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OCT/NOV/DEC 2012

+ Movies for Grown-ups Piers Handling, CEO of the Toronto International Film Festival, takes us inside a sleek and sophisticated cinema p. 96

The Animators AT WO R K W I T H CA NA DA’S B US I NES S L EA DERS

Toon Boom takes its elite cartoon technology from the studio to the classroom p. 14

Welcome to the “She-Suite” VOLUME 2, NO. 10

Melanie Jeannotte, CEO of Vital Benefits, and 10 other top women executives are shaking things up in Canada with exciting ideas and proven business acumen p. 60 WINDS OF CHANGE Momentum Credit Union > p. 19

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INTERNET COWBOYS Non-Linear Creations > p. 48

A GREENER PROVIDER Just Energy > p. 142 6/28/12 3:07 PM


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The direct path A proactive legal partner keeps all the angles covered right from the beginning of the project. Direct access to the right expertise, a pragmatic approach to process, and a carefully assembled team ensure an efďŹ cient, cost-effective path from problem to solution.

Toronto | MontrĂŠal | Calgary | Ottawa | New York


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feature

The Roundup grab bag

Travellers’ friends

11

inside look Marla Kott of Imprint Plus

12

Welcome to the “She-Suite”

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60

66 Fashion & Sport Linda Hipp’s clothing line, LIJA, brings style to the golf course and tennis court

70 Calm, Cool &

in Control

How TELUS’s Monique Mercier has helped redefine the role of women in the legal workplace

72 A Flair for Flavourful

Design

19 winds of change Momentum Credit Union’s president and CEO, Malcolm Stoffman, explores the shifting industry

78 Shedding Some Light

21 smart investing

Greenlite Lighting’s Nina Gupta takes energy-efficient lighting to an international level

Thinking outside the box with Tom Bradley, president of Steadyhand Investment Funds

23 being there Finding the sunshine in tough times with Nancy McKenzie, president of Yellowcoat Raincoat Benefit Consultants

Bronwyn Mondoux and the rest of Cinnamon Toast New Media maintain a fun and friendly work culture

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From radio to TV to social media, Youzus founder Sonya Gill has emerged as one of Canada’s top personalities

26 Myth buster Corporate counsel Anita Dusevic Oliva of Inter Pipeline Fund changes perceptions of the profession

28 professional adaptations

84 Making It in a

Discussing the changing workforce with Louise Laforce of Colabor Group

Man’s World

How GLV’s Gwen Klees stays independent as the firm’s VP of legal affairs

31 helping millions RateSupermarket.ca’s president, Kelvin Mangaroo, gives power back to the consumer

86 Silky Success Ovation Group’s Elizabeth Legge turns hand-sewn promotional boxers into a promotional-products mainstay

Preferred Interpreters bridges the communication gap between the deaf and hearing communities

40 in the cloud Vivonet’s creativity fosters advancement in the POS restaurant business

Dr. Munira Jivraj sinks her teeth into three decades of success with Millennium Dental

Warrior

How Neena Kanwar of KMH made a name by greatly reducing medical wait times

The Innovators

36 a new interpretation

88 Smiling Bright

91 The Waiting-Room

The Experts Globe-trotting and yoga retreats with Rachel Neild, owner of Think Travel

Former Starbucks president Launi Skinner takes her expertise to First West Credit Union

42 hitting refresh Falcon-Software stays afloat in the turbulent tech seas by staying abreast of the latest trends

45 on the edge Cover photo by Erin Wallace

Melanie Jeannotte of Vital Benefits fosters opportunities for female businesswomen, inside the office and out

The animators

16 A wealth of education

to Big Bucks

80 On a Mission

62 Success from Scratch

Off the Map Toon Boom Animation takes its elite cartoon technology global, catering to everyone from professional studios to kindergarten classrooms

p.

stat wall Women in business

76 From Coffee Cups

A diverse look at some of Canada’s top women executives, featuring 11 movers and shakers

industry watch Julien Lavoie of ESAC

Bayleaf Software stays on top of rapidly changing technology by incorporating innovation daily

48 internet cowboys Non-Linear Creations navigates the digital frontier and web for companies of all industries

50 breaking barriers Kensington Capital Partners launches a new fund that brings high-minded strategies to the lay investor

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Photo: Charles Leonio WireImage/Getty for TIFF

table of contents feature

Movies for Grown-ups The Toronto International Film Festival’s central hub, TIFF Bell Lightbox, serves as a sleek, sophisticated, and year-round home for film

 96

p. The from façade of the TIFF Bell Lightbox theatre in Toronto.

52 torch song Plasma-torch manufacturer PyroGenesis has evolved to meet the opportunities in new markets

54 the municipality muse Vadim Software helps automate and simplify operations for municipalities in Canada and the US

56 a new status quo The Mitchell & Abbott Group finds success in unexplored areas of the insurance market

119 building prosperity

121 staking your ground Avenue Investment Management puts its money where its mouth is, staying true through economic turbulence

Winnipeg Police Credit Union keeps the city’s finest secure for life beyond law enforcement

125 keeping alberta online Platinum Communications’ CEO sparks smart growth and keeps the province’s rural areas wired to the web

106 balancing act

110 branchless banking Pacific & Western Bank has no storefronts, resulting in less overhead and a higher bottom line

128 tried & true A proven investment strategy helps Heathbridge Capital Management weather the downturn

130 calming the waters St. Joseph’s Credit Union helps stabilize a community after its cod-fishing industry closes

115 smarter business CBCI Telecom’s videoconferencing technologies save companies time and money

117 tech titans How The RSC Group rode the ups and downs of its sector and emerged as a mainstay in its field

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Game Plan

34 Legal guidance on two

continents with Hudbay Minerals

58 Bringing in the best talent with Birks & Mayors

94 building long-standing

relationships with Duncan Ross Associates

102 Balancing different roles with AGF Management

132 Serving a community’s needs with Kootenay Savings Credit Union

144 growing the family business with Young & Haggis Insurance

113 a new era Janice Belliveau of Clare Mutual helps improve the ever-changing insurance industry

Just Energy’s CFO, Beth Summers, explains why it’s worth paying more for green energy

123 first-class backup

The Biz: Grit Comprised of four financial entities, the Global family of companies walks the tightrope of finance for steady success

142 a greener provider

A smart advising plan has First Affiliated keeping families stable during tough economic times

Green Thumbs

135 changing an Industry Canfor Pulp’s sustainable stewardship helps shift the perception that its industry is typically bad for the environment

Top Tips

146 How to Keep Your Employees Motivated Expert advice on engaging your workforce, with Doug Williamson of The Beacon Group

139 H.r. meets sustainability IAMGOLD’s Lisa Zangari helps build a solid team for her company’s corporate success

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TM

A t w o r k wit h ca n a d a ’ s b u s i n e s s l e a d e r s

Editorial

Art

Publishing

Advertising

editor-in-chief Christopher Howe

creative director Karin Bolliger

guerrero howe, llc Pedro Guerrero,

VP of sales Titus Dawson

President

titus@guerrerohowe.com

managing editor Kathy Kantorski

senior designer Ryan Duggan

Christopher Howe, CEO & Publisher

kathy@guerrerohowe.com

senior features editor Michael Danaher

krista@guerrerohowe.com

photo editor/ staff photographer Samantha Simmons

director of client services Stacy Kraft

michael@guerrerohowe.com

associate editor Sean Conner sconner@guerrerohowe.com

correspondents Matt Alderton Chris Allsop Kristina Anderson Erin Brereton Julie Edwards Christopher T. Freeburn Kelly Hayes Matthew Isaia Ashley T. Kjos Julie Knudson Kelli Lawrence Lindsey Howald Patton Mark Pechenik Seth Putnam Lisa Ryan Erin Sauder Julie Schaeffer Vincent J. Studebaker Stephanie Vozza Lynn Russo Whylly

