quark part 1: meet pinkie & panda

Every once in a while I get this burning desire to be more involved than I already am.  The latest:

‘Pinkie and Panda to Blog their way to the North Pole’

Quark Expeditions is looking for those involved who love to write and travel, with a love for social media to compete in “Blog Your Way to the North Pole.”

The prize is a $54,000 trip on the 20th anniversary expedition to the North Pole in June 2011. Crazy eh?  Throughout the trip the winner will blog, photograph, video, and document the journey with the hopes of educating those around the world!

Many of you already know that I love to travel.  That coupled with communication, social media, and marketing gives me even more love!


Here is the application:

In November 2010, Jillian Walker (aka Pinkie) travelled to Vancouver to speak at a conference for young women in business. In the midst of her workshop she met Jeremy Lim (aka Panda). This was no regular handshake or hello my name is… instead Panda was taking photos at light-speed, capturing an animated and excited Pinkie. Soon enough she learned that Panda was not only a photographer, marketer, and musician, but also the king of awesome.

Pinkie arrived back in Calgary and stumbled upon the Quark contest via Twitter. Immediately she knew she must enter, and Panda must be her +1. Why? They are both social media enthusiasts, ridiculously fabulous, and have mad love for travel.

Pinkie has travelled throughout Europe, Africa, Japan, and North America. Highlights include riding a camel named Princess in Tunisia and skydiving in Hawaii. Panda’s travel experience complements Pinkie’s, adding Central America, Hong Kong, and Thailand to their list of travel accomplishments. Panda’s most memorable travel experience was meeting (and making out with) his girlfriend, Coco the stingray, in the Caymans!

In addition to blogging at http://jillianwalker.wordpress.com and http://www.jeremylim.ca, Pinkie and Panda consistently tweet and engage with the masses. Pinkie’s passion is employee engagement and making a difference in this big bad world. Panda is known for his online marketing skills and capturing the big moments of the world, most recently at the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, and the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

Why should you vote for Pinkie and Panda? Pinkie is highly entertaining; she’s bound to make the shipmates laugh with her ridiculous comments, and likely paint the nails of a polar bear or two. Panda deserves to be her +1 because he will keep Pinkie mentally stable, the ship singing along to the latest tunes, and contribute to blogging to the North Pole and back! Although they have only spent 15 minutes together, a few things are for sure – they both ooze passion, dedication, and a commitment to making Canada proud.

Pinkie and Panda’s extensive travel experience and knack for social media will allow them to take the North Pole by storm. With matching outfits, a camera, and at least a few bottles of pink nail polish – they are bound to have the time of their lives, while taking you along for the ride!

Follow us on Twitter at @jillianwalker and @jeremylim, join our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pinkieandpanda, and vote!

Photo Courtesy of Jeremy Lim - www.jeremylim.ca

I would love your support and vote during this competition.  Every one can only vote ONCE, so it shouldn’t be too taxing on our friends, family, and networks!  I’ll ask if you can please spread this world about the competition. Email your friends, share the link on Facebook, tweet, blog, the works. Jeremy and I would love to place in the top 5 by February 15, 2011 – and we know we can do it with your help.


With all my love. ❤

PS – Regular Jill-type blogging to commence during the holidays… I’ve been MIA due to catching up on sleep and enjoying life without university. :)

what makes a top employer – part 4 (success!)

On October 29th, I received an email from KPMG indicating that I won the national “What Makes a Top Employer” video contest!!! I was on my layover in San Fransisco en route to Tokyo and heard about a minute before I was supposed to board (which as per my previous blog post – fight was delayed a few more hours).  I couldn’t have been more thrilled!  I was absolutely giddy in the SFO airport wishing that I could tell someone (I was on roaming), and unfortunately I couldn’t resist. I likely have a hefty bill from the international texts and calling.

[Disregard the spelling error in KPMG’s tweet ;)]

Representatives from KPMG were completely flexible with the fact that I was on my way to Tokyo and rather unavailable due to the conference I was attending.  We agreed to chat upon my return and finalize all the details.

KPMG recently went live with a summary of the competition:

On November 9th, TalentEgg.ca wrote an article on the competition.


