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Year in Review! 2014–2015

Contents 23




7 Membership 11 Calendar of Events 15 Inside 19 Media 21 Forward



Centre for Women in Business


Message from Executive Director Tanya Priske

technology, but crosses over into every sector. It compels us to work closely with the Office of Innovation and Community Engagement and campus faculty to identify potential research opportunities for improving existing products and services.

(Above): Tanya Priske welcoming guests to the Centre’s annual Spring Finale on June 11. PHOTO CREDIT REBECCA CLARKE

Looking forward can be difficult and exciting at the same time. Challenges are almost a given. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Canada (GEM) report from 2013, one future challenge for entrepreneurship in this country is how to support and further develop increased participation among women. We’ve been chipping away at that barrier for more than two decades;

it’s one of the reasons we opened our doors. We know that companies value innovation, and consumers seek new products and services. In 2014-2015, our work in this area took a front seat, and efforts to help women scale their businesses for growth had a direct impact on those enrolled in our Advanced Management and Mentoring Program (AMMP). We know innovation plays a major role in any business, including the Centre. We strive to ensure our clients know that innovation is not limited to

This spring, we hosted a complimentary lunch event for members and clients interested in learning how university-based research could transform their businesses and streamline their production processes. We were overwhelmed by the response, and the many questions posed by business owners throughout the discussion, as researchers offered their respective areas of expertise and a run through of how their work could improve many of the businesses represented. It has given us pause for thought, and a clear direction forward. We also know large companies want to procure products and services from new entrepreneurial firms, but for small and medium enterprises, getting the attention of those organizations can be difficult. Our work in supplier diversity has made a significant difference for women business owners in our region, something that was recognized by Women Business Enterprise Canada (WBE) in March, when they presented us with the President’s Award for Outstanding Leadership by a Regional Partner during its Prepare to Profit Summit in Toronto. The award was an honour, inspiring a renewed commitment to this important work, and to coming up with fresh ways to

Year in Review! 2014–2015

facilitate partnerships between business owners and corporate decision-makers. We partnered with Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI) to bring WBE Canada’s Breakfast with Brands™ to Halifax this year, marking the first time this national procurement event was ever held in Atlantic Canada. It sold out, so quickly that we had to start a wait-list; many participants told us they came away with a better understanding of the procurement process and how to stand-out as potential suppliers, as well as follow-up meetings with corporate buyers. One of the corporates, ABB, actually followed up with us by asking the Centre to share a lengthy list of procurement opportunities with our clients. We encouraged business owners to consider export for business growth. With advancements in technology and logistics, limiting one’s target market to a single locale is not necessary, and it’s no longer the norm. Global markets are within reach, but not without planning. Currently, the Caribbean market holds tremendous opportunity for multiple sectors within the Centre community, and in late 2014, we participated in a trade mission to Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Nova Scotia Business Inc. This led to a reciprocal visit from the business leaders we visited in March, which was ideal timing, as they helped bring global representation to our annual International Women’s Day event featuring keynote Annette Verschuren, former President of The Home Depot Canada and Asia, and CEO of NRStor Inc. We continued to foster those relationships during a follow-up trip to Jamaica in May, where we held 16 meetings with Jamaican business representatives and government officials in just 5 days, including the High Commission of Canada to Jamaica and the Office of the Prime Minister.


belonging here, and most don’t want to miss a single chance to leverage opportunities for Exposure, Connection and Learning - our brand promise, and something we strive to deliver to every client that comes through our door. We value the relationships we have with our members, and will continue to look for new ways to improve our service to each of them.

(Above): Tanya Priske, (front, second from left), on a Jamaican trade mission in May, where she and Centre Business Development Officer Laurie Sinclair, (right), met with members of the Women Entrepreneurs Network of the Caribbean to discuss business development challenges among women working in the product manufacturing sector. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

This spring, it became that much easier, as we moved into our new, more advanced and centrally located office at the Margaret Norrie McCain Centre for Teaching, Learning and Research. After more than a decade ‘up on the hill’ at the Meadows, moving day was a historic occasion for all of us, particularly because our new building is the first on any university campus in the country to commemorate the accomplishments of women in leadership. We couldn’t feel more at home.