VP of sales Krista Lane Williams

Research editorial research manager Ty Attiek editorial researchers Mike Baptist Shaan Haque Ashley Watkins Johanna Wiesbrock

www.guerrerohowe.com

Administrative controller Linda Wolf accounting assistant Mokena Trigueros hr generalist Diana Schneckenburger operations manager Adam Castillo executive assistants Ashley Bigg LeeAnne Hawley receptionist Samantha Childs

sales executives Emily Boyd Maggie Coleman Joey Diaz Logan Distefano Benjamin Fongers Elise Fox Brendan Healy Jessica Holmes Gianna Isaia Justin Joseph Jessica Jehorek Alex Kalpaxis Natalie Lopez Justine Lunzer Peter Michals Brittany Reidy Candice Stockstell Bobby Stone Jennifer Ublasi director of account management Cheyenne Eiswald account managers Rebekah Mayer Traci Saiz

Subscriptions For a free subscription, please visit advantagemagazine.ca/subscribe. Reprinting of articles is prohibited without permission of Guerrero Howe, LLC. Printed in South Korea. Follow us on Twitter @AdvantageCANADA. Reprints For reprint information, contact Stacy Kraft at 312.256.8460 or reprints@guerrerohowe.com. Office 205 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 3200, Chicago, IL 60601

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editor’s note

The c-suite is changing.

Photo: Samantha Simmons

In fact, Canadian business in general is in a transition, becoming a hub for new ambitions, fresh faces, and innovative ideas. And much of that change is due to the rise of women in the workplace, who are cropping up across the country. In 2011, 62.3 percent of Canadian women ages 15 and older were a part of the workforce, up from 42 percent in 1976 (Catalyst Research). So, because of this growth, this issue of Advantage takes a moment to honour

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some of the nation’s top women executives, and with October serving as Women’s History Month, we are pleased to take this opportunity to single out these professionals’ hard-earned success. In our special feature section, Welcome to the “SheSuite” (p. 60), you’ll see what it takes to make it to the top, regardless of industry or job type. Featuring young upstarts like Youzus and Cinnamon Toast New Media, the clothing company LIJA, and the legalities behind telecom behemoth TELUS, plus many others, you’ll find a wealth of business know-how, executive insights, and management styles worth sinking your teeth into. These stories, as well as the others featured in this section, are proof that the future of Canadian business is in good hands. Elsewhere, we’ll take you inside the Toronto International Film Festival’s new movie theatre, TIFF Bell Lightbox, which serves as the permanent home for some of the industry’s most sophisticated and elite films, and show you a cinema experience unlike any other in North America. In “Movies for Grown-ups” (p. 96), you’ll see how CEO Piers Handling’s academic background in film and his love for the movies have shaped his own professional prowess and aspirations, and how he plans to make TIFF Bell Lightbox a Canadian mainstay for years to come. And, as always, we’ll take you inside a swath of notable firms and organizations doing new and exciting things. From the strategic developments plotted out in Game Plan, to the inventive work atmospheres and technologies showcased in the The Innovators, to the personalities driving their companies forward in The Experts, this issue of Advantage is one to entice, excite, and enthrall. Enjoy!

Michael Danaher Senior Features Editor

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At work with Canada’s business leaders

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J U LY/A U G U S T/ S E P T E M B E R 2 0 12

JULY/AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2012

AT W O R K W I T H C A N A D A’ S B U S I N E S S L E A D E R S

AT WORK WITH CANADA’S BUSINESS LEADERS

What’s the Big Idea? + Law of the Land

For Mercatus Technologies Inc.’s Sylvain Perrier, it’s creating a unique company culture bent on revolutionizing the consumer experience p. 42

Learn what it takes to succeed as the legal arm of a company, from some of Canada’s top general counsel and legal experts p. 71

The Business of Big Adventure Africa On Safari shows Canadians a different kind of vacation p. 14

VOLUME 2, NO. 9

ROCK-STAR COVERAGE Shephard Ashmore > p. 24

ADV9_cov.indd 1

MOBILE MAKERS Xtreme Labs Inc. > p. 52

INSTRUMENTAL INNOVATIONS Yamaha Canada > p. 62 4/13/12 1:26 PM

P R I N T + D I G I TA L E D I T I O N S F I N D U S I N T H E A P P S T O R E O R AT A D VA N TA G E M A G A Z I N E . C A


a collection of products and resources that are shaking up the business frontier

Sky Scooter With a few quick adjustments, the Travel Scooter is ready to get you and your belongings to where you need to go.

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Grab Bag inside look Industry watch stat wall

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Grab bag

3.

1. 2.

4.

6.

5.

Travel Time The latest creations and conveniences for your next voyage

1. on-the-go power The Solio Classic2 battery pack, which captures and stores energy via a wall charger, USB port, or built-in solar panels, is a perfect tool for any devicewielding traveller. Solio Classic2 / $100 / solio.com

2. Pocket-size handiness Ideal for medicine, snacks, vitamins, change, and other small expenditures, the GoTubb can be opened and closed with one hand. Available in both small and medium sizes. GoTubb / $7.99–8.99 / humangear.com 10

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3. patella protection Hate getting jabbed in the legs by reclining airplane seats? The Knee Defender not only protects your knees but prevents the seat from reclining and pressing against your legs. Knee Defender / $18.95 / gadgetduck.com

4. extra security This new, multicoloured collection from Rimowa, made with ultra-lightweight polycarbonate, features waterresistant zippers, practical interior division, and innovative locks. Salsa Air / $475–595 / luggagepros.com

5. compact & compliant The carry-on Fill + Fly Bottles Set by Flight 001 includes two small and two large refillable, leak-proof, shatterresistant vacuum bottles packaged in a zip-top bag. Fill + Fly Bottles Set / $22 / flight001.com

6. keep on rollin’ Two simple moves and you’ve converted this micro Samsonite suitcase into a scooter. Glide past the crowds in the airport, and ensure you’re never late to your gate again. Travel Scooter / £249.99 / microscooter.org.uk advantagemagazine.ca


inside look

Paving the Way

by Julie Knudson

Imprint Plus’s Marla Kott shares her professional journey and insight With the Bank of Montreal’s 2012 Global Growth Award under her belt, Marla Kott has certainly proven that she knows a thing or two about what it takes to be a successful woman in today’s business world. With a laser focus on being the category leader in identification products, Kott has moved from product management at Imprint Plus into the company’s top spot. Claiming she can live for three weeks out of a single carryon (“I’m very proud of that!”), this feisty CEO now travels the world helping people connect names to faces. Here, Kott tells us about her passion to transform a sometimes-overlooked product into something special.

adding to the toolbox “In my 20s, I sold magazines door-to-door, and I was also a night manager at Shakey’s Pizza. I actually didn’t mind selling magazines, but I have to be honest—it wasn’t my biggest success. It was interesting, though. Every now and then, someone would talk to me, and that was really the success—if someone actually listened to you beyond just shutting the door. At Shakey’s, I was in more of a managerial position. I think at that age you’re building your skills, and each thing you do adds a skill to your toolbox.”

meeting the need “[Imprint Plus] started by wanting to cover the needs of both employers and employees. The employer would really want to buy our product because it met all the requirements they had, and our system would create badges simply and efficiently, and help to develop their brand. And employees would want to wear our name badges. They would be proud to wear something that they generally associate as a must-do, and instead it would be, ‘Wow, this is fun!’”

kott’s Favourites: Movie: Annie Hall Book: Anything by Ayn Rand Food: Chocolate (“There I’m pure female,” Kott says with a laugh.)

