If any of you watch W Network’s show Undercover Boss, you may recognize our next SFU Communication alumni, Brandi Halls! Brandi was featured in an episode this February, where she worked undercover as a retail associate. When she is not undercover, Brandi is the Director for Brand Communications for Lush North America. I spoke to her about her passion for Lush, and how her hardwork and dedication in her university career led her to her dream position.
CMNSU: What is your job title?
Brandi: My job title is Director of Brand Communications, for Lush North America.
CMNSU: What are your responsibilities?
Brandi: I am the “final set of eyes” for a project. I streamline our communication across various channels of our business. This could include online communication, such as social media, or in stores. I work with eight different teams to streamline our messages to ensure brand consistency. Also, I do PR, social media, online marketing, retail marketing, graphics, designs, and content writing.
CMNSU: How would you describe a regular day as a Director of Brand Communications, from the beginning of your work day to end?
Brandi: I bounce between the eight different teams to see the status of their projects. I help with the development of the managers for each team.
CMNSU: What is the most challenging part of your job?
Brandi: Making sure everything is consistent in all eight teams that I oversee can be challenging sometimes. Getting messages throughout the business with the same consistency can be challenging also.
CMNSU: What is your favourite part of the job?
Brandi: At Lush, we do campaigning for ethical campaigns we feel are important to us. An example would be the Tar Sands campaign in Alberta. I love campaigning because there is a personal connection. I am doing more than just selling products to consumers, but am bringing awareness to outside issues as well. There is a sense of personal gratification. Apart from campaigning, when I first started at Lush, there was only a store in Vancouver and San Francisco. During my time here, I got to see the company grow, and now we have hundreds of retail locations.
CMNSU: How did you find this position?
Brandi: Through SFU alumni job postings. I started out as a PR assistant for Lush. I then moved on to US Media Relations, then became the North America PR manager, and now, Director of Communications.
CMNSU: What was your first impression of the job?
Brandi: My role is a new role at Lush, so I was pretty excited. My role covers a lot of facets, but I was also feeling confident because I had experience in the company prior to this position.
CMNSU: So far, what has been the highlight of your position?
Brandi: I opened a press office from scratch in New York City and hired a team of five people. Moving to New York City to work was very exciting. Going on Undercover Boss was also a big highlight. It was gratifying, and brought me back to the importance of the people that work for Lush.
CMNSU: How has your education at SFU contributed to your current position?
Brandi: SFU is solely responsible for my current position. The co-op program allowed me to develop a full resume and portfolio. I worked a few terms with the Ministry of Children and Family Development, and also a term with the Squamish nation. The co-op terms gave me the confidence I needed to go into a position. As I mentioned earlier, I also found the job posting for Lush from an SFU email.
CMNSU: Did you imagine yourself in this position while you were at SFU?
Brandi: I dreamed to get a position like this when I was in university. I knew I wanted to go into corporate communication, PR, or advertising, and my position is a combination of all three. It’s still hard to believe I found my dream position.
CMNSU: How were you like as a student?
Brandi: The same to how I am professionally. I am very hardworking, and set high standards for myself. I am a perfectionist, and set myself up for success.
CMNSU: What were your favourite classes?
Brandi: I enjoyed PR classes because I was interested in that field, and also because it was very practical. I enjoyed upper level courses because it was more concentrated.
CMNSU: How were your study habits?
Brandi: I was very hardworking. I studied a lot, and intensely. I took a lot of notes. I managed my time very wisely.
CMNSU: What was your most memorable moment at SFU?
Brandi: I have two. The first would be convocation, because I am the first person in my family to graduate university. All my hard work in university paid off, and I was excited because it was the beginning of my future. The second would be a course I took on First Nations. We had to talk about First Nations issues, and my grandfather was a very well-known figure in the First Nations community. He had passed away during the time I took that course, and to see my personal life colliding with my education was very meaningful.
CMNSU: What is a piece of advice you would like to give students wanting a similar career path?
Brandi: Push yourself beyond your comfort zone. That is how you grow and become more confident in yourself. If something scares you, do it. Utilize your university years to prepare yourself as much as possible, and do co-op to develop a portfolio.
Know any SFU Communication alumni that would like to be featured? Have any suggestions for this column? Email email@example.com or tweet us @CMNSU!