Andrea Hruska, has always had a love for tech. As a kid, around 11 or 12 years old, when her family brought home their first computer, she taught herself HTML and made websites, fascinated by how they work.
Marketing, was a later discovery. She decided to specialize in the field, while completing her Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Guelph. “I loved the psychology of marketing, why people are attracted to some messages and not others,” she says. And of course, “Tech and marketing just seemed to go together – a lot of advancements in tech improve marketing, and they definitely play off each other.”
It’s no surprise then that she ended up working at BlackBerry after graduation. A co-op placement she completed during school turned into a full-time opportunity at the company. At the time, BlackBerry was a global tech giant, the feather in the cap of Canadian innovation.
“It was an exciting, but challenging three-and-a-half-years,” Andrea says. She was thrown into the thick of things, helping to bring exciting new products to market, travelling on behalf of the brand and unveiling major marketing campaigns. Not only was BlackBerry a great introduction to her industry, Andrea describes the team camaraderie and mentorship she received there with fondness.
“Early in my career I was mentored by amazing, strong women. But this mentorship was more than just creating a safe, supportive space for me. I had senior-level female mentors who went above and beyond to also sponsor me, which is an important distinction. My boss would put my name out there for roles, for opportunities, for projects,” she says.
Though many women working in tech can experience gender-related harassment, Andrea notes she was lucky enough to stand on the shoulders of the women in tech who had come before her. “Because there are so many strong women at BlackBerry, I never felt that gender would hold me back – I had so many great examples to aspire to and emulate.”
When BlackBerry began to face challenges, Andrea moved on to explore a new area of marketing: retail. She joined the marketing team at Target Canada and helped the company rollout their brand across the country. Though Target’s time in Canada was limited, (they shut down operations in 2015), she appreciated the invaluable experience that came from launching campaigns of such massive scale.
Ready for a new challenge, she decided to switch gears and move into an agency setting. Joining a boutique creative firm that specializes in professional services, she took on a senior marketing management role. “It was amazing to see how big campaigns and ideas come to life – there’s so much work and creativity required for the holistic management of multiple brands across multiple platforms. I love the chaotic creative process of bringing products or services to market,” says Andrea.
And, once again, she was lucky enough to find strong female leadership and mentorship. “I’ve had some remarkable experiences with intelligent, insightful and talented women throughout my career – I feel incredibly fortunate to have been surrounded by successful women,” says Andrea.
She thinks being honest about our experiences as professional women – who also have complex personal lives – is essential for women to not just collaborate, but connect. “Let’s be candid about our stories, not sugarcoat the struggles and triumphs. It’s a steep climb but it’s getting better. I love hearing stories where I can identify that someone is having similar experiences to mine – or when another woman shares new perspectives I can learn from.” She continues, “it gives you the courage to stand up for, and go after what you want.”
Today, professionally, Andrea has come full circle and made her way back to tech. She’s head of marketing of ISARA Corporation, a quantum-safe security solutions company. If that description sounds complex, Andrea easily breaks it down, “Once a large-scale quantum computer is developed, the cybersecurity systems used to keep data private will be broken. That day is approaching, and there’s a lot of work to be done to switch to quantum-safe methods. Our company helps organizations, particularly governments and automotive manufacturers, prepare to protect theirs and their customer’s privacy.” She’s once again helping innovative brands explain the value of their tech to key audiences.
Outside of work, Andrea, and her husband, Jason, are proud and enthusiastic parents to their French Bulldog, Tank. Always curious, Andrea loves to explore tropical destinations and invest in continuing education, keeping her marketing skills current. “It’s just fascinating how you can solve so many problems in our lives with tech. It’s bettering the world, and that’s what I want to help market,” she says. We say, they’re lucky to have her.