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carry the one “I started life as a certified accountant, and I definitely learned an enormous amount doing that. I know you’re not supposed to like accounting, but I really did. It was an interesting profession, because you get to see so many different businesses, some highly successful and others that have dipped and are trying to turn things around. I think accounting isn’t given its due, really. It’s a great profession for learning.”

The need to adapt “One of the first things we came out with was a badge with a magnetic backing. I think what happens is you look at what a product could be. You see where a new level of sophistication and simplicity could lead you. For us, a lot of it came from listening to customers. They would say to us, ‘What would be spectacular is if the name badge could do this or if it could do that.’ And through those conversations, you start to see what the potential of a product like this is.”

Mad for the tv show mad men “I was that woman. I was in accounting, and I was one of the only female partners. I think in the firm I was in at the time, there were 100 men and me. So I can definitely relate to what it’s like, being a woman in a world where you have the abilities and the intention and the qualities to be partnership material, and you’re the first. I think the hardest part is that people just didn’t know what to do with that.” advantage

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industry watch

Game On Julien Lavoie of ESAC explains Canada’s role in the booming and evolving industry of video games by Christopher T. Freeburn

The Canadian video-game industry has been growing rapidly in recent years, despite the economy. “We had a historical growth of 11 percent over the past two years and for the entire industry,” says Julien Lavoie, director of PR for the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC). “We are expecting 17 percent annual growth in the coming two years.” Canada is a major player in the global video-game market, with the third-largest video-game industry after the United States and Japan. “The US has about 32,000 employees, and we have 16,000, which makes us roughly half the size of the US industry,” Lavoie says. “So we are punching well above our weight in per-capita output for video games.” Most of the talent resides in or near Toronto, Montréal, and Vancouver, as the cities are already home to various creative industries, allowing them to tap existing reservoirs of talent. The industry also benefits from cultural and demographic changes. “Generations have now grown up with video games and are still playing video games in their 20s, 30s, and 40s,” Lavoie says. “Today, parents who played video games as children are introducing them to their own children.” The rise of smartphones and other mobile devices has only increased that trend, bringing games to people who hadn’t traditionally purchased them. This is changing the gaming demographic. “One of the fastest-growing segments of video-game users is women over the age of 55,” Lavoie says. “It’s spelling the death of the soap opera, but it’s creating brand-new audiences for games.”

Industry Milestones 1983 Distinctive Software is founded in Burnaby, BC, by Don Mattrick and Jeff Sember, creators of the bestselling Evolution

1991 Electronic Arts acquires Distinctive for $11 million and renames it EA Canada

1994 Entertainment Software Rating Board, a self-regulatory industry board, is formed to assign age-appropriate ratings to video games marketed in both the US and Canada

1995

Facts & Figures

59%

Percentage of Canadians who play video games

16k

Approximate number of people directly employed by the Canadian video-game industry

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Bioware is founded in Edmonton

33

Estimated financial contribution of the Canadian video-game industry to the national economy

Average age of a Canadian videogame player

438

$1.7b Number of videogame development companies operating in Canada

1997 Ubisoft opens its Montréal Studio

2004 EA launches its Montréal studio; ESAC is formed

2010 WB and THQ open studios in Montréal; Ubisoft opens Toronto Studio advantagemagazine.ca


stat wall

Women in Business A look at Canada’s female workforce

Professional Tiers

Earnings

Breaking down the percentage of women in each category

Average annual income for full-time employees

47.3%

Labour Force

$44,700

35.4%

Management Occupations

FP500* Senior Officers

Male

22.9%

Senior Management Occupations

$62,600

17.7%

Board Directors

18% of dual-earner wives are the family’s primary breadwinner

14.5%

FP500* Top Earners FP500* CEOs/Heads

Female

6.2%

Females’ Share of Degrees

5.8%

*Financial Post’s Rankings of the 500 biggest companies in Canada

61.5%

Global Comparison

Undergraduate

Percentage of boardrooms across the world with feminine input

16.1%

54.6% 12.7%

Master’s

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Brazil

USA

France

6.8%

44.2% Doctorate

4.3%

2.0%

2.0% UK

2.6%

12.5%

Canada

5.1%

5.4%

10.3%

3.6%

Women Board Chairs Women Board Members

Mexico

All sources: Catalyst Inc.

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the animators U

nless you work in animation, you may have never heard of Toon Boom. But if you’ve watched an episode of The Simpsons, you’ve seen the company’s technology at work. Founded in Montréal in 1994, Toon Boom develops software used to make animated movies, cartoons, and educational products— anything requiring animation. Once upon a time, animation was created by drawing thousands of images by hand. Now, that drudgery is largely handled by computer software. Toon Boom is the leading supplier to high-end animation studios, with its products in at least 90 percent of them, including powerhouses like Warner Bros., Fox, and Disney. Its software is also used to create about 80 percent of popular cartoons seen in North America, including shows like Family Guy, American Dad, and King of the Hill. The company has also won multiple awards, including the HSBC International Business Award and the 2005 Primetime Emmy Engineering Award. “At the high end, we very much act as the industry’s glue,” says CEO Joan Vogelesang. “If a studio needs to outsource work, they will call, and we can advise them which outsourcer can provide the quality of work they need.” When Vogelesang joined the company as COO in 1998, Toon Boom primarily supported Disney’s studios. “At the time, all of Disney’s direct-to-video releases were done with our technology, ” she says. Vogelesang developed a clear vision for Toon Boom’s growth. She knew the company had to maintain its foothold in the highly competitive Hollywood animation market through strong relationships with big studios. However, she also saw the opportunity for Toon Boom to expand its reach, both geographically and in terms of the type of animators

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“At the high end, we very much act as the industry’s glue.” —Joan Vogelesang, CEO

it supplied. “We needed to redesign the products, simplify them, so that we could have a multiple-product offering targeting smaller studios, individual animators, and hobbyists,” she says. The strategy required paring down Toon Boom’s software and redesign its user interface. The result was a diverse suite of products aimed at every level of the animation industry. With major software packages like Toon Boom Harmony, the company targets the industry’s leading TV and movie studios, as well as smaller studios, freelance animators, and hobbyists, with Toon Boom Animate

and Toon Boom Studio. The company also introduced a highly successfully Storyboard application, allowing artists to map out their video story lines and sequences via computer, instead of pencil and paper. More recently, the company unveiled its Flip-Boom Doodle app. The software’s easily navigable tools and templates allow casual users and even children to create their own animations. “The other decision we made at that time was to become net exporters, to focus on the international market,” Vogelesang says. By the late 1990s, Toon Boom already had operations in China and Taiwan, and was investing in India. Over the course of 16 years, Toon Boom has developed a presence in 122 countries, forging a successful method for building foreign markets. “Ultimately, what we do is find entrepreneurs who are willing to set up a working studio and attach a training facility to that studio,” Vogelesang explains. Experts are then brought in from other countries to train the local staff. “But to build the industry, you have to be willing to put 12–18 months into an investment, learning what’s happening on the ground and making sure you can find the right people to finance it, and the right people who can work in it.” The international market provides a significant opportunity for an exportdriven company like Toon Boom. “There are hundreds of TV stations in these countries looking for content,” Vogelesang says. However, in many places restrictions on foreign content exist. In Argentina, for instance, 60 percent of broadcast content needs to be local. “So, we can teach [TV stations] how to do it, we can sell them technology, and we can introduce them to partners,” Vogelesang says. “There are a lot of things we can do to help them, which then results in us doing business.” With a booming market for entertainment products worldwide, Toon Boom advantagemagazine.ca

