New leadership for Eighty-Eight

Former Google Canada communications head Wendy Bairos has joined Eighty-Eight as general manager, succeeding the Toronto boutique agency’s leader of six years, Erin Bury.

New general manager of Eighty-Eight, Wendy Bairos.

Bairos was most recently head of PR and communications at the Toronto retail technology startup Hubba. Prior to that, she spent 12 years with Google Canada, rising to head of communications and public affairs while building the tech giant’s PR team from the ground up.

Bury enlisted the Toronto recruitment firm Boost Agents to find her successor, and said she was delighted when Bairos was presented as a potential candidate. The two women first met in 2012-13, when Bury was managing editor of the tech news site BetaKit and Bairos headed up Google’s communications team.

“When I saw her presented as a candidate, I immediately thought this would be a perfect fit,” said Bury. “She has that entrepreneurial streak, working with start-ups like Hubba—even when she joined Google in 2003 it wasn’t the behemoth it is today. She understands working in tech and PR, as well as the startup and technology landscape in Canada, so I knew it was a great fit.

“She’s going to bring a unique perspective to the business.”

Bury joined Eighty-Eight (previously 88 Creative) as managing director in 2013, growing its staff to 13 people while building and refining its capabilities in PR, influencer marketing and branding/design.

Eighty-Eight specializes in startups, tech firms and clients looking to reach those audiences, and has worked with brands including Lyft and PayPal. Its current client roster includes, Girls Who Code, Telus and Infiniti LAB.

“I’m an entrepreneurial person, with a penchant for early-stage startups, so it’s getting back to those roots and figuring out the next thing to grow,” said Bury of her decision to step down from running Eighty-Eight’s day-to-day operations.

Bury said she had no plan of being an “agency lifer” and realized last year that it was time for someone with a fresh perspective to lead Eighty-Eight’s next stage.

“It’s me recognizing that it’s time for a new challenge, but also recognizing that for Eighty-Eight to grow and innovate, it needs someone with a fresh perspective,” she said. “One day last year I realized that I had become needed but not necessary, and I knew I would be confident handing it off to somebody else.”

Bury will continue to work with Eighty-Eight in an advisory role, but plans to spend the next several months “recharging” before determining her next career step. In the near-term, she plans to continue her role with Speakers’ Spotlight, while also working as an advisor to startups including the online wills company, Pressed News and Quill.

Chris Powell