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People Behind the Product: Get to know Erin Elofson, Pinterest’s Head of Canada and APAC

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It has been a big summer for Pinterest Toronto. A huge new office space, a spot on Great Place to Work’s Best Workplaces in Ontario list, and openings for dozens of roles including an exciting Country Manager position reporting to Erin Elofson. On the heels of all this incredible news, we talked to Erin about her background, her perspective on this moment for Pinterest Toronto, and what she sees for the future.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us about your career and your role at Pinterest! First thing’s first— how did you get your start in tech?

I’m originally from Alberta, Canada, where oil and gas is the prominent industry. I was interested in communications and journalism, and started my career in oil and gas communications. During my time at university, I had the chance to pursue an internship at Microsoft, and was able to dabble in so many different areas of the business. I learned a ton and I immediately fell in love with tech.

The Microsoft internship was in Calgary, so before I even graduated from school, I picked up and moved across the country to Toronto so I could pursue a permanent opportunity at Microsoft Canada’s HQ. I would have done anything it took to launch my career in tech. It was a risky move, but looking back, it was absolutely pivotal to my career. I spent 12 years at Microsoft and became a “hyper-generalist,” working in roles across communications, marketing & partnerships, product management, partner sales and direct sales.

Eventually, I left the software side of tech and moved to Facebook. The Facebook team was seeking someone to lead a vertical and they liked my background and experience dealing with complex clients.

What led you to Pinterest?

I joined Pinterest when the Canadian operation was just starting, and I hadn’t yet had the chance to start something new and build a program from the ground up. I knew from early conversations with Pinterest’s leadership that the company was making a major investment in Canada. The investment was genuine and authentic, Pinterest truly wanted the Toronto office to build for Canadian clients and brands, which got me even more excited. I felt I could do exciting work and would have the company’s full support to be successful in the market.

In addition to the exciting potential I saw with Pinterest’s Canadian expansion, I was also really interested in what the company stood for. Pinterest represents a place for positivity and doing things differently. It was, and still is, a mission I’m proud to be a part of.

Last year, your role increased in scope from Country Manager, Canada, to Head of Canada and APAC. What do you see for Pinterest’s growth in those regions? What is your vision for the future?

Pinterest is very focused on growth beyond the US as our global user base grows (over 50% of Pinners on the platform today live outside of the US). Every market that we’re present in is in a very different but equally exciting stage. I love the opportunity to support the growth and strategy of all of these markets at their various stages. Watching each region go through it’s own growth path is beneficial— it allows us to develop a blueprint and apply wins and learns to the next one. All stages are fast paced and present diverse opportunities and challenges, which makes the work incredibly exciting.

Looking forward, my vision is to build deeper partnerships with our customers and add more value to their businesses in new and creative ways. As we evolve our product, I’m excited to help brands in Canada and APAC be discovered or rediscovered and reimagined as a result of their partnership with Pinterest.

Finally, I’m excited to attract the very best and kindest talent in the market. A diverse set of people helps a diverse set of customers, so our teams are diverse by design. This is something that is critical to our vision and we want to continue to attract a team that brings to life all of the differences that go together to create an ecosystem of innovation.

What does a day in your work life look like?

My days are incredibly varied. In a single day I could be meeting with a Toronto-based CMO to discuss opportunities for their brand, interviewing and hiring somebody in Sydney, writing a strategy for a partner and coaching my team on how to develop their careers. On any given week I’m thinking about Canada, APAC, Pinterest International and the success of Pinterest at large. I get to be a true shareholder and think about the success of Pinterest across many dimensions.

What are some of your favorite aspects of your job? Some challenges?

I get the most energy from the “people” aspect of what I do. I love empowering my team with the tools they need to stretch themselves and do great work, and I try to give them challenges I know they’ll succeed at, even if they don’t realize it themselves quite yet. I love watching people exceed their own expectations of themselves, and am particularly passionate about giving women in tech resources and opportunities to develop their careers.

I’m so proud of the fact that Pinterest Toronto is a supportive community of people who want each other to succeed in both work and life. We’re building a culture in which everyone can thrive and do the best work of their career, and we’re excited about broadening that and taking it even further. The challenge in this is maintaining it as we grow. As we increase the size of our team and office, how do we maintain the sense of trust and support we have today? I’m excited to think about community in a broader way and across many disciplines and regions. Community is changing and evolving every day, but this is always a focus.

Tell us about a recent project or initiative that you’re proud of.

Pinterest Toronto was recently certified as a Great Place to Work, and landed a spot on Great Place to Work’s Best Workplaces in Ontario list. I’m proud of the fact that we have empowered very ambitious and talented people to build their careers and skill sets here. Through strong leadership, we’ve retained so many incredible folks. It’s a really rare and special thing. I’m also proud of the benefits we’re able to offer— there is a company wide investment in the mental and physical health of our team, we have a generous vacation policy and a suite of other benefits that truly allow Pinployees to live their fullest and happiest lives.

What types of roles is Pinterest currently looking to fill in Australia, Canada and Japan?

We are currently looking to fill over 50 roles in Toronto across the entire business, including engineering, sales, insights and marketing. Toronto is our very first engineering hub outside of the US, and members of the Toronto team will directly build the shopping technology that will drive Pinterest’s next decade of growth.

We are also looking to fill Country Manager roles in Canada, Australia and Japan as we continue to expand in these markets. We are looking for strong leaders who can take these teams to new heights.

Do you have any advice for candidates looking to enter the tech world, or continue to grow their careers?

Tech is such an amazing place to learn, grow, and experience a wide breadth of disciplines. If you’re just starting out or want to break in, my advice would be just to get in the door. I’m a strong believer in the jungle gym career philosophy, not everything has to be linear, and tech companies are supportive of people exploring different functional areas. Don’t be hung up on the first role, or adhering to a specific title or level— explore your options, and have confidence in your mobility once you’re in the door. Typically, the well-rounded people are the ones who run companies.

Thanks so much for the sage advice, Erin. We’ll close it out with one last question: what are you currently saving to your Pinterest boards?

I’m a working mother with three small kids, so I lean on Pinterest for utility and getting through the day. If it’s a life hack for a working mom, consider it saved.

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