By Michael Raine
" I think it ’ s safe to say that this is the highlight of my career ,” says Caitlin Doherty , about her still fairly-new position as vice president of Erikson Audio , which she ’ s held since joining the Exertis JAM company in June 2021 . “ Leading an entire division within a rapidly-growing company like Exertis JAM is exhilarating .” But when , fresh out of school , she joined a startup that made ringtones and apps , it ’ s likely that she did not expect this path would lead to an executive role with one of Canada ’ s largest pro audio distributors .
Doherty grew up in Chambly on the south shore of Montreal , alongside her parents and younger brother and sister . “ My father inherited a family heirloom piano when I was little , and my parents enrolled me in piano lessons and I followed the École De Musique Vincent D ’ Indy program . My family was musical ; my dad played guitar and my grandmother sang in a choir . While I was in high school , I decided I wanted to apply for music in college , take the path less followed , be unique , as no one I knew from my high school or my entourage was going down that path ,” she recalls to Canadian Music Trade .
After auditioning and being accepted into a range of post-secondary music programs , Doherty opted for Marianopolis College , and then went onto a bachelor ’ s degree in classical piano from Montreal ’ s McGill University . From there , she entered the master ’ s program in sound recording at McGill .
“ When I graduated from the two-year master ’ s program at McGill , I started job hunting while waitressing full-time . There wasn ’ t much out there , but my mom forwarded me an opportunity at a startup called Airborne Mobile that created mobile content like ringtones and apps . I applied for the audio producer position and landed my first real job ,” Doherty explains . “ We were a group of young , eager go-getters and now that I look back on it , we were given a lot of responsibility . I had the opportunity over the next year to become the audio product manager and get acquainted with the business and marketing side of things . I loved it ; it allowed me to be creative , think outside the box , and use my innate business sense and judgment .”
A few years later , Doherty was in touch with someone she knew from McGill and he encouraged her to join SFM as a brand manager — “ for lighting products of all things ,” she notes . “ I quickly transitioned to audio because of my background and over the years I took on more responsibilities and became the manager of the Brand Management team for audio , lighting , and commercial integration .”
From SFM , she made the jump over to Exertis JAM and Erikson Audio last summer .
“ When I took the position at JAM , my kids actually thought that I would be making jam !” Doherty laughs . “ They found it odd because they know about the audio industry and its brands , so they were perplexed about my career move . But I do love cooking and baking !”
Contrary to her kids ’ expectations , as VP of Erikson Audio , she explains “ I oversee a team of highly-skilled individuals who excel in several disciplines : product management , supplier relationships , purchasing , sales , customer service , technical support , and marketing .”
Looking back on her career trajectory , Doherty says that becoming a product manager within a startup while still in her early-20s was like going to business school and provided an invaluable learning experience . “ Then with my role as a brand manager in the audio industry , working in close partnership with tier-one global suppliers whose companies were rapidly evolving and being part of the ride was extraordinary . I was fortunate to meet people through suppliers who truly believed in me , nurtured me , and helped me forge my path , learn about the industry , find my place , and excel . They believed in me before I believed in myself , took me under their wing , decided that it was worth mentoring me ! I ’ ll forever be grateful .”
Of course , being a young woman in a male-dominated industry did come with its own set of challenges . “ I worked very hard to create opportunities for myself , challenge myself , and stay outside of my comfort zone and it wasn ’ t an easy climb . Actually , those who make it look easy are extremely disciplined , and there aren ’ t really any shortcuts ,” she says . “ I had great mentors along the way and it ’ s time for me to pay it forward and be that woman who helps others gain confidence and grow into leadership roles . I want to have a positive impact on the people I work with , whether it be internally or our suppliers .”
Moving forward , Doherty says she ’ s excited about the future of Erikson Audio , and building on the foundation laid by Jeff Carman , who is now senior VP at Exertis JAM . “ I can see myself being a significant contributor to the company ’ s growth , and more specifically , Erikson Audio ’ s vision and overarching strategy . As the audio industry continues to change , there are many exciting opportunities ahead .”
Outside of work , at home on Montreal ’ s West Island with her husband , 10-year-old son , and seven-year-old daughter , she enjoys spending time with her family in nature , swimming and boating in the summer and skiing in the winter . “ The family heirloom piano is now in my living room and I ’ m just waiting for my kids to show interest !”
When asked what else she enjoys in her free time , “ I love home design and if I hadn ’ t followed this path , I ’ ve thought many times I would love to be a designer !” she says . “ More importantly , what I look forward to most now is getting back to discovering new countries and cultures through my passion for travel . The change of pace helps me gain perspective , mold my vision for the future both personally and professionally ; but most of all , I cherish the quality time I get to spend with my friends and family and the memories we create .”
Michael Raine is the Editor-in-Chief of Canadian Music Trade .
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