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Media People Podcast
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Media People Podcast

Author: Victor Genova

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Lively & insightful chats with the people who power the media industry.
55 Episodes
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Both personally and professionally—Saeed Zaman is probably one of the most globalized individuals you’ll ever meet. Born in Pakistan, his family moved to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia when he was just four. When it came time for University, Saeed applied to a number of schools in the United States, ultimately landing at Purdue University in Indiana. His media career started immediately after graduation when he was recruited by Starcom’s Chicago office. From there he would continue to grow. Senior level opportunities presented themselves taking Saeed to places such as Los Angeles, Dallas, Toronto, and Dubai. Saeed Zaman sits down to chat with about his media career that spans multiple cities in three countries across two continents, his passion for music, and the caution he was forced to employ in a country where western music was discouraged. www.mediapeople.ca www.instagram.com/vicgenova/
Content Marketer, producer, entrepreneur, educator, and author—these are some of the many roles comprising the career of today’s guest, Mohit Rajhans. But if the name sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen his work in front of the camera. Mohit’s eclectic career includes various reporting roles for the CBC, Breakfast Television, and OMNI Television—where he was Canada’s authority on Bollywood Cinema. Mohit Rajhans sits down to chat about his life growing up in Mississauga, attending an arts high school where he focused on the drama arts, his experience as a movie extra, and working as both an on-air talent and marketer. We’ll also get an interesting story about the time he was given an 11th hour opportunity to interview then Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. www.mediapeople.ca www.instagram.com/vicgenova/
Planning and transacting media used to be a straightforward process. You hired an agency, and benefitted from their collective buying power, vendor relationships, and knowledge. But in an age of data, disruption, and a slew of new platforms, many marketers are rethinking this time-old formula. One option involves finding new & innovative ways of working closer with your agency partners. But in some cases, it might involve taking certain responsibilities in-house. These are some of things that today’s guest, Gah-Yee Won, has been tasked with navigating. Gah-Yee is the Director of Account Management, Agency Operations, & Marketing Channel Strategy at Scotiabank, one of Canada’s largest financial instructions. A Toronto native, storytelling was a big passion of hers growing up, and was one that she fostered through drama and visual art in high school. One of the OG’s of the Canadian digital media space, Gah-Yee jumped into agency life at time when traditional media was still king, and digital advertising was more of an afterthought. From trafficking ads, to starting one of the first transparent agency trading desks in Canada, to working with the mother of all global advertisers, Proctor & Gamble. We sit down with Gah-Yee Won and chat about everything from being a French immersion student, growing up in a multi-generational home, and managing a portfolio of clients that ranged from the Toronto Zoo to Proctor & Gamble. And for those looking to grow their careers? Gah-Yee also provides some sound and straight-forward advice on how to position yourself for a promotion. www.mediapeople.ca www.instagram.com/vicgenova/
Joel Dembe, Paralympian and former #1 ranked Canadian wheelchair tennis player returns to the show. When I first introduced Joel back in Episode 15, he had just retired from wheelchair tennis and was balancing a corporate communications career with becoming a media personality. Joel still works in corporate communications, but with increased responsibilities that include public relations. But that’s not the only thing he’s been up to. His media roles have also expanded to include a TED Talk, an ambassadorship with the Rick Hansen Foundation, Paralympic broadcast commentator for the CBC, and most recently—consumer tech influencer. It’s that last role which has been gaining steam. A passionate technophile, Joel is becoming a leading voice on how technology is revolutionizing life for people with disabilities. www.mediapeople.ca www.instagram.com/vicgenova/
