Astrid-Maria Ciarallo is a passionate twentysomething young professional who loves politics as a result of her commitment to community involvement. A University of Toronto poli-sci and sociology grad, she is the Campaign Manager for Toronto Board of Trade's VoteOntario2011. Astrid-Maria also loves the arts, and is an avid opera, symphony, and ballet spectator. Find out more about this YPDaily in today's feature.
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I am the VoteOntario2011 Campaign Manager at the Toronto Board of Trade. I advocate on behalf of the Board's 10,000 members at Canada's largest Chamber of Commerce to promote regional economic coordination and infrastructure development for the GTA during the provincial election. As these two issues are both significant barriers for businesses, our members have been extremely supportive of the campaign.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I started working in wealth management at BMO Nesbitt Burns, which was an interest passed down by my grandparents. I have always been interested in politics and current events, which led me to get active. I initially got involved by helping to raise millions of dollars in political funds.
Last year, I was on Rocco Rossi’s mayoralty campaign in strategic communications and fundraising. It was an honour to work for such an inspirational and accomplished person along with a talented team. On the campaign trail, I had the opportunity to attend events and meet people from all across Toronto where I saw firsthand how government action (or inaction) can directly impact peoples' day-to-day lives. Too often I heard people complaining about Toronto's poor transit system and infrastructure along with the negative impact it has on their lives – whether it be a direct dollar loss or less time spent with family. This really resonated with me and I wanted to somehow play a part in making a change, which helped lead me to my current role.
Do you plan on starting your own company in the same industry one day?
I definitely have entrepreneurial spirit in my blood.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
When I am stuck in gridlock or hear frustrating stories from others, it makes me want to work harder to help facilitate a change to fix our infrastructure.
The most challenging aspect of my current role is that investment in infrastructure requires the political parties to make some tough decisions. We are calling on them to commit to new and innovative methods of financing. The commitment will have to involve all levels of government and perhaps even public-private sector partnerships. The biggest impediment to private sector involvement is the instability of projects due to the politicized nature of the process. When governments change, plans can often get changed, delayed or cancelled, which ends up either costing more or resulting in the plans never coming to fruition.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself in a role where I can somehow mix my love of business, politics, and the arts.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
You spend a lot of time at work so you absolutely have to love what you do. But, at the end of the day, it is your relationships that mean the most. I would also advocate for being involved actively in your community in some capacity. Apathy is boring!
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I have always been active in this regard. Throughout elementary and high school, I organized events such as Toonies for Autism and Hallowe'en For Hunger which taught me that every contribution, regardless of the size, can actually create a big impact.
At university, I was the Corporate Sponsorship Chair for Party For A Cause where we raised over $40,000 for charities in support of developing countries, like PlayPumps International which provides clean and safe drinking water to communities.
I am currently on CANFAR's Bloor Street Entertains committee.
What is Notable to you?
I think that being able to see the good in others is a big part of what makes someone particularly notable.