‘Keeping ahead of the curve’ is a mantra of our team, but we take it even further: This is our passion. Each of us And while we certainly do a tremendous are mentors and regular participants amount of work within the growth sector, in events, conferences and training opportunities across the country and our start-ups are just as important. Our role is to guide women, and provide the around the world to help us stay immersed and engaged in what we skills they need to develop into sucdo here every day. We know how cessful, self-sustaining entrepreneurs. important it is to be able to identify future trends, and how they will affect We realize that starting a business our clients because, in business, can present significant hurdles. Just staying competitive is the name of juggling all of the balls that are thrown the game. at you can seem overwhelming, but building relationships with like-minded So what’s in store for 2015-2016? Be entrepreneurs can help. That’s why on the lookout as we continue to build we continue to build networking into the momentum for women business every event, and to offer two monthly owners on the east coast of Canada! series programs that address this need: our POWER Lunch, and Women, Business & Breakfast presented by TD Bank. This was the year our breakfasts outgrew The Meadows, drawing so many participants that we were forced to move to the Seton Academic Centre: a good problem to have! Our sense of community is strong, and we attribute this to growing registration numbers right across the board. Our members feel a sense of


Centre for Women in Business



In July 2014, the Centre team sat down for a two-day planning session to lay the groundwork for what would unfold in the coming year. Programs and event plans were fleshed out. Staff, member and client feedback was introduced for consideration. We discussed what worked well, what could have worked better and what would be required in the year ahead. When it was over, our team came away with a full vision and nearly complete schedule for 2014-2015 – one that would commence with a signature event traditionally known as Fall Kick-off on September 17, 2014. Held in the Summit Suite of the World Trade and Convention Centre and sponsored by TD Bank, Fall Kick-off 2014: Blazing Your Business Market was centered on an address from top-selling author and Canadian marketing whiz Michele Bailey, owner of Blazing the Agency in Oakville, Ontario. As she approached the podium, the name of Ms. Bailey’s marketing firm appeared on the screen behind her; it was the first clue that she is an entrepreneur who has chosen to do business differently by scrapping norms and anything that resembles ‘same old.’ The room was full and yet almost completely silent as Ms. Bailey told the story of her business and its dramatic evolution from a marketing powerhouse that brought in almost a million dollars in billings during its first year, to a “downward spiraling disaster” triggered by employee theft. Ms. Bailey used her business savvy and support system to bring it back from the ashes and straight to the top.

(Top): Q&A at our Fall Kick-off, September 17.


(Bottom): Michele Bailey, author and founder of Blazing the Agency, delivering the keynote at Fall Kick-off. PHOTO CREDIT REBECCA CLARKE

Year in Review! 2014–2015


all of our jobs are created by SMEs: 94.3 per cent in PEI and 94.1 per cent in Nova Scotia. That gives us the distinction of having the highest proportion of SME generated employment in the country. Atlantic Canada is home to the largest proportion of woman-owned SMEs in Canada at 16.9 per cent.

(Above): The CWB’s Gordia Macdonald and Tanya Priske at WBENC 2015 in Texas, part of a Canadian delegation that included the Honourable Kellie Leitch, (centre), Canada’s Minister of Labour and the Status of Women. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO “We are like a house on fire,” she told the audience, citing passion as a necessary requirement for those considering entrepreneurship, or business owners in growth or recovery mode. “We strive to set the world on fire and blaze new trails.” Her mission statement clicked with the Centre team; after two decades as Canada’s only business resource Centre exclusively for women, drive and dedication is what powers our mission to help more Maritime women become successful, self-sustaining entrepreneurs and business leaders. This is a community, and as you will note throughout these pages, it is has grown significantly this year. We were prepared; as a team made up of varied experience and expertise, we are business owners, mentors, leaders, educators and perpetual learners. Our dedication keeps bringing us back to the table with fresh ideas as we channel our individual strengths to create new strategies, partnerships and skills training opportunities. In 2014-2014, we worked hard to see more small business concepts and expansion plans flourish. We wanted to see more women to take the leap, and for that leap to be as seamless as possible, taken only after the development of solid business skills, sound planning, and a collaborative network. Mission accomplished. If you’re a member of our community, you most likely fall into the category of Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) owner. According to Industry Canada, the SME is a business with fewer than 500 employees; broken down further, it refers to small businesses with less than 100 employees if the business is focused on goods-production, or fewer than 50 employees if it is service-based. While the SME group makes up the bulk of our membership and clientele, we also service hundreds of aspiring business owners, and women in business leadership roles. Statistics compiled by Mount Saint Vincent University earlier this year show that SMEs are responsible for creating 89.9 per cent of Canadian jobs, but here in the Maritimes, almost

