02 May Aspire to Tech: Project Manager, Program Management & Operations
Career Spotlight – Brittany Ho
What is your role? What is your title? Where are you located? How long have you been doing it?
I’m currently a Project Manager within our Products & Development team. I essentially manage and drive key strategic programs within our product team. I’m currently located in Vancouver, and have been for the past seven years, which is how long I’ve been at Hootsuite for.
What makes your job interesting?
I love that I’m able to work and collaborate with a lot of different people. I am a people-person, so I find that really satisfying. What I also love about project management, especially within tech, is that no day ever looks the same. I’m able to directly impact our product and how it gets built, and I’m also able to work on a lot of different things that are happening through the organization, simultaneously.
What is the most fun? What is the most challenging?
Firstly, the people are one of the best things about working for this company. Another thing about us is that we’re all really passionate about solving problems here, which makes it really fun to come to work. In any role, things are not always going to go to plan, but figuring out solutions and making things work is really fascinating to me. I love our willingness to just dive in, ask the hard questions and find solutions. On top of that, social media as an industry is always changing, as well as tech in general. Everything feels really innovative and fresh. It really is true that in many ways, change is the only constant that we have. And as a project manager, that can be challenging, because I’m the one who’s trying to build alignment and get us to move cohesively as one team.
How does your role help drive the company’s success?
I think of my role as a key business partner to different stakeholder groups internally. Project management can look very different, but at Hootsuite it’s a key role on strategic projects. I ensure that we deliver valuable products to our customers, and that all the right people are involved to get us to that point, meaning that we’re having the right conversations and ensuring proper alignment along the way. I work specifically in product, so I also help our teams run within dual track agile, helping us brainstorm on long-term visions, while also executing on our short-term plans. I also support in discovery and figuring out technical dependencies. Generally, it’s a lot of connecting the right people in the right room and making sure that we’re having the right conversations.
What does a typical day look like for you? What do you actually spend your time doing?
There is no typical day! Some of my typical activities include reporting to execs in C-Suite on project performance and how projects are running, meeting with stakeholders to clarify paths forward, and hosting stand-up meetings and brainstorming sessions on products. Really, what the product or the project needs at that time is what I’m doing on that day. That could be communications, it could be reporting, it could be acting as scrum-master. The objective is to ensure that the teams I’m working with are on the right path, and that the right information is being communicated throughout the organization.
Tell us about your career history?
I started my marketing career at Hootsuite, fresh out of university. I actually got the offer as I was walking out of my convocation ceremony. I joined Hootsuite as an Advocate Marketing Coordinator. My role at that time was to lead our legacy ambassador program. That grew into more of a customer-stories and customer-marketing role, working very closely with our sales and account management teams. After a few years in marketing, I decided I wanted to explore a career closer to products. At the time they were hiring an Associate Project Manager within the organization, whose objective was to manage a lot of different key product changes and to really think about the crossing impact of those product changes. So, I applied to that position, and that’s how I made that transition into project management. From there, it has grown into working on more high priority items and programs. Our project management and program management team is actually very small. We are currently only 3 people, and that means what I work on has key and direct impact to our company’s priorities, because that’s how we resource. Working very closely to different levels of management, different levels of stakeholders, and making sure we’re able to execute on those priorities.
Hootsuite was my first full time job outside of university, however I initially went to school for hospitality. My goal at that point was to work for a hotel management group, but in my last summer internship I decided to apply on a whim to Uber. That was when Uber was still growing and was a smaller team within Canada. I interned with them for a summer on their marketing team. I helped launch their Ontario market, and that really was my first foray into tech. For me it was such an eye-opening and exciting experience because it was so fast-paced. So, after that internship with Uber, I pivoted to pursue a career in tech. Shortly after, I looked at Hootsuite as a company that I aligned with in terms of values and social principles, and then also in terms of what we were trying to accomplish to help others – to harness the power of social media for good.
What was your very first job and how did your career path take you to where you are today?
I was set on a career in hospitality, and I actually think that that lends itself very well to my career in Tech, because my role today relies very much on interpersonal relationships, being able to understand what the customer or the client, or your internal stakeholder wants, and then be able to connect that to the overall business vision. That’s an important skill set in hospitality as well – finding solutions to needs and figuring out how to implement that solution. For us in tech, that is often just software. It shows that there is not one straightforward path within tech. There’s room for everybody, with different backgrounds and skill sets.
Where might you go next? What’s your next role?
I’ve really found a sweet spot within program management and operations. I see a lot of longevity in it, especially at Hootsuite. We’re a pretty small team which means we have a lot of direct impact, and a lot of opportunity for growth as a team within the organization. I plan to continue the path that I am on because there’s a lot of opportunity to grow that function within Hootsuite. In the future, I am looking forward to more ownership and more interface with the executive leadership, but it’s clear that there’s room for operations to grow here.
What motivates you for your future career? Will you stay in tech?
I think I’m a testament to show that there is a lot of opportunity, even internally at Hootsuite. That helps me to be able to envision a future within the industry.
Personally, I’m quite passionate about diversity & inclusion and I want to see a lot of a lot more representation of that within STEM. As I think about my future and the people that I interact with, I feel like there’s still a lot that I can do personally, and a lot that we can do as an industry to help build those more diverse workplaces. I think that’s something that really motivates me to stay in tech. The idea of having a positive impact keeps me motivated day-to-day as well. I want to help people who are new to tech or considering switching into tech to visualize a place for themselves within the industry.
Any final words of advice, or advice for young people?
My advice is to think outside the box when you envision a career in tech. There are so many different roles, and opportunities in this industry, but I think a lot of people who are new to the industry or haven’t worked within it, think that you have to be a technical person, or you have to have hard technical skill sets. I think I’m proof that that’s not necessarily true, and that there’s a lot of room for a lot of different skills. Working in tech doesn’t mean you have to work in development. It’s about finding your strengths and being able to apply them to the business.