Graham Petersen

Director of Marketing, Harvey's Division, Cara OperationsBetween 1981-85, Graham Petersen earned a bachelor of administration degree from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont.After graduating, Petersen joined Colgate-Palmolive Canada of Toronto as a brand assistant on Palmolive Dish Liquid.In 1986, he moved...

Director of Marketing, Harvey’s Division, Cara Operations

Between 1981-85, Graham Petersen earned a bachelor of administration degree from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont.

After graduating, Petersen joined Colgate-Palmolive Canada of Toronto as a brand assistant on Palmolive Dish Liquid.

In 1986, he moved on to assistant product manager on Baggies sandwich bags.

The next year he was promoted again, this time to product manager on Arctic Power laundry detergent.

In 1987, Colgate launched Colgate Enterprises, an entrepreneurial business unit formed to develop and market niche products. Petersen was named senior business manager of the new unit.

Cara Operations of Toronto hired Petersen away in 1988 to become marketing manager on its Harvey’s fast food chain.

In 1990, he was promoted to his current position as Harvey’s director of marketing.

- Was instrumental in the formation of Colgate Enterprises, an internal business unit created by Colgate-Palmolive Canada to develop and launch niche products.

- Spearheaded the introduction of Harvey’s ‘Beautiful Light Choice’ menu, which includes such items as low-fat burgers, low-cholesterol french fries and char-broiled chicken sandwiches.

We asked:

Q. Are you a believer in marketing by science or intuition?

A. ‘It’s a blend. One must gather as much information as possible – that’s the science – and then shoot the puck – that’s the intuition.’

Q. Was there a significant turning point in your career?

A. ‘Leaving packaged goods with a positive, disciplined approach to marketing and switching to the fast pace of retail marketing.’

Q. Who or what influenced you the most in your marketing career?

A. ‘The scene from the Dead Poets Society – `Seize the Moment.’ ‘

Q. What is your favorite marketing campaign (not including campaigns with which you have been involved)?

A. ‘Goodyear Canada’s tv campaign to sell more than just tires – effective lateral advertising of a solid brand done in a very humorous style.’

Q. What is your favorite ad (not including ads with which you have been involved)?

A. ‘Evian’s billboard campaign – simple, yet very clever.’

Q. What book influenced you the most?

A. ‘Let’s Go Europe – It got me in and out of trouble in some very exciting situations and places.’

Q. What do you love most about the marketing business?

A. ‘The challenge to achieve results. There are no excuses in this business. The remarks column means very little even in these recessionary times.’

his colleagues said:

‘Graham is an excellent strategic thinker and a visionary at the same time. He is not one for the status quo in any way.’

‘He is a text-book marketer, more than a creative marketer.’

‘Graham was more or less a realist in my opinion. He certainly wasn’t a dreamer like some of the people up there [Colgate-Palmolive Canada.]

‘If he wasn’t a marketer, he would be a philosopher. He’s always reading and he has a love for sharing information with people.’

‘Graham is an example for a lot of people to see how quickly you can move through the ranks.’

‘He’s stubborn, but he listens. If you make a solid argument that maybe he didn’t consider this or that, he’s open to other opinions.’

‘He’s stubborn and dogged and doesn’t let much stand in his way.’

‘Graham has a 30-foot sailboat, and he is definitely the captain of his boat.’

‘Graham’s mind never stops. Whether it is at work, or on the bench at a hockey game, or on the deck of his boat, he would come out with `what if we did this with the brand?’ He lives, breathes and sleeps the brand.’

‘Graham’s attitude was `this is my story and I’m sticking to it.’ He was confident, but not overly aggressive.’

‘He will take on the chairman of the board, no problem. He’s not shy to take his ideas anywhere.’

Next issue: Richard Clarke, marketing manager, Beamscope Electronic Entertainment, Toronto.