CWB Annual Review 2015-2016

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Centre for Women in Business

Year in Review! 2015–2016

Contents 2. Our Mission 4. Our Members 16. Our Team 20. Our Memories 22. Our Impact



Centre for Women in Business

Our Mission Tanya Priske, Executive Director

where we find ourselves regularly answering requests for business assistance outside of the Maritimes and Canada. Just months after receiving the WBE Canada Presidents’ Award for Outstanding Leadership by a Regional Partner, the Centre was recognized by DiversityCanada Magazine when I was included in its Top 10 list of Canadian women working to advance the status of women and visible minorities. We were honoured, and celebrated these acknowledgements as a team, knowing that success is the result of a collective effort. But we celebrate more when one of our members takes the spotlight, lands a new export opportunity or expands their market. Unless those things are happening, we’re not doing our jobs; we’re falling short as leaders. An award tells us that professionals outside of our community feel we are hitting the mark with our strategy, our program offerings and in-house expertise. It sends a message to our funders and corporate partners that we are a resource worthy of investment.

Looking back on 2015 - 2016, I probably don’t have to tell you it’s been an incredible year.

I know what you’re thinking: Doesn’t every year bring extraordinary opportunities and milestones? It’s true: Each day we get to experience a lot of exceptional moments as we help turn entrepreneurial ideas into viable, successful business operations. Those moments take shape during business advisories, workshops, trade missions and events that open new doors of opportunity to small and medium-sized businesses. Over the years, we’ve had the privilege of guiding ventures along the growth spectrum and past steep challenges toward accolades and succession planning. In fact, next year will mark our 25th anniversary as a leader in entrepreneurial development and as

Canada’s only university-based business resource centre for women. As someone who has been at the Centre for more than a decade, I’ve watched many small businesses grow into regional success stories and, in some cases, multi-milliondollar operations.

And yet I still have to say that this year was truly one for the books. As we settled into our new space in the state-of-the-art McCain Centre, the Centre received two major accolades that raised our profile to the point

We need this; we need to know what we’re doing well, and we want to tell the world! But, like any business, our most important stakeholders are our customers: the 380-plus members and 1,700 clients who use our services and helped create a succession of sold-out workshops and events this year. So while peer awards helped to make this year special and provided wonderful affirmation to the team, confidence in our leadership only takes hold when we’re creating leaders - women we can look to and say “There is someone who has absolutely benefitted from our support and training.”

Year in Review! 2015–2016

It’s not always a dramatic “before” and “after” scenario. Business growth and professional development is a process. But I could fill pages on the personal and professional milestones that unfolded this year and indicate how the Centre is doing almost a quarter century after we opened our doors. That recognition can come from watching a start-up accept a prestigious business award or from an email from a woman thanking us for teaching her how to pitch her business more effectively. Our Year in Review is a chance for our team to look back in gratitude and to say thank you to our supporters: the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Mount Saint Vincent University who allow us to do what we do every day; our government, corporate and community partners who often allow us to extend our services and go that extra mile; the keynote speakers who brought wisdom and wit to each of our events; the co-op students who shared their talents and created our BizBeat profiles. And to you. This Year in Review is all about you and what you’ve accomplished this year. We have compiled BizBeat profiles from the past 12 months to give you a snapshot of what our members are doing, why they’ve allowed us to join them on their business journeys and what it means. Every one of our members has a unique and inspiring business story, and part of our job is to tell it. It’s our pleasure to not only share those stories on our website and through our monthly e-newsletter but to celebrate them with you. Wishing you success in business,

Rural connections: Women, Business & Breakfast Tatamagouche, July 2016



Centre for Women in Business

Our Members connect with suppliers in the Spanish-speaking countries where she does a lot of her business. She encourages tours and companies that benefit local businesses and producers rather than large travel corporations.

“As an agent, you never stop learning. I’m never going to be able to learn everything about the industry, but you can be familiar. Get your own niche and become familiar with it.”

Autumn Fiske

Fiske is not only a new business owner; she’s part of a new wave of entrepreneurs in Nova Scotia. She works mostly from home or local cafés to take advantage of the exposure, informal networking opportunities, and pastries. While her business model works for her, she was wary starting out.

When Travel Leads Straight to Entrepreneurship By Ellen Davis This year, Autumn Fiske became the columnist for the South Shore Breaker's Traveler’s Tales, and she is facilitating two group tours per year (Spring 2017, Costa Rica; Fall 2017, Iceland). She has also received certifications from Princess Cruises, Cunard Cruise Line, Azamara Club Cruises, Avalon Waterways, Disney, Collette Vacations and AMResorts. In her first year of business, Autumn Fiske is working to find her niche, build relationships, grow her business and keep working in a career she loves.

