An Insightful exchange with Ms. Connie Tamoto

When I started to look for aPublic Relations (PR) professional, I had a clear goal to reach the professional who had more than ten years of rich experience in the PR field and who was in a key position at a well-known corporate company. I wanted to interview him/her in order to understand the Public Relations field in detail which can help me to make my career decision.

Search for the Best in the Field

Cargill is a well-known corporate giant across Canada and was the clear choice for me. The company is the largest privately held corporation in The United States of America with the major business like trading, purchasing, and distribution. The company is also actively involved in charity and community development work.

I started searching LinkedIn to look for the key PR professional from Cargill and came across Ms. Connie Tamoto, who holds the key position of Communications and Community Relations Manager at Cargill in Winnipeg.

By studying her profile I found out that she holds a BA, English degree from Universtiy of Manitoba, and a diploma in Creative Communications, JournalismPRAdvertising from Red River College. She started her career as a General Assignment Reporter at Winnipeg Sun in 2001 and never looked back. Her breadth of experience ranges from holding key positions in Global television, Economic Development Winnipeg Inc. / Tourism Winnipeg, The North West Company, Manitoba PC Caucus, Winnipeg Free Press.

Ms.Tamoto’s LinkedIn profile summarizes her as an inquisitive person who worked as a journalist and reported for the criminal investigations, covered local entertainment stories, delivered the goods on the latest trends from the runway for weekly fashion column. She hosted live television specials such as 2007 Grey Cup in Toronto, Firefighters Memorial and produced three documentaries – one of which went on to win the RTNDA Prairie Region Dan McArthur Award for Investigative/In-Depth Journalism. She also acted as the company external relations liaison.

Dream come True

I knew that reaching her was going to be a daunting task as the PR professionals are very busy and without any prior connections it is hard to interview anyone of that stature. I messaged her via social media about my interest in interviewing her and to my surprise she readily accepted the invitation and scheduled the telephone interview. I could not have asked for more.


We started the interview at 4:30 p.m. on November 8, over the phone and I started asking her about her experience and routines. The key insights which she gave in the next 30 minutes of the interview convinced me to pursue my career in the PR field. I was prepared to take the PR journey, which is full of excitement and challenges.

Daily routine

Ms. Connie considers that flexibility: ability to change from one subject to another and time management: juggling many balls at one time are the key drivers for her to work daily. Her everyday work ranges from community outreach, dealing with media and with the issues that have a broad impact on the business or on our country.

The biggest change the way PR professionals work today than a few years back is the dissemination of messaging. Communication used to be personalized earlier where only the messages which a company publishes reaches the public. Now a tweet or a conversation in a public space or in a hallway has the potential to reach the public very easily and quickly. So acting accordingly is another key thing to keep in mind while working.

Staying on the top

She suggests that it is extremely important to be on the top of different kinds of the communication tools that are available today. The PR field is driven by communication which should be clear and should be directed towards a different kind of audience as per the company’s need and business. Thus any one of the tools is  important, but it is the ability to use different tools to reach the audience effectively which is imperative. For example, she used Facebook more than other tools in her previous company but in her current role at Cargill, she uses more community town halls for more direct outreach.

Also, she advised that consensus building and collaboration are vital for any PR role as lots of corporate decisions are based on the committee. PR Professionals rely on the subject matter experts for the key messages and conversations and then frame them before publicizing them.


Ms. Tamato is an active member of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) which invites members from Canada to attend workshops and sessions in the USA. PRSA is more segmented; they have education stream for the education communicators, government stream for the government communicators, travel and tourism stream for travel and tourism communicators. She is also a part of Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS).

She suggests that PR students become a part of peer networking groups because these groups are at the grassroots level. They provide a great platform for idea sharing and networking. She also suggested subscribing to the bloggers who talk about the industry and current trends.

Proud Moment

She was very excited and proud to talk about the campaign in 2014 known as Zero hunger challenge, where Cargill and CARE joined hands together to improve food security. It was a month long campaign on which she had worked and the campaign ran across 100+locations around Canada at different businesses

It included activities such as having a food drive for the local the food bank, arranging food donations for the bank, volunteering at the local school for the breakfast program. Activities included any other kinds of initiatives or ideas that they may have had for helping the hunger in their communities.

