I was born in Toronto, Canada. I grew up in a small town in southwestern Ontario, with the sweetest family around. I had a pretty traditional childhood. My Dad was a hard-working entrepreneur, who started up his own business at a young age, and eventually purchased several other businesses, including a department store. He was my role model for professional and personal growth. He always encouraged me to follow my dreams, and never limited my choices in life. My Mom still works as an RN in a hospital, and my two younger siblings and I call her “our surrogate grandma” because we know she cares about us and enjoys being with us. She’s been through a lot, yet she’s always found the strength to be there for us and hold us close. My Dad was a really big fan of Tom Hanks, and named me after one of his most memorable characters, Bart Simpson. I always liked that name and it stuck. Plus, it kind of suits my personality.
I moved away to pursue higher education and I attended the University of Toronto, where I earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. While there, I worked as a Database Administrator for Higgs Laboratory Computing, helping scientists carry out research and analyze data. I thoroughly enjoyed helping others through their research and I found that I had a talent for it. After graduating from university, I worked for a year as a web developer and project manager for an agency in Toronto, where I learned a lot about software architecture and web development. I then landed a job as a Product Manager at Talbots, an eCommerce store focused on women’s apparel and accessories. I worked there for 2 years, during which time I was responsible for developing and launching new products, managing web traffic, and boosting sales. It was a great opportunity to learn about online marketing and sales from the ground up, and I developed new products and launched them successfully. I had the chance to work with a lot of different departments and partners, and gain valuable experience. The most enjoyable part of the job was launching new products and seeing them go viral. My favourite products were the black t-shirts with the funny sayings on them. We got a lot of positive feedback and great reviews for those t-shirts, and the best part is that people actually bought them thinking they were genuine Austin Powers t-shirts! The downside to the job was that it was very stressful, especially in the beginning, when I didn’t have much experience. It was a steep learning curve, and there were a lot of late nights and early mornings spent researching, planning, and implementing marketing and sales strategies for upcoming products.
Marketing Is A Team Effort
Even before I started at Talbots, I knew that I didn’t want to just keep writing software and doing sales. I wanted to be able to have an impact on the company and be a part of the overall marketing strategy. One of my first big responsibilities was rebranding of their website. There were a lot of hidden gems on their existing site, which was very functional, but I saw a lot of untapped potential, especially since they’d been around for a while, but hadn’t grown with the times. I made some pretty major changes to their site architecture and user experience. Their existing SEO was mediocre at best, and I was able to push them up the rankings quickly and effectively. They were very happy that I was able to help them out with this, as it had been a long time since their SEO firm had helped them out. This kind of thing cannot be measured in dollars and cents, but it can be measured in quality leads and increased traffic.
If I were to sum up this entire article in one key takeaway, it would be this: Marketing is a team sport. Even if you are working on your own product, you are bound to interact with other departments and people in the marketing department. You will be asked to weigh in and give your opinion on various projects and decisions, and you will need to be able to work well with others in order to contribute value. This is especially important in a larger company, where there are a lot of moving parts, and everyone is just trying to do their best.