Photo: Opitka Photo

There’s hardly any pencil and paper behind today’s greatest cartoon characters. Instead, the likes of Bart Simpson and Peter Griffin draw life from the computer software of international powerhouse Toon Boom Animation Inc. by christopher t. freeburn


off the map is currently enjoying the benefits of its international reach, growing by double digits annually. “Once you realize that you can have success in one region, there really is no compelling reason not to go into multiple regions,” Vogelesang says. The expansion has also protected Toon Boom from economic downturns in specific regions. Still, the industry is more resilient than most. “There is always a need for entertainment, and when the economy is bad, that’s when people really turn to entertainment, and really turn to animated, lighthearted entertainment,” Vogelesang says. Vogelesang came to Toon Boom almost by accident. After running a company in California in the mid-1990s, she wanted to return to Canada. Her resumé chanced its way into the hands of someone who knew that Toon Boom was looking for a candidate with international-business management and product-engineering experience. “I had this very strange background managing product design and development, as well as building out an international sales organization,” Vogelesang says. While she knew nothing about animation at the time, she was intrigued by the opportunity. “When you go from very large organizations to one you are trying to build into a mediumsized one, it is a totally different beast,” she says. “You get to find out if you can do it. There’s a lot of stress, but it’s good stress.” Toon Boom’s leading product has been updated and redesigned over the years, permitting the addition of new features like 3-D. And its breakthrough storyboard application allows animators to transfer animation planning from paper to computer. “You can have a completely paperless process that can get you feature-film quality, which is amazing,” Vogelesang says. “We have a 3-D storyboard that works very well, and we are going to continue to build on those products.” Keeping Toon Boom on a technically innovative course is a leadership issue. “There is always a tendency for people to be very comfortable doing what they are doing,” Vogelesang says. “We saw the reality with RIM and Nortel: when you become complacent and you are a development organization, you really lose the game.” She notes that leading companies often assume the marketplace will stay the same. “I spend a lot of time trying to emphasize that we have to reinvent, we have to change all the time,” she says. “Some leaders are keenly aware that you have to keep reinventing yourself, and some leaders are steady state leaders who don’t realize that you have to be advantagemagazine.ca

fast in your implementation and creativity.” Vogelesang falls into the former camp. In order to keep ahead of changing technology, Toon Boom keeps its fingers on the pulse of the industry. To aid this, it has consulting teams visit major studios and work with the animators to discover their needs and how they would like to see the products evolve. Recently, the company has turned to the education market. “We were sitting around discussing the difficulty of educating boys,” Vogelesang recalls. “And I said, ‘Well, they are bored.’” She felt that boys, especially minority boys in the United States, didn’t engage with traditional school curricula. If they could interact with the subject matter and create their own answers, that would change. “I can remember people on our board laughing at me, saying, ‘So you’re going to solve the educational problems in

teacher’s pet

the United States?’” Vogelesang says. But she would not be dissuaded. The company set about developing educational software to improve learning skills in the K–12 school market. The effort paid off. Toon Boom now has its products in 7,000 schools and is the focus of growing media attention. Vogelesang was recently interviewed by Larry King as part of a Discovery Channel special on education. Schools that use the company’s programs have seen significant grade improvements from minority students. “We plan on building the education sector so that once we have perfected it in North America, we can roll that out internationally,” Vogelesang says. With a global and innovative focus, Toon Boom looks likely to keep on top of the worldwide animation industry for years to come. _a

Bluffton Elementary.

Toon Boom in the classroom

The Lodge School. In keeping with Toon Boom’s expansion into educational software, the company partnered in March with the Lodge School Old Scholars Association in Barbados. Under terms of the partnership, the Lodge School will integrate animation training into the school’s curriculum in return for support from the company. Toon Boom sees the Caribbean as a potential centre for animation-industry growth. The Lodge School will use Toon Boom software applications to help train future animators and enhance student performance and scores in other areas of study.

bluffton elementary school. Located in South Carolina, Bluffton Elementary (pictured above) implements Toon Boom’s Flip-Boom Doodle software into the school’s core curriculum. The software’s easy-to-use templates allow for a more navigable and engaging experience, and help improve learning skills in grades K–12. Toon Boom now has its products in more than 7,000 schools. advantage

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rachel neild

Talking Points

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Professional travel agents vs. DIY agent work

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Evolution of the yoga retreat

What to expect on a retreat

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the experts

“I have learned about natural and man-made occurrences that affect the industry, such as hurricanes, volcanoes, civil unrest, airline bankruptcies— just a wealth of education!” Globe-trotting with Rachel Neild, owner of Think Travel Interview by Kelli Lawrence

T

he practice of yoga has become much more than a trendy form of exercise—or at least it has in Ottawa, according to Think Travel Ltd. founder Rachel Neild. For nearly a decade, Neild has melded her skills with the desire of local instructors to create “yoga retreats.” Here, Neild discusses the niche market in which she’s found great success.

Rachel Neild’s Career Milestones 2003 Officially opened Think Travel

2004

Advantage: First off, tell me a little about opening your own travel agency after 11 years of working through the ranks of another one.

Rachel Neild: When I hit my 30s, I had a good idea of how it worked to manage/ run an agency; however, I think my biggest fear was that my clientele wouldn’t want to come with me [from the other agency]. My self-confidence was lacking, and I thought they’d want to stay with an established agency. However, they did—every single one of them! Now I have more than 500 clients. advantagemagazine.ca

It’s amazing how if you network yourself properly and keep your clientele happy, they are so loyal and pass along many referrals and recommendations here in Ottawa. What brings people to your agency in an era where many try to be their own travel agent?

Many people who do that “once-in-alifetime trip,” or who take a holiday with a complex itinerary, simply prefer to have it handled professionally. Plus, it is definitely a no-margin-for-error kind of event you are

Achieved $1 million+ in total annual sales the first year

2005 Hired on three travel consultants as subcontractors

2008 Transitioned from storefront to a home-based location

2011 Hosted a weekly travel segment on local radio in Ottawa

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the experts

planning, so it just makes sense to get expert guidance and direction. On the contrary, people who need to know, at the end of the day, that they got the best price possible and are willing to spend hours of their own research and have the resources are definitely more likely to book on their own, and all the power to them. But there are enough people out there whose time is at a premium, who feel there is value in the service, and who prefer the security blanket of booking through a travel consultant. It is worth being taken care of. Let’s talk about your yoga retreats. How did those become a focal point for your agency?

I personally started practicing yoga for my overall well-being. Being at the yoga studios and meeting the students and instructors, I learned some instructors have been doing yoga retreats—taking a small group of students (no more than 15) and picking a fun, exotic location to do yoga. So I thought, how appropriate to arrange all the travel around it, and participated in a couple retreats myself. It’s a wonderful way to enjoy something you love with like-minded people. My first year, I got my first group on my own, and then, by word of mouth, it spread. What differentiates yoga retreats from other types of retreats?

Instead of staying at a mainstream commercial resort, which may be all-inclusive with 500-plus people, we’re handpicking spots. So there is a considerable amount of research required to find the perfect locales. The students usually have two yoga sessions per day, then have their own leisure- and downtime throughout the day, so you can go to the beach or participate in an excursion such as a waterfall hike, visit a local community, or just totally relax. A big part of it is the amazing food, unique experiences, and people you meet. You end up taking away wonderful memories and anticipate your next journey. How have the retreats evolved since you started booking them nine years ago?

Initially, I was not looking at the specialized, boutique resorts; we were sending them to the very commercial, all-inclusive resorts in Cuba or Mexico. With the hotel, we would arrange a schedule and area for them to practice their yoga. 18

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Rachel Neild, founder of Think Travel, centres her business on yoga retreats, which have helped her gain a wealth of knowledge within the travel industry.

Now I work with a few more remote hotels and destinations for yoga retreats, and try to give them repeat business; I like the service, the organic environment, and what they stand for. It’s a different experience from the mainstream resort. What have you learned about yourself since starting your business?

