New Legends: Bonnie Brooks and Lise Watier

The Marketing Hall of Legends welcomed 10 industry veterans to its illustrious rankings this year. With more than a century of industry experience between them, Marketing stole a few moments with each one, asking them to look back on their careers and examine what brought them success. Bonnie Brooks – Builder Bonnie Brooks has never […]

The Marketing Hall of Legends welcomed 10 industry veterans to its illustrious rankings this year. With more than a century of industry experience between them, Marketing stole a few moments with each one, asking them to look back on their careers and examine what brought them success.

Bonnie Brooks – Builder

Bonnie Brooks

Bonnie Brooks has never shied away from the spotlight to promote her brand’s story. The vice-chair of Hudson’s Bay Company has been credited with revitalizing it with renovations to the chain and introducing exclusive high-end retail offerings such as Topshop and Saks. She often lends her voice to radio ads for The Bay—not surprising, as Brooks knows a thing or two about media, having served for three years as editor-in-chief of Flare.

What did you learn as a child that contributed to your career success?
My father once told me he had to fire his secretary and I asked “Why?” and he replied, “Because she does exactly as I ask… and not more.” I always remembered that and vowed to deliver more than was expected as a result.

What’s the biggest gamble you’ve made in your career?
Moving to Asia to join the Lane Crawford Group when I didn’t know anyone there, and 99% of my new team didn’t speak any English and I didn’t speak any Cantonese.

What is your proudest career accomplishment?
The re-invention of Hudson’s Bay Company. Although only a dot on its 344-year history, we will have made a contribution to its future.

If I wasn’t in marketing, I would have been…
An architect.

Lise Watier – Visionary

Lise Watier

The scent she designed 20 years ago, Neiges by Lise Watier, remains the biggest perfume success story in Canadian history, and is still the top-selling scent in Quebec and one of the five best-sellers in Canada today. An entrepreneur and an inspiration to women in business, Lise Watier has also given back to the community; all the revenue from the sale of Rose Tendresse lipstick and Sparkle of Hope gloss goes to the Lise Watier Foundation to help women in need.

What did you learn as a child that contributed to your career success?
My mother taught me that quality is always better than quantity. So, I quickly understood to never compromise quality. She also developed my sense of esthetics. She was always the most beautiful woman in the room. Despite our modest circumstances, she exuded confidence by always looking impeccable.

What is your proudest career accomplishment?
Twenty years ago, I launched the Neiges perfume against all odds, proving everyone who doubted its success wrong. I imagined a perfume that would evoke the purity, coolness and gentleness of winter’s first snowflakes. I wanted to pay tribute to the strength and sensitivity of Canadian women and to winter.

What advice would you offer anyone starting their career today?
Allow yourself to dream, to dream big. With hard work and determination, this idea that you nourish could one day become reality. Everything starts from a dream; it carries us through difficult times.

If I wasn’t in marketing, I would have been…
An artist.

Photography: Mike Ford

This series of Q&As – which also includes Hugh Dow, president of M2 Universal; Jack Bensimon, president of Bensimon Byrne; Aldo Bensadoun, founder and executive chairman of The Aldo Group and many others – will appear in the March issue of Marketing. Subscribe today, and be sure to check out the issue on your iPad.

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