Roberto Villao’s applying marketing strategies learned in the classroom to industry projects

Roberto Villao’s experience at Niagara College (NC) has been significantly influenced by his time working with the Business & Commercialization Innovation Centre (BCIC).

From uncovering fresh perspectives in the classroom, to pushing boundaries and making a tangible impact in his role with BCIC, Roberto enjoys the synergy between his research passion and the college’s innovative spirit. His time with BCIC has fueled his personal and professional development and unlocked exciting possibilities.

As a Business Research Assistant, Roberto works alongside his fellow colleagues on primary and secondary market research to prepare marketing strategies for small- and medium-sized business across Ontario and Canada.

“Working with R&I has benefitted me by allowing me to apply the knowledge that I get from class to industry projects,” he said.

Self-admittedly, Roberto loves to get involved whether that’s with work or extra curriculars: “I believe that it’s not only about doing what you’re supposed to do, but always giving your best and adding that little extra thing not only at work, but in classes or extra-curricular activities,” he said.

Roberto first worked with BCIC in fall 2021 on a contract, which opened his eyes to his passion for marketing.

After gaining job experience with BCIC and undergoing an extensive hunt for the perfect co-op, Roberto landed a prestigious internship with Microsoft Canada as an Integrated Marketing Intern in the Central Market Organization with the company in the summer of 2023.

When school started back up in September 2023, Roberto returned to BCIC and is really enjoying this role and getting the opportunity to apply strategies he learned in his internship into BCIC projects.

“The team is trying to streamline projects by using Microsoft Planner and is working to make our presentations and reports more visually attractive and engaging for industry partners,” said Roberto.

The way he was introduced to R&I is a bit of a funny story. Picture it, the year is 2021 and things are all still virtual (thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic) and Roberto is sitting in Ecuador in front of a laptop for orientation day.

The coordinator of his program mentioned R&I, but Roberto didn’t really think too much about it at the time. A few weeks later, he was scrolling Instagram and saw a job posting for a Business Research Assistant with BCIC.

When he came to Canada, his goal was to enhance his skills and learn, but also work a part-time job in a field related to what he was studying so he could enhance his resume.

At the time, he was 18 years old, so he consulted with his dad about the job, and when he told him to go for it, Roberto applied and got the gig.

“I believe it was destiny that connected me with R&I, showing me an Instagram posting for the job – it was just meant to be,” he said.

“Working with R&I has benefited me by allowing me to apply the knowledge that I get from class to industry projects.” – Roberto Villao, Business Research Assistant, Business & Commercialization Innovation Centre

Current projects

Roberto is busy working with the BCIC team on two strategy projects and is passionate about bringing his vision and ideas he learned from his internship into them.

He’s conducting secondary research for a hot sauce company with the goal of understanding how to grow their audience and become a ‘staple’ Canadian sauce or condiment.

One thing Roberto’s a champion of is Artificial Intelligence (AI). For this client, he suggested they add an AI aspect to their website; adding a ChatBot to the homepage can help with customer service, solve issues for consumers, and give people the ‘real life’ assistance they crave.

Secondly, he is working with a local business in Niagara looking to enhance their online presence. Roberto is helping them transition their current website to become more user-friendly. Plus, they are diving into website planning and construction, to provide recommendations on web platforms and more.

From Roberto’s point of view, finding ways to include AI in projects could make everyone’s lives better and more efficient. While he understands some people are still skeptical about AI for business, he uses the example that at one time, teachers used to be scared to have students use a calculator, and today, it’s a staple in any child’s pencil case.

Another skill he brings to his role with BCIC is public speaking. Having done it since he was 9 years old, he isn’t afraid to get up to the front of the room and present to an industry partner. “I think that presenting is my favourite part of my role,” said Roberto.

He also knows the importance of being able to turn difficult ideas into key takeaways for industry partners. “I like trying to figure out how we can digest and turn challenging ideas into something useful and present them clearly, making that industry partner understand why they’re useful and how can they benefit from them,” he said.

When he’s not immersing himself in all things marketing, you can catch Roberto doing lots of extra curriculars, like weightlifting, salsa dancing or playing soccer or piano.

To any students who are thinking about applying to R&I, Roberto has this to say: “Be prepared to learn and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. At the end of the day, you’re a student, so you can always improve, and you can always do better.” He adds, “Be free and be yourself.”

Looking to the future, Roberto hopes he will be able to bring his brother to Canada so he can experience all that Canada has to offer. For himself, he hopes to be graduated, working, and living in downtown Toronto for a tech company on the marketing side.

Work with R&I

If you have a project idea for BCIC, reach out to David to start the conversation today. He will work with you to determine how best to meet your needs, whether our team performs a quick turnaround service, or a full innovation project. You can email him at [email protected].