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Pauline Leoncio

SFU Co-op Student
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication

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Often and publicly, she credits her experience in co-op as the "catalyst to (her) career."

A globetrotting communicator, Almira Bardai is a PR and communications professional with over 17 years of experience in the field working all over the globe from Vancouver to Australia. She is also the co-founder of a boutique PR firm that has grown to three locations: Vancouver, Toronto, and Los Angeles. Besides running a thriving PR agency, she still finds time to devote to philanthropic efforts, mentoring young entrepreneurs and fundraising for various non-profit organizations.  In whatever spare time she has left, she loves to travel and is a hardcore yogi.

Almira believes her road to success was a snowball effect of right choices. From deciding to attend SFU, to joining the Communication program instead of Education or Business as she initially intended, to participating in co-op, Almira paved the path to her career as a top communicator. Often and publicly, she credits her experience in co-op as the “catalyst to [her] career.”

Almira held two different eight-month co-op positions, first working for Human Resources Development Canada, then Future Shop. In these positions, Almira wasn’t just a regular intern as she had the opportunity to take on high-level projects and responsibility. Working in these communications roles gave her hands-on experience and a real and practical understanding of managing communications in the workforce. With “the whole amount of experience I got from the co-op program, I pretty much had two and a half years of real work under my belt,” says Almira. While managing internal communications for Future Shop, Almira truly learned the importance of a healthy work environment and relationship with employees, so much so that she’s made sure that the internal culture at her PR agency is a top priority. 

Beyond the skills and experience, it was the relationships and contacts she made at those work terms that also drove her career forward after graduation. Through the connections she made working for the federal government in Ottawa, she obtained another 8-month position at the Vancouver office. After completing her co-op at Future Shop managing internal communications for the IT department of over 200 employees, she returned to work for them. Having built great relationships at her co-op jobs and gaining invaluable experience and real communication skills, Almira beat the odds and landed an account coordinator position with the Wilcox Group, formerly one of the top PR companies in Canada, before she even graduated.

Almira's quote
However, Almira didn’t stop there. Being bit by the travel bug, her wanderlust pushed her to take a risky move to the UK. Despite having no contacts and no connections, she was offered a position as a secretary at Cobra Beer Company, and negotiated to allow her to do public relations work as well. Within one year, she managed to climb to the executive level, as the Head of Global PR.

When life brought her back to Vancouver, she encountered an obstacle she never expected. Returning back to the Canadian workforce, her international experience posed as a limitation rather than an advantage. She was back to knocking on doors to find work. Despite that, Almira was tough and determined. Willing to knock, or more like kick–down doors, Almira overcame any challenge with tenacity and managed to get on the path that she wanted.

In the past five years, Almira has found herself going in only one direction: up. Today, she’s the co-founder of Jive PR + Digital, a cross-media communication company serving a range of well-known clients, offering strategy, media relations, social media and digital marketing.

Regardless of her increasingly hectic schedule, Almira has always carried an inclination to give back to different communities and organizations. As a young girl, Almira had a humanitarian heart,   participating in global education humanitarian work in high school. Now as a female entrepreneur, Almira enjoys mentoring up-and-coming business women and volunteering for the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, a Vancouver mentorship program aiming to educate and empower women in achieving their entrepreneurial goals.  She’s also traveled to the country of Kyrgyzstan, to offer communication strategy and development to the Aga Khan Development Network and is currently in the midst of planning her next volunteer trip. As her career continues to soar, Almira still finds the time to give back.

As the head of her own company, Almira now sits on the other side of the interview table. She shared that those who stand out in her eyes are the self-starters, hard-workers, and those who put a little TLC into the application process. It’s the creativity in thinking that gets her attention, applicants who ask questions like How can I stick out? How can my resume look better? What are the things I should be doing? She recalls an interview where the entrepreneurial book “Lean-In,” came up in discussion. The next day, the applicant sent her a copy, an act of thoughtfulness and initiative that’s stuck with her to this day. Almira reiterates that sometimes it’s these tiny details that can really make a communication graduate stand out from the masses.

Starting over in a new country is an incredible feat, and Almira has done it multiple times over while managing to start a successful career. In the next five years, Almira sees herself finally staying in one place. With a successful boutique agency, living in close proximity to family and friends, and a routine yoga schedule, this fearless globetrotter sees a long-term future in Vancouver.

About the Author

Pauline headshot

Pauline Leoncio

SFU Co-op Student
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication
Connect with Pauline on LinkedIn or Twitter

 

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