When I first went off on my own, it wasn’t because I was in the mind-set of an entrepreneurial businesswoman, per se—it was more so because I had a really great client base

and a good understanding of the market and the industry. I preferred a more personal approach to servicing my clients, and I longed for independence. Since then, I have become much more confident, business savvy, and more knowledgeable about world, airline, and travel economics. It’s expanded my horizons overall, and I have learned about natural and man-made occurrences that affect the industry, such as hurricanes, volcanoes, civil unrest, airline bankruptcies—just a wealth of education! _a advantagemagazine.ca


Malcolm stoffman

“We recognize the world is changing. While I am still a strong believer in brick-and-mortar buildings, going forward, it won’t be the same for this field.” Momentum Credit Union’s president and CEO, Malcolm Stoffman, explores the changing shape of the industry Interview by Julie Edwards

Talking Points

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Strength in numbers

Benefits of consolidation

D

efined as “the force gained by motion or by a series of events,” momentum is an apt name for a new business formed from two distinct, strong financial institutions with a combined 72-year history. Founded in 2010 by the amalgamation of Hamilton Community Credit Union and Twin Oak Credit Union, Momentum Credit Union Limited is forging a path in Ontario by tackling technology, staying true to its values, and developing strategic plans to attract a robust member base. We caught up with president and CEO Malcolm Stoffman to get Momentum’s game plan for growth.

The technology of banking

The next generation advantage

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the experts

Advantage: Tell us how two credit unions formed one.

Malcolm Stoffman: Over the past several years, the trend has been for credit unions to consolidate. Playing to this trend, the choice to form Momentum was a move made to take advantage of the strengths of two very successful, stable institutions. Hamilton Community Credit Union was very well capitalized. Twin Oak Credit Union had a successful sales culture and hearty membership. Together, the two create a bigger, better, stronger credit union. Why the trend toward consolidation?

The economic crisis left many credit unions in unfortunate financial situations due to unanticipated loan losses. As a result, regulators now watch processes and operations much

Malcolm Stoffman’s Career Milestones 2001 Moves to Hamilton, ON, and becomes manager of marketing and communications for Teachers Credit Union

2003 Chosen as one of five worldwide Young Professional Scholarship winners by the World Council of Credit Unions

2006 Named to board of directors of Credit Union Central of Ontario

2007 Recipient of the National Young Leaders award from the Credit Union Central of Canada

2008 Named to board of directors for Concentra Financial Services Association and Concentra Trust

2009 Graduates from the University of Leicester with an MA in Cooperative Management and Organizational Design for Credit Unions

2010 Leads the amalgamation of Twin Oak Credit Union and Hamilton Community Credit Union to create Momentum Credit Union Named to board of directors for Central 1 Credit Union

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“Credit unions need that next generation. By investing in technology, hiring younger people, and aligning our values with the values of the younger generation, we hope to be successful in our goal.” —Malcolm Stoffman, President & CEO

more carefully and closely. The regulatory environment—and the challenges that come along with it, due to more stringent regulations and reporting requirements—also has complicated operations. For example, we used to report our financials quarterly; now we report monthly as well as annually, so consolidation can aid credit unions in gaining efficiencies in the face of these new requirements. What challenges did you face with your consolidation?

Let’s just say 2011 was intense. The auditing and regulatory oversight issues were a major undertaking—we went through nine different audits in the first year. Before the crisis, credit unions weren’t used to losing money on loans, and, as a result, there is much more emphasis on capital and liquidity now. Tell me a little about your path to CEO of Momentum.

It was all hard work and good luck. My career started out in financial-services marketing in Toronto. My wife and I decided to move to Hamilton in 2001, to be closer to family, and I landed in the marketing department of a local credit union. From there, I worked my way up to my current role, where my main duties are overseeing the executive team and strategic planning process, managing board relationships, and working with regulators. I truly believe the credit union field offers a great number of opportunities for younger leaders, and I am fortunate to have benefited from these opportunities. What changes has Momentum made to its offerings since 2010?

Leveraging existing and new technologies was among the first and most important steps we took. First, we upgraded our core and online banking system to incorporate the latest leading-edge solutions. We began engaging with social media via a Facebook page and blog to keep members informed and

up-to-date on promotions and services. We also upgraded telephone banking and added mobile banking. Later this year, we will be adding more mobile banking applications, as well as SMS—or text—banking. Why all the investments in technology?

We recognize the world is changing. While I am still a strong believer in brick-andmortar buildings, going forward, it won’t be the same for this field. For us, branches will be smaller, as there is less need for members to engage personally with staff. Also, as two companies—with two different banking systems—formed one, we needed to engage the same technologies, systems, and processes to operate most efficiently. So what’s your next move?

Attracting new members. Our first focus will be on small business with up to 100 employees. We want to draw not only their dayto-day accounts but also assist them with lending needs. We also want to look at ways to attract a younger demographic—families and singles just starting out. Why young adults as a target?

Credit unions need that next generation. By investing in technology, hiring younger people, and aligning our values with the values of the younger generation, we hope to be successful in our goal. What are Momentum’s values?

Credit unions, in general, are not solely about profit. Though profit is important, we also are about looking out for our members’ best interests. As a result of our long history, Momentum knows our members well and has continued to provide good products, good services, and good advice. We’re very comfortable with our direction, and feel we are building a better, stronger credit union that will continue to serve our members well, now and into the future. _a advantagemagazine.ca


“If you ran the rest of your life the way you run your investment portfolio, you’d be a disaster.”

Photo: Kent Kallberg

Thinking outside the box—and banks—with Tom Bradley, president of Steadyhand Investment Funds Interview by Matt Alderton

F

or the average Joe, talking about stocks and bonds is like listening to a lecture on astrophysics or brain surgery—in Japanese. That is: incredibly boring and impossibly hard to follow. Unless, of course, the person talking is Tom Bradley, president and cofounder of Steadyhand Investment Funds Inc., a Vancouver-based investment firm that provides “no-load, high-conviction” mutual funds directly to individual investors. On the eve of his firm’s fifth birthday, Advantage spoke with Bradley, who writes a semimonthly column for the Globe and Mail, about his company’s origins and its simple, straightshooting approach to wealth management.

Advantage: Before Steadyhand, you were CEO of a large national firm, Phillips, Hager & North. Why did you strike out on your own?

Tom Bradley: Because they buy high and sell low, and—because they trade too much—investors tend to lag behind the funds they invest in. I felt very strongly that we could help people address that. Personally, it also was time to get down to something smaller where I could make a big decision quickly without having to go through committees and boards. A desire to get back to basics and keep things simple was a big motivator.

tom bradley

Talking Points

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What was it like starting a new investment firm in the middle of a financial crisis?

Being a start-up in a downturn

Competing with the big guys

We opened our doors in April 2007, which was probably the worst time to open an investment firm. When you start a business, there’s always a bit of a lag until you build some awareness. In the middle of that lag, for us, was the fall of 2008. As a businessman running a new company, it was very jolting and very tough. As an investor, however, it was one of the easier times I’ve faced. It was a double-edged sword. We weren’t signing up new clients because everybody was absolutely frozen. That was a downer. But on the other side, we established some great credibility because the opportunities in the market advantage

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TRUST

were so extreme and we gave our clients great advice.

It’s not just in our name it defines us.

So you literally provided a “steady hand.” Is that where you got your firm’s name?

Yes. The biggest thing we can do to make a difference for our clients is providing, in the literal sense, a “steady hand”—keeping their heads cool in euphoric times and not letting them get too down in tough times. Throughout our five years, I think we’ve really lived up to that. When times have been rocky and the markets have been down, we have virtually had no redemptions. Other reasons you’ve had no redemptions, it’s safe to say, are your prices— your base fees are 0.65 percent to 1.78 percent, compared to an industry average of 0.82 percent to 2.6 percent—and your culture, which is high touch, high communication, and high transparency. Where does your approach come from?

