This is part of the #CareerAdvice series -- featuring successful professionals who share their advice to people who would want to take their career to the next level.
How can one climb the corporate ladder in such a young age? Almira Bardai, President & Partner, Jive Communications, shares her learning from her journey that led her to become Head of Global PR at age 27 and eventually founded her own communications company.
Almira Bardai, President & Partner, Jive Communications
Can you tell us a bit about how you started your career? What are some of your best moments in your professional life?
I worked in the Communications field during university, working for the federal government in both Ottawa and in Vancouver (where I worked on very high profile initiatives), and also at Future Shop's head office.
I went to work for a major public relations firm, just before I graduated, and I spend almost two years there. The firm specialized in crisis PR, and I've gotten fantastic experience. We also got to work on great brands, like Nike, Molson, Starwood Hotels, Westin Hotels, pharmaceutical companies, Botox, Krispy Creme and many others.
By the time I left the agency, at 24 years old, as I was moving to the UK, I have a wide breadth of experience in building brands and managing communications.
The rundown of my career:
- 2002 - move to the UK, work for Cobra Beer UK. I was there for 3 years, starting out as an Account Executive, and quickly moving to manage global PR (both external and internal, our worldwide agencies, a team in the UK, etc). I was 27 by that time, and one of the best moments in my career.
I traveled all over Europe, managing press tours to our breweries, worked on the company's growth/communications strategies, undertook some awesome initiatives and partnerships with brands like Ted Baker and Selfridges.
- 2005 - move to Sydney Australia, working in communications there
- 2006- move to Cape Town, South Africa, working for Cobra Beer South Africa, in communications
- 2006 - return to Vancouver, began freelancing
- 2008 - set up a small PR consultancy, AVID Communications Inc
- end 2008 - merge AVID with Lindsay's company Jigsaw Communications, to form Jive Communications
Best moments -- for me, every day really is a best day. I get to spend my days building brands, which is my passion.
The other passion that's been developed is running a company. I never expected to be an entrepreneur, and run my own company -- and it turns out, I was great at business. I love what I do, I love the challenges of being an entrepreneur -- and equally importantly -- I love mentoring our team.
We're almost 15 people now, with offices in both Vancouver and Toronto, and we're continuing to grow.
If you could advise your 20-year-old-self today, what would tell her?
To relax. I was so career-driven when I was younger -- not to the extent that all did was work, but I had this ridiculous corporate career plan. Everyone who met me told me I'd be VP or president of something by the time I was 30.
But then I began to live abroad at 24, and nothing happened as planned -- how do you plan being head of global PR at 27? It was a dream come true!
Frankly, all the travelling, my career, my successes, being an entrepreneur -- it's all been better than anything I could have planned.
Remember to slow down and enjoy it all.
What has been the most valuable advice you've ever gotten when you were facing challenges in your career?
There's been two pieces of advice, and both are simple but important:
To stop worrying. There's going to be challenges in everything you do, and worrying doesn't change anything. Frankly, it only clouds your judgement and your clarity.
To embrace change and challenges. With change comes new experiences, many of which are for the better. If you don't let change in, there's no room for new things.
Same thing with challenges -- they may feel difficult, but without those challenges, we can't grow.
Being out of your comfort zone, is where true change happens.
What would you advise the millennial just starting with their career or aiming to take their careers to the next level?
Have the right attitude. If you really want to stand out, regardless of just starting our or taking your career to the next level -- have the right attitude.
Be a team player, put in those extra hours without being asked (and don't expect to get them back in lieu), be open to new experiences, seek out/take advantage of educational opportunities, go network, etc.
And don't forget that it's the small things that count -- dress up for job interviews, send a thank you email asap after an interview, follow up when you're supposed to.
You'd be surprised at how many people don't do that.