Meet Mike Johnston

Posted: March 14, 2022

Meet Mike Johnston, President & CEO, REDspace

Photo Credit: Contributed

Are you from Halifax? If not, what brought you to Halifax?

I’m from Truro. After I spent time away in the US early in my career, Nova Scotia drew me home. Halifax was the right place to land to start our IT business and a family.

What do you love most about Halifax?

Halifax is an approachable city. Its heart feels young and optimistic without taking itself too seriously. Halifax is a growing city that feels big enough to be at the centre of what’s happening in the world. But it’s still intimate enough that you can get your arms around it and feel like it’s yours.


How would you describe Halifax to someone who knows nothing about the city?

Halifax is the best of everything. You get the east coast lifestyle with the perks of a booming, urban core. You can be eating at a great restaurant in the city while only being a 15-minute drive away from a house surrounded by trees near a hiking trail. We’ve really seen that people who move here from away appreciate the work-life balance and lifestyle that comes with living in Halifax.

What is your favourite thing/place/activity in Halifax?

Two things: the accessibility of nature—being able to be outdoors on a trail or lake every day. But I’m also an amateur musician, and there is a thriving music scene here that runs deep in the city’s culture and people.

What surprised/surprises you most about Halifax?

Returning home over 20 years ago and starting a business, I can honestly say that it was the best decision I ever made. I quickly realized our location is one of our biggest strengths and remains a huge point of pride for me personally.

There is a justified confidence to be great here, with a humility and kindness that makes it genuine. That’s sometimes a tough balance for a city and its people to strike.

What is the biggest impact living in Halifax has made on your life?

What impact hasn’t living in Halifax made on my life? Not only have I been able to build a business that employs over 270 people from all over the world—attracting them to the region I love and call home and growing the REDspace extended family. But also, I’ve been able to grow my own family in a place that offers opportunities and is close to nature, and to see my children chase their dreams with confidence born of this place.

What has kept you in Halifax?

Living here has helped REDspace become what it is today. The combination of high quality post-secondary institutions, a supportive government and business community, as well as that special east coast air. Being in Halifax has really been REDspace’s secret to becoming a centre of video excellence for global clients.


Where do you see the future for Halifax?

Halifax has been changing as it grows and it’s incredible to watch the transformation. We used to have to educate people on “why Halifax?” and now, people are coming to us because they want to be here. It’s exciting to see and it’s only just the beginning.

As we continue to grow, we’re seeing diverse sectors emerge here - IT, biotech, oceans tech, financial services, and more - all of which share traits of being innovative, knowledge-based, exportable, and have the ability to grow and become increasingly relevant on the world stage. Halifax will continue to become open to the world.

What advice would you give to others thinking about moving to Halifax?

Find something you’re passionate about and get engaged. The people are the magic here, so get to know them. They are kind and collaborative, and welcome people who share similar passions. It’s a place you can feel safe, at home, and appreciated. Make the effort, and it will get under your skin!

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