In Canada, the landscape is dominated by big institutions. When you’re competing against big behemoths, you have to be different. Our personality is something they can’t replicate. I remember Bob Hager, one of the founders at Phillips, Hager & North, saying to me, “The older I get, the more I want to keep it simple.” I’m not that old, but I have always had that tenet. We try to keep things as clean and simple as possible. It sounds corny, but our business practices emanate from how we want to be dealt with as consumers and investors ourselves.

Registered Pension Plans • Individual Pension Plans • Group RRSPs • Retirement Compensation Arrangements • Institutional Custody •

Between your column for the Globe and Mail and your company’s blog, you do a lot of writing. Why?

I think communication is really important. It’s unbelievable—the disconnect between how important money is to people’s lifestyles and how little they know about how it actually works. Communicating clearly and trying to boil things down to key issues helps us crack through all the noise. What’s the number-one thing you want to communicate to lay investors?

1.888.877.7748 cwt.marketing@cwt.ca www.cwt.ca

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®

I think we’ve gotten way off track in Canada, where the focus is all on “no volatility” and “no downside.” As a result, people are guaranteeing that they won’t make an adequate return. As much as we’ve all been beaten up and had a pretty tough few years, we have to say “enough already” with avoiding volatility. It’s incumbent on us as long-term investors to accept some volatility under the heading that we’ll make money in the long term.

Tom Bradley’s Career Milestones 1979 Graduates from the University of Manitoba with a bachelor of commerce degree

1983 Receives an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business, then starts his career as an equity analyst at Richardson Greenshields

1991 Joins Phillips, Hager & North as a research analyst and institutional portfolio manager

1998 Becomes COO of Phillips, Hager & North; A year later, he becomes CEO

2005 Resigns from Phillips, Hager & North

2007 Starts Steadyhand Investment Funds with Neil Jensen

That sounds like good life advice, too. What else can one learn from investing?

If you ran the rest of your life as you ran your investment portfolio, you’d be a disaster. I use the example of buying a car: If you’re in the locker room at the gym and a bunch of people say you should buy a Honda Accord, and you go out and buy one, I’m sure it would be a great car. As an investor, however, if everybody’s buying Facebook, it would probably be the absolute wrong thing to do because it would already be trading at a high price. What makes investing hard is that how we think about everything we do—whether as a consumer or a parent or whatever— doesn’t apply to investing. Investing is a little wackier, a little more unpredictable, and, as I like to say, a little more perverse. I’m not so sure you want to live like you invest. _a

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“Our name represents how we feel about what we do for our clients—being there for them in their time of need.” Finding the sunshine in tough times with Nancy McKenzie, president of Yellow Raincoat Benefit Consultants Interview by Lynn Russo Whylly

N nancy mckenzie

Talking Points

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Picking the right name

The values of trust and helping others

ancy McKenzie went into business for herself in 1983 because she wanted her reward to be commensurate with her effort. She has been a licensed insurance agent in the province of Alberta, specifically in the Calgary market, for 21 years. In 1983, McKenzie founded Yellow Raincoat Benefit Consultants, an independent insurance brokerage offering a range of individual and group benefits with a focus on small and mediumsized businesses (typically between 2 and 500 employees). For the majority of those years, she handled everything herself and built up a solid book of clients. That worked out fine until about six years ago, when McKenzie’s business grew to a point where she became stretched too thin and made the decision to hire her first full-time employee, Dana Nevison. Nevison was so efficient that McKenzie wondered how she ever got along without her. Today, the company has five full-time employees. We sat down with McKenzie to discuss the secret to running her own business in a highly competitive market. advantage

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Advantage: The name is very clever. Where did it come from?

Nancy McKenzie: I hired a graphic designer to help me with the name and logo, and to understand where I was coming from, she asked me several questions, such as “If your company was a colour, what colour would be it be?” and “If it was an inanimate object, what would be it be?” We came up with something that represents how we feel about what we do for our clients—being there for them in their time of need. We have an all-female team. It wasn’t intentional—it just happened that way. But because of that, we’re very maternal, and we go the extra mile to build long-term relationships with our clients. We get to know them really well, and I feel the logo and the name represent that.

“When a client leaves a company and goes to another one, they hire me [to do their benefits] at the new company, and then the person who fills their position at the former company stays with me, as well.” —Nancy McKenzie, President

Yes. Alberta is the oil-and-gas province of Canada, and most everyone who works here is related to this industry in some way. We have a lot of experience in this area. We’ve been doing it long enough that we speak the language and understand the issues, so that’s a competitive strength.

to another one, they hire me [to do their benefits] at the new company, and then the person who fills their position at the former company stays with me, as well. My lawyer recommends us. My accountant recommends us. I can trace 15 clients back to one client I got in 1991. We retain their business because I understand their concerns and because I know where they’re coming from. We do minimal advertising, but last year we grew more than 33 percent.

You generate all your business from referrals?

What is the most common question that your clients ask you?

When a client leaves a company and goes

They mainly ask, “Why should we do business with you?” I explain about being a small business myself and how we care about them and that we’re simply an extension of their company. We emphasize that we make our team available to them for support and service with exceptional response times and that we go the extra mile; we’re very detail-oriented. We also emphasize our level of confidentiality. They can tell us anything and know they can trust us. We have a client that got divorced, and both sides still work with us. When you can have a partnership dissolve bitterly and still have both those clients trust you, that’s a huge compliment.

And you specialize in the oil-and-gas industry?

Nancy McKenzie’s Career Milestones 1991 Receives insurance license

2002 Launches Yellow Raincoat

2005 Moves into current office location

2006 Hires first full-time employee

2012 Crosses a major revenue mark

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Is there a mentor or role model from your past that has made you who you are today?

My biggest influence was growing up in our

family business, Horton Donuts. I watched my parents struggle. They were open 24-7 and needed reliable staff to manage it. I started, at age 13, learning how to do payroll and bank deposits and inventory. In the 1980s, when interest rates shot up to 20 percent, my parents almost lost their business. I learned a lot from them. Today, I have a female client who I consider my mentor, and she is brutally honest in a kindhearted way. That’s good for me, and I’ve learned a lot from her. You are heavily involved in helping others. Tell me about that.

Our team of staff volunteer at the Calgary Drop-In Centre, and we are passionate about supporting charities in the city that work with victims of domestic violence, several of the shelters in the city that support women and children and families working to get back on their feet. We all get involved and try to help out as often as we can. Where do you see yourself and your company in five years?

Right now, I’m the only full-time salesperson, and I could see having a team of salespeople to help grow the business. Calgary has so much potential; I know we could accomplish some great growth with the right people. But I never see us getting too big. If we were 12 people, that would be double the size we are now—and that would be fantastic. _a advantagemagazine.ca


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We are pleased to congratulate Inter Pipeline Fund for its continued commitment to innovation and leadership in the energy sector. We are proud to be a part of your team and look forward to many more successful years together.

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Anita dusevic oliva

“There is the perception that a corporate counsel’s job is to say, ‘No, you can’t do that.’ But I’m about breaking this myth.” Talking change with Anita Dusevic Oliva, corporate counsel and corporate secretary of Inter Pipeline Fund Interview by Mark Pechenik

Talking Points

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From violin to law o ct / n o v / d e c 2012

Working in the oil sands

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f there is one constant theme in Anita Dusevic Oliva’s life, it is her acceptance—even eager embrace—of change. Perhaps we should expect no less from Dusevic Oliva, who has made the uncommon journey from classical violinist to corporate counsel for Inter Pipeline Fund, a leading Canadian energy infrastructure business. Advantage recently spoke with Dusevic Oliva about her life’s unique course. advantagemagazine.ca


the experts

“I strive to offer legal advice or solutions that help the company move forward—to make it possible for goals to be reached while following necessary legal requirements.” —Anita Dusevic Oliva, Corporate Counsel & Corporate Secretary

Advantage: How did you make the leap from classical violinist to corporate counselor?

