Christine Faulhaber is the President & CEO of Faulhaber Communications – a full-service PR and marketing agency in Toronto. What began as a dream at Christine’s kitchen table 16 years ago has grown into one of North America’s most powerful communication firms. However, she’s the first to admit, “there were tears, late nights and dark moments along the way.” A CEO, single mother, and business owner in a super-competitive environment, Christine knows a thing or two about a challenge. However, if there’s one thing she’s learned along the way, it’s that the best way to combat any hurdle is with a strong team behind you.
My first job ever was… When I was 16 I had a job on the sales floor at Fairweather. I was the youngest person at the location, and my first shift started at noon. Everyone else started at 9:30. I won the store’s daily sales by selling double that of all the others and went home with the jar of jellybeans.
I decided to be an entrepreneur because… Becoming an entrepreneur was never something I decided, it was something I realized. When I was 27 I went through a quarter-life crisis and the change it sparked proved to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. I went traveling through Greece for a month on my own and it dawned on me that I had a skill for selling ideas – when I got back to Toronto I grabbed my laptop, secured my first website domain and got to work.
My proudest accomplishment is… My team. Nothing makes me prouder than watching the talent and dedication they bring to the table every single day. My job now is to lead and inspire them. Seeing it happen brings me a real sense of accomplishment.
My boldest move to date was… Absorbing a firm on the west coast and expanding Faulhaber Communications. We now have a Vancouver-based showroom and offices.
I surprise people when I tell them… I used to sing at resorts in Muskoka as a teenager.
My best advice to people starting out in business is… When you’re at the water cooler and your boss asks you what’s new, your answer should never be “not much.” You’d be surprised how often this happens! Use every opportunity, no matter how small, as a chance to demonstrate your skill and personality.
My best advice from a mentor was… Over lunch with my mentor, I was excited to unveil names I have dreamed up for my business. I shared and they didn’t go over well. She paused and said , “why don’t you just use your last name?!” As if there was any other choice. That was the beginning of Faulhaber Communications.
My biggest setback was… Setbacks are always an opportunity to ideate the future. Once I had three employees leave in one month. I used it as an opportunity to upgrade.
I overcame it by… Focusing on what needs to be done. Trust the team. Give people an opportunity to take on new responsibilities and grow into different roles. For what couldn’t be filled, we brought in new staff to create the robust and seasoned team we have today.
Work/life balance is… Non-existent. Everyday is a hybrid of work and personal, and rather than operating them each like a switch, I view them in tandem with one another. A dinner party is as much of a business opportunity as a boardroom meeting.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… In 2001 I was featured in a multi-page photo spread in ELLE Quebec. Hair, makeup and all. And on a yacht! It so exciting to be on the other side of the editorial for once.
I stay inspired by… Travelling. I can’t emphasize the importance of short, snackable trips. Cities like Charleston and Bar Harbor and Tofino are beautiful and offer an opportunity to relax. I keep my travel tight but frequent, which allows me to parent and keep on top of the business while getting the inspiration I need to stay creative.
The future excites me because… Marketing and PR is constantly in a state of reinvention. This pushes us to grow and break new boundaries – something we won’t be slowing down anytime soon. I love to try new approaches.
My next step is… To be announced very soon!