I met Kira LeBlanc, Sr. Communications Manager at AOL Canada, for a coffee chat after we were introduced through a mutual friend. Kira was pregnant at the time and rocking a leather jacket with her phone in her hand. After picking her brain for an hour, I was in awe of this woman with an awesome job, a growing family and a laid back attitude. She is one of those effortlessly cool and hard-working women who is doing it all! I knew I had to interview her for the blog.
Hard work and integrity always win in the end…
Mahsa: What led you to a career in PR?
Kira: While I was at school studying law and social studies I decided to take a few courses in marketing and communications and really just fell in love with the industry. After realizing that a career in law was not what I wanted after all I decided to go back to school to pursue a post grad certificate in PR while working in a hybrid marketing role at a large Toronto-based hospitality company. It wasn’t until I begun at AOL in a sales role that I realized communications, more specifically PR within the media and tech industry, was my destiny. I was able to transition into a communications role here at AOL shortly after joining the company and literally won the job lottery!
Mahsa: Tell us about your role as a Sr. Communications Manager at AOL Canada
Kira: In my role here at AOL I work within the global PR team where I oversee communications for the company in Canada. This includes a myriad of duties such as media relations, social media strategy, executive communications and public relations for all brands that fall under AOL (including all owned and operated brands such as The Huffington Post and all B2B advertising of such brands). There is never a slow day!
Mahsa: How do you stay motivated at work and stay on top of your game?
Kira: There are many people in this world that do more than I do with less resources, I’m extremely lucky to be surrounded with amazing people both at work and at home. I work with some pretty inspirational people, I mean have you met David Shing?! I believe that it is important to never stop learning so I make sure to keep up with relevant insights through courses, industry events, thought leadership, research studies and learnings from the many talented people in our industry. Motivation isn’t hard to find when you love what you do, I think I came out of the womb hustling!
Mahsa: Do you have a mentor or mentors?
Kira: I have a few, I recently graduated from the AMA Mentorship Exchange Program and believe that learning from others’ experiences can be the best form of education. I also have a few close colleagues and friends that I look to for inspiration and guidance. AOL’s Digital Prophet, David Shing, is a huge source of inspiration for me and I am honoured to also call him a friend. He tells it like it is, and has a wealth of knowledge (I mean he is a prophet after all lol).
Mahsa: What’s the most important thing you have learned in your career so far?
Kira: That you can never proof read something too many times! But seriously, I think the most important thing is hard work. Hard work and integrity always win in the end so I try not to get caught up in politics or emotional influences at work. That being said, there is nothing wrong with being passionate about your work so some emotion is inevitable.
Mahsa: You have two kids now (congratulations!) and you juggle a successful career, what’s your secret?
Kira: COFFEE! Being a parent is the most challenging role I have ever had and since having kids I have learned that being present – both at work and at home – is very important. I try to leave work at work (which can be hard when you work in digital media) and made a rule to always have dinner as a family. To be honest, I’m still working on the whole work/life balance part.
Mahsa: Let’s change direction a bit, where’s your favourite place to travel?
Kira: My husband and I like to think of ourselves as food lovers and both spent over a decade in the hospitality industry so most of our travel involves a lot of eating. Our most memorable trips before kids were Bali, Indonesia and Northern Italy, most notably the island of Elba where we ate one of the best meals of our lives. Now that we are a little more low key, we are obsessed with a small surf town in Costa Rica called Playa Grande and try to visit every other year with our kids. It’s basic, chill and perfect.
Mahsa: What’s one thing every kick-ass woman should have in her closet?
Kira: I’ve always been more on the sporty side and like to keep it real so I would say a great leather jacket and awesome kicks.
Mahsa: What are you most proud of?
Kira: It’s so cliché but I’d have to say my kids, I’m shocked that we created two little humans and am proud to be raising them as kind, empathetic and caring individuals.
Mahsa: What are your three most-visited websites right now?
Kira: Since I am currently on mat leave I pretty much do everything on my phone so I’m more of an app person, so here are my favourite apps: Instagram, The Huffington Post, Nike+ Running. Favourite sites? I’d have to go with The NY Times, The Huffington Post, and Apartment Therapy.