One person can have an immeasurable impact on an organization over a span of years. On May 18th, we sent Christine Hume, 30+ year Banfield team player and part of the previous partnership group, off on her next journey into retirement.
In this Q&A, she opens up about her career, the state of the industry, technology, relationship-building — and the value of going for a really long walk.
How did you get into our industry?
Initially I went to the University of Guelph and got a degree in Consumer Studies. I had taken art courses during university, and when I graduated I still had this feeling I wanted to do something creative as a career. I decided to take Commercial Art at Algonquin College as a night class. I liked it, so I went into the Commercial Art and Creative Advertising Program.
Coming out of Algonquin, I had two job placements: one at an agency, Currie-Irving here in Ottawa, and the other at Mitel Corporation. I was offered a job at both places — so I had to decide, did I want to be a graphic artist or be more on the account side? I took the Account Coordinator job at Mitel.
Can you describe the agency when you first started here?
Mitel was a high-flying high-tech company in the mid-80s. We had our own computers (Wang word processors). We were early adopters of email. It was all state of the art. When I came to Banfield — I had responded to an ad in the paper, because that’s what you did back then — I only had a ruled notepad on my desk. That’s it. We had one computer in the front office. Can you imagine?
At the time, we weren’t working on computers in production or design. Artwork was done on drafting tables. Designs were sketches, literally done with markers. We had a full-time airbrush artist! She used a precision paint sprayer to create gradated backgrounds. We had a full-time illustrator, too. We would send out for typesetting. It took more time to create designs and artwork then, but it seems like it was okay to take that time to get it right.
What are some of the other changes you’ve had to adapt to in our industry?
One key thing is we’ve gone from 4P’s of marketing – product, price, place, promotion – to a much more complex marketing world. Back in the day you could do a print ad and brochure and a media plan, and it was straightforward. Now, we have teams devoted to marketing and media strategy, social media, SEO, content marketing, video, web development and more. We’re doing more complex media planning including programmatic buying — that’s a huge change.
And maybe just the different levels of experience on the Banfield team over the years. Having that sense of history and depth of experience that someone like myself can bring, and then having completely different perspectives from younger colleagues in their 20s and just starting their careers! I think that’s what I’m proudest of, how we work together collaboratively to do really great work.
What else are you proud of?
For me, back in the day, working on the Cavendish Farms account. We designed and produced artwork for frozen French fries. (Banfield-Seguin was known for its expertise in package design then). Cavendish Farms was one of the Irving Group of Companies, owned by the Irving brothers, We travelled to Toronto to do food photography for the packaging. I also had the opportunity to travel to PEI on a business trip, I’d never seen the red dirt before! It was a great experience building relationships with the client and the work we did with them.
I worked with Mead Johnson Nutrition helping to market baby formula to Moms for almost 30 years! And there was the year Banfield-Seguin won 13 Ad and Sales Awards. We basically swept the awards that year. And, in my last year here, having worked on our largest account ever for the Public Safety drug-impaired driving campaign. Also, some of our legendary Banfield Fun Days, of course!
You are known for doing things on your own terms. Do you have a philosophy for how you approach life?
In about 2004, I started talking with mindfulness/life coach because I felt like I was at a point where I was just getting up, coming to work, going to bed, getting up, coming to work, going to bed. I felt like I was losing sight of what was important. One day a package arrived on my desk from her. In it was a framed image with a very meaningful message:
“Begin doing what you want to do NOW.
We’re not living in eternity.
We only have this moment
Sparkling like a star in our hand
And melting like a snowflake…”
So I guess that would be it.
I started to travel and connect with my family in Ireland. And if I felt drawn to learning something new at work, I would go for it. I ended up traveling to New York City to take courses. I pushed myself to take a 14-week e-marketing course. I knew it would be hard. We had a 3-hour take home exam — I’ve never been so nervous in my life! I ended up graduating with honours.
What would you say to those starting out?
We all have more capability than we realize. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Just be a leader in what you’re doing. Own your part, do the best that you possibly can.
And I think that is maybe part of what’s behind my idea to do a long walk. Now is the time to do it. But it’s not easy either. I went on a training walk just yesterday. It was hard, but I made it through.
Your personal journey obviously continues with retirement. No one who knows you is worried you will get bored. What’s next for Christine Hume?
I’ve been studying and learning to do mosaic art for the last couple of years at Mosaikashop in Montreal, and even took a workshop on the Ravenna technique in Italy last summer. There’s a juried show coming up in Montreal in November, and my plan is to submit a mosaic for consideration.
And of course, the long walks. To me, doing my upcoming 12-day walk to Montreal is going to be a pilgrimage journey. I’m calling it “my Camino” after a path in northern Spain that people have been walking for centuries. That walk takes about a month. I’m not doing that just yet.
Some people say they would find it completely boring. But I’m open to it, I’m thinking it will be a really cool experience. I am looking forward to slowing down, pausing often, taking stock of the beauty of my surroundings!
It’s going to be a meditative, reflective time. Maybe through this process there will be something I don’t even know yet that will come up. I don’t know. I have been advised to go into the walk with “no expectations”. I just know I’m supposed to do it.