We were entering the last phase of the interview and I was all ears during this amazing interview.  I also made sure to ask about the quick tips for the new PR Professional and keys to getting hired in companies of the stature of Cargill.

Tips for Newbie

Her quick tips for the PR newbie are as follows:

  • Stay on the top of the industry trends through journals and blogs
  • Be adaptable and go with the broadest responsibility which makes you more versatile
  • Have the pulse on the current issues, be on top of the current affairs and look at what companies did right and what they could have done differently

Get hired

According to Ms. Tamato strong and concise writing is extremely vital. She suggested that “you do not have to be the elaborate writer with the biggest vocabulary. As the audience is the external public, being able to write to them in plain clear English is the key. It is the most valuable asset to have.”

She used to do hiring in her previous role and advised that oral and written communication are the key skills to get hired. She gave an example where candidates do not spell the names of the companies correctly in the resume as they rush through things at the last minute. She will not consider those resumes for interview.

Ms. Connie Tamoto’s interview was one of the most rewarding experience for me where she shared her insights and suggestions to succeed in the PR field. There were a lot of takeaways from this interview for the PR students. She provided a basic framework of how to go about working in this field, staying connected with the current events and technology, and finally key skills for finding the job.

You can go visit the LinkedIn profile of Ms. Connie Tamoto to learn more about her professional background.


8 Best tips to travel The Mysore Palace

I worked until 3 a.m. at the office in Bangalore to complete an important project. I was about to take a leave for the next 4 days. As I reached home using taxi by 3:55 a.m., where four half asleep angry friends were waiting anxiously for me because I was late for the much-awaited road trip to the Mysore Palace. I took bath quickly, packed bags and started the road trip to Mysore Palace.

We reached Mysore palace by 7:30 a.m. and the first glimpse of the heavenly palace at the dawn, spreading its magnificent glory around it rejuvenated us.

We forgot all the frustration and anger of the bad day and the night trip. This is the power of the grandeur Mysore palace. It lies as a mammoth in the royal city of Mysore. We attended the Mysore Dasara and returned back to Bangalore.

The Mysore Palace is the residence of the Royal Wodeyar family in the city of Mysore which is located in the southern part of India. The palace is one of the top 10 Royal palaces of the world by the Wonderlist.

Here are the ten tips for traveling:

1.Know the Mysore Palace history and the Royal Family

The rulers of Mysore came to this part of the country years back and decided to settle in Mysore after seeing its natural beauty.

The building of the Mysore Palace was commissioned by Her Majesty Maharani Vani Vilas Sannidhna, and her son, the Maharaja of Mysore His Highness Rajarshi Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV. They have commissioned Lord Henry Irwin as the chief architect to build the new palace in 1897 and the construction completed in 1912.

After the death of the legendary ruler Tipu Sultan, Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV made Mysore his capital in May 1799 and developed the city. Mahatma Gandhi called one of the rulers named Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV as the Saint King due to his generous acts. The present ruler of Mysore is Yaduveer Wadiyar.

Architecture of the Palace

The palace has three-storey stone structures with the marble domes and the towers were of the five-storey with 145 ft height. The whole palace is surrounded by the garden and the entrance gate has the kings’ emblem and the motto of the king in Sanskrit language, whose meaning is Never be Terrified.

It also has the secret tunnels from Mysore palaces to the other palaces.

The three-storey building is made of the gray granite and the pink marble. Also, the king was the devotee of the Goddess Chamundi and thus the palace if facing the Chamundi hills.

2.Plan your Trip

Plan your trip around September end or during the beginning of October. The weather India is pleasant at that time and also the grand celebration of Dasara is during this time where you can witness the glory of the palace and the Royal family. September 30 is the Dasara day in 2017 and is the ideal time to visit India.

Your visit to India for the Mysore Palace and Chennakesava temple (temple near Mysore) will take around a week. You can plan your trip using different travel websites such as Trip Hobo or On the go tours but I would recommend you to plan the trip yourself.

