Rebecca Basi’s mother was a cook at a KFC. She hardly called in sick, was repeatedly promoted and eventually bought her own franchise. “She’s so hardworking and passionate about what she does,” says Basi. “Seeing that over the years influenced how I act now.”
Basi, 26, isn’t afraid of hard work either. In 2011, while completing her bachelor of business administration in marketing at Toronto’s York University, she was hired as a marketing intern at startup Plastic Mobile. Quickly promoted to marketing coordinator, Basi worked full-time downtown and commuted to York for evening classes, using her vacation time to write exams and graduate in 2012.
Basi went on to play a big role in winning new business for the agency, managing winning pitches for Shoppers Drug Mart (a big pitch against 17 other agencies) and Pizza Pizza. Then, with three years and three promotions under her belt, she was offered a job as a digital solutions specialist with Publicis and its newly acquired digital agency Nurun.
Jenna Yim, the general manager of Nurun Toronto, was looking for digital account supervisors who could bridge the knowledge gap between account management and tech solutions. “The solution strategist understands not only the brand and strategic vision, but what is the most strategic and efficient way to get there,” says Yim. “[Basi] understands how to put those two pieces together by providing the partnership to clients.”
Being the youngest supervisor on her team and facing a steep learning curve to extend her expertise beyond her mobile background, Basi was undeterred and started learning as much and as quickly as she could, a goal quickly tested by yet more new business pitches. But the first RFP she managed, for Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., was a success. Soon after, she sat as the only digital team member in the pitch for a multi-million-dollar international account. After winning that, she would manage the account alongside her other big client assignment, BMO.
Just five months after she was hired, Nurun recognized Basi’s accomplishments and hard work on three back-to-back pitches with its Lion Heart award. The agency “appreciated how determined she was, but she was always positive, calm, helped people push through the milestones,” says Yim. “She was the key player in getting work done the best.”
Basi has since returned to Plastic, taking the work ethic her mother taught her back to the company that first saw it. “[My mother] always had a sense of ownership where she was working. When I’m here, I have the same amount of commitment as if I owned the agency. There’s no 9-to-5 for me. She never called in sick, neither do I.”