It all started with music.
At the age of 17, Heather Pirie (now Hill), had already earned her piano performance degree from The Royal Conservatory of Music and was asking herself, “what next”? She’d learned the invaluable life lessons of discipline and hard work – practicing piano several hours a day – but wasn’t sure how to make a living as a creator.
So instead, she switched directions, turned down a scholarship in music, and headed to the University of Waterloo to study Rhetoric and Professional Writing. And, not surprisingly, in the Canadian heartland of innovation, she landed in the world of tech after graduation.
It couldn’t have been a more exciting time. After starting off at Array Systems Computing, a defense company, Heather moved to WorldLinx, a Bell Canada company, just as the Internet was taking off. As a product manager, she helped launch the actual Internet network across Canada, while simultaneously doing her MBA at Schulich. “I loved creating concepts of products/services and trying/testing them,” she said.
Then, for the next several years, she followed the tech products that would change the digital game and discovered her niche in the startup space. From building out the first internet applications and content, to the first email communication software platforms to the first wireless phone applications, she threw herself into designing the parameters of products that were so new they were still undefined.
“How do you do quality assurance? How do you sell it? How much do you charge?” these were the market questions, Heather helped to answer. “Early adopters, are the same breed,” she said. “You don’t know the answer, you zig and zag really quickly, you take customer feedback and move fast.”
She made other discoveries as well, such as the connection between tech and music. “In all my interviews, people were flagging that I was a musician,” said Heather. She sees a high correlation between musical aptitude and success in tech. With these skills, Heather had gone far. She was always adding to her toolkit and had built a highly successful career, even moving into venture capital at Brightspark.
But then, she stopped.
Though professionally she was soaring, Heather was also getting terrible headaches, not building strong personal relationships and felt disconnected from her own passions. “Yes, I made good money and had a great career, but this voice inside me was saying, ‘This is not enough. You’ve got to go.’ It was quite visceral,” she said.
After this moment of clarity, she left work to travel for a year, ready for a new path. On this journey, she not only re-discovered music, for the first time she began writing original piano and vocal compositions.
“I had no regrets. I felt healthier, calm and clear and happy – and was beginning to hear my own voice. I had created some really incredible relationships, was a voracious reader. I had expanded so incredibly I didn’t know if I’d land,” said Heather.
But she did, eventually. With a different mindset and a globally-inspired awareness. “That was the beginning of me wanting to show up on this planet in a more conscious way…I had a list of things I was ready to make.”
Fifteen years later, she’s released three albums, had two children (with her husband, Duncan Hill), and built a life that encompasses all the expressions of her heart, the stories she wants to tell – and be a part of.
Being a fully-engaged mother, community advocate and music artist are Heather’s main priorities today. “I am raising amazing kids who are creative, free, kind and conscious,” she said. Heather is also part of initiatives like One Fire Movement, an arts-based non-profit dedicated to global peace and unity, who fundraise to support local and international charities.
And a new passion and career has organically emerged as well. Interested in learning how to change the way we think and look at the world, Heather started to explore leadership training and became a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach® (CPCC) for business leaders/executives. “I’m so big on the concept of co-creation,” she said. She provides the opportunity and safe space, as well as the support and framework that leaders need to state their individual truths, values, vision – then transform themselves and their business.
What does she love about it? “I get to be who I am. The more grounded I am, the more clear I am, the more love I have, the more my client can access that in themselves,” she said. “The end result, is their best self.” Her coaching tagline is “Healing, singing, coaching you out of your suffering into your gifts, joy and tribe.”
It takes a great deal of bravery to make major changes in your life, Heather explains. But if you’re investing your full heart in what you do, you’ll create love, joy, connection and ultimately, a better world.