Article by High! Canada
High! Canada Magazine was fortunate enough to speak with Andrea Pohlmann, the director of operations at Hello Cannabis.
Andrea – Thank you for speaking with us – what does a Director of Operations do?
I’d say, if I had to boil it down to something concise, that the Director of Operations ensures that a business operates effectively and efficiently. When I started, in November of 2017, I didn’t quite have a ‘job description’ – my prior experience was in Business Development, Marketing and Customer Service. I feel like all three of those things have come together in a really cool way that culminates in the skills needed for this job. Honestly, this is a great marriage of all of the things I’ve loved about all my career history; I get to develop and push this business forward, work on developing processes, manage a great team, and then the cherry on top is that I get to help people.
Run us through a standard day for you?
A standard day for me starts at about 9AM. We do a little pow-wow in the morning and talk about our top priorities for the day. Then, we take about an hour and a half to go through all of our faxes for the day. Everything we do is HIPA compliant, which is the Healthcare Information Privacy Act, and that means we sometimes have to use outdated and slower technology – but it’s worth it because we want to ensure the safety and privacy of our patients. After we’ve checked all our faxes and voicemails, we take the time to follow up with clients who we’ve received documents for, as well as confirming appointments and booking appointments for all of our patients.
My day at this point kind of varies from that of the Patient Educators; while they’re making calls and following up, I’m overseeing our marketing efforts, liaising with our LP Partners, and developing documents for processes and procedures.
How many patients do you think you see on a weekly basis?
On a weekly basis, I’d say we interact with between 50 and 100 patients. How many we actually see is a different thing: we mostly operate through telemedicine, phone and email interactions, aside from the occasional walk-in, or appointments booked for patients who might need a little more education and attention.
We understand you work with a frontline staff team, can you tell us about what you do with them?
We have a team of Patient Coordinators/Educators – our team is small right now, with only two frontline team members, but each of them brings something different to the table. One of our team members used to work in drug addiction counseling, as well as a background in personal training. Another worked at a dispensary and has a wide knowledge of strains and recommendations. Between them, we’re able to cover all the bases: harm reduction, ensuring security and safety, and recommending the best products.
What led you to a career in the cannabis industry?
I kind of fell into it! I’ve had a few jobs in the last few years, where I’ve felt fulfilled and challenged but never been able to fulfill my desire to help people. I’ve always wanted to be part of a start-up and building something from the ground up. When Stephen came to me with the premise of Hello Cannabis and said he thought there was a place for me here… well, I was on board. I’ve never really been a cannabis user, recreationally, but I have always been a supporter of human rights, and so medical cannabis has been something that I’ve always been completely in support of.
For me, it’s always been a question of “why aren’t people getting the help they need, and how can we change that?” – so when Stephen offered me this job, I was excited to be part of the solution to that problem.
Do you have any advice for women entering the cannabis industry?
I have three pieces of advice for women trying to get into any industry.
First, don’t let a job description where you don’t check off all the boxes stop you from applying. If you think you can do a job – if you think you’re clever enough to figure out the parts you don’t understand completely – apply. Always apply. Second, find your passion. If you want to be involved with cannabis, be involved because you want to advocate for women’s rights. Be involved because you want to help people because you want to get people the best care you possibly can. Be genuine, be real, and have a reason that’s more than just I like to smoke. Third, I think it’s really important to say that if you’re looking to be involved in any sort of leadership role, don’t be afraid of the boy’s club. The biggest thing I’ve always struggled with is being the only woman in the boardroom. There will be a lot of us that will be the only woman in a lot of boardrooms, but we can’t let it stop us. Don’t be afraid of that, always be yourself – don’t censor yourself or be softer because you’re not part of the boy’s club yet: being yourself is how you’re going to get in