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Alumni: Giving U of T more reasons to be proud


Alumni Portraits
Kirstine Stewart
Current Industry: Arts & Culture, Business, Science & Technology
B.A. 1988
Faculty of Arts & Science, UTM

When people say they have devoted most of their life to something, it is wise to be dubious. But when Kirstine Stewart says she has worked in the media all her life, you should believe her.

Stewart started delivering newspapers as a little girl and today is the high-powered vice-president of North American Media Partnerships for Twitter, Inc. She was formerly head of English language services at the CBC.

Her career at Twitter began in August, 2013 when she was named the new Managing Director and 1st hire of Twitter Canada. She was promoted in September, 2014 and her Twitter home page, showing a little girl holding a shovel, says “sorry, Kirstine, not Kristen. VP Media responsible for @twitter’s TV, Sports, Music, Talent, Ent, News & Gov partnerships. NYC, SF., LA, DC, TO, airplanes.”

Stewart obtained her BA at U of T Mississauga at 19, majoring in English with a minor in business. “I had a great time at U of T. It was a great learning experience.” It was only years later that she met a man who also took at class at UTM. His name is Zaib Shaikh, who would later star in Little Mosque on the Prairie on CBC television.

In speeches she gives to various groups around North America, Stewart not only stresses how business has changed but also the role women play in it.

Technology has changed everyone’s job, she says, and “power has shifted from the company to the people.” People are telling businesses “exactly what they want” and if they don’t respond correctly they will fail, she says.

Women now have the opportunity to “seize the moment,” she says. “It is time for action. It is our turn” to make executive decisions in major companies.

Her former colleagues at the CBC describe her leadership style as collaborative. In interviews she has said “you set the vision and clear the way for everybody else to do their job.”

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Stewart said “I think we have the opportunity to reinvent what media is to consumers and to people who watch and listen. We’re in a really interesting time with some of the best content being developed right now. I think it’s the struggle to figure out how the business model works in an age where people are getting content in ways they never have before.”

Despite the demands on her time as a senior executive, she is often on Twitter herself, tweeting and retweeting. Her favourite hashtags are “We the North and We the Winter”.

She often tweets about sporting events and follows celebrities and media personalities such as Susan Sarandon, Mia Farrow, George Stroumboulopoulos, Rick Mercer and Cheryl Hickey.


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