Meet Connor Meakin, a psychology alumnus and founder and CEO of Bluebird Provisions. In an interview conducted by The Faculty of Arts, Connor shares how his degree helped pave his way to his previous positions at Hootsuite and Field Hockey Canada, and how it contributes to his current career as a founder and CEO of a natural food brand. Connor believes that “you must learn to communicate your ideas in a clear and concise manner to achieve anything.”
Why did you choose your program at UBC and what did you enjoy most about it?
I chose UBC Psychology because I am inherently interested in how people think and make decisions. I grew up with anxiety and feelings of unworthiness, so I wanted to learn about where these things come from. I figured psychology would equip me with the knowledge and skills to overcome my perceived deficiencies.
Once in the psychology department, I discovered the breadth of topics. To my amazement, I grew a passion for cognitive processes, motivation and decision making. Psychology laid the foundation for my life in business. I still read psychology books and love to talk about it. In my day-to-day life, I use it to better understand and empathize with everyone I meet.
What were some of your most meaningful experiences at UBC?
Varsity Field Hockey was incredibly beneficial to me. Being a part of a team, working amidst time constraints and dealing with constant adversity set me up for success in the ‘real world.’ But you don’t necessarily need a team sport to develop these skills. You can find other clubs or activities that provide similar benefits.
Getting to know my professors in my last year at UBC was also meaningful for me.
“ I didn’t realize the incredible resource professors are until my last few semesters. They are caring, supportive and incredibly knowledgeable.”
What choices did you make at UBC that contributed to your career success / journey?
Becoming a better writer helped me tremendously. During my 3rd and 4th years at UBC, I finally learned how to write properly. This is the most underrated skill in business and life.
Writing directly got me hired at Hootsuite and Field Hockey Canada. Now it helps me in my current career as a founder and CEO of a natural food brand.
“You must learn to communicate your ideas in a clear and concise manner to achieve anything.”
What was your first job after graduation and what other jobs did you have before your current position?
- Community Coordinator at Hootsuite
- Marketing Manager at Red Paddle Co
- Marketing Manager at Field Hockey Canada
Is your current career path as you originally intended? What challenges did you face in launching your career?
This is certainly not what I intended. When I started at Hootsuite, I thought I would work in software most of my life. I found that I’m not passionate about software—which was a blessing.
My business started with a rare foot injury. Post-varsity athletics, I excelled at running and become a competitive ultra-marathon runner. I ran gruelling 50-80km mountain races. I also became incredibly injured for three years.
Western medicine wasn’t healing me, so I looked at natural ways of healing tendon injuries. I experimented with a few different foods, one of them being bone broth. Bone broth helped heal my foot, so I developed a recipe and started selling it myself.
What do you like about your current job and what do you find challenging? How does it relate to your degree?
Helping our customers with whatever ails them is the most rewarding feeling I get in my life.
Growing our business (Bluebird Provisions) and increasing sales is easily our biggest challenge. I use psychology to help better understand our customers, distributors and trade partners. This helps me empathize with them. It also helps me understand how to serve them better. Psychology forces you to take the other side’s perspective in every situation. This helps me every day in business.
From your experience, what has been the value of having an Arts degree?
The value of an Arts degree can’t be understated. Arts allows you to pursue a variety of interests. These interests not only allow you to become a well-rounded human being. They also force you to become interesting.
Are there any other achievements or activities you would like to highlight?
I was named to the 2018 BC Business 30 Under 30 list.
What advice would you give to students and alumni interested in breaking into your industry?
Ask for help. I’m always happy to help anyone break into the natural food industry. We need more entrepreneurs taking risks and starting small businesses. It doesn’t just go for my industry.
“Ask for help... Everyone I come across is genuinely happy to help, provided that you frame your ask correctly.”
Learn to write and frame your pitches correctly and you’ll get ahead.
What advice would you give your graduating self?
Take some time to experiment and find out what industry you want to work in. I felt pressure to get a job right away post-graduation. That doesn’t matter. You’re going to work your whole life. Who cares if you delay a year or two while you’re experimenting with different industries?