Prem Gill is Chief Executive Officer of Creative BC, the agency designated by the Province of British Columbia to focus on uniting, sustaining and growing BC’s dynamic and diverse creative sector. She is currently Vice-Chair of the National Screen Institute and sits on the Board of Directors for Advantage BC. She is on the Advisory Board of the Women in View Festival, is a member of the AFC’s Board of Directors and was previously a board member of the Vancouver International Film Festival. She has been named one of Vancouver Magazine’s “Power 50” and listed as one of The Globe and Mail’s ‘10 Women Who Matter in Film and TV’. She brings more than 20 years of experience from the digital media and entertainment industries to her current role, where she is responsible for expanding BC’s creative economy to reach its economic and creative potential, both at home and globally.
My first job ever was… As a page, when I was in high school, shelving books at the Burnaby public library. Of course earlier on I had a paper route, but being a page felt like my first “real” job.
I chose my career path because… I’ve always had a strong interest in media, diversity and representation. I wanted to become a part of the industry and help to create change in the Canadian media landscape. But before that, when I was in grade five I wanted to be a consumer advocate. I think all of my career interests have centered around my values of equity and fairness.
My proudest accomplishment is… Cumulative – staying committed to gender and racial diversity, and to equity in the business world. Seeing now that I’ve been able to, and continue to have impact through different roles, collaborations and contributions I make is really rewarding.
My boldest move to date was… Choosing to get into the media industry when I saw very few people that looked like me in the industry and on TV.
I surprise people when I tell them… I was on the debating team when I was in high school. The fact I was always on the student council typically comes as no surprise to anyone.
My best advice to people starting their career is… Always do what you say you’re going to do and follow up, be kind, respectful and self-reflective.
My best advice from a mentor was… That it’s okay to say “no” when it comes to scheduling. It’s just not feasible to do it all, every time. And likewise, if you want people to respect your own boundaries around time, then you need to respect other people’s’ time, too.
I would tell my 20-year old self… “Wait until the Iphone comes out – wait until you get email!” Technology will continue to revolutionize life personally and professionally…and it won’t ever stop. So in terms of advice: learn to become adaptable. I’d also tell myself to just relax and not fret so much over income — it will grow over time. Focus instead on doing good work. Work hard and the money will come.
“Learn to anticipate bumps, focus on being self-aware and learning to adapt.”
My biggest setback was… Being laid off. I worked for several small businesses that had to reduce staff and I found myself at a loss. Both of those times I was under 30 and I had to learn to reset after each setback. My advice when this happens is relax, and again don’t fret, and especially don’t think catastrophically — you do come out of these situations and from my perspective it’s always for the better. Learn to anticipate bumps, focus on being self-aware and learning to adapt.
Work/life balance is… Not always realistic, especially for someone like me where my work is a big part of my social life as I work in the entertainment industries. Sometimes you’re better at balancing work and life, sometimes you’re not.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… That I worked at the library in university and I seriously contemplated going to school to become a librarian.
I stay inspired by… Everybody and everything I encounter. I am curious about it all. Especially the next generation of kids in my family — recognizing the advantages and advancements culturally, socially — I’m inspired to help build a generation that’s more inclusive, more compassionate, more responsible to one another.
The future excites me because… Of the unprecedented global interest in, and access to, creative content — from traditional to emerging. I’m particularly excited by the impacts of immersive experiences through virtual, augmented, mixed and extended reality technologies. How will these formats revolutionize storytelling, healthcare, education?
My next step is… To continue building more collaborative partnerships and more connections, pathways and opportunities for BC’s creators and creative entrepreneurs — increasing their success locally, nationally and internationally.