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Hamilton Economic Development

‘It’s our time to seize the moment:’ Twitter exec

Photo of Kirstine Stewart, VP North America TwitterThe kind of leadership required today is perfectly suited to the business styles of women, a Twitter executive told a group of Hamilton entrepreneurs Wednesday.

The ability to multi-task, distil multiple points of view, listen and share are critical in a new corporate environment driven largely by technology, said Kirstine Stewart, vice-president of North American partnerships at the social media giant.

“Leadership is changing but the good news is that it’s kind of how we’ve always been,” Stewart told more than 200 people gathered for the fourth annual Success in the City event that celebrates International Women’s Day.

Great leaders can articulate a vision and motivate a team to achieve it, said Stewart, who will release a book about leadership in the fall.

They surround themselves with smart people who are empowered and then they get out of the way. They collaborate and share, even with those who might be perceived as competitors.

Though there is frustration with the pace at which women are grabbing top jobs in business and government, Stewart said “it’s our time to seize the moment.”

Stewart says she had one of the most important jobs in Canadian media as the head of English-language services for the CBC. She was responsible for news, sports, TV, radio and online and about 5,000 people reported to her.

“I left it for something called Twitter,” she said.

Twitter is a disruptive technology creating limitless opportunities, said Stewart, 46, who was named No. 15 on Maclean’s power list in 2014.

There are about 500 million tweets sent daily and 288 million monthly active users, according to the San Francisco-based company.

Twitter requires businesses, media, governments to be open to two-way conversations in a way never seen before, says Stewart.

It gives a voice to everyone with a handle and access to the Internet.

“That kind of interactivity has changed all businesses. You can’t rule the way you used to.”

She urged her audience to use social media as a means to connect with others, engage in conversations about business and be transparent about who they are and what they can offer.

“In the old world, it was about controlling the message. Business owners would insist that, ‘I will dictate my brand.’ It doesn’t work that way any more. Now it’s about transparency.”

She said today’s businesses have to truly understand what their customers are about and what they need.

“When someone understands who you are, you will go back to them again and again … When you truly connect, people will show their loyalty.”

She urged even those wary of using social media to embrace its possibilities, even if that means getting their kids to show them how.

Success in the City is hosted by the city’s Small Business Enterprise Centre. The event included a panel of local business owners, a trade show and a keynote by Hamilton-based professional speaker Rosita Hall.

She urged her audience to embrace and showcase their talents and to not be afraid to seek help when it’s needed.

“Life is not a solo act. You must connect with others,” she said.

Article courtesy of Meredith MacLeod, The Hamilton Spectator.

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