Model, entrepreneur, talent manager, ad tech and marketing professional—these are just some of roles comprising the eclectic career of Amanda Dorenberg. A native of Prince Edward County, Canada. Amanda fast-tracked her education, graduating high school when she was just 16 before moving on to study computer programming in college, and marketing in university. Modelling was Amanda’s first big career move, which took her on shoots around the globe. While modeling, she saw an opportunity to put her marketing prowess to work and began representing some of her fellow models. But all of this came to a grinding halt one day, as Amanda would be rushed to the emergency room with an arteriovenous malformation—a traumatic brain injury that’s guaranteed to be lethal if not treated immediately. Amanda would wake up from brain surgery hours later, virtually immobile, and forced into months of rehabilitation to regain many of her basic functions. She went on to make a full recovery and would begin her assent through the advertising and tech world, holding positions at Postmedia, Cieslok, Dynamic Outdoor, OUTFRONT Media, Centry’s, and Frontrunner Technologies. Amanda’s latest role is an OOH advertising homecoming of sorts, as she was recently appointed President of the Canadian Out of Home Marketing Measurement Bureau. Amanda Dorenberg stops by to chat about her days as a model, balancing work at a call centre and grocery store while enrolled as fulltime student, and her experiences in the OOH & ad tech industry. www.mediapeople.ca www.instagram.com/vicgenova/
For most of us? 2020 hasn’t been good for business, but if you work in the sport media world, it has been an absolute disaster. Professional leagues abruptly shut down mid-March because of COVID-19, and would spend months trying to find ways to safely restart. For today’s guest, Jamie Saull, his professional world came to a grinding halt. Jamie’s the Head of Brand Partnerships at TSN, a Canadian sports media company that produces live broadcasts and news content for its portfolio of online, TV, and radio platforms. When the sports world stopped, Jamie had to think fast to keep clients invested in TSN. Jamie has always been a sport nut. Playing and watching was a big part of his youth, and when it came time to pick a university program? He enrolled in sports business. He landed his first gig with the CBC while in university. From there his professional career began to take off, and it was doing so well that he had to defer graduation for years until the final class he needed to complete his degree was available online. Jamie Saul drops by to chat about his passion for sports business, rising through the ranks at TSN, to leading their Brand Partnerships division during what’s arguably become the professional sports world’s most challenging time. www.mediapeople.ca www.instagram.com/vicgenova/
Do you work in digital media? If so, then you already know how comprehensive it can be. You could be working with anything from data to content to search or social—and that’s not even the full list. Today’s guest, Celeste Normington, has seen her career grow with the evolution of digital media. Celeste started out at the old Toronto.com, which offered local search engine advertising solutions well before Google was known for it. From there Celeste moved to Olive Media, where she rose through the ranks from sales executive to management—working on everything from monetizing partnership inventory to leading their charge in the mobile solutions space. Leading French-Canadian news company La Presse came calling, tapping her to lead sales in their Toronto office. Celeste has pivoted away from content and media sales, joining Pelmorex Data Solutions where she is currently their Head of Data Sales and Product Strategy. We chat about everything from growing up in small-town Ontario to the culture shock and excitement that came teaching English in Japan. And we even compare notes on what reality shows kept us from attending class in university. www.mediapeople.ca www.instagram.com/vicgenova/
Marketer, strategist, and nerdologist—that’s the way Boris Cho introduces himself on LinkedIn. But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll learn that the Midas Exchange’s Senior Director of Strategy has one helluva story to tell. Boris was born in Sao Paulo, Brasil, and emigrated with his family to Canada at an early age. 1980’s & 90’s pop culture was a big part of his upbringing—everything from cartoons, comic books, video games, music and even professional wrestling. All of which helped shape the person he is today. And it was pop culture that influenced his early career moves. This includes everything from working in the music industry to opening a pizzeria in Saskatchewan. What’s one of the keys to Boris’ success? I’d argue it’s the way he chases employment opportunities. Never one to take an apply-&-interview approach, he makes sure to do his due diligence on both the role he’s applying for and the company that’s hiring. From there he proactively seeks out the hiring managers, and then pitches to them how he can solve their business problems. Boris Cho stops by to chat about all this and more. https://www.mediapeople.ca IG @VicGenova https://www.instagram.com/vicgenova/
Science argues that people are either left brain or right brain thinkers. Left brain people are more likely to analytical, while right brain thinkers tend to be more creative. However, today’s guest, Jordan brooks, defies this theory by straddling both sides of the spectrum. A native of Barrie Ontario, music was one of Jordan’s passions growing up, but upon graduating from university he found himself working in the AdTech world. He’s held roles at AdConion, Olive Media, and was one of the early employees at Cadreon’s Canadian office. As a matter of fact if you go through his LinkedIn profile, you’d think he’s completely a numbers guy. Jordan has taken all of that collective AdTech & data experience and founded CTRL-X, a “cut the crap agency”. But he hasn’t stopped there. Indulging his creative side, Jordan recently launched CANNADA BRANDS—a new video production studio dedicated to telling the entrepreneurial stories of Canadian cannabis purveyors. CANNADA BRANDS https://cannadabrands.ca Victor Genova IG VicGenova www.mediapeople.ca
