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Hootsuite taps new CFO after 19-month search

Eighty per cent of Hootsuite’s C-suite now based in U.S.
Boston-based Tiziana Figliolia is taking over as Hootsuite's CFO following a 19-month vacancy in the post | Submitted

Hootsuite Inc. is heading south of the border once again to fill out its C-suite ranks.

The Vancouver company specializing in social media management is tapping tech executive Tiziana Figliolia to take over as chief financial officer following a 19-month vacancy in the post.

Figliolia, who is presently based in Boston, most recently served as vice-president of finance at mobile and video technologies firm InterDigital Inc.

She replaces former CFO and chief operating officer Greg Twinney, who exited Hootsuite in February 2020 to take on the CFO role at Burnaby-based clean energy firm General Fusion Inc.

Hootsuite senior vice-president of finance Ric Leong has been overseeing the company’s coffers since then. The COO position remains vacant.

Twinney’s departure came three months after co-founder Ryan Holmes announced he would resign as CEO and transition to the new role of executive chairman.

Hootsuite eventually turned its attention to the U.S. to take over the top job, hiring Tom Keiser as CEO in July 2020. He leads the Vancouver tech company from his home in San Francisco.

The company also hired American Maggie Lower over this past summer to serve as chief marketing officer. She is based in Chicago.

With chief technology officer Ryan Donovan in Seattle, the highest-ranking member of Hootsuite’s C-suite who is based in Canada is chief people officer Tara Ataya.

Hootsuite is one of Vancouver’s largest homegrown tech companies, with about 500 workers based in B.C.

In recent years other major employers headquartered in B.C., such as Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers (TSX:RBA) and Sierra Wireless Inc. (TSX:SW), have also turned to CEOs who remain based in the U.S.

“We’re not being aggressive enough as a country or as a province around thinking about the global competition for talent and what we need to be doing as an economy to attract that talent and, more importantly, retain Canadian talent in the marketplace,” Greg D’Avignon, CEO of the Business Council of B.C., told BIV just before the pandemic.

He said factors such as the foreign-buyer’s tax, higher income taxes compared with the U.S. and the high cost of housing are working against efforts to attract top C-suite talent to B.C.

D’Avignon said the province could be at risk of losing more headquarters and executives if a CEO does not wish to be based on the West Coast.

Metro Vancouver was home to 239 head offices employing 15,783 workers in 2017, according to results from Statistics Canada’s latest head-office survey (results from the next survey are expected later this year).

While the number of jobs grew by 939 from the previous survey conducted in 2013, the number of head offices based in the region did not grow during that period.

Instead, Metro Vancouver lost three head offices overall from 2013 to 2017, and B.C. saw the number of head offices fall from 319 in 2013 to 308 in 2017.

“There are a lot of factors that go into influencing business leadership relocation and whether or not they take a role,” D’Avignon said.

They must consider not only quality of life, but also sector opportunities and whether their partners would be able to find a job as well, he added.

Citing figures from the B.C. government’s Small Business Profile 2017, D’Avignon said that because 98% of the province’s 404,000 companies employ 50 people or fewer, the West Coast lacks sizable business clusters that would allow CEOs to easily switch companies without uprooting their lives.

“For example, there are all kinds of really interesting clothing design and manufacturing companies but the big players are effectively Arc’teryx, Lululemon and Aritzia,” he said.

“So if I’m a senior executive coming into this market that has experience in the retail and clothing business and it doesn’t work out with the company, I can’t just look around and say, ‘OK, I’ll move down to company X just down the street.’ And those kinds of opportunities are more pervasive in bigger centres like Toronto.”

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