Society gal Laura Serra is more than a well-connected Young Professional who happens to cover some of Toronto's best events for The Globe and Mail. This YP also started Paws for the Cause – a charity dedicated to raising funds for our four-legged friends. Find out more about this amazing woman in today's YPDaily.
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I cover parties for The Globe and Mail by day and lead a team of 17 for Paws for the Cause by night.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I started working at The Globe and Mail part-time while I was in university and never dreamed my career would flourish as it has – I'm very grateful. I’ve become quite the connoisseur of event planning, having been to so many parties for the job, and wanted to use my knowledge and contacts to give back. I also wanted to do something for animals out of the love I have for my puppy. I combined those two ideas and Paws for the Cause was born. I recruited 17 close friends and respected colleagues to create a powerhouse committee who, in our inaugural year (2010), raised $25,000 for the OSPCA. This year, we’re thinking bigger, we have three times the number of projects, and are hoping to raise $50,000 for the Ontario Veterinary College’s Pet Trust Fund.
Do you plan on starting your own company in the same industry one day?
In my fantasy land, Paws for the Cause will become a large enough organization that I’m able to quit my day job and run it full time. My dream would be a Paws for the Cause veterinary hospital where we can financially assist owners who can’t afford life threatening surgeries and bring in homeless dogs off the streets for veterinary care.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
For the Globe, I’m lucky because I get to attend some of the swankiest and most exclusive events in Toronto and in doing so, have built a wonderfully diverse and growing set of contacts. For Paws, the most challenging part is managing a team, which doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m the type of person who likes to do everything myself so I’m slowly learning how to delegate, assign, and trust others to get the job done. The veteran event planners on my committee always say, “Don’t worry Laura, everything will be okay.”
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I know this is a career driven question, but because my life has revolved around my career for the last five years, and will probably remain that way for the next five years, I see 35 as the age where I’ll hopefully take a breath from work and start a family. That being said, the Globe has some interesting new projects that will be underway in the next year or so and I hope to be a part of them. Paws will be in our seventh year by that time, so I hope we are one of the biggest fundraisers in the city and have a national audience.
What does success look like to you?
My best friend Paul, owner of John Steinberg and Associates hair salon, always says that to have good friends and family, a solid career, and a balanced love life is impossible; you can only have two out of three. I’m aiming for three out of three.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
The first time I saw my byline in print, I will admit, I got emotional. My mom still has it framed at my parent’s house. For Paws, when our dog fashion show ended last year and the crowd started to applause, there’s video coverage of me walking off the runway and into the arms of my close friends and committee members. We were all emotional and relieved and I remember being so proud that all the hard work we put into it paid off and we actually did it.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Nag, be persistent, don’t take no for an answer, follow-up, and most importantly, communicate. I’ve spoken to everyone at the Globe, from my direct boss to the editor-in-chief, about my career path and what I hope to accomplish. You can’t wait for people to approach you with the best job in the world – you need to make it happen yourself. Also, don’t make excuses. When I was starting Paws, I could list 500 reasons why it wasn’t the right time – or that I didn’t have any time – but eventually, I had to throw that list out and just do it.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Paws for the Cause, of course.
What is Notable to you?
Style. Humility. Animals.