Okanagan College Alumni Association grants social media innovator 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award

Ryan Holmes HootSuiteOne of the biggest names in social media today – Ryan Holmes, CEO and founder of HootSuite – is this year’s recipient of the Okanagan College Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award.Holmes is known worldwide as the brains behind the multi-million dollar social media management powerhouse HootSuite, and it all started with his studies at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus.

“I attended Okanagan College because it allowed me to run my business, which was then a paintball field, while working towards a degree,” said the 37-year-old Holmes, who grew up in Vernon. “It’s funny. I loved taking Computer Science but felt like business was a better fit for me. Ultimately my heart was in both.”

Holmes will receive the award from the Okanagan College Alumni Association at the College’s Kelowna campus on Friday, Oct. 5.

Holmes founded the Vancouver-based company Invoke Media, which developed HootSuite in 2009. HootSuite has since become the global leader in its field with nearly five million global users, including corporations like McDonald’s and PepsiCo using its web-based dashboard to monitor their social media communication on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others.

Holmes attended Okanagan College in the mid-1990s where he took Business, Arts and Computer Science courses.

“The time I spent and courses I took allowed me to experience a good range of tastes. One counsellor likened it to the smorgasbord,” Holmes said. “I think this is a great analogy.”

Kara Kazimer, president of the Okanagan College Alumni Association, said she’s honoured to be able to grant the award to such a deserving member of the College’s community.

“Ryan Holmes speaks to the diversity of talent and skills of our alumni,” she said. “In the past we’ve presented awards to those who have distinguished themselves in fine arts, in academia, in public policy. And now we’re honouring someone who has, without question, made his mark in today’s fast-paced business of technology.”

Since establishing the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2002, the Okanagan College Alumni Association has recognized, among others, Westbank First Nations Chief Robert Louie, Nick Arkle of Gorman Brothers Lumber Ltd., artist Lee Claremont, and others.