Not only does Cristina Avila have a dream job in marketing for Dixie Outlet Mall, but she's also an avid fitness enthusiast, maintaining a busy routine including running, yoga, and soccer. In today's Smart Girl Spotlight, we got to chat with Cristina about her career and fitness highlights!
Name & Job: Cristina Avila, Marketing Director, Dixie Outlet Mall, Cominar REIT
Tell us about your job in 100 words or less: I oversee all of the marketing and communications for Dixie Outlet Mall, a regional outlet shopping centre located in Mississauga, Ontario. I’m responsible for managing every aspect of the centre’s brand from guest services to public relations. My mandate is to (1) increase positive brand awareness among our target market in order to drive traffic and sales to the shopping centre and (2) ensure that every customer receives a quality retail experience aligned with our brand promise of everyday #DixieDeals. Achieving this involves working alongside a Property Management Team to assist in the day-to-day operations of running a commercial property.
Career accomplishment you are most proud of? Meeting Oprah! I was assisting the marketing department at a shopping centre out in Ottawa. At the time, the mall was sponsoring Oprah’s Speaking Tour and we developed a multi-channel marketing campaign around Oprah’s Favourite Things. As Mall Management, we had an opportunity to meet Oprah prior to her speaking appearance. I was in awe meeting her – it still feels like a dream!
Best piece of career advice you’ve received? Take notes! My first “big girl job” boss told me to write everything down. Even if it seemed insignificant at the time, jotting down notes containing every little detail would become useful to my superiors and position me as a valuable resource capable of taking on greater responsibilities.
What advice would you give to other young professional women? Be agile! Take on any career advancement, networking or educational opportunities available to you, even if they seem outside of your comfort zone. Taking on new responsibilities will really help to broaden your skill set especially when it comes to pursuing a different career path where your work experience may not be directly correlated with the role.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Until recently, I have always been a long-term planner. Now, I prefer to seize every opportunity as it comes along and take things day by day. All I know is that in 5 years I’ll be happy, healthy and creative! I could see myself wearing a number of different hats within the marketing field including starting my own business.
How do you like to stay active? I am a cardio fiend year-round! During the summer months I love to run outdoors and in the winter I turn to yoga and step classes. I also recently joined an indoor soccer league to mix a bit of social with staying active.
Fitness/health accomplishment you are most proud of? A few years ago I overhauled my eating habits and fitness routine by joining Weight Watchers. As a result, I dropped over 30 pounds and gained the self-confidence that I was previously lacking. It was the best health/fitness decision I have ever made.
What tools and resources do you use to help you stay on track with your fitness goals (apps, journals, books, websites, gadgets etc.)? I love my Fitbit fitness tracker; it motivates me to log at least 10,000 steps a day. I also love the Weight Watchers app for tracking my daily WW point intake.
Favourite spot for healthy eats: Sandwich Box - I love the soup and sandwiches here; all of the ingredients are so fresh.
Favourite spot for tasty treats: My weakness is Mac & Cheese. Real Sports does it best but for convenience and variety I go to Bobbie & Sue’s.
Last book you read: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Favourite quote: “Behind every successful woman is a tribe of women who have her back.”
Do you prefer routine or spontaneity? What does a typical day look like for you? I find it necessary to follow a routine in order to balance work, social and health into my calendar. Being so regimented often leaves little time for spontaneity but I enjoy keeping busy and always make sure to reserve time for the people and things most important to me.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced pursuing both career and health and fitness goals? Sitting at a desk from 9 to 5 and business lunches are a huge barrier to balancing a career and health goals. Whenever possible, I try to incorporate fitness into my workday by taking calls standing up and going for walks between meetings. I keep work lunches light by skipping a drink and ordering a salad whenever possible.
Do you believe work-life balance truly exists? Of course it does – it just doesn’t look like what you would expect! If you love what you do, it’s going to occupy more than 40 hours each week of your life. Loving your work means that it doesn’t feel like a chore and when it overlaps with other areas of your life, there’s synergy.
Why do you think committing to health and fitness is important for young professional women? Making health and fitness a priority really helps to set a great foundation for both your professional and personal life goals. Without enough sleep, hydration and the right food, you can’t expect to conquer the world and crush the competition.