3-minute mentoring with Marie Buban: How to Steer Your Career in Tech

As manager of social intelligence, Marie helps teams at the CBC understand conversations happening on social platforms. (Mike Burroughs/CBC)

Marie Buban, CBC Digital Products’ manager of social intelligence, sat down with us for our continuing Women In Tech series. Here, she shares some valuable career tips in a speed-dating mentorship style session — lots of wisdom nuggets, free for the taking.

Marie found her calling after joining a women’s technology group called the Toronto Webgrrls (yes there are two Rs). Through that group she discovered a passion for digital analytics and has held roles in various industries (media, digital publishing, telecommunications) and has worked in interactive agency/consulting environments.

As digital analytics was fairly niche in the early years, many roles were more entrepreneurial and involved evangelizing the importance of digital analytics and insights within the organization. Today, she helps teams at the CBC understand conversations happening on social platforms in order to create a better product for our audience.

Life lesson #1: The person who should care most about your career is you

Marie is candid about entitlement and expectations. Those old adages about paying your dues and proving yourself? All true, she says. The most important thing, she advises, is to take responsibility for yourself and your career.

“No one will care about your career as much as you do,” she says. “Nothing is ever given to you on a silver platter. You have to show your worth and be proactive about what you want to achieve and where you want to go.”

Marie believes that people early in their careers should try to get exposure to as many working environments and industries as possible so they can understand different client mindsets and how to deliver a variety of projects. She feels her agency/consulting experience has helped shape her career.

“You learn so much, because they’re [agencies] usually under-resourced so if you have the passion and drive to volunteer you can take on opportunities that you might not have otherwise,” she says.

“You are steering your own career, so if you’ve become complacent in what you’re doing, ask, how can I augment this, is there an unmet need that I can step up to that I can take charge on?”

Life lesson #2: Other people’s perceptions don’t have to be your problem

Marie’s quiet confidence and humour immediately puts people at ease. She also has rock-solid expertise that she’s willing to share with others. Still, she’s encountered her fair share of roadblocks.

Offices can be complex and challenging. The most crucial thing to remember, Marie says, is to not allow other people’s problems become your own.

“I think if there’s a difference in how you’re treated; sometimes it has nothing to do with you yourself” she says.

Life lesson #3: If you’re in your 30s, it’s ‘go time’

The most crucial decade in your career is your 30s, Marie says. Your 20s is the time to experiment and find what’s right for you. Once you’ve found that thing, go hard.

The decisions you make, the relationships you build and the projects you take on during this time could set the path for the rest of your career.

Life lesson #4: The network is not a myth

Every opportunity Marie has taken has come from her circle of colleagues, friends and associates.

That’s not to say that opportunities fall in your lap. It’s important to cultivate and nurture genuine professional relationships with people.

“There’s a difference between having a real network versus a few hundred of Linkedin connections that don’t really know you,” she says.

It’s important to cultivate genuine connections and relationships with people in your field, she says, not only to learn of opportunities but also to stay apprised of developments in your industry.