Since graduating from Brock University, Meredith has had the opportunity to manage large national and international events, projects and campaigns for many Fortune 500 companies. Meredith had the opportunity to work as an Events intern for IMG, prior to joining the Sponsorship team at Free The Children. After working as a Sponsorship Coordinator, Meredith was quickly promoted to Sponsorship Fulfillment Manager in which she was responsible for overseeing a partnership portfolio of over $6 million. Meredith soon had the opportunity to join the Partnerships team for the largest public film festival in the world, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). She is currently working as a Senior Manager, Corporate Partnerships for the TIFF team.
The Sponsorship Space had the chance to sit down with Meredith to chat about her role, career growth, and advice for other young professionals.
1) Tell us about your role with the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
As a Senior Manager on the Corporate Partnerships team, I’m responsible for inspiring global corporations to financially support TIFF through mutually beneficial partnerships. As the largest public attend film festival in the world, we work to make all of our partnerships customized - this includes creating and building completely new programmes and properties for our partners, as well as serving the need of our dedicated 500,000+ attendees.
2) The Toronto International Film Festival is one of the biggest events each year in the film industry. What is your role like during the festival?
During the Festival in September, I am all over Toronto. My day can start with hosting clientele to talk shop, life, film, etc. to managing one of our red carpet venues to working with volunteers on Festival street (a full street closure in downtown Toronto). We take an all-hands-on-deck approach for the Festival!
3) During the 10-day festival there is a lot going on around the city of Toronto. For your role, what goes on during the 355 days in which the festival is not running?
A common misconception is that TIFF is only active during the 10 days of Festival in September. When our building, TIFF Bell Lightbox, opened in 2010 in the heart of Toronto, we were able to expand our programming to the other 355 days a year with blockbuster Exhibitions, TIFF Kids (one of the largest children’s film festivals in the world), and Canada’s Top Ten to name a few.
4) You have vast experience in sponsorship and cause marketing. Can you tell us about your career path and what attracted you to this role with TIFF?
Having volunteered at sporting events, interned at one of the largest sport conglomerates in the world, and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Sport Management, I was on a path to stay in the sporting world but it didn’t end up that way!
When leaving university, I was open to getting as much event, marketing, and sponsorship experience as I could. This landed me at Free The Children, working on their Corporate Partnerships team with a portfolio valued over $6 million and travelling for almost 6 months a year to stadium sized youth-empowerment events. After learning the ins-and-outs of the international development and cause marketing realm at Free The Children, I left to continue building my career in sponsorship in a completely different sector - entertainment and arts & culture.
The appeal of TIFF is the fact that it is a non-profit and registered charity that is the largest public attended film festival in the world - not very common! The non-profit and charity element of TIFF means you get to work with a close-knit organization where you cross over with all departments. The largest public attended film festival component means your work is on an international stage in the competitive field of entertainment. These two things combined gives you the invaluable experience of working within a pressure cooker environment because of the international spotlight, but the opportunity to work closely with your executives in building new and innovative projects to better your organization and its programming.
5) What do you feel is the greatest contributor to your career growth in the past few years?
I have two big contributors from the past few years.
The first being open to the fact that my career path wouldn’t be linear (i.e. graduate - land dream job at dream organization - climb corporate ladder) - some of my best career experience came from organizations I never pictured myself at.
The second being proactive in receiving feedback from my peers - whether they be senior or junior team members. It’s important to value open communication and constructive criticism with your team members - you build a better skill set when you’re open to hearing other people’s recommendations based off of their observations of your style and projects you have worked on.
6) What is your best advice for young professionals looking to make their mark in the sponsorship industry?
My top 3 would be the following:
1. Don’t forget that you were once of fan of the property, team, etc. that you are now working for or looking to sponsor! Sometimes, as sponsorship professionals, we get caught up in how to deliver or get ROI and end up in a creative rut. As a fan, what you like to see from a sponsor? What are your needs to enjoy an event or a game? From there, you have endless possibilities of creating cool and unique projects, opportunities, etc. that put you in the spotlight at your organization.
2. Work on both the brand and property side in sponsorship - this will drastically expand your horizon and understanding on the experience needed and expectations on creating and executing sponsorship partnerships.
3. The final being the obvious one of networking to build relationships so you’re recognized as a face of your brand, property, team, etc. Establish yourself as that representative of your own personal brand, but your organization’s brand as well.
Senior Manager, Corporate Partnerships
Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)
Education: Brock University
Age: 25 years old