Built by association: Our experiences in professional organizations


Professional associations are an often-overlooked well of opportunity for marketers. They give their members the chance to have new experiences, network and build skills to help them in their careers.

At Banfield, we’re big believers in associations — quite a few of us participate in and even help run them. We talked to those people about their experiences in their associations, how they’ve impacted their careers and what advice they would give to someone thinking of joining one of their own.


Timothy Jones, President and Creative Director

What association are you a part of?

RGD – The Association of Registered Graphic Designers.

How long have you been a part RGD?

2 years.

What is your role within the association?

I am a registered graphic designer. I was required to go through a testing process where I had to submit portfolio samples along with answering a series of questions about the work, give a presentation of this work and write a series of tests.

What is your most memorable experience as a part of RGD?

One of my most recent memorable experiences with RDG was hosting the Designathon challenge at Banfield this past March. The event gives the opportunity for students and recent graduates of graphic design to gain experience working on client work.

The client was Habitat for Humanity Ottawa, and we had 12 hours to prepare a presentation to them later that night. It was fun, stressful but also very rewarding. Learning about Habitat for Humanity’s mandate and contributing to their success while also pushing the new designers to learn and grow… I myself definitely grew and learned from all of them.

What is the biggest benefit to being a registered graphic designer?

Feeling like I am connected to a larger community. One of the biggest things I have learned through my career is that you are never successful on your own. You need others to inspire and challenge you, to push you to do better work. And it’s way more fun when you can involve others to help you do work that surpasses what you could do on your own.


Kelly Rusk, Digital Director and Partner 

What association are you a part of?

IABC — International Association of Business Communicators.

How long have you been a part of IABC?

10 years.

What is your role within IABC?

I currently serve as Chair of the IABC Canada East Region. Also, I’m a past president of IABC Ottawa — I sat on that board for 5 years.

What is your most memorable experience as a part of IABC?

IABC Ottawa was recognized as International Chapter of the Year for the first time ever the year I was president. We also won a record seven chapter management awards. It was a real turning point as I joined the board when the chapter was in a rebuild and we went from struggling to absolutely thriving in less than five years. It was an exhilarating experience that gave me better hands-on skills than any job would have at that point in my career.

 What advice would you give to someone joining IABC?

You get out what you put in. If you join a reputable association and you’re not get value out of it, it’s probably because you aren’t putting in the effort to feel that value. Take advantage of the opportunity, give generously to a professional association and then stand back and watch the immense benefits it will pay back to you.


Kristal Felea, Executive Producer and Partner

What association are you a part of?

Women in Communications and Technology (WCT) and International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).

How long have you been a part of these associations?

I’ve been part of the National Capital Region Chapter for WCT for almost 5 years, and I’ve been a member of IABC for the last 3 years.

 What is your role within WCT?

I’m currently the Co-Chair for WCT’s National Capital Region Chapter but have also previously held the positions of Director of Marketing and Communications, Director of Partnerships and Co-Director of Membership over the years.

Have you received any special awards through your associations?

Recently, my Co-Chair Sally Douglas and I accepted the award for WCT Leader of the Year on behalf of our Chapter, which was a very humbling experience to be recognized on a National level for our collective efforts as a team.

What have you learned from the connections you’ve made through WCT?

You have something to learn from just about everyone in life – whether that be someone more senior and wiser, or someone younger with a different perspective. I’ve also learned the importance of building up a close network of individuals who you can call on when you need advice, need a recommendation or just want to bounce an idea off of to get a fresh perspective. That tribe will support you through thick and thin and I found that through WCT.


Lindsay Gavey, Director of Marketing Strategy

What association are you a part of?

The Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada (IAB Canada) – part of the IAB Global Network. IAB Canada is a non-profit association and leads the interactive marketing and advertising industry in Canada. The diverse membership is made up of advertisers, agencies, media companies, service providers, educational institutions and government associations.

How long have you been a part of that association?

3 years.

What is your role within the association?

I’m an IAB Member with Digital Media Buying and Planning Certification and a member of the IAB Research Committee.

What is the biggest benefit to being in your association?

Being informed and able to be part of the conversation shaping the industry, and access to research – which enables us to make more informed decisions, share the latest insights with our clients and provide guidance.

Any other things to say about your association? Literally anything. Go for it.

Get involved! Committee participation is a great way to share and grow your knowledge, and network with others in the industry, and there is a ton of great content (and other tools) available to members to help you stay informed and better equipped to navigate digital advertising.


Lynn Bereza, Media Director

What association are you a part of?

IAB Canada – Interactive Advertising Bureau, Programmatic Committee. We work with all commentary around the automation of online media buying and selling.

How long have you been a part of IAB Canada?

Several years as a member of IAB Canada, and one year on the Programmatic Committee. 

What is your role within the association?

I’m a participant in round table discussions.

Why did you choose to join IAB Canada?

I wanted to stay current in my role as a Media Strategist and Media Director.

 What is your most memorable experience as a part of the association?

Last year I attended the IAB’s MIXX 2018: Full Circle conference. It was the first time I heard Mitch Joel, one of the biggest online marketers in the world, speak. He talked about the impact that direct to consumer brands have on consumer behaviour – it was not only informative but very entertaining!


Mark Brownlee, Digital Marketing Strategist

What association are you a part of?

IABC Ottawa

How long have you been a part of that association?

Member for four years, served as a VP on the board for three years.

What is your role within the association?

I am currently Vice President, Marketing Communications.

What is your most memorable experience as a part of your association?

When I first joined IABC Ottawa, I was new to the communications world as a result of a career switch and had next to no network. As a somewhat introverted person, I was finding it difficult to build one. In an attempt to build one, I started attending events but found it difficult to make connections. Then I started volunteering on the board and everything changed. Suddenly I felt like I had the self-confidence to be able to talk to anyone. I distinctly remember attending an event a few months after starting my board duties and being amazed by how many people I could simply go up to and chat with. This was when I stopped feeling like a random face in the crowd and felt more like someone who was part of a real community. 

What have you learned from the connections made at your association?

That people are more prepared to help you with your career than you might think. As long as you’re willing to show you’re serious about building your career and to provide value to the person in return, you can ask literally anyone for help, advice and mentorship.

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