Trip Itinerary. A:Kempegowda International Airport, B:Bengaluru Hotel, C:Mysore Palace, D:Belur Temple, E: Kempegowda International Airport   

Day 1: Toronto to Bangalore

The Flight takes minimum 24 hrs to reach Bangalore. Once you have reached Bangalore then you can book the prepaid airport taxi from inside the airport which will charge around $30-$40 CAD to reach the hotel. You can also get the airport pickup from a certain type of the Hotels, so confirm the same from the hotel before reaching Bangalore.

You can also get the airport pickup from a certain type of the Hotels, so confirm the same from the hotel before reaching Bangalore.

Day 2: Rest in Hotel

You can take rest in Hotel on the second day. Based on the type of the hotel you have booked, you will get the facilities at the Hotel such as spa, swimming, massage etc. You can relax this day and book Toyota Innova cab for the next 7-day travel from the Hotel. The car is very comfortable for the long distance journeys in India. The cab will

Book Toyota Innova cab for the next 7-day travel from the Hotel. This car is very comfortable for the long distance journeys in India. The cab will charge around $100 CAD per day.

Day 3: Hotel to Mysore Palace

Start at around 9 a.m. from the hotel in the morning. Make sure you check out from the hotel while leaving. You can reach the destination by around 12 p.m. Check in the Hotel at Mysore.

If you are traveling in 2017, then try to reach Mysore on September 30 so that you can experience the Mysore Dasara’s last day.

Day 4: Hotel to Chennakesava temple

Start at around 8 a.m. from the hotel after checking out. You will reach the destination Chennakesava temple at Belur in 2-2.5 hrs of the road trip. The timing at this temple is from 7 to 8:30 a.m. There is no entry fee at the temple.

The temple is proposed to be listed on the UNESCO world heritage sites. It was constructed during 1117 AD and has the finest sculptures of India. Hire the guide at the temple to understand the temple in detail.

Day 5: Belur to Bangalore Hotel

The Belur trip can be completed within 3 hrs and you can start the journey back to Bangalore at 3:30 p.m. You will reach back to the hotel in Bangalore at around 8:30 p.m. and relax and enjoy the evening.

Day 6: Local Travel and back to Toronto

You can travel the entire Bangalore city which is known as the IT hub of the country. You can try local travel such as auto rickshaws, eat local food and do clothes shopping. By the evening go back to the airport to go back to India.

3.Do not miss the Mysore Dasara festival

You can experience the glory and the grandeur of the palace and the Royal family on the day of Dasara. It happens only once in a year. Dasara festival symbolizes the defeat of the evil powers of the world and has the legendary mythological story attached to it where Hindu Goddess Chamundeshwari killed the demon Mahishasura.

The palace is illuminated for the 10 days during this period. The ninth day of Dasara called as Mahanavami is an auspicious day when the royal sword is worshiped and is taken on a procession involving elephants, camels, and horses.





The elephants are decorated and the goddess idol is kept on one of the elephants and the procession goes around the city.

Dasara exhibition happens during these days on the ground in front of the palace.

4.Stay at the Economy Hotels

There are many hotels from the luxury to the economy category across the Bangalore and Mysore. I would not recommend going for the high-end luxury hotels as the main purpose of the trip is to enjoy and go out of your bed.

Also staying in the most luxury hotels will drain more than $200-$350 CAD per day from your pocket.

Spending around $30-$40 CAD per day would fetch you a good economy hotel with the basic requirements.

5.Try Local food

Idli , Sambhar, Masala Dosa and filter coffee are few of the famous South Indian cuisines which you should definitely try.

Mavalli Tiffin Rooms (MTR) is the most famous and the oldest restaurant in Bangalore which serves the authentic food since 1924. Many famous personalities have been to MTR.

6.Buy Sandalwood Items

I am sure you all know about the Sandalwood tree and the fragrance of it. Sandalwood fragrance is one of the best naturally occurring fragrances in the world which originates from the wood of the sandalwood tree.

You can buy the sandalwood powder, perfumes and the sandalwood idols from the government stores in Bangalore.

7.Learn Local Language

Kannada is the local language of Bangalore and Mysore. I will teach you few words that will help you to initiate small talks with the local people.