As a travel expert for TravelOnly, Fiske operates like an office travel agency, but on her clients’ time. Like many, her business pursuits started with a passion. While a student at Mount Saint Vincent University, Fiske spent the better part of a year studying, travelling and working in Spain. Her time there helped her focus her product offering. While she accommodates any type of travel, she identifies her niche as guided tours. Fiske, 24, also teaches English online. She is fluent in Spanish and uses it to

“At first, I was afraid people wouldn’t take me seriously. I really thought no one would look at me because they’ve known other agents in the business for 25 years,” Fiske remembers. “But people realize how passionate I am about my job. It’s not based on your age. It’s more based on your passion and your experience. I have a good reputation for being a hardworking person.” While studying at the Mount, Fiske volunteered with the Centre for Women in Business and became familiar with its services. She’s now a member and credits the Centre with providing her biggest network.

Year in Review! 2015–2016


The Oyster Group manages the relationships between magazines and their subscribers. When explaining the vast range of services the company offers to magazines across Canada, Drinnan draws a comparison to marketing and customer service.

Faith Drinnan Stepping Back, Moving Forward By Ellen Davis In 2016, The Oyster Group signed on two new clients and hired a full-time business manager. Company founder Faith Drinnan also took a step back from the business - and a step forward into a “sweet life” in the country.

After more than three decades at the helm of The Oyster Group, Faith Drinnan decided 2015 would be the year she left the day-to-day operations of her Dartmouth-based business to pursue what she calls “a new balance” in Tatamagouche. Drinnan will continue to steer the company from her home there, but she is happy to note that since she moved in September, she has only been to the Dartmouth office twice.

“I knew when my youngest graduated from high school that I wanted to move out of the city and get back to the country and have a different lifestyle,” she says, adding that her lunch breaks now include taking a walk outside, raking leaves or cutting firewood. “It’s pretty sweet, actually.”

“In the magazine industry, we would be known as a fulfillment bureau, which means nothing to the rest of the world,” says Drinnan. “It’s all about the people that read the magazine: If they call the toll-free number, we answer it at The Oyster Group. If they mail a [subscription] card to the magazine, it goes to our post office box in Dartmouth.” “All of the marketing campaigns that attract people to subscribe - we write the copy,” she says. “We work with the designers, and we manage the project. It’s a specialization: There are not a lot of companies that do it.” The Oyster Group experienced its most intense period of growth in the late 1990s. By 1998, the company that had started with Drinnan working alone at her kitchen table had turned into a 20-person operation. In 1996, Progress Magazine named The Oyster Group one of the fastest growing companies in Atlantic Canada. Drinnan went on to receive the Nova Scotia Business Inc. Edge Award and was a regional finalist for the Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Drinnan has been a member of the Centre for two decades and is one of its longest standing members. “The Centre really helped me rein in the business a bit to focus on magazines as my core business,” says Drinnan. “I worked with an advisor who really helped me put together a plan of what I wanted the company to look like but, more importantly, what I wanted my life to look like.”


Centre for Women in Business

Ginny SterlingBoddie Junk Removal Done Differently By Natasha Legay Junkery was named New Business of the Year 2016 at the Halifax Chamber of Commerce Business Awards and recently competed against 3,300 small businesses to receive one of 50 honourable mentions in The Globe and Mail’s Telus Small Business Challenge. They also created the Junkery One Ton Food Challenge this year, in support of the Parker Street Food Bank, which led to the collection of more than 1.1 tonnes of donated food.

Locally owned and operated in Halifax, Junkery is a customer-focused, affordable junk-removal company designed to meet customers’ needs. What sets Junkery apart from its competition is its signature Junkery Bags, a less-expensive and more flexible alternative to traditional bin rentals. According to Ginny Sterling-Boddie, Junkery Bags give clients the option to have full control of the process; they can keep the bag as long as they need to, and because disposal is included in the price, there are no surprises when it comes to cost. Prior to starting Junkery with her husband, Sterling-Boddie worked in health care information management and in the recruitment industry while helping small business owners through her own management company that she operated on the side.

“I was already doing all this work for other businesses, so I thought ‘Why not invest that time into my own business?’ ” Junkery began operation in January 2015. “The fun part is that the growth opportunities are almost unlimited,” says Sterling-Boddie. “There is expansion by way of services we offer, there is expansion by way of geographic area and

there’s a lot of potential for Junkery and we’re very excited about it.” Most entrepreneurs will agree that running a small business doesn’t come without challenges. For Junkery, SterlingBoddie says standing out among the competition has been a hurdle. “We are competing against national junk-removal franchises, and we’re new, so there’s definitely an awareness and marketing challenge.” To combat this challenge, the Junkery team spent a considerable amount of time crafting their brand and messaging. When Sterling-Boddie joined the Centre for Women in Business, she wanted to refine some of her existing skills. She sought out the Centre’s assistance and enrolled in the Business Certificate in Small Business Marketing offered through a partnership between the Centre and the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education. While in the 10-week workshop, Sterling-Boddie says she was able to meet other incredible women business owners and share her experiences with them while receiving constructive feedback. “My favourite part of that class was being able to bounce ideas off one another,” she says.

Year in Review! 2015–2016


Diversity, Connection and a Global Presence is Key to Small Business in Nova Scotia By Ellen Davis In 2015, Laurel Broten received the Women in Communications and Technology Award in the Game-changer Category recognizing “wave makers” in technology, broadcasting and communications in Canada. The award was presented to Broten for demonstrating a commitment to increasing diversity on corporate boards.

