You have arrived, Episode 2 of our Origin Story series each week we will give you a glimpse into the super heroes of the Canadian public relations industry who have gotten into the business, learned the craft and the ones behind some amazing brands and campaigns.
In our second episode we talk with Christine Faulhaber, President and CEO of Faulhaber Communications.
Think back to your teenage days, what did you think you’d be doing today?
- I thought I’d be on stage performing – like Madonna.
Three career moments that got you here?
- A lot of my career highlights are connected to networking:
- I got introduced to Shauna Levy from the Interior Design Show pretty early in my career. She’s since moved on but we are now in our 12th year working with IDS.
- Meeting Suzanne Dyment of Marrin Inc. who introduced me to the office space we now call home in the Toronto Carpet Factory in Liberty Village.
- My introduction to Lexi Pathak, who I hired 10 years ago and is now and partner and VP at Faulhaber Communications.
Three jobs that helped define the person you are today?
This is a tough one since I’ve been running my own business for nearly 20 years.
- My first paper route as a kid for the Scarborough Mirror, I had to walk up the stairs to get a good tip and be personal with my clients on the route. I’ve been wooing clients from the get-go!
- I worked at Fairweather to put myself through school.
- Working retail at the Scarborough Town Centre gave me a real base for understanding what it takes for today’s clients and what makes them successful.
When did you know you wanted to work in this industry?
- I was working for Canadian Fashion designer Joeffer Caoc, where I saw the intersection of sales, marketing and PR and saw an opportunity/gap in the market where I could make a difference for my retail clients.
Tell me about your first campaign:
- We think of our clients as an extension of our business, we don’t really look at projects as campaigns. The client that has been successful for 12 years now is the Interior Design Show. We are really proud of the relationships we have developed over the years as a result of working with them. The high has been servicing the needs of the top design minds like Bjarke Ingels, India Hicks and Tom Dixon. One of the challenges is continuously beating our success year over year. The lows are when there is a news crisis, such as a disease epidemic or major political headline that takes the cameras away from our client’s stories. That’s always disappointing.
How are you a better leader today vs when you first came in?
- Moving up the leadership pipeline (every leader should read this Harvard Business Review article) is hard, once my business scaled and I no longer needed to be an individual, I needed to be a mentor so I invested in training, coaching and I read books to be better prepared to champion the team.
What would you do differently if you could do it all over again?
- There is no rule book, there is nothing anyone can do differently if they do it all over again.
What’s your management style?
- Mine is the Visionary management style, which means I focus on conveying the overall mission of the company to my team.
What problem do you solve?
- I help brands understand how to grow their business.
What is your super power?
- My super power is Woo and an uncanny sense of being able to understand what people are looking for.
Who is your nemesis?
- I’m not in the business of making enemies, there is room for everybody.
What have you learned this year so far that will be game changing in the next year?
- Technology is changing everything so fast that no one can really predict the next 5 years, let alone the next 12 months.
Tell me about a time when you had to overcome a major obstacle that stood in the way of you accomplishing a goal or commitment. How did you approach the situation?
- Turnover is a constant in our industry and there’s not much we can do about it. We employ smart, upward climbing millennials that are keen to get lots of different experience. Navigating an exit and maintaining client service is never without challenges, that’s why my partner Lexi and I are extremely close to our clients to nurture this turnover.
Do you have a theme song?
- I don’t have one, but if I did it would be written by Fiona Apple. Or maybe Rihanna.
What is the most challenging part of your role? What is your favorite part of what you do?
- The most challenging part of my role is also that I find the most rewarding and that is championing the team and giving myself in service of the team. My favourite part is meeting new clients and digging into their business problems. I love to solve problems.
- We’re constantly making things better, faster, smarter. We leverage technology or improve processes. In other words, we strive to do more—with less. Tell us about a recent project or problem that you made better, faster, smarter, more efficient, or less expensive.
- One source of the truth is something that is top of mind. As digital innovation invades our inboxes, there’s already faster, smarter ways of doing things. Our team learned from Ann Gomez, author of The Email Warrior, to only have one to do list. It sounds simple, but try it – grocery list, daily work list, personal goals list…
What is your finish line?
- The only finish line in life is death. As an entrepreneur I’m always looking to innovate and move things forward and continue to mentor my team. My business partner Lexi is championing our clients, so I can continue to innovate.
If you woke up on a dessert island tomorrow, what are the first 3 things you would do?
- Practically speaking, I better find a source of water or I won’t be able to think about the other two things. Second, I would relish in the solitude and find a beautiful vantage point to look over the ocean. Then, once my basic needs are met, I would make a plan. I know this is a cliché question because people always want to be somewhere better than they are, but I see it as a leadership question: make sure everything is okay, then take a breath and think about what’s next.
What’s your favourite non-professional activity?
- Gardening and cooking. If I wasn’t doing this job, I would be a saucier.