Schekina Israel is aiming to be ‘visible and vocal’

—It is Black History Month, and every day this month, The Message will be sharing short profiles of Black professionals from across the industry: marketing, advertising, PR, media and production. Written by POCAM members, the profiles are a way to “fight invisibility,” an exercise in representation for an industry where representation must get better—

Today, Schekina Israel is director, addressable media at Matterkind. But she got got a jump-start on her career by working in marcom roles while pursuing a post-secondary education. And while some attribute her keen ability to debate and persuade as the reason of her effectiveness, she credits her academic focus for her success.

“I come from a background of psychology, where testing a hypothesis is the basis of the science,” she said. “We are in the business of attention and persuasion, and understanding these things really appeals to me.”

A self-proclaimed data nerd, Israel believes technology plays an integral role in DEI, and remains a consistent force in forging its path forward. “Through tech-enabled means, we can measure our hypotheses against reality in real time,” she said. “That is extraordinarily neat.… I love technology and want to be involved in the evolution of tech. I am a sci-fi stan, so I also want to safeguard society against the nefarious uses of such technologies and data.”

Israel also mentors with Monday Girl, an organization that supports young women in their professional endeavours. Now in her fifth year as a public speaker, touching on DEI topics with organizations like BPTN,  IMDOINIT, and IAB Canada, Israel hopes that her efforts contribute to the education of others. “I think it’s important for people to see themselves reflected in roles and spaces they aspire to be in, so I aim to be a visible and vocal BIPOC professional to that end,” she said.

Isreal is one of the few BIPOC professionals fortunate enough to work with their mentor. Ishma Alexander-Huet is the vice-president, client advice and management at Initiative, director of corporate partnerships at Code Black, and serves on the Steering Committee for POCAM.

“Her lived experiences as a BIPOC within the industry provide me with invaluable information and I am able to navigate my career in this industry with more ease thanks to her,” said Israel.

Advertising has brought her a multitude of amazing opportunities, projects, friendships, colleagues, and experiences, topped by seeing her favourite artist Kendrick Lamar. But she sees an opportunity for the industry to better reflect the communities it serves.

Israel describes an “increasingly interesting and diverse world,” where consumers and clients miss out when agencies fail to operate from a position of understanding the lived experiences and backgrounds mirrored in the audiences we reach.

Understanding the obscurities often presented by the ad industry, Schekina recommends that everyone find a mentor where possible, and notes her admiration for the law of attachment: “In order to manifest our desires, we must release attachment to the outcome itself as well as the path we might take to get there.”

This profile was written by POCAM steering committee member Justin Senior. Senior is the owner of Justin Senior Consulting Services.