Oct 22, 2013, 12:51 PM
Michael J. Weiss
“Doing Well by Doing Good”
Rosa Rumeo wants to make a difference. Passionate about health and nutrition, she became a certified community food advisor for North York to advocate for healthy eating. She’s volunteered for many organizations including the Canadian Cancer Society, Relay for Life and the Walk for ALS. And at Environics Analytics, she’s proud of her role as Director of Client Advocacy for the company’s practice that serves the not-for-profit and public sectors, among others.
“I love my job because I’m usually helping people for a good cause,” she says. “Maybe it’s a municipality that wants to make sure the children of recent immigrants have access to fitness programs, or a charity raising money for research. I like them all. When the friends of my six-year-old ask him what I do, he says that I help the poor. And that’s how I look at it. It’s our sector.”
Rosa has been a do-gooder and hard worker for most of her life. She grew up in a working-class Italian immigrant family, the daughter of two bakers in urban Toronto. Academically precocious, she completed ninth grade math while still in the eighth grade, and she went on to win honours in math and science in high school. Although she considered becoming a doctor, she blanches at the sight of blood—an obvious handicap in that profession. Instead, she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Schulich School of Business at York University—with honours, of course.
For the next 12 years, Rosa worked at CIBC as a consultant in the area of strategic insights. But when she returned from maternity leave to find her position downsized, she followed a former colleague, Rupen Seoni, to Environics Analytics where he became practice leader for the public, automotive, not-for-profit and packaged goods sectors. In 2006, Rosa signed on as a fulltime consultant and, soon afterwards, became one of the group’s first Client Advocates, working with clients to achieve their marketing goals. “Rupen,” she says, “is my mentor.”
Today, Rosa leads the client advocates for EA’s most varied practice, with clients ranging from small charities to multinational manufacturers. Rosa insists that the variety is less of a challenge than one might expect. “Many of the approaches that we take are transferable to different sectors,” she explains. “You just need to customize the application to the client. And I think the variety makes us better consultants because we can work with different sectors and apply what we’ve learned to other industries.”
She’s particularly proud of her team’s recent success in helping a charity sharply reduce its marketing costs thanks to a segmentation-based strategy typically used by many for-profit companies. The charity had been dispatching 1.5 million fundraising pieces as part of a mass mailing. But an analysis showed which neighbourhoods had been responsive—and which weren’t—and recommended the group reduce its direct marketing campaign to just 650,000 highly targeted households. Despite their misgivings, the group followed the guidance and generated more revenue than ever before—and with much lower mailing costs. “It meant there was more money to go to their worthy programs,” says Rosa. “People love what we do.”
Around the office, Rosa is known for her ability to zero in on the needs of a client. She says she developed her analytical skills as a youngster when she would pester her family with incessant questions. “I’ve always been curious,” she says. “And I’d never shut up until I understood everything. When I was a kid, I used to read mystery books always feeling that I could figure out the ending before I got there.” Her inquisitiveness continues to serve her well. “Asking the right questions is the key to understanding how things work,” she asserts. “It’s the key to this job.”
With a demanding job and a young family, Rosa relies on all her analytical skills to manage daily challenges and busy schedules. Her husband, Silvio, owns a sheet metal construction company and he often works long days on the new condominiums sprouting around the city. Married ten years, the couple has two children—Angela, 8, and Luke, 6—and Rosa concedes that nutritional concerns sometimes take a backseat to young palates. “Alright, so I feed them macaroni and pizza,” she shrugs. “Picky eaters are picky eaters.”
To wind down, Rosa plays tennis, does yoga and works out in her basement gym. The family home is located in Wentworth, an Urbane Villagers community (wealthy, middle-aged urban sophisticates) according to the PRIZMC2 segmentation system. But Rosa confesses that the handbook description only partly captures her lifestyle. “We’re younger and not as wealthy as other families in the cul-de-sac,” she says. “But our neighbours include doctors, lawyers and wealthy professionals. We’re the outliers.” Thanks to the home’s location near a wooded ravine, she can hike rustic trails with the family’s two miniature red poodles, Sunny and Lola. “With all the trees,” she says, “it’s a bit like being in a cottage.”
If Rosa has one regret, it’s that her busy work and home life has required her to cut back on her volunteer work. But that just gives her something to look forward to. “When I retire, I’m going to go back to volunteering,” she notes. “It’s something I care deeply about.” She pauses for a moment, eyeing the stacks of client reports and maps on her desk. “I’d probably score high on the Vitality social value,” she says. And as the data show, that’s perfectly fitting for a member of the Urbane Villagers segment.
–Michael J. Weiss