An RBC economic report released in 2013 said that in 2011, women-owned SMEs accounted for an aggregate contribution of about $148 billion in economic activity in Canada. Perhaps more importantly, the report predicted that if the number of women SME owners increased by just 10 per cent, $198 billion would be added to the economy over the next decade. The message is clear: supporting existing woman-owned SMEs and attracting new ones is vital. Our economy depends on it. That support is designed to address the fact that women experience different challenges than men when it comes to starting or growing a business. This was confirmed in an Industry Canada Small Business and Tourism Branch report from 2010, which showed that while female-owned firms were just as likely to seek financing as male-owned firms, they were less likely to be approved. Not only that, those who were approved received significantly smaller amounts of debt financing than majority male-owned firms. The result? Women business owners are often forced to get creative in order to make up the shortfall, and to keep their operations lean by wearing many different hats. It is common for us to work with women who essentially run every aspect of the business: they create the vision, provide the service, create the product, do the hiring, manage the payroll, handle the marketing and prospect for new clients and sales opportunities. Many balance all of this with caring for children, spouses, aging parents and other familial obligations traditionally delegated to women. The Industry Canada report also said that Canadian women business owners are, on average, less likely to engage in international trade compared to male counterparts. They are more likely to operate businesses in the service sectors rather than in knowledge and manufacturing industries, which traditionally enjoy higher growth potential and profitability. It states: “Where women differ from their male counterparts is how they view growth. Women business owners view growth to be less important, less likely and of lower value than men. They view the personal demands related to growth as negative and adding stress to their lives. An overwhelming 84 per cent of women feel their business has reached a size they are comfortable with and don’t want to grow. This compared to 37 per cent for men. They feel they lack the managerial experience, spousal support and peer support networks need to grow.” This is where specific skills training becomes critical. This is where we come in.


Centre for Women in Business

At the Centre, we focus on the individual needs of our clients. We bring in experts from across the country and around the world: women who have been there and done that. This year, partners like Women Business Enterprise Canada (WBE), Nova Scotia Business Inc., TD Bank, RBC, Digital Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Department of Advanced Labour and Education and the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women allowed us to deliver training, events and trade mission opportunities that opened new doors for members and clients. Once we identify a gap in an entrepreneur’s skill set, we work to address it and help them to become proficient in that area. Our job is to make good business concepts great by showing women how to create sound business plans that will stand up to lender scrutiny, how to get their products on the shelves of national retailers and how to identify a mentor. These are just some of the assignments that make up our mission and dominate our workshop and event strategy meetings. As our mission has evolved, so too have our services. In 40 years, the number of women entrepreneurs in Nova Scotia

increased by 114 per cent (Atlantic Canada Women in Export Working Group, 2012). In 20 years, our network increased by 685 per cent; in 1993-1994, the Centre reached 539 women through business advisories and services, and a network of 1,203 contacts, including women business owners, aspiring entrepreneurs, business leaders, partners, corporate representatives, supporters and government representatives. Today we have 9,448, with more joining us daily, and this doesn’t take into account our social media audiences. In the spring of 2015 we had 1,369 active clients and members using our resources on a regular basis, 1,508 people (women and a small number of men) accessing our services annually, and just over 900 involved in activities that provided awareness and promotion of entrepreneurship. Though our objectives remain much the same as when we first opened our doors, the mission statement from the Centre’s inaugural annual report highlights a commitment to, “provide realistic support, encouragement and information to potential entrepreneurs and women in business,” our deliverables are now much more defined. We are focused on training, relationship building, export and supplier diversity, and the method

of delivery has been shaped by the numbers. According to statistics compiled by MSVU, 2001 to 2011 saw a 47 per cent increase in the number of women working in professional, scientific and technical services, and an 80 per cent increase within the health services sector. Partnerships with organizations like WBE Canada and Digital Nova Scotia ensure that we are not only encouraging growth but staying true to our mission.




(Left): Former Business Counsellor Gerry Martin works with a client. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

(Right): Business Development Officer Nora Perry, (centre), in her new office at the McCain Centre, with The Spark Zone co-op student Sarah Young, (left), and client Laura Swaine (right). PHOTO CREDIT JANNA MACGREGOR

Business Advisory then and now



Year in Review! 2014–2015



Membership As of spring of 2015, the Centre had 328 members, up 29 per cent from May of last year; almost all of them (92 per cent) own a business and have worked with the Centre over multiple years. Fifteen per cent of our members have been with the Centre for 5-10 years; since adding Membership and Events Coordinator Melanie MacDonald to our team last year, we have experienced a significant spike in membership and overall engagement. One of our key objectives has been to grow our community by increasing membership retention - by attracting entrepreneurs who will stay with us throughout the duration of their business lives, from start-up, to expansion, to succession. We welcome members and clients at every phase of the entrepreneurial journey, but it is particularly gratifying when we are able to provide support throughout the growth trajectory. Many members do business with each

other and many more recommend member businesses to their individual networks. The Centre community is accepting and supportive with 62 per cent of members listing peer-topeer support as one main reason for engaging with the Centre. Within our membership, 44 per cent of women have been in business for three years or less, which places them in the start-up category. Almost all start-ups come to us through referrals: current members tend to recommend our services and programs, along with financial advisors, partners, and other business service providers like the Centre for Entrepreneurship Education Development (CEED). Business advisories (which are offered free of charge), our Blueprint for Success series, and business certificate series offered in partnership with the Nova Scotia’s Department of Labour and Advanced Education, all offer training components designed specifically to support women who are new to entrepreneurship (more details on these and other programs are outlined in the next section).

