Kristine Hubbard

Gus, the Havenese, helps keep her grounded in a busy life running Beck Taxi.

By The Get Leashed Doggy Style Team

How does one woman manage over 10 million rides per year, in Canada’s largest city, without losing her cool? For Beck Taxi Operations Manager, Kristine Hubbard, the answer is found in staying grounded. At the end of each day, Ms Hubbard returns her attention to some of the most important things in her life – her partner, Nathan, and daughters, Sara and Rachel, plus a lovely Havanese named Gus.  It is Gus who inspired us to get straight to the point – is Beck Taxi pet-friendly?  The answer is a resounding YES! Read on to learn more about this dynamic business woman and what Beck is doing to help pet owners get around Toronto with ease:

Please tell us about yourself, your profession, and what a typical work day is like for you:

As a little girl growing up in Toronto, I remember begging my parents to hire me as a call taker. We would play at the dining room table where I was taking calls and they were my customers. So, I started young in this line of business. My mother is a strong woman who has really always been my hero and inspiration for working hard and staying focussed. I’ve been at Beck for twenty-five years now and I just love the atmosphere! It is ever-changing and charged with energy. The people I work with – office, dispatch, drivers, customers – make this such a positive work space. I love coming to work every day!

There is no day that could ever be on repeat, I think, because Beck is part of the everyday adventures of Torontonians. And that is never ordinary. From driving someone to their wedding, to picking them up from a bad-news appointment, dropping someone at the grocery store, even helping deliver a baby (it happened!) – every ride has significance.

Please tell us a bit about Gus. How did he come into your life?

I have pretty severe allergies to cats and dogs, so we needed to find a breed that was as hypoallergenic as possible. We also don’t have a lot of space, so we knew that a smaller breed would work best for us. We started researching online, narrowing down options according to our criteria. Everything just kept coming up Havanese, even their demeanor and energy seemed to fit. So, we found a breeder in Orillia who had puppies available for adoption.

Nathan and I made the trip north, not even telling the kids, to find out if I had an allergic reaction to the puppies. In a room with several super-enthusiastic and jumping male puppies – because we needed to balance out the male-female ratio in the house – there was one that was not. A lone puppy sat in the corner, just looking at us. Nathan pointed to him and said, “That’s our dog.” And that puppy was Gus! His siblings had already been adopted and he was several weeks older than the rest of the puppies in the room. We were in love and my allergies were under control.

What do you and your family love most about Gus?

I do love everything about him – even the barking! But seriously the thing I love most is how he has changed from that day we met him. His confidence has grown – he runs up to our guests/friends/family and just stands up on his hind legs in greeting. He doesn’t jump on them, just presents himself, with his paws up, as he dances around. He is truly one of our family members and while I couldn’t imagine that we could have more love in our house, he absolutely proved that there was room. He’s such a beautiful soul.

How is Beck Taxi working to be the “go-to’ for pet owners looking to get around with their dog?

Pets are family; we know this as a company, and I know it personally. Torontonians are definitely dog lovers and often need to get around the city with their pets. It’s so important for a taxi company to be pet-friendly. To facilitate this, there is an option in the Beck app that allows customers to select “I have a dog” when ordering their Beck ride. We also have a policy that drivers must accept customers with their pets when picking up from the street.  I would like to mention that Gus had a starring role in the Beck #DrivenByPeople commercial. He played the role of “precious cargo.” Dogs are an important part of us.

What advice would you give your daughters, or to any woman who is thinking about a career in operations?

Stay away from 24-7 operations! I’m only slightly kidding. I don’t think all jobs in operations are the same, but I would remind everyone that you can’t control everything. The key is to step away from micromanaging –  hire a team you trust and work with them. You have to let people shine to their strengths. It’s also important to create a climate where honesty in owning up to mistakes is applauded.  I try to live by these words: “It’s not a big deal unless you make it into one.” Everything is manageable and negative experiences can really result in strength. The good times are enjoyed even more when you’ve learned important lessons.

How would you describe your personal style?

Simple. I like basics. I love my Doc Martens and my Converse, but I also like a nice jacket and boots with a heel.

How would you describe the look and feel of your home?

Also simple. We don’t have “stuff.”  I feel really relaxed in a clean home, without clutter. We have strict rules about taking things out of the house and NOT bringing them in. Nothing is more important then each other; stuff is just stuff. We have a small home that allows us to stay close and minimalist.

What are some of your favorite things about the city of Toronto?

I love the people! Everyone has a story to tell, and advice and experiences to share. I’ve learned so much from just listening. There is no better place to hear stories than in Toronto because everyone comes from anywhere. You can experience so many cultures in different corners of the city; everyday will bring a new adventure. It’s true that each neighborhood is very much its own community, but, together, we are all part of a larger whole – our City.

What does your ideal weekend look like?

I love hanging out and spending quality time with my family. Wandering with Gus when the weather is nice, and discovering activities that can include him, is the best afternoon. Any Toronto sports team event is my preferred evening out. Toronto teams are the best in every sport! It’s all that is displayed on TV within our house (outside of the news).

What inspires you?

My family inspires me, without question. Nathan and I are true partners, in every sense of the word. The relationship he has with our daughters reflects everything I remember with my own parents. I have been raised by the strongest people I know, who were amazingly supportive when I was growing up. My mother is a rock star. She has smashed through everything that was expected of her in, and by, this industry. The way she cares about people is reflected in her success as a businesswoman.

Finally, can you leave us with a funny story about your dog?

When we first brought Gus home, we bought a string of bells that he could ring if he needed to go outside. These became a toy on the door and he was always playing with them. We moved the bells to the landing going down to the basement to maybe bring them back and try again some time in the future. Well, the bells are now his permanent indicator that he’s in the basement stuck behind the closed door. He goes down with the kids and when he wants us to let him back up, he rings. I still laugh when he does it!