From LSATs to Insta – the art of pivoting to successfully navigate our world
...a conversation with Meerah Jayakumar, Manager, Corporate Communications & Events
Today we shine the Support Centre Spotlight on Meerah Jayakumar, Manager, Corporate Communications & Events, who talks with us about how pivoting successfully is not just a survival skill for 2020 – it’s key to developing a role for yourself that reflects all your interests and abilities.
Tell me about your background – how long have you been with dentalcorp and what were you doing before you joined?
I guess the answer to this question depends on who you ask. Technically, I’ve been with dentalcorp for almost 4 years in total.
About 5 years ago, I was on the Practice Marketing team where I developed and executed marketing strategies for dentalcorp Practices. I wanted to hone my analytical skills, so I made the difficult decision to leave for 2 years and join American Express where I worked on their AIR MILES and Affiliates portfolio. My role there was to acquire new cardmembers through various digital marketing tactics and I really enjoyed it. I found myself planning events on the side and wanted that to become more of my full-time focus. It just so happened that dentalcorp was hiring for a role that focused significantly on events at that time, so it was a no-brainer to rejoin the Support Centre team in a new capacity and I’ve been in this role now for just over 2 years.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
When I was growing up, I wanted to be a lawyer. I was probably dead set on that up until my 4th year at University – I had even taken a bunch of LSAT courses and was ready to write the exam, and then things changed. I was on a couple of extracurricular committees, with marketing responsibilities. I loved the creativity that came with that role, and it prompted me to consider marketing and events as a career option. Now I’ve been happily working in marketing for over 7 years.
I will say, there is a part of me that is still very curious about law. You never know, maybe when I’m 50, I’ll finally take the LSAT.
Can you tell me a bit about your role on the team? What does a typical day look like?
Before the pandemic, my role was predominantly focused on events. I created the strategy and plan for all our events and executed about 250 per year. From intimate dinners, to panels, to weekend getaways and larger industry event after-parties. Prior to March 2020, you would have constantly found me on the phone with venues, vendors, or working closely with our Partnership Development team members.
Once the pandemic hit, in-person events were non-existent. I thought I had everything planned out, and then with something like COVID, I was forced to pivot. Having to adapt so quickly was definitely an interesting and humbling experience. My role since the pandemic has become more digital/project management and social media focused. So, if you have ever wondered who’s been posting on our Instagram, now you know!
I think the pandemic has given me a chance to broaden my horizons and incorporate parts that I loved about my previous roles into my current one. And to be honest, once I got over the initial shock of the pandemic, I learned to slow down and focus more on myself, which has been a great experience in itself.
Tell me something about yourself that your co-workers would never guess?
That’s a tough one, I feel like they know a lot of things about me. I’ll give you a couple – I’m Sri Lankan and can understand Tamil fluently but can’t speak it. I was forced to run a half marathon after making a (stupid) bet when I first joined dentalcorp. I’m big on volunteering – I volunteered for Tennis Canada and worked the Rogers Cup for about 5 years, and now I’m part of the American Marketing Association as their Events Director.
What are your aspirations for personal and professional growth? Do you have a 5 year plan?
If you asked me this before the pandemic, I would have been able to give you a full answer. To be honest, I can’t really say there’s a job title or place I’d like to be in 5 years, but I do have professional areas that I would like to continue to develop and grow. My biggest focus is continued learning and staying challenged on a daily basis.
What advice do you have for new team members joining dentalcorp’s Support Centre?
Speak up. If there’s an opportunity you want or something you’d like more exposure to, I think it’s really important to be honest and ask for it. Everyone has their unique strengths and something to bring to the table – find yours and use it to your advantage.