Steve Mossop has done very well, very quickly.
He seems to be a young man in a hurry: President of Market Research, Canada West, Ipsos Reid; at 38 named one of the Top 40 Under 40 by Business in Vancouver; sfu co-op employer and advisor. Yet his advice to students is to slow down and get the most out of university rather than rushing to graduate.
"Take your time," Mossop, now 40, advises. “A lot of people try to cram in too much too quickly. Life experience is important. Take a semester off. You have the rest of your life for your career, so slow down. And be careful about the choices you make.”
Mossop is a co-op success story and he encourages students to look at his career path. “I did one term with a research team and look where it took me,” he says. “I realized that if I didn’t get out and do things I wouldn’t know what’s out there.”
As an sfu business student with co-op stints at a scuba diving outfit, the North Island Regional District, and the North Island Mariculture Association under his belt, Mossop invented his own placement.
He approached the marketing firm tns Canada Facts, sold them on the sfu co-op program, created a position for himself in the company, and then persuaded them to hire him. The work suited his skill set of math, communications, and writing; he immediately saw the appeal in market research.
“ I’ve surrounded myself with very capable people. I try to recognize talent and encourage people to take risks. We provide a very non-bureaucratic environment so things can be done quickly, and that fashions a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship.” – STEVE MOSSOP
After his co-op work term with Canada Facts, he approached the company and was hired to work part-time for a summer and then, later, full-time. During his career with them and the polling firm Ipsos Reid he has managed various accounts, including technology and tourism. He also learned how to manage staff.
Now he oversees research operations, client services, and the work of 60 staffers in Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, and Seattle. The western operation is a $25-million business where Mossop looks after sectors that include tourism, energy, lotteries and gaming, and retail. Since 2000, when he was named vice-president, he has more than doubled his unit’s revenue. He became president in 2005.
Mossop says the main secret to his success is creating a good work environment and then hiring and rewarding the best people. “I’ve surrounded myself with very capable people. I try to recognize talent and encourage people to take risks. We provide a very non-bureaucratic environment so things can be done quickly and that fashions a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship,” he says.
In his search for talent Mossop is quick to look to co-op as a way to recruit youth to the company. He was instrumental in introducing co-op to Ipsos Reid (the company has hired at least 10 sfu students over the last five to six years), and has heralded co-op to other businesses Canada-wide.
A second element to his success is the business and market planning that goes into everything he does. “It’s the day-to-day, month-to-month decisions that took me to where I am,” he explains, adding that he is “very disciplined” in how he proceeds.
Which brings him back to his advice to students. In addition to taking their time, he says students should be careful of the choices they make – in volunteer work, co-op, and part-time jobs.
“I encourage students to look beyond the immediate because the choices you make on these levels have a profound impact on the future. In a lifetime of working university is very short, but very significant.”
Mossop gives his advice freely to both students and the university. He is a valued member of the sfu Business Co-op Employer Advisory Council. “Furthering the cause of sfu is very dear to me,” Mossop concludes. “It’s great fun to be involved because I now see things from three perspectives: as an alumnus, as an employer, and as an advisor.”
And sfu appreciates Mossop. According to Shauna Tonsaker, business co-op program manager: “Steve exemplifies the career success that students can gain from understanding their strengths early on, being strategic about their choices, and being willing to work hard to find their niche.”