Making her Mark: Zemina Moosa


It’s easy to list adjectives that describe Zemina Moosa: earnest, bright, warm, intuitive. Even so, words fall a bit flat compared to the person. Zemina’s je ne sais quoi—a striking vitality—has brought her great success during her 20+ years in the marketing industry.

Zemina’s career has been ripe with accomplishments. Most recently, she helped negotiate a production partnership for Cheekbone Beauty with Sephora to amplify their inaugural media debut with Right the Story. When asked what she considers her greatest achievement, however, Zemina doesn’t mention a blockbuster deal. She answers, “building a culture and environment that allows my teams to be and do their best.”

Zemina grew up in Kenya, East Africa, a country experiencing tremendous political turmoil at the time. Her mother made significant sacrifices to bring her and her family to England where she was schooled for her later childhood. Then, at 25, she uprooted once again to come to Canada. Because of this, Zemina knows firsthand how difficult it is to begin again as an immigrant, she’s long been an advocate for newcomers, particularly women.
In fact, championing women from all walks of life is one of her core values.

“I think my title and position comes with immense responsibility, especially in the last two years. Advocacy for me is at the heart of leadership. Over the years I have become much braver in speaking up on things that are uncomfortable and creating spaces for women and our BIPOC employees, where we can be honest and authentic about our victories and the challenges we encounter without fear of retribution.”

When joining Sid Lee, Zemina took a hard look at her departments’ strengths and weaknesses. At work, she explains, we tend to get caught up in the trajectory of our roles—becoming XYZ requires X number of years, often with little flexibility. This method of thinking often blinds us to our true strengths. Zemina’s superpower is having an eye for re-organizing teams in unconventional ways that optimize performance in a fulfilling manner. She makes things happen without relying on outdated models of leadership.

What’s more, she thinks all women have this power.

“When I began my career there was a lot of emphasis placed on credentials, things like degrees and work experience. Whereas now when I build teams, I look for character traits. Women are empathetic, nurturing, intuitive, passionate…to me, that carries so much more weight and currency than what’s on paper.”

As you can imagine, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses for Zemina in the marketing world as a woman of colour. For most of her career she found herself second to whoever was in charge. As such, she made herself indispensable: always feeling like she had to know everything and be everything in support of her leaders. At the time, as women are socialised to, she saw this as a privilege:


“I remember thinking it was great to be second in command. That every time the CEO had a question I’d be the one to answer it, or do the work for them. A turning point for me occurred when yet another CEO cycled through and immediately started gravitating to me. That’s when I really started to think: why am I always second? Could I be first?”


The answer, thankfully, was yes. After over a decade at Ogilvy, Zemina joined Sid Lee to head Account Management in Toronto, where she rules with an iron fist. Just kidding. Her leadership style is more like, well, her: down-to-earth, fluid, and open. Instead of roles, she sees humans, replete with good days, bad days, solid ideas and room to grow.


Without question, it’s the leadership style of the future. We’re thrilled to see Zemina have her time in the sun.   



There’s more to read about inspiring women like Marie-Elaine, and Isabelle.