Others, like our Advanced Management and Mentoring Program (AMMP), ongoing Supplier Diversity training opportunities and trade missions, are all geared toward established businesses: those that have been operating for three years or more. Of our 328 members, 12 per cent have been involved in export and reported an average annual revenue of $159,000 this year, with a collective revenue of $65 million dollars annually.




Centre for Women in Business

Our Membership by Sector Accounting & Bookkeeping


Apparel, Jewelry, Cosmetics


Arts/Artisan Craft




Banking, Financial & Insurance


Business Services




Communications, Sales & Marketing




Decorating & Interior Design


Education & Training


Entertainment & Technology


Event Planning & Management Floral, Gardening & Landscaping

4 1

Food Products & Services Giftware

16 3

Graphic Design, Printing & Photography


Health & Wellness


Human Resources & Employment Services


IT, Website Design & Audio Visual


Legal Services




Organizations & Government Agencies/Departments


Personal Services Pet Care

6 2

Real Estate


Renovation & Construction


Retail Travel, Tourism & Hospitality Other (Aspiring Entrepreneurs, Uncategorized)

5 3 27

Year in Review! 2014–2015




Network increased by 685%

1,369 Regular clients and members

Members Speak Corporate membership has grown by 100 per cent this year. Corporations are increasingly seeing the value in supporting women entrepreneurs and engaging with the Centre community. Corporate members further support the Centre’s mandate by contributing to programming and events. “We love the Centre, and by supporting Centre initiatives we are able to assist members in making valuable connections with each other, whether they are just starting a business or have been in operation for a while.” Shelley Lebrun, corporate member, TD Bank “I met some Centre members and I was wowed by the unconditional support for women they had; these business women had a sister-like bond. The Centre gives me direction, whether it be on financials, web

(Below): Centre member Penny Doherty networking at the Spring Finale. PHOTO CREDIT REBECCA CLARKE

1,508 People who access CWB services at least once a year

9,448 The CWB network

design or human resources; they are always there with advice.” Tamara Barker Watson, owner, Whitestone Developments “The Centre has been a valuable resource for me for more than 10 years as trusted outside experts, providing advice and support at the various stages of the growth of our business. They have helped me find professional services, and have provided opportunities for professional development through programs and individual, skillspecific sessions. They have been instrumental in identifying and accessing funding that allowed me to work with business coaches to develop my skills in the areas of marketing, strategic planning, leadership development and financial analysis. Through this support, I was able to lead the company through the organizational changes that allowed us to grow into an award-winning English school that contributes to the local community and welcomes hundreds of international students to Halifax each year.” Sheila Nunn, owner, East Coast School of Languages

(Below): Pitch Class with Liz Radzick of Manifest Consulting at Professional Development Day: Business Masterclass Nov. 13. PHOTO CREDIT JANNA MACGREGOR


Top 5 Our Most Talked About Workshops and Events in 2014-2015


International Women’s Day featuring Annette Verschuren, former president of the Home Depot Canada and Asia


Spring Finale featuring Microsoft Canada’s Chitra Anand


Breakfast with Brands ™


Certificate business training series


Advanced Management and Mentoring Program

(Above): “By sponsoring the Centre’s extraordinary International Women’s Day event, it gives RBC the chance to honour and commend women in business. It gives women and the community a moment to step back and acknowledge women’s accomplishments together. It’s a logical fit for us.” Pam Hinks, RBC, at the International Women’s Day event assisted by Membership Coordinator Melanie MacDonald during a prize draw. PHOTO CREDIT REBECCA CLARKE





(Above): Our Spring Finale was presented by Digital Nova Scotia. Here, President Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia, (left), and Marketing Director Emily Boucher, meet some of our members. PHOTO CREDIT REBECCA CLARKE “It has been a great honour to sit in a room amongst such an incredibly talented group of women... I am so deeply moved and inspired by the vision, empathy, kindness and sincerity of our facilitator Laurie Sinclair, who is a beautiful example of women leading change in a collaborative world instead of a competitive one. I believe seeds have been plated that will grow for many years.” Dianne Whelan, AMMP WIFT participant


