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Student of the week: Peter Maccario

U3 Management student Peter Maccario is involved in a variety of endeavours that speak to his passion for leadership, his curiosity about the world around him, and a commitment to equality and peacebuilding.

This summer, Maccario won the McGill’s Li Ka Shing Study Award. Consequently, the recipient spent 20 days in China: Ten days studying at Shantou University and 10 days of travel between Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing. Maccario had already been to China twice before, where he had taken Mandarin courses in Beijing, but this trip differed in that he was able to experience life in smaller areas like Shantou. It was here that he gained insight into Chinese management structure and their companies’ unique products.

“I think that was the most interesting thing—learning how [Chinese businesses] manage their companies and the relations have within them,” Maccario said. “China and Canada are completely different in terms of corporate structure [including] how [managers] talk to each other and how everything is delegated.”

 In addition to travelling around China, Maccario spent over a month visiting Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar and Cambodia. His favourite? Myanmar, by far. Myanmar has only recently opened its doors to tourism, which, according to Maccario, made it an especially unique experience. 

“No one was there, and there’s not that many hotels set up so you see the same people in different areas,” he explained. “You almost become friends with everyone you’re travelling with since it’s a very small group.”

Another highlight of Myanmar, and of his travels in general, was learning about each country’s rich history. Maccario has always been interested in learning about different cultures and histories. In fact, he considers it a crucial element when travelling to foreign lands. He was able to learn from tour guides and from monks themselves—who taught him not only about the country’s past, but about the current state of government and military affairs.

“Everyone should have the experience of understanding the culture and the history, because that’s so rooted in the country, and if you don’t get that, it’s like you’re missing a portion of that country that you’re visiting,” he said. 

Maccario’s desire to understand different cultures and the minds of the people within them is also key reason he chose marketing as a major. He is interested in understanding why people choose to consume certain things, and why they buy certain products rather than others. The answers to these questions are often rooted in understanding different cultural meanings, symbols and traditions.

“A lot of the time I’d go into China and think ‘That’s terrible advertising, I would never buy that’ but you never know, the Chinese population might love that,” he said, laughing. “So I think that’s so interesting to understand where the differences come from […] how do you appeal to this person, and why is it so different from Canadian culture?”

After his travels abroad, Maccario, a marketing major, returned home to an advertising job in Toronto—a dream position. His role was account intern, which entailed working in logistics, such as scheduling, budgets and briefs. A highlight of this position was when he was given the role of project manager for the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) Twitter contest which used the hashtag #practicesafework. Maccario was responsible for helping to post tweets, and talking with clients and partners. In the future, however, Maccario wants to take on more of a strategy-based role rather than project management. 

“I like to develop from the beginning and have a hand in everything, and that’s what strategy does,” he said. “Rather than just passing it along to [different people] and making sure it gets completed, where you don’t really have so much to say in the creative process [….]”

Maccario’s passion for developing an overarching strategy and taking on more of a leadership role inspired him to apply for the role of co-president of one of the biggest clubs on campus, Right to Play. This club seeks to empower underprivileged children through games, sports, and play. Having served as Vice-President Events and Vice-President Finance in the past, Maccario decided to apply for this position so that he could gain experience manning a whole team and learning how to negotiate with others and delegate responsibilities.

“[Right to Play] is a very eclectic, diverse team, all from different faculties and personality types, so it is a fun aspect to learn how to work with different people and help them become empowered […] as the organization does,” says Maccario. 

In the future, Maccario hopes to allow his socially-conscious side to continue to inspire him along with his passion for advertising and marketing. 

“What I hope to achieve is to keep [doing] responsible advertising and working for companies that I believe in, whether that’s more sustainable companies or not-for-profit companies that need advertising.” he said. “That way I can combine my Right To Play experience and advertising experience—I think that’s worth a million.”


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