If you missed seeing my original submission to KPMG’s contest, feel free to view here:

And on October 3rd, I posted an additional video to “engage” ;) the viewers.


I ended up connecting with KPMG late this week and they are currently working on the finding a date for me to connect with the 5 CEO’s.  In the near-ish future, I will have a 1 hour meeting with the following well-respected and successful CEO’s:

  • Bill Thomas, CEO of KPMG Canada, as the sponsoring company
  • Nadir Mohamed, President & CEO of Rogers Communications
  • Cameron Heaps, Co-founder of Steam Whistle Brewing Company
  • Bruce Poon Tip, Founder (AKA “The Captain”) of Gap Adventures
  • Colin Moore, President of Starbucks Coffee Americas

This means a trip out to Toronto and a whole lot of opportunity!

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone for your support during this competition.  In 30 days, WE reached 661 votes, and over 2,169 viewings.  In 30 short days, you all listened to what I had to say about the future of work.  In 30 days, I saw the power of social media, with votes, tweets (retweets), facebook posts, and online discussion.  In 30 short days, you gave me opportunity.

Thank you for your continual commitment. Ahh it gives me absolute warm fuzzies to know I have people in my court, rooting for me every ounce of the way. I absolutely have *big* plans for 2011, stay tuned for how the CEO meetings go and for the next steps with my career.

With all my heart. ❤

top employer update

Today I received this:

“I am one of the representatives of the What Makes a Top Employer Contest. I called you this morning to deliver the news that you are one of the 3 finalists for the What Makes a Top Employer contest. You are now in the running with two others to have the chance to win 5, 1 hours meetings with 5 of Canada’s top CEOs.”

These 5 judges will be viewing my video next week:

  • Bill Thomas, CEO of KPMG Canada, as the sponsoring company
  • Nadir Mohamed, President & CEO of Rogers Communications
  • Cameron Heaps, Co-Founder of Steam Whistle Brewing Company
  • Bruce Poon Tip, Founder (AKA “The Captain”) of Gap Adventures
  • Colin Moore, President of Starbucks Coffee Americas

As per a recent KPMG news release:

Two sets of prizes will be awarded to students in appreciation for their time and effort.

The first prize wins an Apple iPad and five individual one-on-one mentoring sessions with the CEOs.  The first prize will go to the student with the best video response—the most insightful, thoughtful, and useful video. The winner will be chosen from a short list of individuals who will be judged by the five CEOs. The second prize winner—the student whose video wins by popular vote—will also receive an Apple iPad.

Fingers crossed everybody!

every vote counts

Today is VOTING DAY!

What does this mean?

1) Today is the last day of KPMG’s What Makes a Top Employer video contest. It has been a month long battle with university students across Canada, but I have attained 2nd place (out of 400+ videos!) and couldn’t be more proud. Contest closes at 11:59pm EST. I would love if you gave me your vote.

2) Today is Calgary’s Municipal Election. Do you research, then head down to the polls and vote for Mayor, Alderman, and School Trustee.  Voting stations will be open from 10am to 8pm. Visit The City of Calgary’s website for more information on locations.

I’m looking forward to life being more calm after October 18th.  Fingers crossed for team J-N-Z (yes that would be Jillian-Nenshi-Zak)!! ;)

With love.  ❤

what makes a top employer – part three and a half

On October 10th, I blogged. It was my third blog post regarding KPMG’s What Makes a Top Employer video contest.  In that post, I said that I would update again once the competition was over.

Tonight, I received a message from Chris, my brother-in-law:

“dear jill… today i haven’t voted for you because you haven’t put any effort into your site lately (blog)… lets see a post.” xxchris

Well… apparently I haven’t been doing a good job.

Chris this is for you.  There has been a lot going on in my world as of late and I apologize for not keeping up with my blog.

The time to vote is now.

Love Jill XO

PS – To the rest of you, the KPMG competition ends tomorrow – yes tomorrow at 11:59pm EST.  If you haven’t voted today, please do! Then tomorrow – again!! Then guess what, we’re finally done.

Thank gosh eh?

