LARRY PATRICK ZOLOB, MBA
So much behind me…..yet so much to come.
I was born and raised in Timmins, Ontario, and I have been living in Toronto since 2006, yet my education and career have taken me all over Canada, the United States and the Caribbean. As I look back – and forward – I will admit that at no point in my life would I have answered the following question well: “Where do you see yourself in 5/10/x years??”. For me, I am guided by a compass that operates on two axes: morality and satisfaction; so long as the opportunities before me fall optimally along these axes, I’m in.
At Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada, I focused my undergrad studies on International Business and Math. ‘Business’ because I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life (sound familiar??!?), yet university seemed to be the logical next step after high school among paths already beaten. ‘International’ because it’s sexy and topical in business these days. ‘Math’ because I found it easy, and figured I’d bundle my electives into something tangible, a minor, a separator from my peers in school.
Upon graduation, all hell broke loose. I think I was one of maybe 10 people on the planet who got a job from a newspaper ad, landing a gig with Scotiabank’s International Division. Scotia, Canada’s third largest bank, took me to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands for over five years as I climbed my way up to become Territory Head of Bank Operations, a job that will never be matched by its ability to build my leadership and crisis management skills. I will reference my experiences there throughout this blog. Don’t be fooled; this was not half a decade in the sun with my feet up. Scotia V.I. was the toughest job I ever had and if I knew what was before me going in, I never would have taken the assignment (hashtags: #internaltheft #hurricane #vandalism #knifetomythroat #racialbias #dontgetmestarted). Still, I think about my experiences there a lot, and will never regret having gone. Easier to say now!
Scotia repatriated me to Windsor, Ontario in an account management job. Lending. Sales. Bleh. I bailed, in my pursuit of marketing, and elected to complete my MBA at University of North Carolina. Incredible experience, would do it all over again. Also scored a job teaching undergrads business communication and presentation skills. Loved that. I was fortunate enough to land a job with McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals (a Johnson & Johnson company) in Philadelphia. Fabulous brand/marketing training as I worked on over-the-counter medicines. Incredible people. Super smart. And, budgets! You learn a lot about marketing and develop all of your marketing tools when you have a $60-$70 million expense budget. But, my work authorization came to expire after nearly six years, so I took the opportunity to do something different. I decided to come home and reconnect with family and friends here in Toronto. Happy to be back. Bought property. Planting roots.
In Toronto, I joined Warner Bros. in the home entertainment division. This was more of a product management role (vs brand building), very channel-centric as I championed DVDs and digital content for all things Non-Theatrical; TV shows, animated stuff, sports, fitness, documentaries and eventually video games.
I fished that lake dry as 2013 began and for the next year-plus I headed up the live action marketing department of Phase 4 Films here in Toronto. More people to manage, great company, great people, more to do. Very focused on the job –growing, learning, teaching, accomplishing more, but always have an eye on what’s next, personally or professionally. Lots of articles out there championing the career entrepreneur. I’m certainly one of those.
Following the sale of Phase 4 in 2014 I have chosen to do what I call playing chicken with my career. I’m lucky to now be in a position to take my time to find the right permanent gig. I’m networking, consulting, coaching, mentoring and developing new business ideas while doing all those self-improvement activities you never have time to do when you’re at it 24/7. I’m the healthiest and fittest I have been in my life, my skills are upgraded through coursework and practice, and I have nurtured my close relationships and a number of hobbies — such as writing!
The playing chicken part is about not compromising on what I want. I have been tempted by a number of ‘jobs’, but I don’t want a ‘job’. I’m now hooked on the ability to control my own destiny and find the right work situations and org cultures that will bring out the best in me. This is an awesome time in my life, I cannot lie.
For the last few years I have been freelancing and consulting with startups, while at the same time looking for one to start/join. It’s different when you’re older. You want the near perfect storm of a solid business model, great people and the right role. You want to feel good about all or you pass and move on for the right thing. You want high ROI on your efforts, not like in your 20s when you throw stuff against the wall, not worrying too much if something sticks.
Fast forward and in 2018 I’m teaching university level marketing courses and some career development workshops while I gig. My main pursuit though is building an app from a business plan I sketched out in 2015 as a brain exercise on how to improve LinkedIn. I assumed one of the current category participants would have figured it out by now but no one has. So I dusted it off. wrote a draft VC presentation and showed it to 4 influential people in my network. Two offered to build it for free purely out of their belief in me and my idea.
Here we are in early 2020 and I can say that toughest part of the app journey has been finding just the right development partner. I didn’t find that until mid-2019; I finally signed a deal and am prepping to launch upmarkit – a career community like no other, in March or April. It’s an ambitious web app, truly unique and robust in its offering. I’m breaking new ground here – crossing my fingers members love it as much as they have loved the general concept to date. Finishing touches as I update this in late February.
My best experiences were born out of purely circulating, talking shop and helping people just cuz. Chuck the personal agendas and just hang and chat about problems that need solving, opportunities that need taking. If you’re particularly interested in areas of career development, mentorship, productivity, entertainment, recruiting, learning, skill set development and workplace culture, I’m so down for a coffee or even a Skype sesh, regardless of whatever the outcomes may be.
Career Highlights (chronological):
• Became one of the youngest managers in the history of McDonald’s Canada at age 15. (You laugh, but this is what got me my first job after University. I discuss this in the resume section.)
• High School Student Council President, Gold Pin recipient for outstanding all-around student
• BBA, Math Option, Wilfrid Laurier University. (Currently enrolled in mentorship program)
• Scotiabank, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Started out as an accounting supervisor and was promoted 3 times to eventually become Territory Head of Operations for a 9 branch network spread over 3 islands. Responsible for everything except lending.
• Scotiabank, commercial lending, Windsor, Ontario. Evaluated businesses and recommended/authorized loans in amounts ranging from $10K to $50M encompassing small businesses to large, established organizations
• MBA, University of North Carolina (Marketing concentration). Landed a role teaching business communication to undergrads.
• McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals, Philadelphia, PA. Brand rotations on Imodium, Children’s Tylenol, Children’s Motrin, Pepcid. Specialty rotations in CRM, e-marketing, New Product Development, Market Research/Strategic Business Insights. Leadership Award for People Development – Recruiting (no this is no ‘Employee of the Month’ thing; this was pretty serious stuff)
• Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Canada, Toronto, Canada. Business development and Product Management for Non-Theatrical Video/Digital and Video Games. Canadian Leadership Team.
• Phase 4 Films, Toronto, Canada. Oversee 10 person live action movie marketing for North America
• Startup consultant and marketing freelancer
• Associate Faculty, Royal Roads University, Victoria BC (online teaching)
• Instructor, University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies
• Founder (being a bit stealth atm, so I’m not releasing name and details until I got into beta in the fall of 2018)