Today’s Notable Young Professional MasterCard Canada Director of Communications Lauren Mostowyk, who we caught up with to find out what inspires her work, what advice she would share with other young professionals, and where she loves to wine and dine in Toronto…
Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
I tell stories about MasterCard’s vision of a world beyond cash to media, cardholders, employees and our banking customers.
What was the inspiration for your career route?
I was going to be a lawyer – until I realized I only wanted that because it sounded fancy. Which is not a great reason to choose a career.
Instead, I thought about what I loved and what I was good at. I knew I could write, speak and problem solve, and I enjoyed finding compelling ways to tell stories. The world of communications and PR seemed like a good fit.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
Developing a winning relationship with my boss at MasterCard is an achievement. The balance and partnership we’ve created makes work a lot of fun, and it also produces high-calibre results.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
In 20 years I’d love to be working for myself. Until then, it’s all about getting more experience in varied fields related to communications: agency experience, marketing work and perhaps even sales.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Be nice. I read recently that people’s first impressions are made up of two judgements: is this person trustworthy, and are they warm and engaging? To me, that’s niceness summarized. Look people in the eye, listen to what they’re saying, respond with empathy. You’ll create champions of you and of your work that way.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
I work with at-risk youth in Toronto. It’s a great way to give back to the city I grew up in and love so much.
I’m a facilitator with Trails Youth Initiatives, which brings at-risk Toronto youth together in a camp environment. It’s an amazing program – we teach our kids to be mindful and we help them to become contributing members of their communities through conflict resolution, communications and health & wellness training. We mix that in with regular camp activities like canoeing, swimming, hiking, campfires, etc.
Also, I joined the ProAction Cops & Kids Board committee on communications. The charity helps police officers in the GTA create and run community-building programs with youth in the region.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Very early in my career I experienced workplace harassment, and it really threw me for a loop. I was young, new to the organization, and was completely blindsided by the conversation and this colleague’s advances. I spent a lot of time afterwards wondering if I had done something wrong, or if I should have reacted differently – it’s amazing how easy it is to feel guilty about this kind of thing. I took action by telling my boss, notifying the HR group, and removing myself from the situation entirely. In the end it made me stronger and much more aware.
What does the word notable mean to you?
What is notable will quiet the noise of our days, will demand to be noticed.
Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
I have so many favourites! 416 Snack Bar, the patio at Summerhill Terroni, The Oxley in Yorkville, the original Playa Cabana on Dupont. And while there’s no food or wine here, the Peacok is a Saturday night staple.
After class at Fuel Training Club on Saturdays my friends head to Jason George on Front St. We laugh at the people lined up outside Petit Dejeuner and then we eat perfect eggs and drink coffee for hours. That sounds mean. We don’t laugh… much.
What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
Lainey Gossip – she’s the smartest gossip around. And probably something from Florence + the Machine’s latest album… with some Justin Bieber in there as well.
Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
I love following Tommy Smythe on Instagram. He photographs Toronto beautifully with an eye for design and home décor. And Kelly Oxford on every platform. She’s a Canadian treasure and I love her style.
What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
This time last year I was in Belize and I’m devastated not to be currently on those beaches, snorkelling in the coral reefs and drinking the local beers. But soon I head to Barbados with 10 of my girlfriends so I have lots to look forward to.
What gives you the greatest FOMO?
When I decide to save money or calories by staying in on a Saturday night and then have to hear about everything I missed over brunch the next day.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Cashmere sweaters. And sour grape candies from the bulk food store.
What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
Cashmere sweaters. More furniture for my newly-purchased loft!
And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
I really felt like I had made it when I could pick up the cheque while out with friends. To be able to pay for dinner, and still pay rent, and surprise others with a small gesture – that felt like success. In terms of success ahead… I think it’s a balance of waking up to do something you’re excited about and then coming home to people who make you think and make you laugh.