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In a world where job hopping is normalized, it’s rare to meet someone who has spent their entire career with the same company. And it’s even rarer to hear about an intern working their way up to president. But this is the story of today’s guest, Caroline Moul. Caroline is the President of PHD Canada—the Canadian division of PHD Media Worldwide. Not only is she the president, but also a lifelong employee—going back to the days when the agency was known as HYPN. Born in Zimbabwe and raised in South Africa, Caroline moved with her family to the Toronto suburb of Oakville when she was a teenager. After graduating from high school, she enrolled in the advertising program at Sheridan College. She joined HYPN on a media planning internship, and grew with the company as it was acquired by the Omnicom Media Group and integrated into the global PHD Media family. Caroline Moul stops by to chat about growing up in Africa, the differences between attending school in South Africa and Canada, and how having a firm career plan can help you move from the cubicle to the corner office. **Subscribe to the Media People Newsletter** **Listen & Subscribe**
Marketer, educator, podcaster, & founder—Darian Kovacs stops by to chat. Darian and I talk about growing up in the border town of Tsawwassen, British Columbia, studying art education & visual arts at the University of Victoria, his time as a youth worker in Surrey, and his entrepreneurial endeavours which include Jelly Digital Marketing & PR Agency, the Jelly Academy, and Marketing News Canada. **Subscribe to the Media People Newsletter** **Listen & Subscribe**
Ron Tite, Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Church+State stops by to chat. And what a conversation we have. Even if you’ve never met Ron, there’s a good chance you’ve come across his content. Apart from being the CCO of Church+State, he’s an in-demand guest speaker, published author, and very active on social media. What makes Ron’s content both unique and refreshing are his honest opinions on a wide variety of topics concerning, marketing, advertising, and business. Ron Tite stops by to chat about growing up in Oshawa, why he studied Phys Ed in university, how working for a business school was just as good going to business school, and a creative advertising career that includes founding of the award-winning agency, Church+State.
Out-of-home media has seen tremendous growth in recent years. Much of this can be attributed to the proliferation of digital signage and the convenience of purchasing inventory via programmatic platforms. We’ve come a long way from manually placing posters in transit shelters. And today’s guest, Stephanie Gutnik, is helping accelerate this change. Stephanie is the Global Chief Strategy Officer at Billups—a leading global out-of-home tech company reinventing the way brands and agencies approach planning and placement. But a career in advertising wasn’t part of her original life plan. Stephanie had her sights set on broadcast journalism. That is until a summer internship left her second-guessing that goal. After graduating from university, Stephanie took a role with News America Marketing’s Montreal office, working on direct mail, couponing, and in-store media solutions. From there she moved to Broadsign, working her way up to VP of Business Development—and with it a move to New York City. Stephanie would go on to hold senior roles at Outfront Media, Verizon, and Yahoo. Stephanie Gutnik stops by to chat about growing in Winnipeg, studying in Montreal, working at some of the biggest players in out-of-home media, and the differences between working in Toronto and New York City.
Coming from a family of scientific and mathematical academics wasn’t enough to deter Kaaveh Shoamanesh from pursuing a career in entertainment. And he wasn’t about to let something like university, which he attended for an entire month, get in the way. After leaving university, Kaaveh packed up at the age of 18, moving south to Los Angeles to kick off his career. He started as an on-air personality, hosting an entertainment news show produced for the global Persian community. Kaaveh then moved into producing and talent management, working with the likes of HGTV and Netflix. At HGTV he worked on the popular real estate renovation show, Love it or List It, handling brand and product integrations. He’s taken 21 years of product placement experience and founded Plaiced, a platform enabling advertisers to reach their target audience within online community groups.