Entrepreneurship is something that was engrained in Jerrid Grim’s psyche from an early age. In fact if you ask Jerrid, he’ll tell that his younger self believed that starting a business was the only way to make money. A native of suburban, Edmonton, Jerrid’s first job was a local flyer route. But unlike most kids who are stuck spending hours bundling flyers before lugging them out for delivery, young Jerrid outsourced part of the labour to his sisters—essentially turning his first job into his first ever managerial role. After high school Jerrid enrolled at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, where he studying marketing. After graduation he landed a job selling advertising space on bike racks throughout Edmonton. With little structure, it was the type of role that required an entrepreneurial mindset for success. From there he moved over to Pattison Outdoor, one of the latest outdoor advertising companies in Canada. Jerrid had planned to take a year off to backpack Europe. The only problem? A senior role at Newad presented itself just as he was getting ready to leave. He convinced Newad to hang onto the job, and returned a year later into a VP position. It was during his time at Newad where he was handed a massive branded content opportunity. Both the client and the dollars were big, but the process of getting the campaign live proved to be both costly and cumbersome. Jerrid saw these hurdles as a business opportunity. Clients wanted to spend more on branded content, but the ability to scale and report efficiently across multiple partners was difficult. And just like that—the idea for Pressboard was born. We sit down with Jerrid Grimm, Pressboard CEO and Co-Founder. If you’d like learn more about the company then open up your podcast app and search for ‘The Science of Storytelling’, the official Pressboard podcast that brings together the best minds in the digital publishing space to talk about how stories can change the way we think and feel. Pressboard https://www.pressboardmedia.com Victor Genova IG VicGenova www.mediapeople.ca
Wine: It’s one of the few things as old as time. There are different types & colours, and it can range in price from inexpensive to unaffordable. It’s also the one of the few exports many countries aggressively compete to be known for. Picking the right wine is enough make your head spin, but today’s guest, Angela Aiello, has spent the better part of her career helping young adults make sense of it. Angela started in hospitality while at university, working in the Four Diamond restaurants at some of the Niagara Region’s biggest wineries. After graduation she relocated to Toronto, continuing in wine retail. From there she moved into the corporate world, working at XM Satellite Radio before pivoting into Executive Recruitment. But Angela continued to pursue her passion for wine on the side. She harnessed the power of social media, uploading self-made wine info videos to YouTube. Those videos laid the foundation for what would eventually become the iYellow Wine Club, Toronto’s premier wine club Angela sold the iYellow Wine Club after more than a decade, and is focusing her time on covering the wine industry. A dedicated wine journalist, content creator, and influencer, we learn why she is affectionately known as the 'Super Wine Girl'. Angela Aiello IG SuperWineGirl www.superwinegirl.com Victor Genova IG VicGenova www.mediapeople.ca
Going out and starting your own company isn’t easy, but it’s difficult to resist when you have a solution that could benefit an entire industry. And that’s what today’s guest, Joshua Alvernia, and his peers have done. Josh is the co-founder and CEO of Clue Digital: a comprehensive marketing service that leverages automation, data science, and analytics to improve media performance on customer acquisition campaigns. Ad tech was the farthest thing from Josh’s mind growing up. He was in a band, with ambitions of making it in the music business. When that wasn’t panning out he pivoted into advertising, enrolling at Sheridan College just weeks before the semester began. His first advertising gig was agency side working on the mother-of-all clients, General Motors. But it was less about the client and more about the timing that would set Josh’s career on its current trajectory. His time on General Motors coincided with the growth of ad tech, where ad buying and analytic platforms started taking a bigger role in the planning process. He left agency life for sales, starting first at Rocketfuel before moving on to MediaIQ. It was during this time that he and couple of his industry peers discussed the possibility of starting their own company. They all resigned from their respective jobs, and within months Clue Digital was born.
