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Alumni Profiles

Anne Sutherland

Anne Sutherland

Pilon School of Business
Year of Graduation: 1985
Program: Advertising and Marketing Communications - Management


Understanding Human Behaviour

Today’s companies know more about their customers than ever, thanks to the explosion of online marketing and information gathering. But that mountain of data doesn’t always translate into a healthier bottom line, says Anne Sutherland, who has 27 years of advertising and marketing know-how under her belt.

“Today’s click-thru, data-driven approach has given us all the information in the world, but it will not help if you can’t use the data effectively,” says Anne, a partner in new thinking, a Toronto-based marketing consultancy that helps build competitive advantage for businesses and brands. I always ask my clients: ‘What do you really know about what drives your customer?’”

“My work is about consumer behaviour and linking it to business. That is why I love advertising – it is all about understanding human behaviour. My driver is not just identifying insights into human behaviour but understanding why. If you don’t understand the motivation of your customers you will never be able to market to them effectively.”

Anne founded the strategic planning consultancy, Planning Ahead in 1997. The company was purchased by Cossette Communications Inc. in 2005. Prior to that, Anne was the VP, Director of Planning at BBDO Toronto, the largest agency in Canada at that time. She also worked at Leo Burnett, JWT and Carder Gray. Anne is also the co-founder of Citizen Capitalism, a not for profit group promoting the power of individuals to affect global change through their personal actions.

With extensive experience advertising and marketing to parents and children, Anne co-authored the 2001 book kidfluence: why kids today mean business, which examines the importance of Generation Y in today’s marketplace.

An educator as well, Anne teaches strategy at the Ontario College of Art and Design in the Masters of Design and Communication program.

Anne’s own post secondary education started near her hometown of St. Catharines at Niagara College where she studied Human Relations. A stint as Student President at the college piqued her interest in public relations and marketing. Anne’s subsequent search for a broad-based education with a focus on consumer understanding led her to Sheridan. “Its well-rounded program exposed students to all aspects of advertising, providing excellent instruction and preparation, particularly through the job placement opportunities.”

Since graduating from Sheridan, Anne has seen her share of consumer trends, including the emergence of social media marketing. Although the tools may have changed, the fundamentals of a marketer’s job – to engage an audience - remain fairly constant, as does the mark of a successful advertising graduate, she says. “Companies want problem-solvers. We don’t expect new grads to know it all, but being curious and eager to do anything will differentiate you.”