#StandApart Profile: Shafiq Jamal

edelman portrait SJ Nov 2012Shafiq Jamal, Senior Vice-­‐President, Edelman Vancouver, not only travels the ‘ROAD’ (he pulled over in the Richmond Nature Park, in between clients meetings, to speak with us), but he lives it too.

A self-­‐described ‘boomerang employee,’ Jamal’s travels have taken him from Edelman’s Toronto office to senior roles with Hoggan & Associates, Best Buy Canada Ltd., and the Retail Council of Canada (where he served as Vice-­‐President, Western Canada). Now, 15 years later, he’s returned to an Edelman almost doubled in size but still true, as Jamal credits, to its roots and entrepreneurial spirit. And it feels like home.

“It reinforced why I came back and that I didn’t get lost,” said Jamal, whose family roots span an equally long road: from Tanzania to Sweden, Kenya and, finally, Canada in just three generations.

Jamal’s notable skill set includes: corporate communications, media relations, media training, public affairs, community relations, and issues, event and crisis management. Here’s what makes him #StandApart:

 

Describe your current role in 140 characters or less…

Delivering best client service possible, raising Edelman’s profile corporately as a provider of integrated marcomms services, and being a good coach/team player.

One word that best describes how you work.

Passionate!

What is your “Superpower”? (What is the one thing you do better than most?)  

I travel the ROAD – Responsibility, Ownership, Accountability and Dependability. It’s something I came up with early in my career and I have let it guide me through thick and thin. When I introduce “ROAD” to my team, I say “I’ve got these cheesy acronyms, but they mean something to me and I hope they’ll mean something to you.” Whether they see it through the same lens or need to adapt the idea to their own style, the ROAD acts as a common guiding principle to help us deliver as a team.

Intentionality or Happenstance? Which has played a greater role in building your career path?

I’d have to say intentionality. If I learned anything from the person I admire the most -­‐ my grandmother – is that you need to chart your own course and destiny and you need to be a go getter…and so, I have tried to chart my course along the way.

 

 I travel the ROAD – Responsibility, Ownership, Accountability and Dependability

 

Where does your motivation come from? Does motivation come easy for you or is it work/discipline to sustain it?

I love what I do and am fortunate to be able to say that. I’ve deliberately tried different things in my life and have done many professional self-­‐discovery tests…the most insightful was the Gallup Strength Based Organization testing through which I learned that my top 5 attributes are: strategic, intellection, input, learner and futuristic (I may have the order wrong but that sums up my professional make-­‐up). So, I look for opportunities that meet those 5 attributes.

Have you ever watched someone sabotage his or her own career? If so, how?

Yes, complacency is the poison you never want to drink from the chalice. I always try to keep front and center that you are only as good as your next deliverable…also, never get too comfortable in your position. Ask for new challenges and new opportunities and finally, as Q tells Bond on many occasions – always have a Plan B…

Why did you make the educational choices you did and what would you recommend for others on this front?

Funny story – I was on track to complete my Master’s program, was doing well and wanted to work as a diplomat for the United Nations. Then, I had a change of heart after I saw someone from the class I was in land a plum job because of connections and not based on hard work. Disillusioned, I went to the career centre and came across PR as something one could pursue with a Political Science degree…and as they say, the rest is history…

In looking back, advice for others is to look forward while in school or early into one’s career, and try and identify where the world of work is going and how you can be an invaluable part of that – in a way that brings you more than just financial rewards and enriches your life.

 

I learned that my top 5 attributes are: strategic, intellection, input, learner and futuristic. I look for opportunities that meet those 5 attributes

 

When you look back over your career to date, what are you most proud of?

I am proud of the wonderful people I got a chance to work with and learn from – colleagues, clients, network connections, suppliers, partners, vendors – if you are reading this, I thank you from the bottom of my heart as you all made me better in some way!

We asked someone on your team to give us a sense of what gives you the #StandApart factor. Here’s what we found out:

“Shafiq is a very bright guy and is extremely passionate about success – not just for him, but for the entire team. His diverse background and wealth of experience allow him to contribute in many different ways, and he is positive and nurturing as a leader and coach. He also has a great sense of humour, which always helps in this business!” -­‐  Kim Peacock, GM of Edelman Canada West

You’re interviewing a candidate and there’s no doubt, they’ve got it. What ingredients were you looking for? When it comes to hiring, what does you/your organization consider the special sauce?

At Edelman, we look for passion, commitment, energy, enthusiasm – you have to work as a team member – it’s a flat organization here at Edelman and egos need to be left at the door. You also have to want to be part of the exciting journey that Edelman is on because we are always evolving to meet the needs of our clients. I can confidently say that we walk the talk on our values.

 

You are only as good as your next deliverable…

 

Hire for attitude and train for skills. Agree or disagree?

Absolutely agree – in our business particularly, you need to have a “can-­‐do” attitude – that is part of what sets you apart as a consultant.

Describe the best team you’ve ever led – one that was ‘firing on all cylinders’ – what made that team #StandApart?

Great question – I’d have to say it was one where we all came together, supported each other, challenged our way of thinking and our counsel to the client, found ways to divide and conquer so that no one was overburdened, engaged in regular dialogue and communication with each other and our client, learned from our mistakes, had fun  along the way, and finally, celebrated the little and the big wins!

How “LinkedIn” are you? Do you use it? What role has networking played in your career?

I love LinkedIn – it has helped me connect with many contacts that normally I wouldn’t be able to, even with email; I have shared articles, occasionally posted items of interest, used it heavily for research and have created discussion forums and groups on it as well. I feel like I could do more and plan to do so in the rest of 2013 and into 2014.

 

At Edelman, you have to work as a team member – it’s a flat organization and egos need to be left at the door

 

This question was passed on from our last #StandApart Marketer, Keith Marett, SVP Marketing, Communications and Product Development at Avigilon Corporation: What are you passionate about?

Client service and client delivery. That’s on the front end. On the back end, I’m passionate about working respectfully within a team to achieve that.

On the personal side, I feel extremely fortunate to have a wonderful spouse and two awesome children. And…I’m a bit of a Sherlock Holmes/Agatha Christie buff. I’m dying to see The Game’s Afoot by Peninsula Productions in White Rock.

If you could put one question on the list for our next #StandApart Marketer profile, what would it be? What do you want to know?

What do you think builds character? I am always fascinated by what makes us who we are because I believe that shapes how we treat others.