Growing up in Zurich and Vancouver, with Swiss and Dutch parents, Céline Grootes’ sights have always been set on the world of international business.
Over the last two years, the UBC Bachelor of Commerce student has studied and worked in China, Germany and the Netherlands. And now, her impressive international resumé has landed her a job at Google’s European head office.
Her love of discovering new places is the reason she joined Sauder’s Business Co-operative Education Program, an experiential learning program that provides third and fourth year BCom students with full-time work experience while they earn their degree. She knew the experience of working in another culture would provide her with fresh perspectives and opportunities that would benefit her at Sauder and beyond.
Finding a niche in digital marketing
Grootes found her love of digital marketing through her co-op placement with Adidas in Nuremberg, Germany, where she was responsible for a company blog, published in 11 different languages. One of her biggest projects was to create how-to videos for the newly launched Smart Watch in 2013, which was viewed by everyone who bought the watch around the world.
So when looking for an opportunity for her next work term, she of course turned to the digital world for the job hunt itself – on Facebook.
“I’m a big believer of having lots of friends on Facebook,” she says. “You never know where people might end up. It’s similar to LinkedIn for my generation.”
It’s a belief that paid off. After becoming friends on Facebook with someone she met on vacation six years ago (and never spoke to again), she found out about an opportunity at one of the largest beer companies in the world, Heineken – based in Amsterdam. With her limited Dutch, and with the help of Google Translator, she applied for the position.
Making a big impact in a global business
It is with this determination and resolve that Grootes managed to make a big impact at this global business. With just two weeks of training, she was asked to create and manage Heineken’s digital marketing campaigns for Africa and the Middle East (53 countries in total), while her manager travelled for business.
The paid advertising campaign reached 14 million people across the region and reached 40 percent of their target group in just four months.
“The pressure was on, for sure, but with my passion of digital and my ambition to build the brand digitally, I was able to overcome these challenges and build a great social strategy,” she says.
Great business culture
Initially intimidated by her impression that her European colleagues were sometimes a little too honest in their feedback, she soon realized she had nothing to fear. Especially during Heineken’s Friday Borrels, which brought the whole company together for a beer and provided Grootes with a great networking opportunity.
“After a while you get to know everyone, and they expect to see you at every Friday Borrel,” she says. “Even the top executives sooner or later know you by name. It’s pretty incredible.”
The fun atmosphere was on her list of criteria when looking for a placement. But it didn’t mean it was all nerf guns and beer. Her hard work continued even after she left, after leaving the team with the research, ideas, strategy and content calendar, as well as the performance analytics for each component across all 53 countries in the region.
New understanding for the future
Grootes believes that her experience at both Adidas and Heineken allowed her to explore the different types of marketing, which has enabled her to understand the work and industries she wants to pursue after graduation.
“Working in these two industries really helped me understand the job segments that interest me and I’m passionate about. And isn’t that the ultimate goal? After all, you don’t want to be doing something you don’t love!”
To wrap up her global education, Grootes will be spending her final term on exchange at the Shanghai Fudan University, immediately followed by a move to Dublin, Ireland in August where she will be starting a full-time position at the Google EU Headquarters.
Learn more about the Co-op Program
Students interested in the Sauder Co-op Program can learn more by attending an information session or by visiting the Co-op Program webpage.
Employers looking to hire a Co-op student can do so through the Hari B. Varshney Business Career Centre.