Senior Manager, Programs, TELUS Health at TELUS
Fareen Qureishi, School of Journalism '09, is the Senior Manager, Programs for TELUS Health at TELUS.
This Q&A was conducted when Fareen was a Senior Manager, Programs for TELUS Health and is now at Deloitte Canada as Director, Executive Communications.
Why did you choose the university? Why journalism?
Journalism was always something that I pretty much wanted to do. But I remember thinking of some other things in high school. I thought I wanted to be a mechanic, a chemist and a couple of other things, but when it came time to applying to school I went back to journalism. I really always wanted to write something.
What was your experience at the university like?
I loved [the university]. I have nothing but good things to say about it. I went through the broadcasting stream. That was the best choice I ever made. In second year, you chose what stream you wanted to go into. I remember handing in my application for print, but I remember talking to a friend and they said, “You know, in print you don’t get to use all of the cool equipment, at least in broadcast you get to use fun cameras and stuff.” And I thought, she’s right.
So at the deadline on the last day, I took my application back and made a quick switch to broadcasting. There’s something about having teachers who may not have a PhD, but they know how to walk the walk when it came to journalism. They’ve experienced it, they’ve lived it and have the stories and the scars and I think that made the experience.
My only regret was I was a stupid kid who probably could have learned more, and I know that now — six or seven years later. I probably should have invested more time getting to learn from people, but when you’re 21 years old, you don’t realize the people that you have in front of you. My only regret is [the university] provided me with everything and I probably should’ve taken advantage of it a little bit more.
Talking about instructors, did you have any favourites?
One that is amazing, and he probably won’t remember me but we all have him on Facebook and stuff, is Peter McNelly. He was our third-year broadcasting teacher. Me saying he was amazing and we loved him would be no secret to him. It was so cheesy, at the end of the year we made a We Love Peter T-shirt and everyone signed it and we took a group picture because McNelly brought out the best in everybody.
Another prof I had in second and fourth year was David Nayman. He was a stand-out teacher. He knew his stuff and cared so much. He would probably be that person I wish I paid more attention to in class.
Going back to 2009, where did you see yourself going after graduating from the university?
Even though I always wanted to be a journalist, I don’t know if I ever thought I would end up as one. I think the space is highly competitive and it’s always going to be competitive. And I don’t know if I was ready to be a part of that competition. I went to school with a lot of people who were and are still hungry, and working in the broadcasting field, especially, is pretty much crazy hours and not so much stability at the beginning and you might be on contract for the first four years of your career; I don’t know if I wanted to do that. I don’t want to sound like a sellout, but I wasn’t sure if that was for me.
What kind of work do you do now?
I’m the manager of communications in corporate and public affairs at TD Bank. I support a business at the bank, and it’s all internal communications and not the [most glamorous] thing. I actually just switched jobs so if we talked [two months earlier] I would be talking about a different job. Right now I am supporting a portfolio within the bank. I support the human-resources portfolio. So I support project managers within HR, people who run reward and recognition programs. People within HR come to me and say, “I have a campaign, [or] we have a really good initiative so we (want) to find the best possible way to get the word to employees.” It’s my job to sit with them and look at all of the tools available at the bank and create a plan to get the most employees engaged.
It is a bit of a challenge, because again, it’s not the most amazing thing to get people talking about their pension, but it is a puzzle and it is fun to solve.
Don’t want to sound like a guidance counsellor, but where do you see yourself in the next five to 10 years?
I wouldn’t know. I started at the bank five years ago. I started as an intern, then I became a contract [hire], then I made associate level and manager level. I’ve did a little bit of a climb. I didn’t know what was next. I don’t know where I’ll be. I don’t know if I’ll be in the banking industry or at a whole new place, or maybe I’ll be at TD in a different position. What I would say that in five to 10 years I want to stay true to my roots of writing. Something that I enjoy is talking to people and getting to know their stories and putting [it] on paper or video. I like getting people’s stories out there and I think journalism school helped me understand how to do that. Whether it’s as a crime reporter or a financial journalists (which I was previously) or as a communications manager at a bank you still need to communicate with people and understand that we all have stories that are interesting but just need to be interpreted. So no matter what I do I don’t want to stop doing that.
Grads at Work is a series of profiles of School of Journalism alums. If you know of a notable grad you’d like to see featured, send us an email at email@example.com.