Q&A with Nikki Hedstrom

October 21, 2020

Once a month we do a Q&A with a senior marketer in BC.

Our series on interviews with senior marketers across BC continues with Nikki Hedstrom, COO of Smak Impact Agency and Director of Sponsorship with BCAMA.

What was your first marketing job?

My first marketing job was at Newad as the receptionist/executive assistant to the head of the Vancouver office. Working closely with an executive at the start of my career taught me invaluable lessons about what it means to be a leader. My learning curve was steep, but I was exposed to the inner workings of the business from the word go, and I’m thankful for the foundations it provided me as I launched my career.

“Anything worth doing is worth doing well. Do every task you are given to the best of your ability, even if it’s just fetching coffee.”

The best piece of advice I was given when I started in my career was “Anything worth doing is worth doing well. Do every task you are given to the best of your ability, even if it’s just fetching coffee.” This advice has always stuck with me and has driven me to care about every detail of my work. It’s the small things that build up your career. Trust is built in tiny increments, so keep to your word and show that you care.

What do you do now?

I am the COO of Smak Impact Agency Inc., an experiential marketing agency that specializes in developing and bringing brand purpose and values to life. I manage our Vancouver office and pre-COVID, you’d often find me jetting to Toronto to work with our clients and team out East. With over 12 years of experience at Smak, I have held nearly every role in the organization from Producer, Account Manager, Account Director to COO. I’m thankful to be able to relate to our team by having hands on experience in each role. It helps me have empathy and gives me a greater understanding when a coworker has an idea or a suggestion on how to improve process.

I believe when you find a culture that aligns with your values and allows you to do work you believe in, it’s easy to stay and help build the organization. Cultural fit is key. I’m grateful for all the amazing people I’ve been able to work with over the years: co-workers, vendors and clients.

On a typical day you’ll finding me dreaming up experiential strategies to engage employees or the public, managing the day to day workings of the business, and looking for ways for the company to be more efficient.

What do you believe is the most important skill for a marketer to have in this current time?

More than ever, I think resilience is the most important skill set you can have. We are going to need to think more creatively than we ever have before. Whether it’s reduced budgets, adapting to COVID-19 health and safety regulations, or helping companies pivot their business, marketers are going to need to have the grit and perseverance to get over what might seem impossible. It’s a time to roll up our sleeves to get the job done, whatever that job is.

Part of sustaining resilience is taking time for selfcare. When we’re burnt out, we struggle to see solutions and risk losing our perspective. A walk around the block, taking some deep breaths and connecting socially with co-workers will help with the fatigue. Ensuring selfcare will help us find the energy to troubleshoot and maintain creative/critical thinking. Having empathy for each other will also help us sustain a positive outlook; we’re all in this together.

Why did you originally join the BCAMA?

I joined the BCAMA Board of Directors because I know how important it is for marketers to be connected as a community. Early in my career BCAMA and NABS events helped introduce me to people in the marketing industry. They were, and continue to be, great places to network and meet people from other agencies and companies. I’ve made some great friends and many beneficial connections through the BCAMA and I would like to continue to help up-and-comers meet potential employers and clients.

What’s your one piece of advice to marketers in BC right now?

Entrepreneur and Ted Talk speaker, Nicaila Matthews Okome says “People are multi-passionate… People are interested in lots of different things. We’re always being taught we are supposed to know what we want to do when we grow up. But when you’re multi-passionate you want to dip and dabble into different things.”

“People are multi-passionate… People are interested in lots of different things. We’re always being taught we are supposed to know what we want to do when we grow up. But when you’re multi-passionate you want to dip and dabble into different things.”

– Entrepreneur and Ted Talk speaker, Nicaila Matthews Okome

Not sure where to start? Be like Seth Rogan and join a pottery class, or sign up for Masterclass and learn how to cook from Gabriela Cámara, or how to write a screenplay from Aaron Sorkin. It can take up to three attempts to decide if you like something, so if you don’t have a passion project, try a few new activities but make sure to give them a fair shot.

My latest passion project is a children’s book I wrote about calming negative thoughts. It gave me a creative outlet to lean into something that is important to me: mental health. It has been rewarding to help kids with anxiety and has boosted my overall creativity, particularly in a time when COVID-19 restrictions have limited other sources of inspiration.

I hope you find a passion project that fuels your creative fire.


If you’ve enjoyed this read, take a look at other Q&A articles.