Last fall, Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI) announced the launch of new programs to help Nova Scotia businesses export globally and improve growth. As Nova Scotia’s private-sector-led business-development agency, NSBI is focused on ramping up global investment to create new jobs across the province. It works with companies in all communities to become more successful exporters, and this is all done under the direction of President and CEO Laurel Broten.

A former politician and Liberal cabinet minister from Ontario, Broten served as the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues and Minister of Education. She was appointed President and CEO of NSBI in January 2015 and, with the support of her team, is working hard to equip Nova Scotia businesses with the resources they need to face all of the challenges that go along with export growth.

Laurel Broten

Looking back, Broten says she considered her move to Nova Scotia an opportunity to make an impact. “We want companies to be thinking export first, and that means companies of all sizes,” says Broten. “The benefit of exporting is indisputable. Small to medium-sized companies that export generate, on average, more than twice as much revenue as non-exporters.” The new programs are designed to help. “In a small economy of less than a million people, your home market is not big enough,” she says. “You have to have a product or service that other people around the world want to buy or use.” The reach of these programs will go well beyond the bottom lines of participants to impact the Nova Scotia economy. “One million dollars earned through export sales can create up to 15 new jobs,” says Broten. “That can make the difference between an entrepreneur working in a home office to setting up their own firm and employing a team of Nova Scotians. As a province, we have a collective vision and goal to see more people come here from all over the world and contribute to the province’s future.” She appreciates the diversity here, adding that it is key to business development. “At NSBI, we know we can’t do it alone. It’s about being able to help businesses navigate, whether they call the Centre for Women in Business or NSBI for help. By working in partnership in economic development, we can help businesses find the right resources.”


Centre for Women in Business

Halina St. James Pitching Made Simple: Talking it Out with Halina St. James By Natasha Legay In December 2015, Halina St. James was named co-chair of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers annual national convention, which attracted speakers from around the world and was hosted in Halifax. An engaging pitch can yield lucrative results, but mastering the business pitch can prove to be difficult, even for seasoned presenters. As a presentation-skills coach, business owner, author and member of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers, Halina St. James helps people improve their communication skills in speeches, presentations, in front of the media and, yes, even in business pitches.

St. James went on to university, before landing positions at CTV and CBC. As a network television reporter and producer, St. James’ assignments led her all over the world, covering historic news events including the Gulf War, Romanian Revolution and Olympic Games.

Her unique approach to preparing speeches and presentations is guided by her trademarked TalkitOut™ technique. The technique’s systematic process allows you to release your voice by talking out what you want to say first, as opposed to writing it out.

But, after a long career in the world of news, St. James started her own company.

St. James has harnessed her savvy communication skills to create the TalkitOut™ technique and to co-found her company, Podium Media & Communications Coaching. But that wasn’t always her plan. After finishing Grade 12, she studied nursing in Sudbury, Ontario. But, after one year, she changed her plans: “I decided I wasn’t nursing material.”

That experience taught St. James a valuable lesson: Do what you love. “If you find yourself in a situation where you’re not loving what you’re doing, drop it! Get out of it. It doesn’t matter if you have to take a step backwards, and I did have to take a step back.”

Doing what she loves has allowed St. James to change the way people prepare for speeches and presentations. She has three top tips: Remember why you’re pitching. It’s about letting people know who you are and forming a relationship. It’s all about emotions. Be cognizant of people’s body language and how they are interpreting yours. Release your voice. Understand that if you release your voice, you will engage more. St. James has collaborated with the Centre on many occasions over the years, facilitating workshops and sharing her presentation strategies with entrepreneurs. “We need more women [in business]. We need our voices heard, and speaking is releasing our voices. Speaking with power, confidence and conviction is the way to do it.”

Cora Cole

Year in Review! 2015–2016


“My work is really about taking health data that you already have and changing that data into information. You have to answer the right questions so that objective decisions can be made and successes can be celebrated,” says Cole. Currently, she balances her independent consulting work with her work for the Nova Scotia Reproductive Care Program, a provincial care program where she contributes to the team working to implement a congenitalanomalies surveillance system for the province.

Growing Business, Answering the Tough Questions By Kayla Sutherland In the spring of 2016, Cora Cole was a delegate on the Centre’s multi-sector trade mission to Jamaica. Organized with the support of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the mission was designed to give Nova Scotia businesses an opportunity to break into new markets and forge business relationships in the Caribbean. Cora also added a partner to her business to help execute a software application they recently introduced, as interest in it continues to grow along with development.

After over 15 years of working in Public Health, Cora Cole decided to embark on a new path that led her to entrepreneurship. She left Public Health in October 2011, and by January, she had started her own independent health consulting company, Move the Median. Through Move the Median, Cole began working with past clients who wanted to finish projects they had already begun with her; however, she knew there were networks of potential clients who had questions that she could help answer. Today she works with governments, agencies, non-profits and select private companies looking to have programs and policies implemented or evaluated or to improve staff or customer engagement, mediation and training. Cole also supports companies as they prepare for and undergo accreditation and licensing.

