Alumni Shoutout – James Smeaton

This interview with James Smeaton, CEO & Creative Director of Highland Multimedia, conducted by StFXAUT Communications Officer Philip Girvan, originally appeared in the Summer 2015 Edition of The Beacon.

Philip: Please tell us about yourself.

James: My name is James Smeaton and I live in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. I run a business called Highland Multimedia which is now going into its 13th year. We do graphic design, website design, and internet marketing for businesses both small and large.

Philip: And you attended StFX University? You’re an X grad?

James: Yes, I came here in 1997. In my first four years I got an Information Systems degree with a major and then I came back for a fifth year and got a Business Administration degree with a major in marketing. Then after I completed that, I started my own company, Highland Multimedia.

Philip: Is there any instructor that was particularly inspiring or helpful to you as a young man studying, trying to get into the business… Was there anyone at X that particularly helped you?

James: Yes. Professor Tom Mahaffey was a marketing professor of mine, and the nature of watching him teach was such that he didn’t have ‘ums’ or ‘aahs’ when he was teaching you something. There was never a pause that came over him. The material that he was reciting to you, you could tell came from a very intimate knowledge not a rehearsed kind of Section 3, Paragraph 4…

It was just a real intimate way of understanding how people interpreted different trends for things like marketing. So, if you were looking at the possibility of introducing a new toothpaste into a market, he would be able to go and break down for you very quickly… if you were targeting Atlantic Canada, maybe you’re dealing with 400000 people, let’s go and break that down to the number of people who are actually going to be purchasing in a household and, before the end of the lesson was over, he went and gave you a very detailed analysis of exactly what portion of the market you might be able to go and penetrate with a given amount of marketing expenses. I’ve never seen anybody that was able to just logistically break down statistics to probable realities.

Beyond that, he was always on time, he was always clear, he was always available for you when you needed him afterwards. That just became a bar that I want to set for myself, in terms of having that articulated way of speaking about something that you love.