Today’s Notable Young Professional is Saks Fifth Avenue Canada Marketing Director Shayne Stephens, who celebrated his most memorable milestone just a few weeks ago when Saks opened its doors at Toronto’s Eaton Centre. We caught up with him to find out what inspires his career and what advice he would share with other young professionals…
Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
I champion the world’s premiere luxury retailer, Saks Fifth Avenue, to the great city of Toronto.
What was the inspiration for your career route?
To be honest, marketing was never really on my radar. I started my career as a writer and editor, and always dreamed of moving to New York to take over the reins at GQ. During a season of disillusionment with writing, I found myself running an event at the Bahamian residence of an eccentric Canadian womenswear designer and hit it off with the company’s CMO. Ultimately, she convinced me that marketing was a viable option and offered me a job. I took a leap of faith, and spent seven years at NYGARD before going to Holt Renfrew. Nine months ago, I joined Saks Fifth Avenue as the Marketing Director for Saks Fifth Avenue Canada, and couldn’t be happier.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
That’s easy: bringing Saks Fifth Avenue to Canada. The store openings were monumental, historic even, and I feel blessed to have been a part of the team that was assembled to make it happen.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
This is a tough one to answer because what I like most about my journey thus far is that none of it was planned. There’s something fun about remaining open to new challenges and opportunities. That said, I love marketing and I love Saks Fifth Avenue, so I’m definitely in a good spot. For the five and 10-year plans, I’d like to be focusing solely on menswear, maybe as a men’s fashion director. In 20 years, I’ll be relaxing on a beach, writing a memoir.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Be kind to everyone you meet. So much of business, especially in the marketing arena, boils down to your ability to build and leverage relationships, and no one wants to work with, let alone be around, an egomaniacal jerk. You also never know who is going to be sitting across from you during a pitch or an interview.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
It’s heartbreaking to me that slavery is alive and well in 2016, which is why I believe that people should familiarize themselves with an organization called the International Justice Mission. Not only do they intervene to rescue and rehabilitate the victims, they have a team of lawyers that work with law enforcement agencies and governments to close the legislative loopholes that often allow the travesties to occur in the first place.
What does the word notable mean to you?
Notable means you have successfully set yourself apart from the pack not only by being exceptional at your craft, but also by being as good to those who can do nothing for you as you are to those who can.
Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
I don’t go out nearly as much as I used to, but when I do, I hit up 416 Snack Bar for the mini-Reuben sandwiches and then Toronto Temperance Society for a couple of Robin’s signature cocktails. I’m also really excited about the new O&B restaurant, Lena, that will be opening at Saks Fifth Avenue at CF Toronto Eaton Centre.
What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
The most visited website would definitely be Apple iTunes, because I stream TV shows and movies from it. As for the most played song, I’ve had the new Bieber album on repeat for a month. The kid is killing it.
Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
My favourite country to visit is Japan. Everything there is just so next level: the food, the fashion, the shopping. I find it incredibly inspiring. My next trip, however, will be to Italy. I plan on attending the menswear show Pitti Uomo and then spending some serious time roaming the vineyards.
What gives you the greatest FOMO?
Thankfully, I’ve outgrown FOMO.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss ice cream. It’s to die for.
What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
I wish I spent less money on eating out and more money on RRSPs… and shoes.
And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
Success to me is being able to find balance in the craziness and busyness of life. It’s about knowing when to reject the seemingly insatiable desire for more, and choosing to be content with what you have.