In addition to this, Cole is a facilitator for the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Skills Enhancement Program while at the same time expanding into new areas of business. Most recently, she has become a member of The Well Creative Consultants, a national consulting firm that is part talent agent, part matchmaker. It is where businesses can connect with business talent as needed, when needed, in a truly scalable and affordable way. Cole is working on a health IT application that takes her research background and combines it into a tool that researchers around the globe can use. She has been working closely with the Centre for Women in Business to get advice on the next step to launching it. “One of the magical things the Centre does is allow you to go there strictly for business education reasons and get help with the emotional ups and downs of the entrepreneurial roller coaster, because they get that it’s a challenge,” says Cole.


Centre for Women in Business

Carson studied holistic nutrition at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, and Hersey has a Master of Environmental Studies from Dalhousie, with a focus on agriculture systems. Her love affair with food started at a young age.

“My mother is a chef, and it became clear to me pretty early on that I wanted to run my own food business,” says Carson.

Aimee Carson & Angela Hersey For the Love of Good Food: Beanstalk Baby Food’s Mission of Change By Natasha Legay In 2015, Beanstalk Baby Food became a sole proprietorship, with co-founder Aimee Carson at the helm. Demand for the products has grown steadily, and so has its availability. Beanstalk Baby Food can now be purchased at five metro locations: Nurtured Products for Parenting, Local Source Market, Fiddleheads Kids Shop, Nature’s Cove General Store and O Healthy Market. It can also be ordered online.

A love of food and an idea. Those were the main ingredients that set two entrepreneurs on a mission to change how people view food choices, starting with the youngest consumers of all. Beanstalk Baby Food is a Nova Scotia-based start-up co-founded by Angela Hersey (above right) and Aimee Carson (above left).

In 2014, Carson was inspired to bring her entrepreneurial dream to fruition when her nephew was born. “Being as informed about the food system as I am, I knew that I didn’t want my nephew to be eating a lot of the conventional baby food that was on the market,” says Carson. When she couldn’t find quality, locally sourced baby food in Atlantic Canada, she started making food for him herself, and through that process she met Hersey. While starting a business can be rewarding, it can be difficult for entrepreneurs to navigate through the sometimes-turbulent waters of the start-up phase. Carson says the Centre for Women in Business is a great place for women entrepreneurs to begin. “The Centre was one of my first touch points in terms of ‘I want to start a business, but I don’t know where to go,’ ” she says.

The company produces quality baby food and sources fresh, organic ingredients that are grown by Nova “It was really good to have face-to-face time Scotia farmers whenever possible. with someone who is specifically there to help But the Beanstock Baby Food people start businesses,” she says. “It’s a philosophy is about more than creatconsistent place to go where there are a variety ing quality food products for children. of members, and if you get to know who the The business is designed to educate members are and what services they provide, parents on the importance of introthen there’s potential for that to be a huge ducing a variety of healthy foods to their resource in terms of women helping children while they are young. other women.”

Year in Review! 2015–2016


RP is a degenerative eye disease that compromises peripheral vision, creating what is commonly called tunnel vision. Born and raised in Newfoundland, Adams was in the military from age 17 to 29 and is a mechanic by trade. The disease prevented her from continuing in this profession, and the disability made it hard to find a job.

Debbie Adams From Underestimated to Unstoppable: Debbie Adams on Business and Breaking Down Disability Barriers By Christelle Ward This year, Debbie Adams was recognized by the Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Network of Nova Scotia as the recipient of its Entrepreneur of the Year Award. In 2015, she was nominated for RBC’s Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards.

When Debbie Adams was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa (RP) 23 years ago, she never thought she would be where she is today. Adams is now an edupreneur, an author and the founder of PeopleCan, an award-winning training and development company based in Sackville, Nova Scotia. Adams says that while she was once underestimated, she is now a thriving entrepreneurship coach who solves problems, teaches new entrepreneurs to reach for opportunities and offers coaching and training sessions. She is very vocal when it comes to managing generational diversity, women in business and overcoming adversity.

“Nobody wanted to hire me,” she recalls. “I had all of these skills I had learned as a trade mechanic and it felt like it was all for nothing.” Adams graduated from Mount Saint Vincent University with distinction in 2008 with a B.A. in Political Science and Psychology. She did a year of law at Dalhousie University but found herself frustrated and still unable to find a job. She contemplated creating her own job by starting a business. “Somebody suggested that I start a business, and my response was ‘What do I sell? I am not a businesswoman,’ but they said, ‘You could sell your knowledge.’ ” Adams then began doing some freelance consulting work; she started renting a church hall and community centre so she could teach courses on entrepreneurship. By last year, Adams’ classes had grown so big that she needed her own space. And so, PeopleCan was born.

“I love what I do.” Adams offers tax-preparation services, coaching sessions and plenty of workshops for people to take advantage of. The impact the Centre for Women in Business had on her business concerns networking. “We underestimate networking, and in the early days, I did too. The Centre has allowed me to develop strategic partnerships and access many valuable resources.” Adams has obtained certificate-level business training through the Centre and plans to take the Advanced Management and Mentoring Program. When Adams talks to the disabled community, she tells them that the line is never drawn in the sand. “There is this notion that being an employee is the only option. There’s another alternative - you can become a business person.”