  1. Good Morning: Śubhōdaya
  2. How are you: Nīvu hēgiddīri
  3. What are you doing: Nīnu ēnu māḍuttiruve
  4. Ok: Sari
  5. Thank you: Dhan’yavādagaḷu
  6. How much is this for: Ī eṣṭu

8.Try Local brewery

There is few very good local brewery in Bangalore. You can try breweries such as Toit, Arbor Brewing Company, and Windmills craftworks

You can learn more about the items required for travel to India and do’s and don’ts in my previous blog named 10 tips for the successful Taj Mahal trip.

So plan your travel and pack your bags. Also, make sure you share your travel stories and experiences with me.

If you have any other questions or query, please submit your questions or comments here.






10 Tips for the successful Taj Mahal trip


The Taj Mahal, as they say, is the God’s gift to mankind, which is as white as a fairy and as beautiful as the mother nature.The Taj Mahal is actually a tomb that epitomizes the embodiment of love. There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who have seen the Taj Mahal and love it and those who have not seen the Taj and love it. I am one of those lucky people who has witnessed the eminence and the glory of this dauntless historical testament.


The Taj Mahal

Source: LiveScience

I have known the Taj Mahal since I was 6 years old. It is one of the seven wonders of the world and represents the symbol of love in India. Being located around 1000 km away from my home, I had always dreamed of visiting The Taj Mahal. My dream became a reality at the age of 12 when I traveled to Agra with my parents and witnessed this glory from the past.

Taj Mahal means crown of palaces in the Persian language. It is an ivory white colored mausoleum in the Indian city of Agra, located on the bank of river Yamuna. The tomb is located in the center of the 17-hectare construction. It is designated as the World Heritage site by UNESCO.

Here are ten tips to follow for your Taj Mahal Trip:

1.Know The Taj Mahal history and about the monument


Shah Jahan (Left) and Mumtaz Mahal (Right)

Source: Noellomonez

Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal Emperor named Shah Jahan in 1653 in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. The cost of building was humongous and is estimated to be equivalent to US$ 830 million in 2015.

Architecture and Design


Ustad Ahmed Lauri

    Source: Kukly

It is mainly influenced by the Mughal and the Persian architecture and the usage of the white marble in its construction laid the foundation of the finest works in the Mughal histories.

Ustad Ahmed Lahauri was considered to be the chief architect of this grandeur.I would recommend that you closely observe the Taj Mahal during your visit because it looks beautiful from outside but it is much more adorable from inside.


Taj Mahal was constructed in the south side of the Agra city. The world’s best building materials were sourced from all over Asia. Marbles, Jasper, Jade and Turquoise were few of those. In totality, it took 22 years to complete entire construction with the huge manpower for construction and animals for the transportation.

The above map shows the 3-d view of the Taj Mahal, click on any arrow and then you can drag and view the surroundings.



Main Chamber of the Tomb

Source: Planetden

The main chamber of the tomb, has false graves of the king and the queen, but the actual graves are at the lower level. It has a marble dome surrounding the tomb. I have never seen any dome, as spectacular and splendid as this one to date in all my 10 years of journey as a monument traveler!

There are 4 minarets of 40 feet height which surrounds the tomb. The Minarets are well crafted pieces of symmetry.



Calligraphy on the Exterior


The exterior of the Taj Mahal is made by carvings and the stone inlays. There is a beautiful calligraphy on the exterior of the great gate which reads “O Soul, thou art at rest. Return to the Lord at peace with Him, and He at peace with you “.The king was so impressed by the calligrapher that he gifted him with the name of ‘Amanat khan’ means the ‘Dazzling Virtuosity’. There are also few chapters of the Quran written on the exterior walls. Make sure to ask your guide about Quran while you gaze through the exteriors of the Taj Mahal.


Source: Wikimeida

You will be amazed to know that the interior of the Taj Mahal has precious gemstone studded walls.  It has flowers carved in the marble, archways, paintings, floor tiling and minutely crafted pieces of works such as a jali. The graves are less decorated as per the Muslim tradition and they are facing the holy place of Muslims called Mecca. Calligraphic inscriptions to praise Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan are also on the grave.



Interior of The Taj Mahal

Source: Askideas

Source: Youtube


You can see the magnificent mughal gardens outside the Taj Mahal, which has the elevated pathways and flowerbeds.

The above map shows the 3-d view of the gardens, click on any arrow and then you can drag and view the surroundings.

