We're excited to share an interview with Bridget Westerholz and Aleena Mazhar from FUSE.
Bridget Westerholz is the Managing Director, FUSE. She started her career in South Africa after doing a post graduate degree in advertising. After four years of cutting her teeth on accounts such as Red Bull and Hyundai, she moved on to MCBD (now Dare) where her love for advertising and strategic thinking grew.
She worked on a number of diverse clients such as P&O Cruises, The Department of Health Anti-Smoking and Debenhams Department Stores. While at DDB in Vancouver, she started as the Group Account Director on Destination Canada and Capital One. It was at DDB that her foundation in leadership was strengthened as she took on the role of VP Director of Client Services. Her accounts included PepsiCo (Tostitos and Crispy Minis), Emerald Health, and Rocky Mountaineer. Her collaborated work has been recognized in numerous creative and effectiveness award shows including the IPA effectiveness Awards, Cassies, Marketing Awards, Cannes and Clios.
Aleena Mazhar is the Managing Director of Experiential at FUSE. Aleena has a passion for marketing and has grown up within the ever-evolving live experience business. Her focus is to help brands build meaningful human connections with their consumers through experiences that make an impact. She believes in the power of human connection to engage people, inspire communities, and make social change.
Aleena has had the pleasure of working with brave brands on award winning work alongside collaborative clients while leading a team of positive and passionate marketers.Aleena has worked with clients from multiple industries including CIBC, Kruger LLB, Purolator, Hilton Hotels, and Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
Q: What would you like to see your team accomplish in 2020?
Bridget Westerholz: I would love to see a stronger sense of cohesiveness and fun in 2020. A lot of us are still relatively new to each other, as we've evolved and changed here at FUSE over the last year. Creating an environment free from fear should allow us to build trusting relationships. When there's trust, there's always a sense of "us" vs "I.” That sense of trust and spirit of team should give people the freedom to have fun together too. As much as advertising can be hard work, fun and playfulness is an intrinsic part of creativity, so if we're not having fun along the way, then I would be very worried about our creative output.
Aleena Mazhar: When it comes to team goals there are two priorities for us: creating great work, and investing in our people. I'd love to create never-been-done-before experiences that will excite and inspire those who engage with them. I would also love to continue to empower our team through a "people first" mentality and witness them motivate and coach each other and grow with our business.
Q: Who is your role model or hero?
Bridget Westerholz: I have had many wonderful female role models in my life, something I believe is incredibly important for women, as we learn to see ourselves in the faces of leadership as well as being active contributors within a community. In my personal life, I have had both my grandmother and my mother who taught me to value and believe in myself, but also to be kind to others. In my professional life, I have had three female leaders whom have taught me how to find my voice and lead with integrity, from Helen Calcraft (founding partner of The Lucky Generals), Melissa Robertson (my first ever Client Service Director), and more recently, Patty Jones (President of DDB Canada).
Aleena Mazhar: I look up to my mom and dad for making decisions in our life that were selfless, and difficult for them at the time, but created the best life possible for their family. They have moved continents twice in their lifetime and re-started their careers in different parts of the world for the benefit of the future of their children. These moments were challenging on a financial and personal perspective, as starting a new career halfway through your life is not an easy task. I look at my mother who has had three successful careers in her lifetime and I know that no matter what tomorrow brings, I will have the resilience to start again and be the best I can be.
Q: What is your favorite book?
Bridget Westerholz: A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry.
Aleena Mazhar: I have so many. My current favourite is Dare to Lead by Brené Brown. I love it so much I'm encouraging our whole team to read it and lean into vulnerability!
Q: Do you use any specific method or system to run daily operations?
Bridget Westerholz: "We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak." - Epictetus. Outside of our regular meetings at the Agency, I have a full day set aside for one-on-ones. My entire team (and a few beyond) have access to me (outside of the day-to-day accessibility) to chat. I find this time the most useful. I try and ensure that I am just listening. What do they need? What's going wrong? What do I need to solve for? It's a great way of hearing what's happening and how we can improve.
Aleena Mazhar: We use a combination of tools in operating our business including collaboration tools and project management systems. My methodology is to create an environment where the team is empowered to lead operations of their clients as if they were their own business. They feed into the systems of our greater organization, and we have consistent check ins on how their business is running - financially, operationally and on a growth perspective. I monitor processes and results on a more macro level and the transparency in communication allows us to collaborate and run the business as smoothly as possible while giving the team autonomy and empowerment.
Q: Why did you choose your present industry at this time?
Bridget Westerholz: I have a fascination with Consumer Behaviour and we have more access to data now more than ever before. I love the idea of gleaning an insight that can incite action.
Aleena Mazhar: This is such an exciting time to be a marketer. The pace of change has accelerated due to the investment in technology and innovation. Through all of this change there has been a rise in the experience economy - where consumers are looking to experience unique moments with people that mean something to them. This makes it exciting as a marketer who focuses on the consumer experience, and encourages us to create campaigns that have a deeper meaning and impact.
Q: What is the best/worst moment you can remember in your career?
Bridget Westerholz: Truly realizing I was able to make a positive impact on peoples' careers by helping them grow and succeed through mentorship, whether this is within the agency I work at or beyond.
Aleena Mazhar: The best moment in my career involves one of the most rewarding events I've ever been a part of, with the best team. We were tearing down at 5am, after a 24 hour event day, and decided to take a break from teardown to enjoy a family "dinner" of Chinese food as a big team. That moment of celebration with such an amazing team, paired with a bit of emotion due to exhaustion, after one of the biggest nights of my career, still stands out as my favourite all time moment.
Q: Looking back - if you could advise a younger version of yourself to do something different - what would it be?
Bridget Westerholz: Find your voice and don't be afraid to use it. There have been moments that I have held back and not voiced my opinion or not pushed back due to fear. No environment is healthy if there's an iota of fear. If you ever feel fear, know that this is the wrong place for you.
Aleena Mazhar: Remember to always have perspective. As marketers we are so lucky to have the opportunity to change people's day, make an impact on communities, and do work with brands that want to drive social change. Keep reminding yourself to have this perspective when you are frustrated over things that won't matter a year from today. It takes time and patience to make an impact.