Jed Schneiderman, Episode 22 guest returns to the podcast. When we last chatted with Jed, he was taking us through his early life and career leading to the founding of Tapped Mobile. Since then, he’s sold Tapped Mobile, and is now the country Manager for Jebbitt—a platform that helps brands collect more data by driving customer personalization efforts. But Jed hasn’t stopped there. A couple years back he co-founded the M2T Collective—a rotational program that gives recent graduates and those looking for a career change the opportunity to experience four different companies within the marketing, media and technology space. And then there’s Jed’s most recent project—CleverHire, a curated job site for marketing, media, and adtech professionals that integrates candidate videos into the recruitment process.
What was your Achilles heel in school? Essays? Presentations? Tests? I was never strong at exams, so I had put the effort into my course work to salvage a decent grade. But this is where Universal Design for Learning comes in. The goal of UDL is to provide students with the options to learn for themselves in ways that make sense to them. At the forefront of bringing UDL to the classroom is today’s guest, Danny Smith. Danny is a professor at George Brown College, educating students in the college’s marketing and advertising program. But this Ottawa-area native almost missed his calling to teach. When the concurrent education program at Trent University passed on Danny’s application, he chose to study mass communications at Carleton University. This led to a career in marketing, which led to a career in education administration, which would eventually pave the way for Danny’s teaching career. Danny Smith stops by to chat about growing up in Nepean Ontario, a marketing career that includes the Sales & Merchandise Group and Capital C, and how he’s revolutionizing the classroom experience with Universal Design for Learning.
The title “producer” is everywhere in show business, but what exactly does a producer do? It’s a bit of a loaded question as responsibilities can vary, but it’s a question that today’s guest, Jodie Davis, will answer for us. Jodie has spent over 20 years in television, and there’s a good chance you’re familiar with his work. This includes many of the major Canadian awards shows such as the Juno and Gemini awards. He was entertainment producer on Toronto One’s The A-List, before getting the chance to executive produce ET Canada. Jodie Davis stops by to chat about growing up in Uxbridge Ontario, simultaneous attending both York University and Seneca College, a producer’s collective duties, and what it’s like producing Canada’s biggest entertainment news show.
As a marketer, overseeing a national brand can be a demanding ask. But leading no fewer than six? That’s a separate challenge altogether. And that’s exactly what the day-to-day entails for today’s guest, Cheryl Gresham. Cheryl is the Vice President Marketing, CMO for Verizon Value—a division of Verizon Communications serving value-conscious consumers looking for the flexibility of prepaid wireless service. Born, raised, and educated in Seattle Washington, Cheryl packed her bags after graduation, heading south to start her marketing career in Los Angeles. And what a career it has been. Prior to Verizon Value, Cheryl held senior roles at companies that include Initiative, Coca-Cola, Taco Bell, Mattel, Google, and TikTok. Cheryl Gresham stops by to chat about growing up in Seattle, her time in the agency world, working for some of the biggest global brands, and leading marketing for Verizon Value.
In May of 2022, Becca Lucas Lord resigned from her role as VP, Director of Client Services at Wunderman Thompson. She was ready to explore new opportunities that complimented her recent agency work. That sabbatical lasted all of three days before she was asked to return in a consulting role. When you look at the breadth Becca’s resume, it’s easy to see why they wanted her back. Besides Wunderman Thompson, Becca’s career includes time at Cohn & Wolfe, Sequentia Environics, Twist Image, and Mirum. She has worked on all categories from automotive, CPG, pharmaceuticals, and even petroleum pipelines. Becca Lucas Lord stops by to chat about growing up in London Ontario, why she took a year off from university, her career journey from coordinator to VP, and the decision to move into consulting.
You'll be hard pressed to find a more eclectic resume than Ryan Ladisa’s. Ryan has worked in broadcast, out-of-home, digital, programmatic, and creative. He’s worked for agencies, big corporate conglomerates, and specialised ad tech vendors. He’s slung media space, sold cross-platform solutions, led departments hunting for the latest innovations, and helped innovative companies find their foothold in the Canadian market. And we can also add entrepreneur to the list. Ryan was Freshii franchisee number 1. This was back when Freshii was known by its former name, Lettuce Eatery. Ryan Ladisa stops by to chat about growing up in Toronto, studying Creative Advertising at Seneca College, and his extensive media career that spans both the agency and vendor side of the business.