Year in Review! 2014–2015



Calendar of Events “Blueprint was a great course; the facilitator was knowledgeable and confident. It provided the basic information to get started. The small group setting made it easy to ask questions and to network with others who are also just starting out.” Patricia Munro, Blueprint for Business Success (Below): Business Development Officer Laurie Sinclair, (left), and Executive Director Tanya Priske, (right), during a trade mission to Jamaica in May where they met with the Honourable Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, Jamaica’s Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

(Below): The Need for Research in Business May 5, with Kevin Buchan of the Office of Innovation and Community Engagement, presented by CWB, MSVU and Springboard Atlantic. PHOTO CREDIT JANNA MACGREGOR

Events We Hosted or Attended This Year SEPT 9 CWB: Antigonish Networking Group Meeting Sept. 9, 2014

SEPT 24 CWB: Blueprint for Success Fall 2014 Sept. 24, 2014 - Oct. 29, 2014

NOV CWB: Jamaica/Trinidad Trade Mission (with ACOA and NSBI) November 2014

JAN 16 CWB: Certificate in Financial Management Jan. 16, 2015 - March 20, 2015

MAR 30 CWB: Certificate in Supply Chain Management March 30, 2015 - June 15, 2015


SEPT 11 Go for the Greens Conference, Orlando Florida Sept. 11 - 13, 2014

SEPT 30 WeConnect International in Canada Conference Sept. 30, 2014 - Oct. 1, 2014

NOV 13 CWB: Professional Development Day: Business Masterclass Nov. 13, 2014 - Dec. 1, 2014

JAN 28 MSVU: Social Enterprise for a Day January 28, 2015

APR 8 CWB: Blueprint for Success Spring 2015 April 8, 2015 - May 20, 2015


SEPT 17 CWB Fall Kick-off: Blazing Your Business Market Sponsored by TD Bank Sept. 17, 2014

OCT 9 CWB: AMMP: Introductory Series Oct. 9, 2014 - June 11, 2015

DEC 1 CWB: Book Launch with Clare Beckton, Executive Director of the Centre for Women in Politics and Public Leadership at Carleton University: “Own It: Your Success, Your Future, Your Life.” Dec. 1, 2014

FEB 18 CWB: Secrets to Writing a Successful Bid Proposal Feb. 18, 2015

APR 10 CWB: Certificate in Small Business Marketing April 10, 2015 - June 12, 2015

MAY 26

CWB and CANWIT: The Need for Research in Business (Luncheon) May 5, 2015

CWB: Jamaica Follow-up Mission (with ACOA and NSBI) May 7, 2015

In the Company of Women: Journey 2 Success May 26, 2015




CWB: Women, Business and Breakfast Sponsored by TD Bank First Thursday of each month

CWB: MSVU Entrepreneurship Club Ongoing

CWB: Successfully Speaking Women Toastmasters Twice monthly

SEPT 23 CWB: POWER Lunch Sept. 23, 2014 - Aug. 25, 2015

OCT 14 CWB: AMMP: Intermediate Series Oct. 14, 2014 - May 15, 2015

DEC JAN 16 CWB: Holiday Cheer Open House Dec. 16, 2014

MAR CWB: Incoming Jamaica/ Trinidad Trade Mission (with ACOA and NSBI) March 2015

APR MAY 29 CWB: Building Your International Business Profile April 29, 2015

JUNE 5 CWB: International Business Roundtable June 5, 2015


CWB: Learning Passports Program with MSVU Ongoing

SEPT 23 WBE Canada Conference 2014: Keys to Accelerate Sept. 23, 2014

OCT 30 MSVU Learners & Leaders Conference Oct. 30, 2014

JAN CWB: AMMP for Women in Film and Television Jan. 2015 - June 2015

MAR 3 CWB: International Women’s Day 2015 Presented by RBC March 3, 2015

APR 30 CWB: WBE Canada’s Breakfast with Brands™ April 30, 2015

JUNE 11 CWB: Spring Finale with Chitra Anand Presented by Digital Nova Scotia June 11, 2015


The Spark Zone Ongoing coordination

SEPT 23 CWB: Emera Presents: Nova Scotia Information Sessions Sept. 23 - 24, 2014

OCT 31 CWB: AMMP: Advanced Series Oct. 31, 2014 - May 22, 2015

JAN 12 CWB: Certificate in Sales & Customer Service Jan. 12, 2015 - March 23, 2015

