Shereen Ladha; Toronto;
Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. How would you describe, in a nutshell, what you do?
I’m a brand strategy wizard by day and a Bollywood dancer and YouTuber by evenings and weekends.
Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I did my bachelor of commerce at McGill University, and have an MBA from the Schulich School of Business.
What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)
After many unpaid internships, I landed a sweet job doing market analytics and brand strategy at a firm in Toronto.
What was your BIG break? How did you land it?
It was this first job that combined data analytics with brand strategy—it was the perfect combination of two things I studied in university and was so passionate about.
In terms of dance I’d say I created my own ‘big break’—I had danced in Hollywood movies, on TV shows (including being a finalist on Canada’s Got Talent) and Netflix original shows and in music videos, but making the decision to put my own work out there through YouTube was really my big break.
Describe the moment in which you first realized, I think this is actually going to work out?
It was just after I started a new job doing brand strategy at an agency in Toronto. I was working all the time and trying to dance and produce whenever I could. I remember leaving work late on a day that I had scheduled a pretty big shoot with my dancers. I had a project deadline and still needed to think about all the things I needed to do for the shoot. We wrapped the shoot and I remember leaving with the feeling of ‘Can I really balance all this?’ and ‘Am I doing any of this well?’
The video I produced that day ended up going viral all around the world and got featured on some huge publications and television/radio shows.
What would you say has been your biggest failure or shortcoming, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?
Not going for what I wanted earlier on for fear of failing. I definitely had serious imposter syndrome. I wish I had the confidence to go after things before, the way I do now.
Name one piece of career advice you always give.
Do what you love and be hungry to learn every single day.
What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?
That I had to know exactly what I was going to do and train for that.
Did you deal with barriers in your field because you are a woman? If so, what were they?
I take whatever stereotypes and barriers that exist in the business world and turn them into opportunities for myself instead. It’s important to recognize when you’re being treated differently for your gender, and it’s even more important that women support each other in the workplace and act as mentors for each other.
Are you making a fair income for your work? Why or why not? Do you have a side hustle for extra cash? If so, what is it?
I do make a good living for what I do. The reason for my side hustle is purely for my passion of dance, but it definitely helps pay the bills too!
What’s the worst stereotype you’ve heard about millennials at work?
I guess the weirdest one I’ve heard recently is that we can’t afford to buy homes because we’re spending too much money on avocado toast and lattes. My circle is full of people like me who balance full-time careers and full-time side passions. We are so incredibly devoted to living this life of constant hustle. Those who are of that insular belief should know, though, I’m paying down a mortgage and always get extra guac.