Patrice Donalds, adjunct marketing instructor at the International College of the Cayman Islands, assembled a panel of marketing professionals to explore the role personal stories have in promoting goods and services or driving change.

The panel of Kaitlyn Elphinstone, Natalie Urquhart, Tanya Wigmore and Felix Manzanares shared personal stories and the impact they had on the trajectory of their own lives and how they conduct business.

Wigmore, co-founder of online marketing and web development agency CRO: NYX Digital, took students on a hilarious journey through the ongoing feud between her and her brother to illustrate how statistics can be used to support divergent views.

Ethics and morals play a key role in guiding marketers in the use of statistics to tell important stories and engage with clients. She also shared how her affinity with a group of eco-warriors, a sense of eco-justice and the urge to protect our environment, has shaped her orientation and process on both large and small decisions.

Elphinstone, vice president of marketing and public engagement at Cayman Enterprise City (CEC), grew up in a household where exploring one’s creativity was both valued and encouraged.

Her art teacher mother provided art supplies and placed no restrictions on what she could create. The path to discovering what was possible, interesting and appealing is an approach she employs in her life, even while furthering her education, she said. This principle is firmly woven into her own artistic creations, including a 30-foot installation of her work on display at the Owen Roberts International Airport.

Natalie Urquhart, director and chief curator of the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, tells stories every day at the gallery and in published works by curating stories around objects and artefacts showcasing Cayman’s heritage and culture. Engaging with the community is the key to keeping the stories alive, ensuring that the longevity of the artefacts’ historical significance is maintained and shared with successive generations, she noted. But there is another important aspect to that work: documenting how culture changes over time. The conversations around how culture and heritage interact, and at times collide, are just as important, and require the space to have them.

The National Gallery hopes to position itself as that space, and makes that space available to all, through free admission.

Manzanares, lead pastor of Journey Ministries, spoke to the students about how personal stories of our past, whether negative or positive, can be used to push ideas forwards. We can choose to use stories as places of strength, and not allow them to break us down, he said. Manzanares focussed on authenticity and spoke at length about why it is important to “own your story”. Being authentic, or vulnerable can create a bridge, an important and lasting connection with our audience.

The common theme shared by all the panellists was based on using personal stories as a bridge to connect and relate to your audience.

Some key takeaways for students were to “relate marketing concepts to your everyday life”, “stick with your studies, the value will reveal itself down the line”, “diversify your approach” and “know your strengths and focus on them” as a platform to market yourself and your business.