MAR 10 WBE Canada’s Prepare to Profit March 10, 2015

MAY 4 CWB: Trade Show Ready with Halina St. James May 4, 2015


CWB: Atlantic Chapter of the Women Presidents’ Organization Monthly


CWB: MSVU Student Public Relations Partnership Ongoing coordination of partnerships


Centre for Women in Business

Monthly POWER Lunch Series showcasing members’ expertise Mary Jane Copps, owner, The Phone Lady Telephone Talent: “How to Communicate Effectively with Customers & Prospects by Phone.” September 23 Christine Gaudreau, Vice President, OTC Insurance: “The Ins & Outs of Insurance for Your Business.” October 28 Anita Hovey, owner, Twirp Communications: “Why You Need a Social Media Strategy & How to Build it.” November 25 Glenna Campbell, Founder, ReOrg Legal: “Legal Issues: When to Incorporate & Internet Sales Savvy.” December 16 Linda Daley, Owner, Daley Progress eNewsletter Boutique: “How to Start an eNewsletter.” January 27 Maureen Farmer, owner, Word Right Resumes: “Guide to Writing an Effective Linkedin Profile to Market Your Business: Setting up Your Professional Linkedin Profile.” February 24 Kathy Stanford, owner, Performance View Business Solutions: “Introduction to Sales Training: Effective Techniques.” March 24 Corrine Boudreau, owner, Two Certainties Law: “Legal Triage for Your Business: When to Call in Your Lawyer.” April 28 Lorelei Phillips, owner, L7: “How to Problem Solve by Thinking Outside of the Box.” May 26 Natalie Doyle Oldfield, owner, Natalie Doyle Oldfield Consulting Marketing and Business Development: “Building Your Business Success Through Trust.” June 23 Jennifer Logan, Senior Account Manager, Business and Personal at RBC Royal Bank: “Financial Wellbeing and Growing Your Business.” July 28 (Above): November’s POWER Lunch Presenter Anita Hovey of Twirp Communications. PHOTO CREDIT KIANA RIEGO

Diane Wooden, owner, Diane Wooden People Resource Management: “Laying the Foundation Everything You Need to Know About Hiring Your Next Employee.” August 25



Year in Review! 2014–2015



In 2014-2015, seven full-time staff members helped steer the momentum of women entrepreneurs in the Maritimes. The Centre for Women in Business, Spring 2015: Front: from left to right: Tanya Priske, Executive Director; Melanie MacDonald, Membership and Events Coordinator; Michele Brayman, Office Manager. Back: Laurie Sinclair, Business Development Officer; Nora Perry, Business Development Officer, Janna MacGregor, Communications Manager and Gordia Macdonald, Senior Business Development Officer. PHOTO CREDIT REBECCA CLARKE


Centre for Women in Business

mandate and mission through print and digital communications, media relations and event support. A rotating MSVU co-op position augments both our event coordination and communication efforts and, this year, the team was unquestionably enhanced by the work of students Kaitlyn Phillips, Kiana Riego, Leah Deveau and Natasha Legay.

The Spark Zone The Spark Zone is a space where students from all disciplines can meet with advisors and other students to flesh out and refine their business ideas. It is a partnership led by MSVU, Saint Mary’s University, NSCAD University and the Nova Scotia Community College, and the Centre’s Nora Perry has been instrumental in shaping its direction, lending her expertise in startup development and adult education throughout its first year on the MSVU campus. Highlights included The Spark Zone Platform Events, which were held at Halifax Central Library’s RBC Learning Link, and allowed students to practice presenting their ideas to members of the business community and receive feedback. The Spark Zone also hosted a well-attended speaker series designed to connect with students through topics like ‘The Business of Brewing,’ led by a panel of local craft and microbrewers, and ‘The Business of Music,’ featuring musicians, radio hosts, venue owners and event planners. Nora says her role in the development of The Spark Zone has been exciting and rewarding. “Instilling ideas of entrepreneurship helps students develop innovative and creative thinking skills that they can take into the workforce or into their own entrepreneurial ventures.” Members and clients rely on that leadership, and the support of an experienced team to help guide their entrepreneurial journey; they seek out the expertise of our business development officers to reach their goals and, in many cases, to cast off self-imposed limitations and create entirely new objectives. It’s an exciting place to be.