2. Plan your India Trip

You can plan your holidays in winter because in India the temperature is just around 6-7 degrees between December and January. The trip to the Taj Mahal and the destinations around the city can be completed in 8 days. So, you can actually do away with the death cold winter of Canada for a week. I would, however, recommend that the best month to plan your trip is in the mid of November to enjoy the grand Diwali festival celebration in India, which is a one-time experience.

On the go tours, trip advisor and trip hobo are few of the trip planners to India. You can choose anyone of these, but I would recommend to plan your trip yourself to fully enjoy the trip. You can book your flight to New Dehli India online or  with any travel agent in Canada. New Delhi is the capital of India and there are many places to visit there. Here is how should plan the days of your trip.

Trip starts from location A:International Airport, B:Hotel, C:Agra, D:Bharatpur, E:Abhaneri and then back to A or F:International Airport.

Day-1: Toronto to New Delhi

The flight takes 24 hrs to reach New Delhi. Once you reach New Delhi airport, then depending on the type of the hotel you had booked, you can get airport pickup. If you book the airport taxi, it will cost around 25-30 CAD. The cheapest option is to book the prepaid taxi at the taxi counter inside the airport.

Day-2: Rest and do away with Jet lag

There are super luxury to low economy hotels available in New Delhi. Based on your budget you can choose any one of these hotels.

Day-3: Sightseeing of the Old and New Delhi



Source: Twitter

Visit famous places in the city such as Humayun tomb, India Gate, National Gallery of Mordern Art and Raj Ghat. All these places can be covered within 3/4th of the day and you can spare rest of the day for shopping. The picture below shows the jewellery at The National Museum.

Source: National Museum

Day-4: Start early at 5:00 a.m. for Agra

Check out from the hotel. You can hire a taxi with the driver for rest of the trip. The easiest and the reliable source to hire a taxi is through the hotel where you are staying, which will give you flexibility to plan your trip. Taxis charge 80-100 CAD per day for the Toyota Innova. Innova is the most comfortable car in India. It will take around 2.5 hrs to reach the destination. Check in to your hotel at Agra.

Twenty CAD is the entry fee for the Taj Mahal and hiring the guide costs you around 10-15 CAD, so that it is easy for you to understand the history of Taj Mahal. You can spend the rest of the evening for the local travelling and shopping.

Day-5: Start at 8:00 am to Bharatpur and Abhaneri


Source: Heritage-Traveller

Check out from the hotel and start the journey. You will reach Bharatpur in 45 minutes from Agra.  Keoladeo Ghana National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site is located here, which is again an utter joy to visit.

Start at around 1:00 pm from here to reach Abhaneri, a small village situated around 1.5 hrs from Bharatpur. It has the steepest stepwell of the world known as Chand Baori, which has 3500 narrow steps. I would also insist you to go around this village to understand the local living conditions. Go back to Bharatpur and check in the Hotel.


Chand Baori

Source: Youtube

The photo above shows the world’s steepest well named Chand Baori

Day -6: Back to Airport

Check out from the hotel and start your journey back to New Delhi. It takes around 3 hours to reach New Delhi. Directly go to the airport. Plan your stay at the airport as per the flight timings and board the flight from New-Delhi to Toronto.

3.Packing for the trip

Ensure you have sturdy bags and a backpack: 46 kgs is allowed for the travelling in flight. Make sure you buy the standard delsey, samsonite or equivalent for travelling. Also the backpack will increase the travelling flexibility.

Passport: Must be valid for at least next 6 months

Currency: At least convert $1000 into Indian currency and carry with you

Clothes: Take more shorts and T-Shirts to stay comfortable while travelling, also keep jeans and full sleeves clothes  to protect yourself from insects and mosquitoes. You can carry your swimsuits for swimming at the hotel. Make sure you carry enough pairs of underwear and clothes because laundry is very costly at the hotels.

Universal Converters: Do not forget to carry the 230 volt universal converters for all the electronic devices, if possible carry the power bank in case of emergency.

Footwear: Carry at least one pair of sturdy shoes and a pair of sandals or slippers with you.

Personal Hygiene: Carry sunscreen lotion as it is costlier in india and you may also not get your desired product. Mosquito repellant is also recommended. Carry the deo sprays, hair and skin care products.

