Kirstine Stewart (BA 1988)

Kirstine Stewart, BA'88

Media Executive and Author

It's impossible to capture the accomplishments of Kirstine Stewart in a mere 140 characters. The U of T Mississsauga alumna has built a stunning career in Canadian media, rising from a "girl Friday" at a film production company to become a top-level executive with the Canadian branch of social media giant, Twitter. When she served as vice president, Stewart oversaw Twitter's North American media partnerships across all verticals, including television, film, news, sports, fashion and music. Previously, she served as managing director for Twitter Canada, leading Canadian operations and advertising business and partnerships. Prior to joining Twitter in 2013, Stewart was the executive vice president of CBC’s English services, CBC/Radio-Canada, where she oversaw the network’s English-language radio, television and digital operations. Earlier, she was senior vice-president of programming for Alliance Atlantis, overseeing HGTV, Food Network, National Geographic, BBC Canada and others after leading Hallmark's international television channels.

Stewart earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto, and is a graduate of the Global Leadership in the 21st Century program at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Stewart is considered one to watch--in 2014, she was named to Macleans Magazine's list of "100 Most Powerful Canadians"; she was Playback Magazine's "Person of the Year" in 2012, and Strategy Magazine recognized her leadership in taking CBC to Brand of the Year.

Stewart maintains her ties to UTM. In 2015, professor Deep Saini, U of T vice president and principal, U of T Mississauga presented her with the J. Tuzo Wilson Distinguished Alumni Award. “An accomplished leader, she has maintained a commitment to community and improving society through her commitment to a broad range of cultural and charitable organizations,” he said.

In accepting the award, Stewart reminisced fondly about her time as a student at then-Erindale College, where she studied English literature and criticism. “This knowledge has served me well. Deciphering and analyzing speech and communication has led me to many great jobs, including the CBC and Twitter. I have had a great and fabulous career. Wherever I went, the University of Toronto opened doors for me.”

Stewart noted that her alumni status brought her a personal connection, too. Years after graduating, Stewart met Zaib Shaikh and discovered they were both graduates of U of T Mississauga. The Little Mosque on the Prairie creator and fellow alumnus is now Stewart’s spouse.

In 2015, Stewart published her first book, Our Turn: Time For a New Kind of Leader, which discusses the potential of women leaders in a time of new opportunities. 

A line from a 2013 speech Stewart gave to the Rotman School of Management is the kernal of the book. "A new kind of business takes a new kind of leader," she says. Our Turn examines women leaders in a time of generational shifts in the workforce and changing corporate values and opportunities, especially in the world of new technologies.

"Women have long been pushed to conform to what people have valued as traditional masculine leadership traits in business," Stewart says. "Now that business values, and the values of what is expected of leadership, have changed, women are primed to take their place among leaders at the top."

She is @kirstinestewart on Twitter.

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