis.

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