Cynthia Rubino—CYTRINE CONSULTANCY Founder, advertising educator, and mental health advocate returns to the podcast. The pandemic forced everyone to adjust personally and professionally. For CYTRINE CONSULTANCY, this meant putting more emphasis on mental health services. If you’re a professional, you probably embraced zoom calls in sweatpants. And for many of us, not having a daily commute was a plus. But if you’re a student? Well, virtual lectures and group work sapped all the interpersonal benefits that come with the classroom. Something that Cynthia saw first-hand while teaching. Cynthia Rubino stops by to chat about the current state of mental health and wellness in the advertising industry, how it’s impacting our students, and her recently launched Masterclass series. And if you haven’t already, be sure to jump down to Episode 37 to catch our first conversation. You can find the link in the episode description. Link to Cynthia's first time on the podcast --> Spotify: Apple Podcasts:
Whether it be in the classroom, through her podcast, or her self-published meditation journal—teaching is a big part of Shaelah Pirie’s life. A native of Porcupine, Ontario—a village of maybe 3,000 people, Shaelah studied political science at university, but pivoted into television writing and production after graduation. Her first breaks in media included promotion and production roles on The Distinguished Artists Series and Canadian Idol. Working in television is far from a 9 to 5 gig. 14-hour days are normal keeping you from family and friends. And as a new mother, Sahaela moved into teaching to have more time with her daughter. But her role has an educator grew beyond the classroom. Shaelah's taken increased authorship of her career. She’s focused on bringing meditation and wellness to parents and children. Helping them deal with personal trauma.
Starting a media company used to be an expensive and bureaucratic endeavour. It usually required buckets of money, a team of lawyers, and even a CRTC license if you were looking to break into TV or radio. But the internet brought down those barriers, giving new media companies a chance to challenge the old guard. And one company in particular, The Peak, is doing just that. The Peak was created to provide Canadian professionals with the news they need. They cover business, tech, and any other important stories of that day. It’s a news site, but also a collection of newsletters and podcasts. And all of this is available at On this episode we have The Peak Co-Founder and CEO, Brett Chang, stopping by to chat. Brett speaks with us about growing up in Toronto, his previous entrepreneurial ventures, working in public policy at Uber at time when the legacy taxi industry was very hostile towards both Uber and its employees, and successfully starting a new media company in a very competitive ecosystem.
Sales & Marketing – two departments that at any time, could be working in harmony or at each other throats. And today’s guest, Jennifer DeFrenza has had a seat both tables. Jennifer is the VP of Marketing for Surex, a company offering insurance products for consumers and businesses. Before moving into marketing, she had a successful career as a media sales professional for companies such as Rogers Media, The Weather Network, and Expedia. Jennifer DeFrenza stops by to chat about growing up in Toronto, completing most of the 8th grade in Red Deer, Alberta, and going from chasing marketing dollars to controlling marketing budgets.
Sales leader, quota crusher, champion of grassroots basketball, hockey podcaster, and arguably the OG of Canadian digital media sports sales—Tony Luccisano, stops by to chat. A native of Toronto’s Little Italy neighborhood, Tony studied biology with the goal of becoming a doctor. To use his words, his grades weren’t going to cut it for med school, which quickly shut down that plan. After school he joined the Financial Post as a Business Manager, but would move into online financial service sales with the Datagroup. Tony’s digital ad sales career started with Canoe. He departed Canoe for TSN—arguably Canada’s largest and oldest sports media brand, where he would enjoy a nearly 13-year career. A move to competitor Sportsnet was short-lived after a sales team restructuring. Tony has since turned to consulting, putting his experience and success to work for companies looking for fractional growth and experience to jump-start their revenue potential. But Tony’s move into consulting isn’t entirely by design. Like many experienced members of the Canadian media industry, his career has been impacted by ageism. We close out our conversation by discussing the impact ageism has had on his career, and why it’s important for the industry to reject this form of discrimination.
