Our Turn by Kirstine Stewart

In her new autobiography, highly successful media professional Kirstine Stewart discusses the challenges and opportunities she has faced as a woman in the workplace.

Kirstine Stewart aspired to a career in publishing, but fate had other plans. Instead, she left her indelible mark on the media world, an area that uniquely combines business, content creation and art.

In the fall of 2014, Stewart (see “#ChiefEvangelist,” January/February 2014) was named vice-president of North American media partnerships at Twitter in the US, where she oversees news, sports, entertainment, government-related content and partnerships.

In her no-nonsense autobiography, the experienced businesswoman discusses her career, during which she never shied away from taking initiative and risks. She started out as a girl Friday, climbing the corporate ladder without the benefit of connections or old money.

Throughout the book, she delivers her key message to women: the technological revolution and shifting demographics are creating tremendous business opportunities for women to stand out in the new economy. Quoting numerous Canadian and US studies to support her claims, Stewart calls on women to act. Our Turn also exposes the barriers that often stand between women and their career objectives.

Through the lens of her experience, she offers a realistic glimpse of the workplace, looking back at the trials, errors and triumphs in her successive positions at Paragon Entertainment, Trio/Newsworld International (a US-based company originally owned by Canada’s powerful Desmarais family), Hallmark Entertainment, Alliance Atlantis and CBC before joining Twitter.

She discusses the many obstacles, including sexism, she overcame to reach her goals: the added pressure to succeed placed on women; resistance to change; criticism of her decisions; her feelings of guilt as a mother whose work often took her away from home; and the failure of her first marriage.

On every page, Stewart offers a fresh perspective on old beliefs. She defines emotional intelligence as the ability to find out what people know and value, and what their goals are. She calls this the key to having influence — the new form of power that has supplanted control.

Stewart also shares lessons learned: success has to do with confidence and competence; women can be leaders without being the boss; an outstanding career is not about racking up titles, but rather the experience gained over the years; working outside the home doesn’t necessarily have a negative impact on child development; and the myth of the superwoman is “superdestructive.”

In the end, Stewart offers this takeaway for working women: success comes when you stay true to yourself.