YPDaily: Karen Cleveland

Ever wonder about the type of person who handles marketing for your favourite publication? Who ensures that not only the brand reflects the editorial style but also the message being presented to readers? Karen Cleveland – Manager, Marketing and Communications for St. Joseph Media – does just that. An honours double major in Women’s Studies and Communications at York University, Karen Cleveland opens up about her career.

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I manage the marketing and branding for St. Joseph Media’s incredible roster (including FASHION Magazine, Toronto Life, Weddingbells, and Canadian Family.)

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I’ve been working with St. Joseph Media for about three years, before that I was on the agency side of the marketing business (and before that, the not-for-profit sector.) I didn’t pick my career route (perhaps made evident by my academic path) but rather, think it picked me. I’m a fervent consumer of media. I love smart brands and interesting strategies.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
I get to work with inspiring, wildly intelligent and interesting people. By far, the best part of my job is the company I keep. I suspect that the most challenging part of my job is likely shared by a lot of folks in marketing: wanting more – more brains at the table, more budget, more time, more resources….

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I’ve never had a five year plan for myself (my brands, that’s another story.) My MO has always been to surround myself with really smart people, who do really good work. I hope in five years I am still doing just that.

What does success look like to you?
Success to me is being pretty jazzed on a Sunday evening.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
I’m pretty emphatic, so I get excited about everyday milestones in the same way that I do the marquee ones. But, I get awfully proud when I see up-and-coming young talent I’ve worked with go out there and develop their careers.

Do you plan on starting your own company in the same industry one day?
I don’t know what I want for lunch tomorrow….so can’t answer that question with any credence. But, I do have an etiquette column for fun called Finishing School, so when I want to switch off the brand strategy side of my brain and write purely for pleasure, I have that outlet. Does that answer the question? Maybe I should have stopped with the first point…

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Find great mentors. Surround yourself with colleagues you admire. Do work that you’re proud of. Stay humble.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Yes! I started my career at Rethink Breast Cancer and have always kept a foot in cause-marketing. I’ve sat on the committees for Fashion Cares, Booby Ball (benefitting my alma mater, Rethink), Contact Photography Festival, and Buy Design for Windfall. Recently I’m sitting on Paws for a Cause, a small-but-mighty organization doing great things for animals. I’m also really impressed with Literature for Life – I wrote a little piece about them.

Supporting charities is important for several reasons: the most notable (see what I did there?) is because charities need help. If you have expertise in an area, I’m almost certain that there is a needy organization out there that would love to have you involved. The best reason to support a great cause is because you can. And you should. Beyond that, it keeps you fresh and you get to meet people who share your philanthropic interests.

What is Notable to you?
Giving a shit. I loathe apathy in any form.

Follow Karen on Twitter.