Centre for Women in Business

Mary-Anne Struthers A Decorated Business Journey By Kayla Sutherland In 2016, Mary-Anne Struthers provided the elegant décor and ambiance for the Halifax Chamber of Commerce Business Awards. Chamber President & CEO Valerie Payn called it their best in the 16-year history of the event.

Mary-Anne Struthers is the owner, event planner and lead designer for Grand Central Events and Décor, providing complete planning, consulting, coordination and décor services for any special occasion.

“I’ve always had my hand in events. It seems I have this inherent need to organize…”

Struthers envisioned that she would separate the business into two sectors, having Grand Beginnings for weddings and Grand Central Events and Décor providing corporate services.

Struthers has worked in various administrative positions with an event planning component in the corporate world. In the 12 years leading up to her retirement, she worked at Eastlink as the executive assistant to the CEO, Lee Bragg. She was involved in everything from golf tournaments to holiday staff parties, and recalls a time when she undecorated their office Christmas tree, lugged it to the holiday-party venue, redecorated it, tore it down, took it back to the office and again redecorated it to perfection so it would be ready for the morning.

She purchased Spurr’s inventory, and one of the first corporate events she did under her business name was the familiar Eastlink Chairman’s Choice Awards. She has also decorated for the Canadian University and College Conference Organizers Association, Canadian Red Cross, Halifax Chamber of Commerce, MPI Atlantic Chapter, Century 21 Corporate Office, Westin Nova Scotia Corporate Office and Centre for Women in Business.

The turning point in her career was the Eastlink Chairman’s Choice Awards; she remembers her boss saying “I really need this to be a WOW.”

Struthers shares event planning advice on her blog, and her advice to those thinking about starting a business is “Go for it.”

To take the event to the next level, Struthers hired Karen Spurr, owner of the local decorating company Grand Beginnings.

Resources like the Centre for Women in Business can make starting and growing your business easier by providing continuous support. “One of the first things I did was sign up with the Centre,” she says.

Using Spurr’s large inventory of décor, Spurr and Struthers built centerpieces based on a theme and colour that Struthers had in mind. In May 2014, Struthers retired; Spurr was looking to wind down her workload after 15 years in business and offered Struthers an opportunity to work with her. “We agreed between us that I would buy Grand Beginnings,” says Struthers.

Struthers wanted to connect with other business people and be a part of what’s happening in the business community. She has also benefitted from the Centre’s learning opportunities, especially the presentations and keynote speakers. “I always come away feeling motivated to do something else or with a new idea or a new contact.”

Year in Review! 2015–2016

Natalie Woodbury, TEP: A Passion for the Practice By Kayla Sutherland This year, BOYNECLARKE LLP welcomed three new partners and received the Canadian Business of the Year award from the Lebanese Chamber of Commerce in Nova Scotia. BOYNECLARKE LLP also celebrated news that almost half of the firm’s 56 lawyers were included in The Best Lawyers in Canada 2016 publication by Best Lawyers®.

Natalie Woodbury has practiced law for nearly two decades. She is thrilled to be a partner at BOYNECLARKE LLP and practices in the areas of corporate/commercial law, tax law and estate planning.


“I never look at the clock and wish the day was over; I look at the clock and wish there were more hours in the day.” Woodbury completed her Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting at Saint Mary’s University and her Bachelor of Laws at Dalhousie University. She started practicing law in corporate/ commercial and tax, and over the past 19 years of her practice, she has worked for different law and accounting firms in the city. She has worked at BOYNECLARKE LLP for over a year and is proud to be a part of one of Atlantic Canada’s largest fullservice law firms. She feels fortunate to have so many strong female lawyers as colleagues; her primary clients are entrepreneurs and business owners, making her affiliation with the Centre for Women in Business well suited to her work. Woodbury is a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO), which is the ultimate association for successful women entrepreneurs and leaders of privately held multimillion-dollar companies. Woodbury is part of the Atlantic Canada Chapter, one of the 120 WPO chapters across the globe. She was introduced to the Centre for Women in Business through the WPO meetings hosted at the Mount by Atlantic Canada Chapter Chair Laurie Sinclair, a Business Development Officer at the Centre. It was Woodbury’s individual membership that kick-started BOYNECLARKE LLP’s involvement with the Centre, resulting in their sponsorship of the Centre’s Small Business Week Luncheon 2015, featuring Dragons’ Den star and brewery founder Manjit Minhas, and the Centre’s International Women’s Day Breakfast 2016. BOYNECLARKE LLP, now a corporate member of the Centre for Women in Business, is committed to the community and has various programs in place to help support organizations and charities, as well as the volunteer endeavours of staff.

Natalie Woodbury

In addition to this, BOYNECLARKE LLP supports and encourages its women lawyers to take on leadership roles of all forms: management, committee chairs and team leaders. “Chances are that if you are successful, it has a great part to do with the people around you, and a simple thank you and recognition of the good work of others goes a long way,” says Woodbury.


