The power of the pivot - New Canadian Media
An early jolt caused Sidharth Iyer to find his own niche in Canada.

The power of the pivot

Landing in Canada may not necessarily mean resuming a career. It might mean a re-invention.

In my professional career spanning over a decade, if there is one keyword that has defined my success, it is ‘pivoting’. I’ve discovered that it’s the secret sauce that unlocks doors for new immigrants.

I recently completed six years in Toronto and can’t help but reminisce about this long journey that commenced back in June 2016 when I had the opportunity to visit Montréal on a business trip. Fast forward to a breezy Thursday morning in 2017 (September 7), I made my way out of the Toronto Pearson International Airport as a new immigrant with a world of opportunities ahead of me.

Prior to immigrating to Canada, I was leading digital strategy and brand communications for a renowned film production house in Mumbai, India. That role was the first successful ‘pivot’ for me after spending the first three years of my career as a business journalist covering the Indian media, advertising, telecom, sports, technology and entertainment sectors.

I was one of few fortunate new immigrants who landed in Canada with a job. I started my new role, albeit a short-term contract, as a product marketing coordinator with a semiconductor leader, and while I knew it would be short-lived, it gave me the quintessential ‘Canadian Experience’ launchpad early in my immigrant journey.

I found volunteering a great way to meet new individuals as well as discover some hidden gems in the city of Toronto. As I was nearing the end of my first contract, I landed my next gig, which provided the opportunity to get back to content creation for an email encryption start-up, as they were gearing up for new regulations. However, just four months into the role, I was jolted by news that I was being laid off because of internal restructuring.

But, brace yourself, for this was merely the beginning; the real ordeal was that I had put down a deposit towards a starter home, thinking I was in a ‘secure and full-time’ position and could take that leap of faith to live the dream of every newcomer to Canada. Alas, as fate would have it, I was now seeking legal help to get back my deposit on the home, and an uncertain future. Fortunately, I did get my deposit back, as the owner of the home was empathetic towards my situation and that restored my faith in my decision to move to this beautiful country.

A long-haul flight back home gave Sidharth Iyer enough thinking room and time to consider a ‘pivot’ in his career.

A eureka moment

Amid this turmoil, I sought refuge with my family and made a trip to India to rejuvenate and strategize the way ahead. On the long flight back, I did some deep thinking about the first eight months when I gained first-hand intelligence about key factors that employers, and more specifically hiring managers, look for when trying to fill gaps in digital marketing. This is when I had my Eureka moment. While working at the semiconductor leader and the start-up, I came to realize the importance that was given to niche and specialist roles within the digital marketing team i.e. Social Media Marketing, Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Email Marketing, Content Marketing, Account Based Marketing (ABM), etc., and that led to the biggest ‘pivot’ in my professional career – to specialize and niche down as an SEO.

The reason to ‘pivot’ into SEO was two-fold: Having worked with SEOs during my first two gigs in Toronto, I realized that most of the SEO talent were technically sound but lacked a content-first approach to support organic growth. I could also leverage my transferable skills with hands-on content creation, strategic communications and critical thinking to drive results that are aligned with wider organizational goals.

Now five years since that ‘pivot’, I have grown from strength to strength and currently lead the digital marketing department for a Deloitte Technology Fast 500 Silicon Valley start-up in the Generative AI space.

Over the last five years I have continued to share my learnings and the ‘pivot’ story with other new immigrants to Canada in the hope that they might learn from my hopeful story. 

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Sidharth Iyer is a revenue-focused marketing leader in B2B SaaS with over 10 years of diverse go-to-market experience. Outside of work, Sid is also a mentor to several up-and-coming marketers, sharing his expertise and knowledge to help guide their careers.

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