Anita Dusevic Oliva: Many people assumed that I would follow in the footsteps of my sister, Tanya, who earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in flute performance at New York’s prestigious Juilliard School. For a time, I even travelled to New York on weekends, where I stayed with my sister while taking lessons with Juilliard faculty. But then I had the rare opportunity of performing for legendary violinist Issac Stern. It didn’t go well. I decided that was okay, however, and considered other options. I went to university and finished an undergraduate degree in English and German literature. I then applied to law schools to take a different career path. What led you into corporate law?

In my third year of law school, I did an internship with Anadarko Corporation, the Canadian subsidiary of a Houston, Texasbased oil-and-petroleum enterprise. There seemed to be a good balance of life and work within the firm’s corporate-counsel department. That and the fact that the job was in Calgary—a city that I loved—helped me choose corporate-counsel law. After graduation and following articles and a year as an associate at a law firm, I worked for Anadarko. After two years at Anadarko, I moved into my role at Inter Pipeline. What do you like best about your role at Inter Pipeline?

I serve as corporate counsel and corporate secretary to the firm’s executive board of directors. There is an authentic entrepreneurial spirit within the company. The bureaucracy is limited, so it is easier for good decisions to be made and action taken. If a legal document needs to be signed, it is simply a matter of walking down the hall and knocking on the advantagemagazine.ca

Anita Dusevic Oliva’s Career Milestones 2002 Articling student and associate at the Calgary office of Heenan Blaikie LLP

2004 Corporate counsel at Anadarko Canada Corporation

2006 Accepts position as corporate counsel and corporate secretary for Inter Pipeline Fund

CEO’s door to get his signature. As corporate secretary, I have direct access to senior management and the board of directors. I have the opportunity to advise—and also learn from—a very astute and experienced group of executives and directors. What is a typical day like for you?

One day I may be reviewing documents for the acquisition of a new business, and the next day I may be going over contracts for a new pipeline. My work is rarely the same, so it is always interesting and challenging—and that is how I like it. What is your legal philosophy in terms of your work at Inter Pipeline?

There is the perception that a corporate counsel’s job is to say, “No, you can’t do that.” But I’m about breaking this myth. I strive to offer legal advice or solutions that help the company move forward—to make it possible for goals to be reached while following necessary legal requirements. I understand that you see mentoring as essential to your success.

In order to build a great team, it is vital to help members achieve success. This can only be done through quality mentoring. I take the time to nurture my staff, to help them learn so they can do the best job possible. There is no question that mentoring has helped me grow professionally. I always hear questions from my staff that give me a different perspective and, from time to time, a new and better way of doing things. How has development of the Alberta oil sands affected both you and Inter Pipeline?

It has been huge—not just for Inter Pipeline but also the entire Calgary energy industry. Much of my work in this regard has focused on establishing contracts and agreements for Inter Pipeline’s oil-sands pipeline expansions and new facilities. It is vital that we keep on top of these developments, especially when it comes to accommodating increasing volumes of oil-sands products. What do you see as the future for Inter Pipeline, as well as for your own career?

The Alberta oil sands will continue having a major impact within our industry. It is an exciting time to be here. I’m really looking forward to Inter Pipeline’s continued growth in this environment and my role as an integral, contributing member of its management team. _a

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“People are looking to get much more involved in the decision-making process and to balance work and personal life, and that presents a challenge for HR. Companies have to adapt.“ Discussing the changing workforce with Louise Laforce of Colabor Group Interview by Stephanie Vozza

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ouise Laforce is a people person. And it’s a good thing. As corporate vice president of human resources and communications for food distributor and marketer Colabor Group Inc. for the past four years, Laforce oversees 1,700 employees company-wide. Responsible for talent management, merger integration, employee development, leadership development, compensation, labour relations, and health and safety, Laforce has seen Colabor grow from $400 million in annual sales to $1.4 billion through acquisitions. While some might think HR is a supporting role in an organization, Laforce knows better. She discusses how the human element plays an important role in a successful business strategy.

louise laforce

Talking Points

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Finding a career by coincidence o ct / n o v / d e c 2012

Managing 1,700 employees

Keeping up with the changing workforce advantagemagazine.ca


the experts

Advantage: What drew you to a career in HR?

Louise Laforce: It was a coincidence. I always knew I wanted to work with people, and thought psychology would be a good field. I studied clinical psychology at McGill University but found myself spending a lot of time studying the behaviours of rats. During the summer after my freshman year, I worked at a camp as a chief or head counsellor. My job was to be in charge of the other counsellors. I enjoyed the human-resource management piece of my job very much. When I returned to school, I gave up the rats for humans and studied organizational psychology and leadership. I was thrilled by the content. What was your first job in HR?

I started at Coleco Canada, the company that made the Cabbage Patch Dolls, where I was an HR advisor. My first role as HR director came at Mediacom Inc., a company

Louise Laforce’s Milestones 1983 Receives BA with honor from McGill University in organizational psychology Begins career as HR advisor for Coleco Canada Ltd.

1986 Joins Culinar Foods as national manager of compensation and benefits

1992 Joins Mediacom Inc. as director of HR development

1999 Earns MBA from the University of Sherbrooke

2000 Joins Rogers Communications as senior director of HR

2008 Joins Colabor Group as corporate VP of HR and communications; designs course on leadership and mobilization for second-year executive MBA students at the University of Sherbrooke (which she has been delivering annually ever since)

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that sells billboard advertising across the country. It was there that I realized I was missing out on some of the business conversations, such as marketing and finance. I decided to undertake my MBA and completed an executive MBA in three years at the University of Sherbrooke. What do you see as some of the essential characteristics of an HR director or HR department?

A good HR director needs to understand the business. I tell co-op students that when you are in HR, you are not a bystander. It’s your job to understand the business and add value. A good HR professional understands its company’s business and mission, its values, and the social fabric that makes up an organization’s DNA. Too often the HR department is seen as a peripheral function, but it’s really an important part of a company’s overall strategy. HR acts as an eye above and can provide a global picture of an organization. For that reason, HR directors need to deeply understand their company’s strategy, and design an HR strategy that aligns with the end goal. How do you maintain a large workforce of 1,700?

You have to be strategic and totally aligned with the business needs and key drivers. It’s important to do things like walk the floor, as well as have discussions with decision makers. You have meetings with leaders, and you visit divisions. You listen to what people have to say. You have to be able to understand the human factor and what motivates and drives people. You need to be able to recognize people’s needs and be sensitive to them. It takes a human touch. How do you stay on top of all of the trends in HR?

I network a lot with HR professionals but also with business professionals, and I read a lot. And each year, I give a course on leadership to MBA students at the University of Sherbrooke. The students are middle managers. I’m thrilled because it keeps me current on the latest developments. I see how leadership has evolved since I was an MBA student 13 years ago. How has the workforce changed during your 25-plus years of experience?

It used to be that people put career first

and would do whatever the company asked of them. That’s not necessarily true today. Home life has changed; men and women are sharing more responsibilities. They’re also not interested in sacrificing their interests for their jobs, either. People are looking to get much more involved in the decisionmaking process and to balance work and personal life, and that presents a challenge for HR. Companies have to adapt. We have to allow people flexible hours and an ability to work from home. It’s a challenge. What advice do you have to someone who is considering a career in HR?