Centre for Women in Business

was looking for a new venture. Her friend tried to convince her of the need to sell her phone skills. Unconvinced, Copps argued: “These aren’t skills. This is common sense. How could this be a business?” Fortunately, the friend proposed testing the market as part of his own business, and The Phone Lady was born. Now, 10 years later, with a successful business and a book release behind her, Copps knows professional phone skills aren’t so common after all.

Mary Jane Copps The Art of Conversation in Business By Ellen Davis This year, Mary Jane Copps won a BDC Mentoring Award at the annual Action Entrepreneurship Canadian Summit in Toronto. The award recognized Copps’ six years of volunteering with Futurpreneur Canada, a national non-profit organization that provides financing, mentoring and support tools to aspiring business owners aged 18 to 39.

“I help and coach people to value phone communication,” Copps explains. “I give them the skills to be more effective on the phone, in sales, customer service and employment skills.” Copps also leads workshops to help young people figure out how phone conversations fit into their job search and professional development sessions for all demographics. Her workshops have played an important part in the success of The Phone Lady and in developing her business brand in Nova Scotia and beyond. She has worked with entrepreneurs, new business owners and call centre groups.

Confidence and directness are key to a productive phone call; she says women still hesitate when contacting the “C-suite” and pitching themselves to the She appeared on an episode of CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes which highest position possible. “In business, poked fun at the relationship between millennials and telephone there are different challenges that you communication. She also published the book Pick It Up & Make face as a female entrepreneur and Things Happen! business owner,” says Copps. “Here in Halifax and in Nova Scotia, you have really easy access to not only support Growing up with politically active and community-involved parents meant Mary Jane Copps was no stranger to the phone call. While she but wisdom and mentoring. Having the watched her parents master picking up the phone and making things support of other women through the Centre for Women in Business and happen, Copps learned to perfect the art. being in a position where you can Originally from Ontario, Copps came to Nova Scotia in 1997 with her first business, network with other women is very powerful; it has certainly given The Media Link Inc. She sold her shares to her business partner in 2001. Phone Lady a stronger foundation from which to grow.” After helping a friend grow his business by providing some phone advice, Copps

Year in Review! 2015–2016

“It is the most rewarding thing of all to see people succeed,” says Fischer Boulter. “Making the connection to enable people to do what they want to do is exciting.”

Pernille Fischer Boulter

In order to do this, Fischer Boulter works over 80 hours a week and travels more than 100 days a year to be on-site with her clients, implement strategies and provide training.

“It takes a lot of hours, and it is worth every hour of it,” says Fischer Boulter.

Gender, Culture and Trade: Bridging the Gap in International Business

Cultural barriers present the greatest challenge to gaining market access to a country. “We have a choice,” says Fischer Boulter. “We can choose which countries we feel we can work with and avoid countries where we can’t. We cannot decide what proposals to win, but we can decide which to bid on and which to say no to.”

By Kayla Sutherland In 2015 and 2016, Kisserup International Trade Roots Inc. was nominated for the Halifax Business Awards International Business of the Year, and in 2015, it was nominated for an RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award, marking the 10th consecutive year the company was up for this prestigious award.

In 1998, Pernille Fischer Boulter left her home in Denmark and came to Canada with her husband. At the time, she had no idea she would venture into entrepreneurship, becoming the President and CEO of Kisserup International Trade Roots Inc., a woman-owned and operated international consulting and trade training company.


With offices in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Copenhagen, Denmark, the team at Kisserup works with over 90 countries and 25 different sectors to provide small and medium-sized enterprises with the support needed to get involved in international trade. Fischer Boulter and her team work diligently to connect business leaders across the globe, taking their export development to the next level. Kisserup designs opportunities for mentorship, facilitates export workshops, forms and negotiates trade policy, conducts research and analysis and promotes foreign investment flows. They have successfully completed more than 45 deals in the span of 12 months.

According to several international business universities, 80 percent of international business deals do not happen due to cultural misunderstandings, making cultural insight a makeor-break aspect of global business. Kisserup is a corporate member of the Centre for Women in Business, which allows Fischer Boulter and her team to access the personal and professional learning opportunities offered throughout the year. “We are no longer questioning if women are capable,” says Fischer Boulter. “The Centre changed so much of this. It’s not about quotas; it’s about competency.”


Centre for Women in Business

Our Team “Seek out open doors.” Melanie introduces women entrepreneurs and corporations to the benefits of the Centre’s membership program. She also takes the lead in planning, directing and executing Centre events. This includes working with keynote speakers, venue staff, caterers, sound technicians and decorators to ensure an exceptional experience for everyone involved. She enjoys building relationships and helping each member in leveraging the program to support their business goals.

Tanya Priske Executive Director

“The most important step you can take is to show up.” Tanya’s rich history in supporting the growth of Atlantic Canada’s economy began with her significant role at the Pictou County Economic Development Fund. Contributing to the economic future of Pictou County, Tanya was involved in many projects, including the Town of Pictou’s Waterfront Development.