From small-town Northern Ontario to the heart of Canada’s media industry, today we chat with Terra Sharek, Group Director of Strategy at Omincom Media Group’s, Red Magnet. Originally from Dundalk, Ontario, Terra spent the early part of her life on a farm. She moved to Beaverton during her high school years and then relocated to Barrie, Ontario to study advertising at Georgian College. Terra’s media career started before she even had the chance to graduate, beginning as a digital media assistant at M2 Universal, and looking after high-profile clients such as the Dairy Farmers of Canada and the Royal Bank of Canada. From there she moved on to senior digital roles at OMD and Vizuem. Terra pivoted to media sales when the opportunity presented itself with the Globe and Mail. But agency life would come calling again, and Terra took a full-on programmatic role at Touché under the Omicom Media Group banner. An internal promotion moved her to Red Magnet, a sister agency specifically created to serve Rogers Communications, Canada’s largest telecommunications company. What makes Terra’s story so interesting is the fact that she brings experience from three different digital media disciplines: direct planning & buying, programmatic strategy, and media sales.
Data, it’s what many people refer to as the ‘new oil’. It’s supposed to provide the unbiased insights companies need to make key decisions. But extracting those insights is easier said than done, and that’s what today’s guest, Kris Makuch, aims to change. Kris is the founder of datakris, a consultancy that interprets and uses data to help companies retain and acquire new customers. Originally from Poland, Kris’ family immigrated to Canada and settled in Toronto when he was just 2 years old. He caught the video game bug early on when he received a Sega Genesis, and has been a lifelong gamer ever since. He spent a year studying geography at Carleton University before pivoting to Advertising & Marketing at Sheridan College. His first break in the media industry came at Mindshare, where was on the team handling Walmart’s media buying & planning. He moved deeper into the retail world, taking a data analyst role at EB Games. From there Kris made the jump to the Omincom Media Group, taking on a series of data science roles at PHD and Red Magnet. He’s making all that experience available through his own consultancy, datakris.
Entrepreneur, senior media executive & leader, award winning media buyer, and one of the early advocates for mental health & wellness in the media industry, Cynthia Rubino, stops by to chat. A Cosssette media alumnus, Cynthia landed at the agency right out of university. In an industry where it’s not uncommon for talent to move around she stayed at Cossette, moving from planning assistant to media manager during her 16-year tenure with the agency. When Novus Media expanded into Canada, Cynthia was one of their first hires. After building and establishing the Novus Canadian office, she moved into teaching where she currently mentors and educates the future media leaders of tomorrow. It was also during this time that Cynthia founded CYTRINE CONSULTANCY, a firm that provides 2 services. The first being media strategy, buying & planning, and the second dedicated to wellness and mental health solutions. Mental health in the media industry is something Cynthia has become very passionate about. She's the founder of Mindful Mornings, a series of quarterly breakfast sessions geared towards helping media professionals understand and manage their own mental health. She’s taking this one step further with ‘I Matter’. It’s the first ever mental health symposium for the advertising/marketing/communications industry, and it’s happening on October 7th of this year.
