Michael Blonde
Bachelor of Business Administration, 2009


It’s been a whirlwind 12 months for Michael Blonde – not only was he recently promoted to Global Director, Enterprise Growth Strategy at Hoostsuite Media Inc. but he’s been traveling around the world to get the job done.   “What is Hootsuite?” you ask...well, it’s a social relationship platform (SRP) that helps organizations turn messages into meaningful relationships.  Hootsuite is the SRP giant that recently surpassed 15 million users worldwide and it’s only nine years old.  That’s quite an accomplishment for a young company. 

We recently sat down with Michael to find out what life is like working at Hootsuite.  Check out what Michael has to say below.



What is your official title and company name?

Global Director, Enterprise Growth Strategy at Hootsuite Media Inc. 


In just a few sentences, explain to us what Hootsuite is exactly.

Hootsuite partners with our customers on their journey to digital transformation. Our vision is to champion the power of human connection and we bring this to life by enhancing the customer journey through social media; from awareness to advocacy.


What does a typical work day for you look like?

Well, I have three main areas of focus: 

      1.  When I’m at our headquarters in Vancouver, I typically meet with internal stakeholders across the organization (sales, customer success, marketing, solutions consulting) about designing strategy, launching and running campaigns, measuring success, tracking analytics, reporting on key insights on programs. Essentially I have to ensure that programs I’m responsible for are successful. 

     2.  I meet with customers (many of whom are Fortune 1000) to determine how we can drive better social business success through their partnership with Hootsuite. 

     3. Forty percent of my time is spent on the road.  I travel to offices around the globe to support our programs (London, Paris, Sydney, Singapore, Hamburg, Mexico City, and Toronto).  Early 2017 we acquired a New York based startup and use their office as a homebase for that region. 
  
Do people ever confuse you for an American?

No, I’m not often confused with Americans.  It has always been a good thing for Canadian organizations to do business internationally to be housed in Canada.  Ryan (Holmes) has built a billion dollar company and it’s staying in Canada.


What do you like best about your job?

People and innovation. I really like the people I get to work with; both internally and our customers.  They are some of the smartest people in enterprise tech.   As for innovation, the products we’re building and how our customers bring them to life is really incredible.  The business environment Hootsuite is in lends itself to forward thinking executives.  You get an inside look into how they’re using social – clients like FedEx, Jaguar Land Rover, Siemens, Mayo Clinic.  It’s very exciting! 


A good example of this is AccorHotels based in Paris; one of the largest hotel properties in the world.  They’re using social in the most creative way. In partnership with Hootsuite, we created the AccorHotels Social Desk, a global platform that gives social media tools, training, education, and content to all their hotels. We’re helping HQ inspire their hotels around the globe to get on social and actively engage with their community to increase customer retention and satisfaction. To date, we’ve seen a 2X increase in social reach and 3X increase in engagement.


Many of our students attend Okanagan College to become employable. How long after graduating did you get a “real job”?

I was fortunate; it was right away for me. Because my family has a long history of working in insurance, I was offered a six-figure salary in London right out of college. What most people find incredible is that I turned it down to take a $35k/year job in a non-profit.  In the end, I just couldn’t see myself working in the insurance industry so I followed my passion and took a job with SIFE (Enactus) in Toronto.  My role was to support central and western Canadian teams to design programs, help them prepare presentations, to get funding for competitions, etc. I did that for about one year. 

Wow, you turned down a six-figure annual salary to work for a non-profit…what did your family think about that?

Well, keep in mind this factors in the CAD to GBP exchange rate and you also need to factor in the cost of living for London. But yes, my parents have always encouraged and supported me to follow my passions and this was the case with this decision, too. I thought about it and in the end, I had to follow my passion.  And at the time, that was SIFE. And it was the right decision for me. 


So you worked for SIFE for a time.  How did you move from there to tech?

After my year in Toronto. I went back to Kelowna and worked for the EDC (Economic Development Commission).  I helped found the Okanagan Young Professionals (OYP) program. I was then exposed to Metabridge and was the Executive Director for that. 

It was when I was at Metabridge that I was exposed to tech.  I spent a year and a half in California helping a tech start up before joining Hootsuite.  I’ve been at Hootsuite for nearly five years now. 

When you entered the BBA program, did you have an idea of what you wanted to be/do in your career?

Always open to being an entrepreneur but gravitated toward business development.  Through SIFE, I was able to develop programs, develop relationship and was able to carry forward from second year to today. 


What piece of advice do you have for current students or recent OC graduates?

First, always have at least one active mentor and refresh the relationship annually.  Treat it as a contract.  Kyleen has been and is still a great mentor to me. 


Second, your network is really important so find and grow your network. The connections you make can help shape your career and be beneficial for your whole career. 

I did the exchange program while at the College and last week when in Paris was hanging out with someone I went to university with in Nice. To this day, I continue to maintain my network.

You seem to work a lot but you can’t do that all of the time.  What do you do for fun?

I am getting married this summer to my beautiful fiancé, Janis! We love hosting dinner parties with friends, or checking out new restaurants in Vancouver. Work takes me around the world, so I’m pretty fortunate. I try to make time to explore a new city before getting back on the plane. And with family and close friends still in Kelowna, I love coming home for visits, golfing, and maybe the odd wine tour!


So where is the best place that you’ve travelled?


I love going back to Paris for culinary adventures, however I was just in Zurich this May and was really blown away. The Old Town is packed with rich history and architecture, cobblestone streets lined with shops and cafes, and your backdrop is the snow capped Swiss Alps. One of my favorite European cities now!

The best place I’ve travelled for pleasure is Sri Lanka…probably because it’s top of mind as I was recently there. We experienced awesome surf beaches, great hiking into ruins and temples, welcoming people, and flavourful food inspired by India. The train ride from Colombo up into the tea plantations of central Sri Lanka was one of our highlights.


What is one interesting tidbit of information about you or your life that others might be interesting in learning?

I recently started a quarterly book club for my team at Hootsuite. We’re spread across 3 continents, and are rarely altogether, so it kind of keeps us connected. We vote on new books to read and take time to reflect and share ideas. So far we’ve read Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard (founder of Patagonia) and Quiet by Susan Cain.

   


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