PPS – In other news, I went to a birthday party for a 9 year old friend of mine named Paige.  It was intense.  14 girls were in attendance.  Paige asked me to get her a puppy for her birthday… and I didn’t.  Bad me. :)

PPS – Marley, I’m still working on your letter.  My goal is to get it mailed before I leave for Japan. ❤

what makes a top employer – part 3

This blog post will be Part 3 of a series of 4 posts related to KPMG’s competition on “What Makes a Top Employer“.

On September 20th, I blogged about the competition, how to register and vote, and why I wanted to share my voice.  I encouraged you to watch my video (and the others) and decide if I was worthy of your vote.  On September 28th, I blogged because I had hit a milestone, 1000 views!!  I had been asked how I would continue to engage the voters, as 30 days is a heck of a long time to vote daily.  A few days later, I uploaded this video to YouTube:

The video continues to align with my Top Employer vision, but won’t count towards official votes on KPMG’s contest website.  As you can tell, I did the ABC’s of “What Makes a Top Employer” [it’s ok to start laughing now…], I knew creativity and humor would be critical for engagement.

We are now 8 days away from the end of the competition.  I am currently in 3rd place, with 431 votes and 1631 views.  The young woman in 1st place has a 30-day video upload advantage on me; as a result, I’ve decided my goal is to get to 2nd place before the contest ends on October 18th, 2010 at 11:59PM EST.

If you have yet to engage in this competition, I will plead with you to do so.  At the end of the day, this has nothing to do with votes or who is the “winner.”  As I’ve said, I believe this competition is about impact.  The impact that we, as young people, can have on future leaders and potential employers.

If you would like to vote, please visit my video contest entry here:


I will update again post-competition with the final tally on votes and views.  The judges are expected to make a decision on the winners by November 5th, 2010.

With all my love. ❤

a single vote


2010 Mayoral Candidates


Today I voted.

No big deal right?  Today I voted for the first time in my life.

I am 26 years old and have been legally allowed to vote for 8 years.

Why have I never voted?  I felt uneducated.

Some people believe that education is up to the individual.  My thoughts are that not everyone is going to care about politics.  Not everyone is going to realize the impact that political decisions can have on themselves, their family, and the community.  Society and candidates cannot expect citizens to educate themselves.  We must teach people [and especially the incoming generations] the value of elections. I truly believe that if education increases, voting numbers will increase.

Anyways, for me, Calgary’s municipal election has been different… and perhaps my approach to it has as well.  I find the Calgary Twitter community to be very active compared to many other cities in Canada and the looming election has taken the intensity and local interest up a notch.

Twitter has “put” the election in my “face” for the last however-many-months.  Twitter has given me no choice but to learn.  Even if I had chosen not to vote, I still would have been somewhat educated on who was running in the election.

In the past, I wouldn’t have known a candidate’s name, let alone anything about their platform.

So I know what you’re thinking… well not every candidate is on Twitter… there is bias etc etc.  Well regardless of the candidate being on Twitter or not, they are surely talked about.  Some accounts are used solely for promo of their platforms, some are unresponsive and send auto-tweets, and others truly try to engage with their audience.  One aspect of Twitter (at least from an organizational point of view) is managing reputation.  A slight side note… but if candidate’s are not on Twitter, they are not able to manage (and defend at times) their reputation.

I don’t believe I’ve educated myself from the candidates themselves, instead the community has educated me.  The #YYCvote community has done an excellent job of asking hard questions, reviewing platforms, and educating the masses on forums, events, and community initiatives.  I have had the opportunity to dig deeper into candidate websites, raise questions when I didn’t understand, and learn a lot about the municipal politics.

For me, Twitter filled the gap… Twitter has made the election convenient.  Do I read the newspaper anymore?  No I check @calgaryherald and @metronews every morning.  The hard copy newspaper is not “convenient.”  Neither is traditional election marketing.  Regardless of priorities, we all have busy lives.  As we move into the future, candidates will have to work even harder to reach their audience.  Let’s not assume that everyone is a 20-something, social media activist… candidates need to educate everywhere from nursing homes to corporate to the slums to universities.  An effective candidate will realize that in order to be successful they truly need majority vote.  Majority vote encompassing everyone aged 18 to elderly.

