Paige Schoenfeld
Bachelor of Business Administration (Honours), 2010

When Paige Schoenfeld graduated from the BBA Honours program, she was open to many opportunities applying for jobs at various companies although the one she most wanted to work at was Ipsos. Looking back at her first application attempt at Ipsos, Paige is grateful that she didn’t get the job she initially applied for.  It wasn’t until she joined the Ipsos team in the position that best suited her that she realized how important good fit was in her career success. Six years and an impressive job title later, Paige is an Associate Vice President and loves every minute of her role.  Check out our interview with Paige below.

What is your official title and company name?
Associate Vice-President, Ipsos

In 10 words or less, what does Ipsos do, exactly?
Provides custom market research solutions to businesses globally.  

What does a typical work day for you look like?
Ipsos is a large company comprised of many specialized industry or service teams. The team I manage, is a small team of about 10 people that focuses specifically on the lottery and gaming industry. No day is the same but I essentially spend about 50% of my time out of the office on the road:

A typical day the office:
  • I manage four to five different clients/businesses and 10+ different studies at any given time. Multi-tasking and prioritizing is just part of the job. The variety of tasks that I might perform in a day at the office include:
  • Business Planning (i.e. Business Development, Forecasting, etc);
  • Reviewing requests for proposals from clients;
  • Developing research design and proposals; 
  • Coordinating with clients to better understand their needs as they relate to ongoing or new projects;
  • Coordinating with the operations team in order to execute research;
  • Creating and managing the research project design tools;
  • Managing the relationships with our clients;
  • Managing and coaching other employees; and
  • Executing my own projects.
A typical day on the road: For the most part I attend industry related conferences. These are great opportunities to get face time with the client and to generate business. We also travel all over North America to visit our clients for purposes such as presenting the research results or conducting qualitative research such as workshops and focus groups. 

Where are your top three favourite places you’ve visited for work?
By far, my favourite place has to be New York City.  I’ve been there quite a few times now and I’m starting to feel comfortable getting around and finding my place. Second is Washington DC as it’s just so incredibly unique. The third is Miami, Florida as who doesn’t love getting away from the cold winters in Canada to the sunny Miami beaches.

What do you like best about your job?
First, is the team. The people I work with and for is the biggest reason I go into the office everyday. We travel a lot, so it’s important that when you are on the road you enjoy the people you are travelling with. My manager is an effective mentor and believes in me.

I also love my job because we can be looked at as experts in our industry, even among our clients, and I get exposure to new research methodologies. We get insight to the lottery and gaming industry across jurisdictions and we have the faith from our clients to try new methodologies to help our clients answer business questions. Custom research demands are constantly evolving because of the changes in consumer trends, so it’s important that our business offer evolves with it.

Many of our students attend Okanagan College to become employable. How long after graduating did you get a “real job”?
I didn’t get a “real job” until five months after I graduated despite the fact I had been applying/interviewing for positions almost everyday. It’s a lot of work, especially having moved to a new city. The first “real job” I signed a contract for was for a Research Analyst position with Ipsos. However, this was the second position I had applied and interviewed for as I was not successful the first time around. Landing the second job turned out to be a blessing in disguise as position was more in-line with what I was looking for and the team was an excellent fit.

So, the person who was hired for the first job, is he or she still with the company?
No, she’s no longer with Ipsos but she is now one of my clients. 

In a pretty short period of time, you went from being interviewed to being the one conducting the interviews.  What do you look for in an employee?
What I’ve learned as an employer, is that it’s really important to find the right fit for the role and the team despite the qualifications. Students and new graduates shouldn’t get discouraged if they aren’t offered every job they apply for. But, they should also make an effort to make connections so that employers know them and can keep them in mind when the right position does come available. 

I had a case about a year ago when a new graduate reached out to me looking to volunteer to better understand Ipsos. Due to data confidentiality reasons, it’s not possible to have any volunteers but we met for coffee and kept it touch as she was a great candidate for the future as no positions were available at the time. Shortly after our coffee meeting, a job came up and we wanted to hire her right away.  Her persistence and initiative to reach out to us made the difference and kept her top of mind. That extra effort is really important when you’re looking for work and want to make an impression.

Looking back, what made you decided to enter the College’s BBA program?
I went to the College upon completion of high school. One of my high school career counsellors recommended OC’s program because it was more developed than UBC-O’s Management program at the time. What I learned is that the applied learning approach used in the Business courses helped develop critical thinking skills and applicable knowledge as we were working with real clients on real business problems, with less focus on theory.

You opted to get your Honours BBA.  How has that specific program helped you in your career?
Because of the primary research component in the Honours program, I went into my first job with the experience and knowledge about research, about the complete investigative process and research design. The research process in real life isn’t always linear and it is always highly determined on the project you’re working on.Being able to take what I learned from the process of understanding client briefings, research design, developing surveys, creating recommendations, etc) was hugely advantageous.  It gave me an edge over other applicants and new entry level hires I already had real world client experience and 1:1 coaching from my faculty advisors. Not all university students can say that they receive that level of welcomed focus from their professors. 

When you entered the BBA program, did you have an idea of what you wanted to be/do in your career?
In high school I knew that I liked marketing but didn’t know what I wanted to be.  Once I was in the program, I realized that I wanted a career that could blend creativity and science (or data). I really enjoyed my market research classes and felt this career path was a good fit providing balance of the creative and analytical sides of a answering a business problem through data collection and analysis, report writing and presentations.

What was your career progression after graduation?
I started in an entry level position at Ipsos in Vancouver.  I was there for about two years. From then on, I have been moving up the corporate ladder as one would say although I have made moves across Ipsos Business specializations/teams and cities throughout that process. 

I started out at Ipsos ASI, now known as Ipsos Connect, which is the advertising and brand research division of Ipsos.  I worked with clients like Nestle and Clorox, Best Buy and  Once I felt I had a good understanding of research in that I wanted to expand into another area/industry, I moved to Calgary and into the lottery and gaming unit, which is where I've been ever since. 

You’ve become involved with the Calgary chapter, what would you say you get out of attending chapter events? 
Being part of the Calgary alumni chapter is a good reminder of how important the four years were in my life in terms of where I was on the first day of school to where I am today.  It’s also a great way to create new connections, maintain relationships, and touch base with my former classmates. I also feel like it’s important for alumni to support the future graduates in their career development so I will offer my support when I can.

What piece of advice do you have for current students or recent OC graduates?
Don’t buy a new car when you graduate.  Rick Appleby (former marketing professor) gave me that advice when I was a student which I was happy to follow. In all seriousness, you have to stick with it. It takes a long time to get good experience or become an expert in any role (despite what you might think) and patience is key. You don’t become a leader of a division overnight. Also, ensure you have an employer/manager who believes in you and wants you to excel. If you have a dead end employer/manager than your potential growth will absolutely be stunted and it’s time to move on.

What is one interesting tidbit of information about you or your life that others might be interesting in learning?
I absolutely love being active and being outdoors. Going overnight hiking, scuba diving, or traveling are my passions in life next to building a career I can be proud of.

Paige Scuba diving


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