On finding purpose at work: a Sweet Sixteen and other milestones

People don’t stay in jobs like they used to. In our industry, the average agency turnover rate is about 30 percent — second only to tourism. So it’s unique and meaningful that our team has as many engaged and committed members as we do.

Without relying on all-you-can-snack rooms and Friday bar carts, what keeps employees truly engaged? We turned to four team members on their anniversaries to find out what gives them purpose — and why they continue to thrive and grow in their roles.

Dave Hurds, Design Manager: 16 years at Context

How he got his start
I owe it all to Courtney Love! When I was younger, I taught myself web design so I could run a fan site for my favourite band, Hole. I learned Paint Shop Pro and I loved it. I thought, maybe there’s something to this graphic design stuff after all. I started as an intern at Context, and it’s been so long I don’t remember my first day.

What keeps him at Context
I love working with strong leaders. It’s truly a trickle-down effect. Cate respects and treats us the way she’d like to be treated, and Lionel’s enthusiasm for every project is contagious — I rarely see him without a smile on this face. I also appreciate that there’s no ego on our team. No one wants to see anyone fail, so we all prop each other up as much as we can.

What’s next, professionally
I’m looking forward to learning more about management. I’m currently reading Todd Henry’s Herding Tigers: Be the Leader that Creative People Need. Beyond that, I’m honing my digital design skills in Figma and expanding my digital marketing knowledge as it’s always evolving.

Most rewarding about his job
I love being a mentor to younger designers and watching them grow and excel at their jobs. It’s what keeps me motivated to wake up and work every day.

Joanna Poon, UX/UI Lead, Digital Producer: 10 years at Context

What keeps her at Context
Definitely the people. The principals are good people who genuinely care about their team, and because of that, the culture is kind. Sure, we argue over fonts but it’s always respectful. In my 10 years I’ve never experienced the “toxicity” that you hear about at other agencies. I think it comes down to the fact that it’s a collaborative environment — there’s no competition among designers and we’re never pit against each other. When someone is struggling, there are five people behind them ready to help.

What’s next, professionally
I’ve recently moved into a more operational role. I’ll still be working on strategy and creative, but I’m hoping to help organize our studio’s approach to digital work. I can appreciate how complicated digital work gets — it’s highly technical — so this is an area where I can easily contribute and make improvements. I’m good at organization and I enjoy it.

Most rewarding about her job
The pandemic has made me think about how important some roles are — frontline workers are literally saving lives. With clients in the public sector, I sleep comfortably knowing that the work I do helps make the world a bit better. We’re not selling chocolate or shoes; those clients are fun in the short term, but what would we be contributing, really? What we do has purpose.

Megan Power, Senior Copywriter: 5 years at Context

How she got her start
I never had aspirations of being a copywriter, although I had admired great copy in ads. Like everything in my life, this wasn’t something I planned — I fell into it. I had just finished my post-graduate degree and was looking for what I was going to do next. My friend offered me a job in a communications role and my career snowballed from there.

What keeps her at Context
We work on a lot of high stakes issues. I love climate action and I find the work we do really meaningful. We also have one of the least toxic environments I’ve ever worked in. This is a very healthy place to work. As with any job, your feelings about daily tasks will ebb and flow, but I find no matter what the project is, there’s an attitude of “This sucks, but let’s go kick ass!”

On growth
When I first started as a copywriter, it was easy to take feedback personally. My feelings would be hurt whenever someone told me my headline was flat. Eventually I got good at divorcing myself from creative input. Today, what matters is effectiveness — if my headline stays and the campaign doesn’t get great results, that’s no good to anyone.

What’s next, professionally
I’m going to grow my butterfly wings and continue developing my strategic skills — that’s the natural evolution for a copywriter.

Jackie Reis, Digital Marketing Specialist: 1 year at Context

How she got her start
When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with promoting my dad’s business. He ran a small construction company and I took over his marketing. When I discovered Google Ads, this was the biggest turning point in his company. I created his website and ran Google Search campaigns. The phone began to ring more than ever before and business grew a lot from there. After that, I was sure I’d work in Marketing and Communications.

What keeps her at Context
Every campaign is a new challenge. We innovate ways to promote offers that make a difference — especially now when times are difficult for so many. I started two weeks before the pandemic hit, so I was lucky to meet the team in person. Our Office Manager Heather said: “People are so nice here, you’re going to love it!” She was right — the team spirit is amazing.

What’s next, professionally
I’m always searching for new trends and digital strategies to bring to our team. I’m also excited to explore new ways to engage our audience and to keep learning as digital technologies evolve.

Most rewarding about her job
It’s nice to see great performance by analyzing the data when a campaign ends, but more importantly, I think about how many people we’ve helped by promoting programs for households in need of financial assistance.

Want to be part of our talented, purpose-driven team? We’re always looking as we grow. See current opportunities here.

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