Amy Bi had her dream job. It wasn’t the childhood wish to follow in her dad’s footsteps as an artist, or her teenage dream of joining Much Music as a video jockey. Bi was a global brand director at Nike, based out of the iconic sports company’s headquarters in Oregon, U.S. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she felt the itch to come home.
Deciem, a rapidly growing Canadian beauty corporation with a worldwide following and parent company of popular brand The Ordinary— came calling as Bi (pronounced Bee), BA’07, was mulling her next move. Given her lifelong interest in skincare and beauty, the offer seemed fitting.
“I always listen to my gut when it comes to the next step. You just know if it’s right,” Bi says. “These days, I’m driven by this broader mission for myself and my career. I want to be someone that young, immigrant, Asian girls who grew up like me can look up to. I want to be the best role model possible.”
She saw Deciem as an underrated Canadian company on a dramatic upswing as it won over younger generations with an accessible approach to ingredients and pricing. “Their belief in the democratization of beauty really resonated with me,” Bi says.
She wanted to return to Toronto, where she had a strong community, after 10 years away from home. Going home would bring Bi back to her friends—many of them made during her sociology and philosophy degree at Western—and closer to her parents. But she wasn’t willing to uproot without an attractive, challenging new role. It had to be a business with an underlying mission, and one that aligned with her passions—a lesson Bi learned at Nike.
She joined Deciem in 2021 as the global vice- president of brand, leading marketing, creative design and branding for social and retail. “To be able to work on a brand that is world class, has great values underneath the product offering, and is Canadian was really exciting,” Bi says. “It’s such a wonderful Canadian success story. I’m really honoured to be part of taking The Ordinary to the next level.”
Budgets are smaller and tactics have to be “scrappier” than at Nike, but Deciem allows Bi to harness her powers of persuasion—the lure that initially drew her to the business world—and work for a company with a “values-based approach.”
“I always loved the more interactive and human side of business,” Bi says of her journey. As an executive, she still focuses on the foundation underpinning a company’s success, looking for that “strong value system” she found at Nike and Deciem.
“Nike’s idea is that sport can change the world, and sport can make you a better person,” Bi says. “It’s not even about winning, it’s about trying.”
She sees “massive” opportunities ahead for Deciem and The Ordinary, thanks to a “no fluff” approach to skincare. That means championing transparency to build trust with consumers at every possible stage, from sustainability and simple product labels to answering each and every direct message on Instagram. “Brands that are driven by values are the best playground for a marketer,” Bi says. “It gives me meaning, knowing what I can bring to life by tapping into those beliefs.”