Digital Camera: Memories Memories Memories..! Carry a good quality digicam with you to take snaps of every moment in India. Also keep a diary in case you want to record the memories.

Locks: If you are staying at the economy hotel, then it is safe to carry your own good quality lock.

Medicines: Though medicines are cheaper in India, it is advisable to carry all your essential medicines prescribed by the doctor. Heat resistant probiotics everyday will help, but please get in touch with your doctor before taking any medicine

Hand sanitizing bottles: Best way to keep your hands clean

4.Stay at Cheap places

You can stay at the super luxury hotels in New Delhi such as The Lalit, Radission blue, Taj Palace, JW Mariott and many more which costs around 300-350 CAD per day. Living here would be an experience. But I would advise you to spend less on the hotel and more on the travelling and shopping, which will actually help you to experience true India. So you can choose the economy hotels such as The Park, East inn, Janpath or The Royal Castle ranging from 50-100 CAD per day.

Economy hotels in Jaipur are Jaipur Inn, Sikha and many more. Economy hotels in Bharatpur are Bharatpur Swaraj and Mahal khas palace, while you can stay in Mango hotel or Ajay international in Agra.

5.Try Local Indian Travel

It is a joy to travel in some local mode of transport in India. Coming from the western part of the world, you will not experience it again at your home.

Paddle Rickshaw:  It is operated manually and two people can travel in it as shown in the image below.


Paddle Rickshaw

Source: Nijhoom

Auto rickshaw: It is a motor driven transportation and three people can travel at a time. You can experience these at Day 3.


Auto Rickshaw

Source: Chennaiadventures

6.Delhi Street Food


Street Food


Make sure that you do not have any allergies to oil or the highly spicy food before trying new dishes. Local food is very cheap. I would recommend the following dishes:

Parathas: Made of all purpose floor with stuffed potatoes

Chaat: Spicy to medium spicy

Butter Chicken:  Famous Indian non-vegetarian dish. Make sure to ask for a medium spicy variant

Biryani:  Favourite cuisine of the mughal emperors

Desserts: Sweet dishes such as Gulab jamun and Rasgulla will help to satisfy your taste buds

7.Do Delhi Shopping


Miniature of The Taj Mahal

Source:Indian Square

You definitely should buy some cheap and traditional stuff from India. I would recommend a couple of markets in New Delhi which are as follows:

Dilli Haat: Looks like traditional village market, best place to buy Indian artifacts and handcrafts

Janpath and Tibetain market: you can buy some hippi clothings and brasswares

Paharganj: Textiles, imitation jewelry and books can be bought from here

Agra market: Do not forget to buy the miniature Taj Mahal

8. Meet Local People

Whenever you get the chance, please talk to the local guide, local shopkeepers, taxi drivers and try to know about their lives and families. This will help you to connect with local people and will help you to understand India better.

9. Learn few Hindi (local language) Words

I would also recommend that you learn a few local words in Hindi language such as:

  1. Hi: Namastey
  2. Good Morning: Suprabhaat
  3. How are you: Kaise ho
  4. What are you doing: Kya kar rahe ho
  5. Ok: achha
  6. Thank you: sukriyaa
  7. How much is this for: ye kitne mein diyaa

10.Do’s and Don’t


  • Dress modestly if you are a female because Indians are conservative culturally
  • Start early as traffic is unpredictable and you can be late
  • Greet people with a smile; it makes them feel comfortable
  • Cover yourself with travel insurance as you are all alone in a new country
  • Bargain while buying because in India sellers quote a higher price expecting a bargain
  • Remove footwear while visiting a religious place as having shoes on is not respectable


  • Do not hug persons from the opposite sex unless offered as it may be disrespectful in India
  • Do not put your feet on any God’s when taking photos as Indians consider them with respect
  • Do not drink alcohol in public as it is an offense
  • Do not hunt animals as it illegal to do so and you will be prosecuted.
  • Do not comment on the religions in public as it may offend religious sentiments of many
  • Do not take any unwanted help from the strangers for your personal safety

So whats stopping you now to explore the incredible Taj Mahal in India. And yes do not forget to share your experiances with me. Enjoy your trip!

If you have any other questions or query, please submit your questions or comments here.