A sought after thought-leader and expert in fostering corporate culture, MSc (Marketing and Consumer Studies) alumnus Marty Parker knows what organizations need to gain an edge.
A former varsity athlete, Parker is the CEO and founder of a leading executive search firm - Waterstone Human Capital - which provides leadership development and training, succession planning, cultural assessment, and high-performance culture advisory work for high-growth organizations across North America.
The key to any successful organization, according to Parker, is leadership and culture. Both of these originate from effective communication – a key skill Parker learned during his master’s program at U of Guelph and the Lang School.
“Corporate culture is everything,” says Parker. “Business results are just the outcomes of fostering a unique and positive organizational behaviour”
In addition to their professional services, Waterstone showcases the best examples of organizational leadership and culture through two national awards programs, which have garnered interest across Canada. In 2005, Parker founded Canada’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures™, an annual program that recognizes best-in-class Canadian organizations for having a culture that has helped them enhance performance and sustain a competitive advantage. In 2014, the program expanded to include Canada’s Most Admired™ CEO.
“I am incredibly proud of how much these awards programs have grown over the past decade,” says Parker.
To provide effective consulting across a range of sectors, Parker relies on his wealth of experience working in a wide variety of industries and roles.
Prior to starting Waterstone, Parker held leadership positions with the Caldwell Partners International and was executive vice-president of The CCL Group, a leading marketing communications group of companies. Early in his career, he worked for the consumer divisions of Johnson & Johnson and Labatt Breweries, where he held senior sales and marketing positions.
Sharing his expertise
Having garnered significant interest in his leadership expertise, Parker wrote his first book in 2011, titled “Culture Connection: How developing a winning culture will give your organization a competitive advantage.”
In the book, Parker reveals the best practices of some of the world’s top companies to help readers spearhead their own cultural change within their organization. The book details the importance of organizational communication, innovation, and the need to recruit and retain the best people.
“Today’s business cultures are changing,” says Parker. “As leaders are leading in a virtual, often disconnected world, compassion, understanding and alignment of organizational values is crucial.”
A Gryphon for life
Parker ultimately chose to complete an arts degree, with a minor in economics, at the University of Guelph, before starting his MSc in Marketing and Consumer Studies in 1990.
“Not having a traditional business undergraduate degree allowed me to take a unique approach to my career,” says Parker. “I think I was able to approach my master’s degree in marketing in a very unique way.”
Parker credits much of his education during his MSc in marketing and consumer studies to his business successes. Specifically, Parker remembers a course on professional service management, which ultimately inspired him to launch his business in the sector.
“My marketing degree absolutely provided me with an advanced understanding of the need for effective communication in business settings,” says Parker. “It truly gave me the confidence and insights I needed to pursue a career in business.”
As a captain for the Gryphons football team, Parker always put his education before his athletic commitments. He finished his master’s program in just three semesters; the typical course load for the MSc program is four semesters.
His favourite memories of his time at U of G are bookends at the end of his university experience - his first time stepping on the field at Alumni Stadium and when he walked across the stage to receive his parchment for his master’s degree. A fitting memory for such a dedicated student and inspiring alumnus.
Our alumni can be found in just about every facet of today's business world. Lang's Notable Alumni are recognized for their outstanding achievements, both within their career and beyond. Lang Notable Alumni are alumni who have held senior executive roles in some of today's most successful companies and brands, revolutionized their chosen profession or industry, or started a successful entrepreneurial venture.