(Above): Leah Deveau, (left), the Centre’s Business and Communications co-op student, and Meagan Soley, (right), The Spark Zone co-op student, showcase entrepreneurship training opportunities available at MSVU. Our Executive Director, Tanya Priske drives all Centre operations, making the important connections that allow us to do what we do, and deliver high-quality services and programs. She provides our vision, helps us to set and reach our annual objectives and creates our budget. Office Manager, Michele Brayman is our main point of contact at the Centre, and is typically the first person you see when you walk through our doors. She manages our day-to-day operations, invoices and human resource needs. Our Membership and Events Coordinator, Melanie MacDonald helps grow our community, bringing in new and aspiring business owners, and ensures all existing members are leveraging our services and accessing the resources they need. Maintaining regular contact with our members, and gauging the effectiveness of our activities is a top priority for Melanie. She also handles the coordination of our four signature events: Fall Kick-off, Professional Development Day, International Women’s Day and Spring Finale. Our Communications Manager, Janna MacGregor gets the message out about those events and all of the other workshops, information sessions and networking opportunities that happen throughout the year. Her focus is on promoting the members, the Centre, its

Our three business development officers, Laurie Sinclair, Nora Perry and Gordia Macdonald responded to a record number of inbound inquiries this year in the form of walk-ins, calls, emails and e-advisor requests. They conducted workshops and trade missions; supported student business activities through MSVU, and its entrepreneurial incubation centre for students, The Spark Zone. They helped clients apply for awards and research grants; worked with partners to deliver well-rounded programming and information sessions and conducted an incredible 401 business advisories this year. That work, with a specific emphasis on Gordia’s dedication to supplier diversity training, was recognized by Women Business Enterprise Canada during its Prepare to Profit Summit held in Toronto March 10, when the Centre was presented with the President’s Award for Outstanding Leadership by a Regional Partner.

(Below): Senior Business Development Officer Gordia Macdonald, (left), and Executive Director Tanya Priske, accepting the WBE Canada President’s Award for Outstanding Leadership by a Regional Partner in Toronto March 12. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Year in Review! 2014–2015


“Staff Quotes: Our Best Advice”

Tanya Priske

Executive Director

“A mentor once advised me that the field of economic development can be challenging, especially when you can’t directly help the person sitting in front of you. “Never let them leave your office feeling you didn’t provide value,” he said, suggesting that I do my best to offer an alternative the client may not have thought about. The true test is in your ability to shake your head yes while telling them no.”

Laurie Sinclair

Business Development Officer

“The first step is to focus on your hard skills; without those you won’t even get a seat at the table. Once those are in place, work on the softer skill set: things like communication, leadership and developing relationships are what will take you to the next level, and help you to grow and expand.”

Melanie MacDonald

Membership & Events Coordinator

“Your comfort zone is a dangerous place to be. I think it’s important to be continually learning and growing, and that’s only possible when you step outside of your comfort zone, take risks and do things you thought you couldn’t.”


Centre for Women in Business

Janna MacGregor

Communications Manager

“As a newsroom intern, an editor pointed out that I had missed a story angle because I didn’t understand it. “You don’t understand it because you didn’t ask questions,” he said. “You’re too worried about sounding like a bonehead. Don’t be! Who cares?” Ask until it makes sense; get the information you need to create the whole picture.”

Michele Brayman Office Coordinator

“Whatever you decide to do, make sure it makes you happy. My entire career has centered around being on the front line of each organization I’ve worked with. I truly love interacting with people, and finding solutions to problems gives me a strong sense of accomplishment.”

Gordia Macdonald

Senior Business Development Officer

“You have to plan your work and work your plan. Keeping the big picture in mind helps keep us focused, especially when we get caught up working “in” the business. Will your plan change? Of course; as you build relationships and opportunities present themselves the path will become even more defined.”

Nora Perry

Business Development Officer

“Avoid using minimizing words like, “little business”, or “but” and “just” when describing your work and give yourself permission to be the best: no one else can give you that. This approach helps me bring out the best in the women we work with.”

Year in Review! 2014–2015



Media “We succeed based on the quality of our services, and the conversations happening about them within our community.” We are proud of the fact that we don’t rely on paid advertising to sell workshops and events, or even to tell our story; we succeed based on the quality of our services, and the conversations happening about them within our community. The Centre has become a fixture on social media channels, and a go-to resource for media seeking the insight of team members, the perspectives of entrepreneurs in our community and sector-specific expertise. We are regularly asked to provide commentary on topics relating to women in leadership and entrepreneurship, and their impact on our economy.

