Even in her previous role as Vice President of Administration and Finance at Toronto’s Ryerson University she was active on social media. In fact, she cultivated such a strong social media presence that when she announced she was leaving Ryerson in the fall of 2014 Twitter was abuzz with the news. The student newspaper, The Ryersonian, even published a story on Twitter’s reaction to the news, which speaks volumes to Julia’s status as a social leader.
Active on Twitter and LinkedIn and also a regular blogger, Julia caught The Social C-Suite’s attention and we decided to interview her for our Social CEO of the Week feature. As usual, the interview was conducted entirely via Twitter. We are the Social C-Suite after all!
What value to you get from using social media personally (especially Twitter)?
I love the way Twitter creates opportunities to make real connections. For example, even before I took over as President & CEO at Holland Bloorview, a lot of staff and family members of our patients started following me on Twitter, so on day one I already had the advantage of those relationships.
Twitter also allows me to connect with experts in my field from far and near. I also really appreciate the wealth of information it offers – in fact I probably get most of my news through my feed; it also leads me to lots of professional reading and the latest research in disability, healthcare, innovation and leadership. I met one of my social media mentors (@LinaDuqueMBA) on Twitter. And of course it helps me keep up with Game of Thrones gossip!
“I love the way Twitter creates opportunities to make real connections. It allows me to connect with experts in my field from far and near. It also leads me to lots of professional reading and the latest research in disability, healthcare, innovation and leadership.”
We noticed that the hospital recently broadcast the All Staff meeting on YouTube (and announced it on Twitter). What a wonderful idea – and what a wonderful example of ‘Working out Loud’! Why did you decide to do it?
It’s all about maximizing our reach to our team. If you can’t leave the floor you work on because you need to be near your patients, we still want you to be able to connect. It’s the same for employees who don’t work at our main site or who work night shifts. By broadcasting through YouTube we give the team more options. That’s what social communication is all about: putting the freedom of how to communicate in everyone’s hands.
“Social communication is all about putting the freedom of how to communicate in everyone’s hands.”
What role does your blog play?
The blog has two purposes: (1) It’s the digital extension of my open door policy, giving the whole team insight into what we’re working on, our key priorities and the things that make me proud about Holland Bloorview. (2) It’s also an opportunity to promote Holland Bloorview to the outside world: to extol our extraordinary scientific discoveries, the great care we offer, our family leaders and the amazing stories of our kids – their enormous potential and special accomplishments.
You also publish on LinkedIn. How valuable do you find that as a blogging platform? Do you get useful feedback to your posts?
I use LinkedIn as an extension of my ‘personal brand’, with less focus on the hospital (although I do cross-post). On LinkedIn I’m more likely to publish thoughts on leadership, innovation and diversity than I would on healthcare. I get quite a bit of engagement on LinkedIn and really enjoy that. I also participate actively in a number of LinkedIn groups.
“I use LinkedIn as an extension of my ‘personal brand’. I get quite a bit of engagement and really enjoy that.”
How do you think your (and the hospital’s) very visible position on social media helps?
We want to demystify the hospital for kids and families – and the team. We also want to provide access to reliable high quality information about our programs and care. Our concussion handbook, for example, has been downloaded thousands of times because it gives families information based on our latest research on how to get back to school, work and play after concussion. We also publish concussion infographics routinely through social. In addition, we use Facebook to connect parents to information on parenting children with disabilities – that’s great value to them. We also use social to showcase opportunities to participate in research.
If you could give advice to other CEOs about using social media what would it be?
Be real. Be yourself. Engage in real dialogue with friends and followers – don’t be a broadcaster. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes – you will and that’s okay!
“Be real. Be yourself. Engage in real dialogue with friends and followers – don’t be a broadcaster. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes – you will and that’s okay!”
Do you think it will soon be essential for CEOs to be ‘social’?
It’s essential for CEOs to be effective communicators. No CEO should ignore social channels as great ways to communicate.
“No CEO should ignore social channels as great ways to communicate.”
What a fantastic endorsement of social media by a CEO!
Julia is clearly a dedicated individual who understands the role of CEO as ‘Chief Cheerleader’. She plays a vital role in promoting Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital not only as a center of research excellence, but also as a place where the patients – the kids – are the top priority. Also, by reaching out to staff at all levels and making information available to them on channels like YouTube and Twitter, she democratizes the working culture.
“Julia understands the role of CEO as ‘Chief Cheerleader’.”
Social media plays an invaluable part in this process – there’s no way she would have the same reach or influence without the amplifying effects of Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. That is the reality of modern leadership – it understands that the rules have utterly changed. The old days of ‘command and control’, ‘top down’ and ‘broadcast’ have gone; now it’s about openness, facilitation and personal communication.
We’d like to extend a special thank you to Lina Duque (@LinaDuqueMBA), Julia’s social media mentor and the author of most of the articles used to research this post. An advisor to CEOs & C-Suite executives on digital presence and personal branding, Lina is also a speaker and writer. She is also the person who suggested the #CEOJulia hashtag!
What I Learned From my Wildly Busy Mentor (by Lina Duque)
5 Lessons in Leadership From Ryerson’s Top Female Executive (by Lina Duque)
Storify: Twitter’s Reaction to Julia Hanigsberg Leaving Ryerson (by Gina Wicentowich)
Why Hospital CEOs Need to Worry about Social Media (by Colin Joseph)
Why Women Executives Need to Get Social (by Lina Duque)