My experience today?  I visited the advance polling station at the Municipal Building.  There was no line, I was whisked to a station and greeted by an elections lady.  She doubted that I was of age and reviewed my ID in detail.  Few quick questions and I was on my way.  Please note that she did ask me if I aligned with public or separate.  I had no idea what this meant and eventually said public. I headed to the next station where another elections staff person asked me a few quick questions, made me review the elections rules and sign on the dotted line.  At this point I informed him that I have never voted and had absolutely no clue what to do. [You would think the bewildered look on my face would have made that clear].  He laughed and walked me through the process. I asked him if I was allowed to non-vote for the school trustee and he said yes.  He showed me how to mark a big X on the ballot and I was off to the little voting station.  I had already decided who to vote for (both mayoral and aldermanic) so a few quick X’s and I was on my way.  In and out in less than 5 minutes; feeling slightly empowered I must say.

A brief statement about the school trustee vote.  It COMPLETELY caught me off guard.  No where through my process of “educating” myself did I know that I needed to vote for a school trustee.  There were 2 candidates on the piece of paper – I had never seen their names and more importantly, I had NO IDEA what a school trustee even does or how the role impacts a school.  I chose to spoil my vote because I did not feel comfortable endorsing someone I had absolutely no clue about. I felt like grabbing my iPhone and googling what it all meant [no idea if that’s allowed or not in voting stations]; instead I walked away.  Surprised and taken back.

I know how serious people take politics and by no means want to turn my thoughts into political debate.

The point is today I voted.  Educate yourselves and vote too.

what makes a top employer – part 2

On September 20th, I blogged about KPMG’s “What Makes a Top Employer” video contest.

We are now 8 days into the contest and what I can I say other than… wow!

Today we hit 1000 views and 200 views!! That means for every 5 views, I’m getting a vote – and I’d say that’s awesome odds!!

Here’s the proof:

We now have 20 days to go…  and we need to keep up the momentum.

Yesterday I tweeted that I had finally made it to 3rd place!  Yes went from 120th+ place to 3rd place in 8 days!

Anyways, the response was this:

I recognize the importance of engagement.  I know that people don’t really want to register – let alone vote daily for the next 20 days.  What are the votes I want?  I want votes from people who truly believe I’ve presented the best vision of a top employer.  I want you to engage in the goal of this competition and understand why initiatives like this have potential to change the employee-employer relationship.  I can’t promise a song and dance, but something… enticing ;) … will be posted on YouTube, Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/votejillian) and Twitter within the week.

In the meantime… I need your votes. :)


If you’re just getting started, read more about the competition here or follow my instructions on how to register here.

Thank you to all of you who are supporting me in this competition, in my career and in life.  You all mean the world. ❤

what makes a top employer

Let’s talk Twitter… my gosh, Twitter has provided me with so many opportunities since I became active in late Fall 2009.

I’ve been following @KPMG_Canada for a few weeks and on September 18th, they tweeted this:

I was immediately intrigued.  For those of you that don’t know… from January to March 2010, I competed in a national business student competition called “Focus 2040“…. the goal was to predict the future of work in 2040.  It involved various stages and in mid-March, I was invited to Ontario as one of the top 10 finalists in Canada.  Anyways, throughout the process, I did a lot of research on Generation Y and workplaces of the future.

I truly feel like I am a voice for the next generation.  I embody many characteristics of Generation Y, including the ability to thrive in a flexible work environment, a need for feedback and involvement, tech savvy skills, and of course, pro-change.  I have been in the workforce since the ripe ol’ age of 15, but have a solid 8 years of “real” work experience.  I have been working in Human Resources for the last 4 years and I have a true understanding of corporate programs and policies.

When I saw this contest my eyes lit up (as lame as that sounds) and once again I was excited about something in my life… I had found a new purpose (or maybe a distraction… regardless, I was excited!).  KPMG is the sponsor for the 2010 Canada’s Top Employers for Young People award. This year they are asking Canadian university students to share their opinion on what makes a top employer! Within 24 hours, I had my figured out what I wanted to say, created a video (ahh so many takes, a ridiculous amount of takes), edited the video, uploaded the video, and started promoting my “brand.”