Melanie holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations from Mount Saint Vincent University; she joined the Centre team as a co- operative education student in 2012 and later transitioned into the role of Communications Coordinator. She spent 2013 and 2014 working abroad in Bangkok, Thailand, while also travelling to surrounding countries. Melanie returned to the Centre in 2014 and looks forward to connecting with members at Centre training programs and events. Her favourite event is the monthly Women, Business & Breakfast series presented by TD Bank, as it combines casual networking and facilitated business discussions. As the go-to for those with questions about membership or events, Melanie is always available to chat.

From there, she became a coordinator and project officer for the Canada-Nova Scotia Cooperation Agreement, which saw her promoting economic diversification and competitiveness within the Nova Scotia economy. In 2004, she joined the Centre as a Regional Business Facilitator responsible for delivering outreach services to women business owners in northeastern Nova Scotia. Eventually, Tanya was promoted to Lead Project Officer; she created and assisted in the delivery of various pan-Atlantic programs, including Advance, the Advanced Management and Mentoring Program, and in creating excellence in the supply chain. In 2012, Tanya became Executive Director of the Centre and now oversees its strategy and operations. She is responsible for staff, programming and execution of the Centre’s mission. Her influential leadership has garnered national recognition and has been significant in shaping Nova Scotia’s entrepreneurial community.

Melanie MacDonald Membership & Events Coordinator

Year in Review! 2015–2016


Office Coordinator

Laurie Sinclair

Business Development Officer

“Find a good mentor and sharpen your hard skills.” Laurie has spent more than a decade in academia and the financial services industry. In developing and teaching business curriculums, while simultaneously conducting research for papers and presentations, Laurie is on the leading edge of initiatives that are advancing financial management and strategy at small to medium-sized businesses across our region. Laurie holds a B.A. in Economics (honours) from Mount Saint Vincent University, an M.B.A. in Finance and Marketing (honours) from Dalhousie University and has completed the CPA program. An entrepreneur herself, Laurie is the Atlantic Canada Chapter Chair of the Women Presidents’ Organization. She also facilitates one of the most in-demand programs in the Centre’s 24-year history: the Advanced Management and Mentoring Program. She is always searching for new and even more accessible programming options for busy clients.

Michele Brayman “Organization can make or break your operations.” Michele plays a vital role in the administration of the Centre. She coordinates and implements the office procedures that keep our operations running smoothly. After 18 years of working at Mount Saint Vincent University in various academic and administrative departments, Michele joined the Centre in 2013. She is involved in virtually all aspects of the Centre’s administration; she is the first point of contact when you walk in, but she also works behind the scenes as our financial manager, human resources coordinator and event assistant. Given her extensive experience at the Mount, Michele is an invaluable resource when it comes to navigating the campus and knowing who is responsible for managing which aspects of the academic community. She also has the history and can generally provide us with key information on past events and the timelines that helped shape the Centre as we know it. Michele is a stickler for organization, keeping detailed records that ensure the entire team is on track. She knows how to find the answers and create the kind of solutions that help meetings and events unfold without a hitch.


Centre for Women in Business

Janna MacGregor Communications Manager

Gordia Macdonald Sr. Business Development Officer

“Everyone has a story; you just have to pose the right questions.” Janna’s job is to share some of the incredible things happening at the Centre and within our business community.

“Never stop asking questions.” Gordia is a former health-care professional who understands the importance of networking and developing professional

She holds a Degree in English and Sociology from St.

business skills based on her own experience as an entre-

Francis Xavier University and a Diploma in Journalism from

preneur in rural Nova Scotia.

Holland College. Prior to joining our team in 2012, Janna spent more than a decade working in advertising, government, academia and journalism. She has worked on some of the biggest events to unfold in Nova Scotia in recent years, assists with various projects that support women in crisis and serves on the board of the Military Family Resource Centre, Halifax. Janna manages the Centre’s social media channels, website, marketing and media relations strategy. The entire team works closely with Janna to ensure she has the information she needs to share with clients and partners so that more women are able to access and leverage our services.

As the co-owner of a catering company in the Annapolis Valley, Gordia realized that she, like many entrepreneurs outside of the city, did not have consistent access to training or groups of like-minded business professionals to provide support and mentorship. She connected with the Centre and, 13 years later, is a Senior Business Development Officer. Her central portfolio involves the advancement of procurement training and supplier diversity through WBE Canada. She educates women business owners on the benefits of certification, which ensures that they are ready to export their products and services or sell them to international retailers. She facilitates the entire process,

If you have an idea how the Centre can empower more

and dozens of Nova Scotia businesses have benefitted

women to create business success stories, or if the Centre

from her first-hand experience and expertise. She is also

has helped you to become one, Janna would like to hear

heavily involved in trade missions and conferences that

from you.

showcase women business owners from Atlantic Canada.