(Left): Our International Women’s Day event made provincial headlines this year. From left to right, Caribbean trade delegates Katrine Smith, Lorna Green, and Aphie Mullings Aiken; keynote Annette Verschuren; delegates Sandra Glasgow and Candace Brathwaite, and Centre for Women in Business Executive Director Tanya Priske. PHOTO CREDIT REBECCA CLARKE

(Right): Business Development Officer Laurie Sinclair being interviewed by Jamaica Information Service Radio on Nov. 27. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO


Centre for Women in Business

We work hard to share our mission and events with people throughout our region, and around the world. We speak to many of these people daily through social media, where we have a combined following of close to 8,000 people across Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter. Our followers are mostly women located in the Halifax area, and we engage them by posting informative Tweets, Facebook updates and photo albums, educational and inspiring YouTube videos and important LinkedIn shares. Most posts are focused on the Centre and our collaborative partners, but others feature our members, and news about their businesses. Our commitment to engaging messages, as opposed to promotional content, mixed with aesthetic and structural upgrades to our website has led to significant growth in communications. This year, (spring 2014 to spring 2015) our Twitter and LinkedIn presence has exploded with about 1,000 new followers per channel. Our Facebook engagement is high and consistent; our average post reach is 500 to well over 1000 people. Our website shows heightened activity, peaking to several thousand hits per day in conjunction with signature events, specifically IWD, and new workshop announcements (complimentary certificate training ranking number one among our most accessed pages and search queries). Mobile access has tripled in two years, so 2015 will be the year that our website becomes mobile friendly, thanks to our collaborators at ISL Halifax. Our work pays off in the form of sold-out events and training sessions that reach capacity within hours of an announcement via social media or email, and in increased membership numbers, walk-ins, inquiries and business advisories - sometimes more than our two onsite business development officers can accommodate within the course of a week. If this trend continues, expect to see our team expand in the coming year.

CWB in the Headlines Small Business, Big Partners, Herald Business: “Corporations are now realizing that by 2040, 55-60 per cent of the population in the U.S. will be minorities, so they need to change their goods and services to reflect that population.” Tanya Priske, Executive Director of the Centre for Women in Business at Mount Saint Vincent University, March 2015 Global Celebration: The Mount’s Centre for Women in Business Spotlights Connecting at Home and Abroad During its International Women’s Day Event Progress Magazine, Spring 2015 Jamaica, Once Again a Priority Market for Canadian Business GoJamaica.com, May 2015 Entrepreneurship Fuels New Opportunities for Women “It’s women’s economic ‘upliftment’ that’s going to make the difference in where we are in any economy.” Lorna Green, owner and CEO of Jamaica-based Digital Transtec Ltd., at the Centre’s IWD celebration, Chronicle Herald, March 2015


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How to Meet Some of Canada’s Most Intriguing Business Leaders Financial Post, October 2014 Doing Business with Jamaica Valley at Noon, March 2015



Chitra Anand Shares Intrapreneurship Wisdom AllNovaScotia.com, June 2015 Centre for Women in Business Hosts Professional Development Day Daily Business Buzz, November 2014 More Women are Needed in Business CBC Nova Scotia News, March 2015 Calling all Off-shore Suppliers All Nova Scotia, August 2014

Year in Review! 2014–2015


Forward With our historic move to the Margaret Norrie McCain Centre for Teaching, Learning and Research, in May of 2015, we are looking forward to all of the new opportunities that will arise from our presence here. The four-floor, 49,600 square foot and environmentallyconscious McCain Centre is a learning environment that is contemporary, technology-rich and interactive. As Canada’s only university building dedicated to the advancement of women, it is an ideal home for us, Canada’s only university business resource centre exclusively for women. Within weeks of our move we noted an increase in visits from students looking to engage with our business development officers, and to find out how we may be able to help them explore entrepreneurship as a career choice. We are already enjoying increased collaboration with MSVU faculty and researchers, and exposure to leading technology that will improve connections with clients and partners outside of Halifax and around the world. As we close out our 2014-2015 year, it is with a great deal of anticipation for what lies in store for the Centre in its new location, as Tanya Priske noted during her remarks at our Spring Finale. “Anticipation is a wonderful thing in business, particularly when you’re armed with clear objectives and a plan of execution.” she said. There is much to be done, and we are excited to continue working with our members, clients and partners as we embark on this new chapter at the Centre for Women in Business.

(Top): MSVU President Dr. Ramona Lumpkin and philanthropist Jim Spatz unveil the Riva Spatz Women’s Wall of Honour during the official opening of the Margaret Norrie McCain Centre for Teaching and Learning on May 29. PHOTO CREDIT NATASHA LEGAY

(Bottom): Executive Director Tanya Priske, chatting with Annette Verschuren, one of Atlantic Canada’s most distinguished business leaders, at the opening of the McCain Centre. Annette is one of the women whose accomplishments are celebrated by MSVU’s Inspiring Women installation, along with the Centre’s former Executive Director, the late Daurene Lewis. PHOTO CREDIT NATASHA LEGAY


Profile for Graphic Design Halifax

2015 annual review print ready for approval  

2015 annual review print ready for approval  


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