A positive force for change

Published on February 22, 2022

President of FKA Agency Rob Jennings received the Alumni Award of Excellence for leadership in the marketing industry and community building

In the late 1990s, Rob Jennings (Business AdministrationMarketing '98) wasn’t certain about the direction of his future, but he was open to possibilities. After enrolling in business at NAIT, he found not just a direction but a passion: marketing. 

“Marketing combined things that I found interesting,” says Rob. And it gave him a goal. “I wanted to work at an advertising agency.” 

To get there, he gained experience by working at a local newspaper and a menswear store. In time, Rob proved himself ready. 

“I finally got that dream job and spent six years in account management with one of the best local agencies.” 

But as his experience grew, so did his ambition. Just as he was as a student, he was open to possibilities – open to attempting to do and learn even more in the industry. 

“I’m hard to please, I guess,” Rob says with a laugh.  

For the fun of it 

Doing even more, it turned out, meant going it alone. Rob decided to strike out on his own, initially planning to work as freelancer in the industry. Starburst Creative was born. It wasn’t easy at first. 

“I had no clients for the first three months,” says Rob.  

Then came a competition for a government contract, which he won in partnership with another freelancer. It was a sign of things to come. Starburst would go on to win nearly $500,000 in contracts within two years and started hiring staff (including a number of NAIT grads) to bring more services in house. 

As the agency grew, it outgrew its brand. 

“This happens to a lot of businesses,” said Rob. “We had grown to a size and sophistication that was no longer aligned with the brand.” 

Starburst became FKA, which stands for the company’s ethos: fun, knowledgeable and ambitious. 

Today FKA has almost 40 people in Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto, and has landed three times on the Canadian Business Growth List (formerly the Growth 500) of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies. It works with leading Canadian organizations, including locally grown operations such as All Weather Windows, The Brick and Canadian Western Bank. 

“It’s a privilege to work with such large Edmonton success stories,” says Rob. 

A force for giving back 

Rob also takes pride in working with organizations dedicated to improving communities. 

“I’m very proud of our efforts in the mental health space over the past couple years,” he says. “It’s been great to contribute in our own way to the fantastic work many organizations are doing to improve outcomes for different communities. It aligns deeply with our core purpose: Executing Ambition, which means we believe that marketing can be a positive force for change.” 

Rob puts that force to work in other ways as well, including giving back to NAIT. FKA provides a bursary and a scholarship to students enrolled in Business Administration – Marketing. 

As well, Rob has sat on the marketing program advisory committee for the past five years, providing insight into the changing needs of industry and the skills marketing grads will require to make an immediate impact. 

Since 2019, he has also been part of an industry panel for the Marketing program’s annual Promo Awards, which recognize outstanding work in the Promotional Campaign Planning class. The event gives students the opportunity to pitch campaign plans to experts. As half of the panel consists of graduates, including Rob, the Promo Awards not only help hone skills, they inspire students. 

“It’s really meaningful for me to give back,” says Rob. “I owe NAIT a large debt that I’m trying to repay.” 

Alumni Award of Excellence

Rob Jennings received the Alumni Award of Excellence for leadership in the marketing industry and community building. This award recognizes the significant contributions made in recent years by NAIT alumni to their profession or community.