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Cynthia Yazdi taps into her BEng and artistic impulses to lead global marketing and communications at Motorola Solutions

“Having an engineering background really helped me gain credibility.”
September 24, 2018
By Daniel Bartlett

Cynthia Yazdi, BEng 88, travelled to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2000 on what was supposed to be a 90-day work assignment to learn about smart card systems at Motorola Solutions. Yazdi never took the return flight back to Canada, instead turning her opportunity into an 18-year career.

At the time, she was excited to gain experience with the innovative telecommunications company. “I left Montreal thinking, ‘Wow, I’m going to have an opportunity to work as a contractor at Motorola,’” she recalls. “My goal was to be hired and ultimately to reach a leadership position there.”

Cynthia Yazdi, BEng 88 Cynthia Yazdi believes traditional management styles will change as more women take on leadership roles because men wrote many of the old rules.

Yazdi reached that goal. She is now corporate vice-president of global marketing and communications at Motorola Solutions, as well as chief of staff to the chairman and CEO Greg Brown. Her responsibilities include creating and directing Motorola Solutions’ marketing and communications, working with the executive team on a daily basis, filtering information that comes across the CEO’s desk and making sure her team’s efforts align with the company’s larger objectives.

Yazdi feels her opportunity to work for an industry leader like Motorola Solutions is thanks in large part to her education at Concordia. “Motorola Solutions is a telecommunications company that has nothing to do with civil engineering,” she says. “Yet having an engineering background really helped me gain credibility. Especially when you are in a project management-type role, you really need to know about technology to ask the right questions.”

Blending engineering and artistry

Before she began university studies, Yazdi wanted to be an architect. She admits she has always felt much more like an artist, something that was later confirmed when the Myers-Briggs Personality Profile identified her as an artisan.

Still, when the time came for Yazdi to decide what degree to pursue, she sought counsel from her father. “He kept pushing me or steering me more towards engineering. He said the end product is that I would think a certain way that would be easily adaptable to multiple industries and career opportunities,” she says.

“If you want to go into business, if you want to go into design or if you want to be an architect, it’s going to shape you in a way that is going to be very valuable — that’s how he convinced me to go the route I did.”

After she graduated, Yazdi landed a job at Monenco Inc., a Montreal-based engineering services company, where she started working in the oil and gas industry on refineries and construction sites. “I thought I was going to work in structural engineering and build foundations, buildings, bridges and pipe racks,” Yazdi says. “My father knew in the back of his mind that it was just training for me and that eventually I would get to a place where I would fulfill my passions professionally.”

Yazdi quickly realized her desire to interact with other parts of the projects she was working on. This realization led her to project engineering, which she used as a springboard to get to her current posting.

Yazdi is responsible for designing compelling marketing messaging for Motorola Solutions — a role that effectively combines her engineering and artistic talents. “You end up getting ultimately to where you should be,” she says. “I love my position at Motorola Solutions, and I can’t say enough about it. It’s been a really great journey, and there’s more to come.”

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