Never say no, create opportunities for yourself

By Sonia West

An infectious energy and positive attitude are what you experience when in the presence of Almira Bardai. She is a PR and communications professional with over 20 years experience, working all over the world, from Vancouver to Australia.

Today, she is the co-founder of Jive PR + Digital, a cross-media communication company serving a range of famous clients, offering strategy, media relations and more. Jive has grown to three locations: Vancouver, Toronto, and Los Angeles.

She believes her road to success was a culmination of the right choices. From her decision to attend SFU to joining the Communication program, to participating in co-op, she paved the path to her career as a top communicator.

She held two different eight-month co-op positions, first working for Human Resources Development Canada, then Future Shop. In these positions, she was not just a regular intern as she had the opportunity to take on high-level projects and responsibility. Working in these communications roles gave her hands-on experience and a real and practical understanding of managing communications in the workforce. She credits her experience in co-op as the “catalyst to her career.”

Beyond the skills and experience, it was the relationships and contacts she made at those work terms that propelled her career forward after graduation. Through the connections she made working for the federal government in Ottawa, she obtained another 8-month position at the Vancouver office. Having built great relationships at her co-op jobs and gaining invaluable experience and real communication skills, Almira beat the odds and landed an account coordinator position with the Wilcox Group, formerly one of the top PR companies in Canada, before she had even graduated.

However, Almira did not stop there. Her passion for travel prompted her to take a risky move to the UK. Despite having no contacts and no connections, she was able to cold-call her way into an administrative position at Cobra Beer Company, where she negotiated to do both admin work as well as PR. Within one year, she managed to climb to the executive level, as the Head of Global PR. In this role, she was part of the key team who transformed the brand Cobra Beer to popular mainstream distribution.

When her path brought her back to Vancouver, an unexpected happenstance had occurred. Rather than her experience abroad working to her advantage, her international work experience posed as a limitation. She was unable to find a job. She was back to knocking on doors to find employment. Despite this unexpected situation, Almira was tough and determined. Like the adage, “When life gives you lemons…make lemonade” that’s just what Almira did. “Never say no…It’s about the opportunities you create for yourself.”

As fate would have it, a partnership would be born from the chance meeting of two very ambitious women. In 2008, Almira volunteered for the Projecting Change Film Festival, which is where she met her future business partner, Lindsay. Over a glass of champagne, they recognized they were PR soul mates and together they could create an opportunity.

So on February 1, 2009, Jive was formed. Lindsay had a passion for business development, while Almira loved the day-to-day operations of the business, and managing growth and strategy. Together they could create something amazing and see how far they could go. The sky was the limit!

She is happy to be living back in Vancouver. When asked what drives her, she replies, “the opportunity to work with great people and great clients. I love to build brands. Where I am right now in, my life is the perfect place for me.”