Acsenda School of Management lecturer Mary Charleson epitomises today’s empowered woman — educator, marketing thought leader, speaker and a published author of two books, Five-Minute Marketing and Word of Mouth Mouse and Mobile.
As a writer, she had a regular column for Business in Vancouver and the Huffington Post for a number of years and contributed articles to the Globe and Mail, Strategy, Marketing Magazine, Vancouver Sun, and many others.
As a public speaker, she is one of fewer than 12% of speakers globally who hold the distinction of Certified Speaking Professional. The CSP designation is the international measure of excellence for professional competence and proven experience.
As an educator, she has been inspiring Acsenda students since 2008. She served as Department Head of Marketing from 2009 to 2019. She only stepped away from the position at the end of last year because of her other commitments in her consulting and speaking practice. As president of Charleson Communications, a marketing consulting company based in North Vancouver, Mary is busy working with her various clients.
Mary Charleson’s credentials are impressive but once the layers are peeled off, what is revealed underneath is a down-to-earth, no-nonsense outdoors lady who loves to ski, sail, wind and kite surf, hike, swim and play ice hockey for the Stanley Cupcakes, a ladies team in Vancouver.
Her active lifestyle notwithstanding, Mary reveals she loves music, art and reading, that is, if she can squeeze in the time because more than anything she likes being with her active family comprised of Chris, her husband of 30 years, and her two young adult children, ages 21 and 18.
On juggling spinning plates
Mary still finds the time to write blogs about her travels in addition to her marketing blog. She clarifies that she launched her travel blog for fun. Since she always travels with just carry-on luggage for business and pleasure, she named her blogsite, CarryOnQueen.com. She describes it as “an adventure travel blog for fun-fit-females, many in their 50s, who pursue authentic, meaningful experiences with friends, a partner, family or solo – always leading the way, and always travelling light.”
Mary started her MBA degree when her son turned one and finished it three-and-a-half years later when her daughter was also one year old. She relates that she completed her studies part time while also working. “Frankly I must have been nuts to juggle all those spinning plates, but I did it.”
She recalls of her university days, “I completed my undergrad in the traditional way of studying full time, living in residence, drinking too much beer, dancing and learning when to have fun and when to buckle down to study,” and concludes it with her characteristic wit. “Since I was also in co-op with work experiences every four months in between studies, I quickly learned to live independently in many different places. Now they call it ‘adulting’.”
On teaching and shaping young minds
Mary loves teaching and inspiring students. “I especially like being able to bring current business and client examples into the classroom.” Conversely, she also enjoys learning from her students “whether it be framing a concept through a different cultural lens for example or being introduced to some new app that was not on my radar.”
She teaches Marketing students in the evenings and so she focuses on her marketing consultancy during the day. “My environment is always changing between teaching, meeting clients and home office time where the real work happens,” she points out.
She has this to say about Acsenda, “The small class environment is a fabulous learning opportunity. And the business-connected instructors are always willing to give students extra attention.”