From my perspective there are a ton of angles you could take on a question as large as “What makes a top employer?”  I narrowed it down to flexibility, community focused, diversity, and passion.  Flexibility revolves around the need for ‘flexible work options’ in the workplace including personal days, tele-working, and flexible start and stop times.  I discussed the concept of “work to live,” and although I didn’t touch the issue in the video, I do believe employers need to be flexible with many facets of the employee-employer relationship, including dress code and office space.  The next generation understands the importance of community work and giving back.  So many of us are blessed… blessed with family, a support system, good health, food in the fridge, a roof over our bed, and clothes on our back.  We are educated and know that we have the skills to help others.  Employers need to support their employees in giving back.  We thrive in a diverse learning environment.  Whether it be gender, ethnicity, religion, geographical location, or skillset, employees appreciate diversity in organizations.  Passion. As a young employee, I want to truly believe in my organization.  I want to see that my employer is passionate about their business, their employees, and the community.

I would have loved to talk more about management support and the need for mentorship programs, orientation, continual coaching, and performance development plans.  Or maybe the concept of socialization in the workplace and how we need to have fun and laugh.  Or respectful workplace policies and ethical treatment of employees.  At the end of the day, I only had 4 minutes. :)

I chose an angle that was different than most of my competitors.  I truly could not sit here in my living room and say that a top employer has to have competitive pay.  End of story.  That’s not it at all… Top employers have to have the whole package.  Top employers for young people need to have the whole package PLUS understand how the next generation’s needs and wants differ from the past.

Just over 14 hours ago, my submission was “approved” by the video contest representatives and made available on KPMG’s official video contest site.  I have now had 208 views and 28 votes (see note at end of post!).  208 views in one day – ahh so wonderful!!!  In less than a day, I have made it to Top 5 out of approximately 160 videos.


What’s important now is momentum… we have 28 days until the contest ends at October 18, 2010 11:59 EST[By the way, 208 views, 28 votes, 28 days… all kinda bizarre…] If 28 people vote once per day for the next 28 days, I would be at 784 votes and in 1st place [assuming everyone else stops voting for the others ;)].  I know…. in fact, I am positive that we can do better than 28 votes per day.

My call to action:

Please learn about the video contest and understand the potential impact this competition could have on your future employer. If you are a Canadian university student and under the age of 28, feel free to submit a video.

Check out my video. Just 4 minutes! It will fly by! ;) If you support my ideas and vision of top employers, please vote. You can vote every day until the contest ends (see note below on registering before your first vote).

Share share share. Please continue to spread the word about this contest and my video.

A few options:

Are you going to forget to vote? [I know… daily is a lot!!]

  • On the Facebook event, at the very bottom of the page, you can click on “export”.  Select the option to export to email.  The event will be sent to your email and you can save it as a calendar item in your Outlook.
  • I will be sending out daily reminders via the Facebook fan page.  Follow the voting progress via your Live Feed or check your fan page “Updates” via your Messages section.
  • I will tweet reminders 2 or 3 times a day on my Twitter stream.  As the Calgary election is also happening during KPMG’s voting period, the Twitter stream is busy busy… follow the hashtag #TopEmployer to catch the tweets.
  • If you want a personal text message reminder every morning. I will do that, just for you.

So why should you help me out?  Well, I can think of a thousand reasons!! :)  I am a voice of the next generation. I have committed my time to thinking about what’s important to Generation Y and making this video.  I have truly thought about what I wanted to say and that it was representative of my peers.

I know that even if I don’t win, I will have impact.  Impact and influence on both KPMG and Canada’s Top Employers.  Regardless of if we believe it or not, people listen.  KPMG created this competition for the young people.  They wanted the young people to have a voice.

This is not about the iPad or the opportunity to meet with top executives across Canada.  This contest is truly about education.  Education of employers, employees, and the community.  Education on needs, wants, and generational differences.

Together, we can all make a difference.

If you have any comments or questions, feel free to comment on this post, get in touch with me through any social networking site, or email me at jill [dot] walker [at] uleth [dot] ca.

With absolutely all my love,

Jillian Walker ❤

Note: Why is there a considerable difference in the number of views versus votes?  I’ll tell ya why… No one wants to register.  I completely understand why they don’t – it’s a pain, it’s too much work, it’s this or that.  Well, guess what? You have to register!  In order for KPMG to ensure the contest is legit, they need you to register… but the good news? You only have to register once!