Year in Review! 2015–2016


Nora Perry Business Development Officer

“When you place limits on learning, you limit your options.” Nora’s history with the Mount Saint Vincent University community goes back to her days as an undergrad. She left the Mount with a Bachelor of Home Economics in Consumer Studies in 1983, returned a couple of years later for a Certificate in Business and recently completed her Master's in Education-Lifelong Learning. Passionate about education and learning, Nora has also studied Office Information Systems Management, Human Resource Management and holds a Certificate in Adult Education from Dalhousie University. But, more than enjoying education from the perspective of a student, she loves being the program designer and trainer and sharing her own education and experience in the classroom. This, along with more than 30 years of experience in entrepreneurship, small business management and workplace training, makes her a standout contributor to the Centre team. Nora co-owned a business with her husband and knows what it takes to plot a successful start-up. She is frequently asked what that critical first step should be, and she recommends the Centre as an essential entry point into the world of entrepreneurship.


Centre for Women in Business

Our Memories Small Business Week 2015 Manjit Minhas of CBC’s Dragons’ Den poses with a group of business students during the Centre’s Small Business Week Luncheon presented by BDC and sponsored by the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women and BOYNECLARKE LLP. Photo credit Rebecca Clarke Photography

IWD 2016 From left: Heather Austin, on behalf of presenting sponsor RBC; Tanya Priske, Executive Director of the Centre for Women in Business; keynote speaker Joanne Thomas Yaccato, the Thomas Yaccato Group; and Christene Hirschfeld, representing sponsor BOYNECLARKE LLP. Photo credit Rebecca Clarke Photography

In the Classroom “The Centre for Women in Business has played a pivotal role in my business education. I have the members and facilitators at the Centre to thank for pushing me to think bigger, challenge my way of doing business and provide insights to help accelerate growth despite being a mature small business.” Melanie MacKinnon, Nulantic Water Inc., 2015 “This workshop unravelled the mystery of the balance sheet.” Participant, Certificate in Financial Management for Small Business, 2016

Year in Review! 2015–2016



Centre for Women in Business

Our Impact

1,600 1,720 People


Service Access

Training & Event Participants

9 Training Delivery 40-Hour Programs


Women AMMP Participants in Four Programs

5 Trade Missions

10 602 Student Activities

1:1 Business Advisories

Year in Review! 2015–2016

Member Industries 26



Business Services/Education/Consulting

21 Arts & Entertainment 14

Jewellery & Cosmetics


Communications: Event Planning/Graphic Design/Web Design/AV/Photography


Renovation/Interior Design/Real Estate


Health & Wellness/Personal Services/ Pet Care


Food Products & Services/Leisure/Tourism


Retail/Professional Shopping Services


Legal/Government/HR Services




Other/Not Yet Categorized

383 Total Members

53% Retention Rate

$200M Collective Member Revenue

2,838 Employees

84% Have 5+ Years in Business



Centre for Women in Business

Top Tweet Centre for Women in Business Small Business Week featuring Manjit Minhas of CBC’s Dragons’ Den: @manjitminhas on her experiences on @cbcdragon, lessons of working in a small business & learning as an entrepreneur - October 2015 16,888 impressions

Top Facebook Posts 1. April 15, 2016: Blog post by co-op student Kayla Sutherland: Growing Up with an Entrepreneurial Parent - Post reach 9,478 2. February 1, 2016: MSVU Student Gets 10 Minutes with the Prime Minister - Post reach 4,734 3. August 12, 2015: MSVU’s Centre for Women in Business - and its Director - Garner Attention – Post reach 2,823 4. March 18, 2016: Highlights from IWD 2016 - Post reach 2,501 5. April 26, 2016: Mary Jane Copps BDC Entrepreneur Mentorship Award Finalist - Post reach 1,951

Top News Stories Centre for Women in Business Welcomes Gender Marketing and Finance Expert Joanne Thomas Yaccato to International Women’s Day 2016 - CBC Radio Information Morning Nova Scotia, March 8, 2016 Yaccato Improving Banking for Women Worldwide - allNovaScotia, March 9, 2016 Mentorship amped up: Laurie Sinclair on the Advanced Management and Mentorship Program (AMMP), the most in-demand workshop series in the Centre’s 24-year history - Progress Magazine, March 2016 A dragon’s entrepreneurial spirit: Manjit Minhas, co-owner of Minhas Breweries and a judge on the TV show Dragons' Den, is speaking at a luncheon Tuesday hosted by the Centre for Women in Business as part of Small Business Week - The Chronicle Herald, October 19, 2015 MSVU’s Centre for Women in Business - and its director - garner attention. Facility moves to central spot on Mount campus; director Priske gets national recognition - The Chronicle Herald, August 11, 2015

Top Website Searches 1. Business Plan 2. Junkery (award-winning business owned by member Ginny Sterling-Boddie) 3. Grants 4. Awards 5. Blog

Year in Review! 2015–2016

Connect with us: Tanya Priske, Executive Director | Tel: 902.457.6474 Gordia Macdonald, Senior Business Development Officer | Tel: 902.790.2766 Laurie Sinclair, Business Development Officer| | Tel: 902.457.5538 Nora Perry, Business Development Officer | Tel: 902.457.6320 Janna MacGregor, Communications Manager | Tel: 902.457.6522 Melanie MacDonald, Membership & Events Coordinator | Tel: 902.457.6271 Michele Brayman, Office Coordinator | Tel: 902.457.6449