Employee Spotlight: Nico De Bruyn
Who is Nico?
I think it is hard to define a clear "Nico." But if I had to try I would say that i'm a marketer and a curious person who sees the world as an abundance of opportunity. I am also an immigrant from South Africa, and I think this gives me a different appreciation of risk and reward. As an immigrant, I've had the privilege of not just living in different countries and continents but I've also been around people who aren't afraid to take big risks for big rewards.
But overall the only thing people really need to know about me is that I am on a mission to leave everyone I meet better than I found them.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Day to day, I am working with my fellow marketer, Yvette, on key objectives like promoting our website, developing new outreach campaigns or getting promotional material made for initiatives. There is no typical workday when you work in a dynamic startup company like ours. Every day is really like a new beginning, and you can't rest on your laurels. Yesterday I could have been doing a complete redesign of a website, and today, I could be helping promote a new launch of a product within the company. The only consistency is that every one of my projects or tasks has some form of marketing. But there is always something new to explore or learn, which I LOVE because that's how I work best.
What drew you to work for Systems Imagination?
I found out about Systems Imagination from a professor on the downtown campus called Dr. Hall. I came to him as a result of my fascination with emerging technology such as blockchain in healthcare. He introduced me to the CEO of a very small biotechnology company at the time called, you guessed it, Systems Imagination. I came in as not even an intern, more like a fly on the wall to observe life in a startup while I worked on my own project, which was applying blockchain in the EHR system for healthcare. That project died within three weeks because I learned that I am not a great coder at all. Even though that project was over, I continued to show up every Friday and ask "what could I help you with?" Then I'd do it or figure out how to do it. I just tried to make myself as valuable to the company which eventually lead me to find a home in marketing, and I have been here ever since!
What are some of the biggest takeaways from your time at SII?
Focus on finding your passion and then looking at acquiring skills: a passion is more important because you can always learn the skills. It's tough to try to force yourself to be passionate about something.
Before working at SII, I didn't know how to build websites, do content marketing, and use social media, but I was passionate about its mission and vision. That passion led me to learn the skills, take classes, read the books, and practice to make myself better. I didn't get paid for any of that. My passion drove me. When reflecting on the time spent reading books, listening to speeches, and practicing I concede that I was building a skill. But I did it solely because I discovered a passion.
What advice would you give to a driven college student?
I would advise a college student to work for free to as many people as they can. I got my break in marketing from direct messaging CEOs of companies and asked them if I can do free work. When they would say I could help them, I would follow up and ask that they teach me the skill they wanted me to perform. That's how I learned about market research and SEO. It didn't really matter to me that I didn't get paid, if I got a skill in return I was more than willing to put in the work. So my biggest advice is to work for free to as many people as you can and focus on learning skills.
If you had a billboard on which you could post a single message to the whole world, what would it say?
September 30, 2020