Mo Dezyanian describes himself as the “kid who skipped cartoons to watch the commercials.” But if you look at his early years, you’d be hard pressed to see a future ad agency founder. A somewhat nomadic childhood, Mo was born in Iran, but spent much of his youth living in Germany. His family eventually moved to Canada, and Mo would go on to study computer Science at York University. The original goal was to work for Microsoft, but Mo decided to enroll in McMaster University’s MBA program. While there, he won an inter-university business case competition. The prize? Admission to a CFO conference. And it had a big impact on his future. He met a member of the Tim Horton’s board who also owned a boutique ad agency. He converted that meeting into his first media job before moving over to Trojan One. Mo shifted into freelancing before founding Empathy Inc.—an agency priding itself on providing expertise in media, but also showcasing what media can do for business. Mo Dezyanian stops by to chat about growing up in Iran and Germany, starting Empathy Inc., his love for classic kung fu films, and how the Iranian authorities confiscated and erased his entire kung. fu movie collection.
Publics relations, social media management, media strategy, and new business development have all played a pivotal role in Sarah Thompson’s career. Born & raised in Dorchester, Ontario, Sarah relocated to Toronto after graduating from university and college. The early part of Sarah’s career was heavily concentrated in public relations. This included roles at National Public Relations, Accenture, and Mansfield Communications, to name a few. Additional responsibilities in social media and strategy pushed Sarah deeper into the media world, which lead her to opportunities with Corus Entertainment, Theo, Cossette, and Mindshare Sarah Thompson, President of Dentsu Media Canada stops by to chat about her career in PR and media, the importance of blending her personal and professional identities on LinkedIn, and why we all need to pay more attention to the erosion of local news.
Agency, vendor, and not-for-profit, Lucy Collin has touched virtually every segment of the media & marketing world. Born & raised in Cartier, Ontario—a small town 80 kilometers north of Sudbury, Lucy moved to Toronto when she was 18 to study Fashion Merchandising and Marketing at Centennial College. After graduating, Lucy moved into media buying & planning at Media Buying Services. Additional opportunities to grow within the agency world presented themselves before pivoting into broadcast sales at the CBC. That was just the start of a sales career that went from local markets in Western Canada to leading sales for multiple Olympic Games and Hockey Night in Canada. Lucy would continue to hold sales & marketing leadership positions at IMG, Marketing Magazine, and Bell Media, to name a few. Lucy Collin, the Canadian Marketing Association’s VP of Member Experience, stops by to chat about growing up in Northern Ontario, the move to the big city, her storied media career, and moving into the not-for-profit sector.
Founded in 1987 by Denise and Allan Jones, the Jones & Jones Group has served many sides of the creative world for Afro-Caribbean & multi-cultural creators. And at the head of this is today’s guest, Jesse Jones. Born in Sudbury and raised in Toronto, Jesse studied marketing & communications at the University of Ottawa. Being in the nation’s capital presented a coincidence that Jesse parlayed into an opportunity which would arguably help launch his career. Working at the campus radio station allowed him to apply for press credentials when the JUNO Awards were in town. While at the JUNOs, he networked his way into a sales and marketing job with Hot 89.9, which at the time was a new Ottawa FM radio station focused on hip-hop, R&B, and popular music. From there Jesse moved into marketing and PR roles with SonyBMG Canada, Youthography, and the Timex Group. And if you’re a fan of realty TV and ET Canada, you’re probably asking yourself: Is it THAT Jesse Jones? It is. Some of you might already know Jesse as the season one host of the Bachelor in Paradise Canada, and ET Canada’s Black History Special: FORWARD, Celebrating the Future of Black Entertainment in Canada. Jesse Jones stops by to chat about his career in the boardroom and his work in front of the camera.
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