Starting a website might be easy, but finding success in today’s digital publishing world is extremely difficult. Both audiences and advertising dollars tend to be concentrated between a few popular platforms, with the rest of the internet duking it out for the leftovers. But that didn’t deter today’s guest, Manny Bahia, from jumping in. Manny is the co-founder and Chief Revenue Office of Daily Hive—a news, information, and entertainment site servicing millennial audiences through localized editions in select Canadian and US cities. Originally a computer science major, Manny shifted to business after taking a microeconomics elective in his first year. It was during his time in University that he co-founded the website Vancity Buzz. Vancity Buzz would later be renamed Daily Hive as part of national expansion strategy into Toronto and Montreal. Expansion into Calgary and Edmonton followed, and just recently Daily Hive has gone international, adding Portland and Seattle to the family. Manny Bahia talks to us about growing up in Vancouver, what he learned about business from delivering pizza, and shares with us the journey from growing Vancity Buzz into Daily Hive.
You can call Brooke Robinson many things- social media maven, entrepreneur, and multiple sclerosis survivor. One of the OG’s of social media strategy, Brooke’s career started at Sunlife Financial, where she was charged with managing their social media presence. Her experience took her to the agency world, where she would start and head-up, Mindshare Canada’s first-ever social media department. There she worked on campaigns for clients such as American Express and Ford, to name a couple. It was during this time that Brooke was handed her biggest challenge yet- she was diagnosed with an accelerated form of multiple sclerosis. One that had her walking with a cane, and was poised to have her wheelchair bound. A chance meeting with a stranger would set her recovery in motion. He advised Brooke about an experimental treatment in Ottawa. As luck would have it, she qualified for the procedure which put her MS into remission. Brooke’s gone out on her own founding BRS, where she’s lending her marketing experience and wisdom to a variety of clients.
Educator and Sales Leader, these are two ways you can describe today’s guest, Ivan Pehar. Ivan’s media career started agency side, where he worked at a number of (agencies) including Mediacom and OMD. His work in performance marketing caught the eye of AOL, which recruited him to manage advertising campaigns for their home internet service. He pivoted to AOL’s media sales department after the company got out of the ISP business, and went on to hold senior media sales roles at Sympatico MSN and Yahoo! Canada. Ivan is currently the Manager of Large Client Solutions at Twitter Canada, and when isn’t helping brands creatively engage audiences in 280 characters or less, he’s teaching college students the fundamentals of advertising.
Many people have made the jump from media sales to agency life. But few have left the world of media sales to start their own agency, but that’s exactly what Zoltan Toth- Managing Director of Mellor Croy has done. A lifelong music aficionado, Zoltan's first media gig was overseeing the jazz time slot at his University's campus radio station. After graduation he parlayed that passion into a full time career, holding positions at Denon Music, Koch Entertainment, and Entertainment One. He pivoted into media sales at Famous Players—looking after the emerging world of in-cinema advertising. Famous Players was eventually bought by Cineplex Entertainment, and after nine years with the company he made his first entrepreneurial foray into agency life with Octopus Media. Zoltan’s latest venture is Mellor Croy, a boutique agency providing senior level media buying/planning expertise to a variety of clients.
From selling domain registrations to media buying & planning to building & managing advertising trading desks, Tessa Ohlendorf has quite the expansive resume. But if you look back at the early part of her life, you’d be hard pressed to find a direct path to the ad tech world. Born & raised in Toronto, Tessa’s early passions were rooted in photography and art. But it was philosophy that captured her mind and would become the cornerstone of her university education. After university, Tessa entered the world of internet marketing- holding positions Tucows & HostCompare. Tessa would eventually pack a suitcase for New York City and the life of a Madison Avenue media executive. While in New York, she held senior roles at CrossMedia and Convergence Point, all while starting her own agency— Online Media Management. The great recession of 2008 brought Tessa back home to Toronto where she went on to senior roles at Mindshare. She’s the founding employee of Cadreon’s Canadian office, and is now leading MightHive’s expansion into Canada.
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