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‘Business gave me choice’

Memorial alumna lands gig at world’s largest social network

Campus and Community |

By Susan White

From bartending on Water Street to working with the largest social media network in the world, Kayla Osmond (B.Comm.(Co-op.)’10) has put her business degree to practical use since leaving Memorial.

The Mount Pearl native was engaged in marketing and event planning following graduation but, with her heart in advertising, Ms. Osmond relocated to Toronto, Ont., and got to work building her skills and reputation as an account executive at a small agency.

Through a variety of agency roles, and applying the lessons learned at Memorial to her work, Ms. Osmond achieved a number of milestones early in her career. In 2018, at just 30 years old, she was hired as a creative agency partner for Facebook and Instagram.

Dr. Isabelle Dostaler, dean of Memorial’s Faculty of Business Administration, recently spoke with Ms. Osmond about her career and time at Memorial.

Dr. Isabelle Dostaler
Dr. Isabelle Dostaler
Photo: Dave Howells

ID: Why did you decide to study business at Memorial?

KO: I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I graduated high school. A business degree felt like the option that had the most flexibility, the option that gave me the chance to craft my own outcome versus graduating and having a handful of career options. I liked the idea that business gave me choice, and the skills I needed to build my own way.

ID: What do you remember most about being a student at the Faculty of Business Administration?

KO: I remember how much the co-op program kicked off my career. Having the breadth of work experience that I did at graduation was a huge differentiator in the job market. When I graduated, I already had a network I could tap into to help me find opportunities.

ID: Tell me about your employment journey since leaving Memorial.

KO: When I graduated, I was bartending at Blue on Water and working as a marketing and event manager, but I wanted to work in advertising. Three months after graduating, I packed up my Honda Civic and drove to Toronto to take advantage of a bigger job market. I got hired pretty quickly at a small agency (through a fellow Newfoundlander, of course), and worked at a few small agencies as an account executive for a few years before I was eventually hired at Leo Burnett – Toronto.

There, I worked on Amazon’s first-ever Super Bowl commercial for the launch of the Amazon Echo, and global campaigns for their biggest retail sales event of the year (Prime Day), executing campaigns in 11 languages. I worked as an account director under the leadership of some of the strongest strategic and creative minds in the business, and it was there that I gained a world of experience that put me in the fortunate position to be able to explore and apply for new challenges and opportunities in different sides of the business.

ID: How did you get involved with Facebook?

KO: I was looking for a career shift that allowed me to still work in the creative agency side of the business, while stepping outside of it enough to challenge me in new ways and gain new skills. The creative agency partner role at Facebook/Instagram was posted, and I just figured, ‘This could be interesting,’ and I applied!

ID: Wonderful! Tell me about your role there.

KO:  I’m a creative agency partner. I work with Canada’s creative agencies to transform the way they create and produce for mobile. It’s a very fulfilling role, as I’m still so connected to my creative agency roots, and able to help them evolve as quickly as the industry evolves – to create great, well-crafted, meaningful, best-performing work on our family of apps.

ID: What is it like working for a major global corporation that millions of people around the world use every day? Have there been any surprises?

KO: It’s a pretty fantastic company to work for. I’m working for a company whose mission is to build community and bring the world closer together. That’s a pretty powerful thing to work towards every day. In my day-to-day.

“As an employee you’re encouraged to question, change, reimagine and bring your own unique perspective to everything you do.”

I’m working among some of the most talented people in the world. I work hand-in-hand with our counterparts in the United States, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America regularly as an extension of my own team, and it’s so incredible to have the exposure to so many great minds and perspectives.

What’s surprising is how despite its size, it operates in a very entrepreneurial way. That start-up mentality is still alive and well, and as an employee you’re encouraged to question, change, reimagine and bring your own unique perspective to everything you do. I feel pretty lucky to work for a company like that.

ID: Can you give me some examples of things you learned at Memorial that you apply now in your daily work? Was there anything that surprised you in its applicability (or vice versa)?

KO: I learned a lot from professors Tim Jones and Kirby Shannahan on empathy, knowing your client’s business, preparation and negotiation. I use all of those skills every single day. Tim once made us negotiate our grades, and I thought he was bananas at the time, but that’s such an important, applicable skill that I use all the time in a myriad of different ways.

They both appreciated that business goes beyond just what you study. It’s equally about relationships, passion, curiosity and smarts. They encouraged real-world role play to prepare you for the tough but crucial conversations you have coming around the corner.

ID: What are some challenges you have encountered in your career? How have you addressed them?

KO: Being a young woman in a business world is tough, and has its own challenges. One of the biggest challenges for me throughout my career was feeling like I had the right to have a voice at the table, despite being the youngest person in many rooms. It took me awhile to navigate the executive-filled boardrooms and own and be confident in my voice at the table.

Turns out you can take the girl out of Newf but you can’t take the Newf out of the girl! So I bring that East Coast attitude to all of my meetings, and I’m confident now that it’s a voice worth listening to.

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