Renée Romero Brown
As a young, educated woman from the Philippines, Renée thought she would find work teaching in Canada. Yet, she got her break in the business world, working her way up the ladder.
In 1971, at the age of 24, I immigrated to Montreal, Canada, from the Philippines. Given my work experience, I started my job search in the educational field. Anywhere I applied, the first question was, “Do you have Canadian experience?” I replied, with what may have been an incredulous look on my face, “But I have just arrived on your fair shores!”
I found the business world to be more accommodating. I became a private secretary to a sales executive, who became my career-long mentor. Almost immediately, he started assigning me sales and marketing tasks. After further training, I was transferred to Toronto, and my first foray on my own was as Product Manager. The plan was to do presentations to broker companies in four major cities in Canada. I remember being very nervous, actually terrified but thought it was paramount that I look most professional in this launch. I needed a new wardrobe of suits and blazers with just the right shoes and accessories.
Each presentation became easier. I became self-assured and confident, relying more and more on my “killer” shoes as a talisman to get me through. Those shoes screamed high quality: classic black pumps of the finest leather. I never looked back. I was promoted to Account Manager, selling to major corporations in four continents.
I should mention that the relative ease with which I progressed in my career was in part due to my loving, encouraging and supportive husband, David. Being an engineer, he provided mathematical calculations and technical data to my sales pitches and helped open my mind to the technical aspects of the products I was promoting.
I was offered to head my division a couple of times, which I refused as I didn’t want to stray from my comfort zone. It turned out I was reporting to two successive bosses whom I tried to familiarize with the business, but neither one worked out. Shortly after, the company president flew to Toronto to meet with me.
He said, “Will you please reconsider taking the upper management position of your department? We have had two candidates who didn’t fit. I’ve watched your performance, and I’m positive you will enjoy it.” I actually had the gall to laugh and say, “I don’t think so. I’m very content where I am, thank you very much.” After parrying for some three hours, he finally convinced me. However, I had the last word, “As long as I can go back if I’m not happy.” He said, “You have my promise.” He must have been happy as he was able to fly back to Montreal the very same day!
Being Director of Sales & Marketing turned out to be the right decision, proving that business was indeed my passion. There was a learning curve, but in time I was comfortable yet challenged. I proved a Confucius saying to be true: “If you find something you love to do, you will never work a day in your life.” Confucius may have been overstating his aphorism! I worked very hard for many long hours, but it was truly enjoyable and rewarding for the most part.
Yet, I knew when to stop and enjoy the realm of retirement. I had worked 25 years total (interrupted by a five-year maternity leave!) with a company I love. I chose to leave at the top of a most satisfying career. It was time to give up a very fine succession of killer shoes and relocate my feet to loafers and mules. But those killer shoes gave me a good, long run!
Renée Romero Brown had a successful sales and marketing career in Montreal and Toronto, retiring with her husband of forty-five years to the lakeside community of Lochaber, near Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Renée immigrated from the Philippines in 1971.