Develop a strong business acumen, an understanding of business fundamentals. Embrace change management and develop your strategic competencies. Finally, the more you know yourself and the more you stay genuine to yourself, the more successful you will be. Don’t pretend to be something you are not. You will engage much more successfully if you stay true to who you are. _a

A message from desjardins financial security

Desjardins Financial Security, a subsidiary of Desjardins Group, the leading cooperative financial group in Canada, specializes in providing life and health insurance and retirement-savings products to individuals and groups. Every day, over five million Canadians rely on Desjardins Financial Security to ensure their financial security. Desjardins Financial Security employs nearly 3,700 people and administers $32.4 billion in assets from offices in several cities across the country, including Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, Québec, Lévis, Halifax, and St. John’s. A message from université de sherbrooke

Because each organization has its own culture and requirements, the Centre Laurent-Beaudoin of the Faculty of Administration designs, develops, and offers customized training in partnership with client organizations from private, public, and parapublic sectors. A message from lavery

At Lavery, we are fortunate to work regularly with Louise. We have always been impressed by her expertise, her great communication skills, and her leadership qualities. Louise is an asset to Colabor, and her inclusion in Advantage is another tangible proof of this.

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the experts

kelvin mangaroo

“Since our start, we’ve helped millions of people.” Giving power back to the consumer, with Kelvin Mangaroo, president of RateSupermarket.ca Interview by Mark Pechenik

Talking Points

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Starting from scratch

Empowering consumers

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hile searching for a home mortgage in Great Britain, Kelvin Mangaroo discovered what would become his winning business concept. “I saw all of these websites that allowed you to compare mortgage quotes and rates,” he says. “In effect, they gave consumers the power to select the best deal for them. I thought it would be great to bring this concept home to Canada, and RateSupermarket.ca was born.” Today, RateSupermarket.ca has become one of Canada’s leading online firms connecting consumers to multiple providers of insurance, mortgages, credit cards, loans, and financial services. Advantage caught up with Mangaroo about his formula for success and future plans for his firm. advantage

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Kelvin Mangaroo’s Executive Timeline 2001 Graduates from Wilfrid Laurier University Works as a channel marketing manager for Hewlett-Packard New Zealand

2003 Serves as account director for Tradedoubler UK

2006 Founds a vehicle security company, which later proves unsuccessful

2008 Starts RateSupermarket.ca

2010 RateSupermarket.ca reaches a milestone of helping one million Canadian consumers shop for personal-finance products

2012 RateSupermarket.ca expands mortgage, insurance, and credit-card product verticals to include banking, investing, and loans

Advantage: How did you acquire the resources for starting RateSupermarket. ca?

Kelvin Mangaroo: In 2006, I started a business while I was living in the United Kingdom, focusing on the auto industry. Unfortunately, my timing was off—the automobile industry and global economy went into crisis—and it failed. I used my last few dollars to start RateSupermarket.ca. I wrote a business plan, tested the market, and found investors. Fortunately, the Canadian economy wasn’t experiencing the same economic turmoil as the rest of the world when we launched, in 2008. How does RateSupermarket.ca work?

We demystify confusing personal finance products and enable Canadians to compare the market. Consumers can easily and quickly see how various financial institutions stack up against each other in terms of rate and product details. Afterwards, they choose the best offer, and we put them in touch with the provider. Why do these providers choose to work with you as opposed to similar websites?

Over the past four years, we’ve developed a huge online presence and have proven we can drive targeted, new customers to our partners. Our providers are among the best in their industries—banks, credit unions, and brokers. They participate with us because we provide one of the best platforms for getting their hottest rates and most competitive consumer offers to the public. Our reach and coverage strongly benefits their marketing and advertising goals. This is even more evident in our partnerships with Post Media and AOL. We can now be accessed through websites for such leading publications as the Financial Post and the Ottawa Citizen. If a provider isn’t on our site, they are missing out on a prime business opportunity. What are the advantages to consumers in going virtual with RateSupermarket. ca?

Convenience and accessibility are the two biggest reasons for comparing financial products online with RateSupermarket.ca. Within minutes, consumers can acquire the information they need—comparing different 32

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policies and offers from a large number of companies—to make an educated, informed decision about the financial product that is best suited for them. Even the application process is simple and fast. With just a few mouse clicks, many consumers can apply for products online and hear back from company representatives just as quickly. How do you ensure that consumers are, indeed, making the right financial product choice?

One way we help consumers, which also sets us apart from the competition, is our educational content. Through our website, it is possible to review articles, fact sheets, calculators, and other vital information that keep consumers up-to-date on the latest trends in personal finance. This provides them with the most current knowledge for making the best decisions possible among financial products. For example, through our RateAlert service, consumers can even be immediately alerted to interest-rate changes. How important is customer service to your business strategy?

It is vital. When dealing with people’s money, quality service is expected. We frequently follow up with consumers to see if they are satisfied with our service. Key to satisfaction is quick and efficient customer service. For instance, it is not uncommon for applicants to hear back within a minutes from provider representatives about financial products. Speaking of growth, where do you see RateSupermarket.ca heading within the next few years?

Our goal is to make RateSupermarket.ca into Canada’s leading money-saving brand for financial products. We’re doing this in many ways. Recently, we expanded our product lines to include banking, investing, and loans—a higher interest rate on your TFSA, or a lower rate on your debt. All help to realize savings. We’re also encouraging providers to increase their offerings of products that save customers money. And by increasing our educational content, we further empower consumers. Since our start, we’ve helped millions of people while realizing triple-digit growth in both website traffic and revenues. We’re looking forward to continuing this forward momentum in the years ahead. _a advantagemagazine.ca


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How Hudbay Minerals guides legal processes on two continents Five ways one legal eagle is helping keep far-flung mining operations connected and compliant By Christopher T. Freeburn

Photo: Brian Peters

Deliver anticorruption training to employees The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act requires companies doing business abroad to combat corrupt practices, even in foreign operations. Hudbay Minerals Inc. takes this responsibility seriously, providing instruction for all employees, in Canada and abroad, about unacceptable practices. “We want to make sure that everyone has the same values in all of our operations, regardless of the jurisdiction,” Donnelly says. In Peru, for instance, the company retained a lawyer to explain its anticorruption policy and applicable antibribery laws to workers in Spanish. “We prefer in-person training sessions,” Donnelly says. “In the past, companies sent policies around and said, ‘Everyone read this,’ but we want to be proactive and make sure our employees have actually learned and carry out the policy.”

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Hire local talent Hudbay operates on a decentralized business model, with individual business units operating in different countries and reporting back to its Toronto headquarters. In Peru, it has three local lawyers on its in-house legal team. “We’re comfortable giving them autonomy,” Donnelly says. Hudbay is currently negotiating contracts in Peru in advance of commencing construction at the site. “These are primarily local matters that are governed by Peruvian law,” Donnelly explains. “We don’t want to have the corporate office looking over the shoulders of our Peruvian colleagues when they have the expertise to handle things locally.”

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MEET PATRICK DONNELLY Coordinating legal oversight for a growing international mining firm means that Patrick Donnelly, vice president of legal and corporate secretary at Hudbay Minerals, must keep his eyes trained on multiple operations across the Americas. “Since I started at Hudbay, the company has been very oriented toward growth,” he explains. “Last year, we acquired an operation in Peru, and we opened exploration offices in Chile and Colombia, all of which helped to extend our global footprint.” With experience in private practice and at Tim Horton’s, Donnelly now manages the legal group of a hemisphere-spanning mining operation.

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Game Plan

“In the past, companies sent policies around and said, ‘Everyone read this,’ but we want to be proactive and make sure our employees have actually learned and carry out the policy.” —Patrick Donnelly, Vice President of Legal & Corporate Secretary

Promote regular communication With operations separated by time zones, languages, and cultures, Donnelly needs to keep a steady line of communication open between headquarters and its far-flung business units. “They function more or less independently,” he explains. “But we have calls with the legal teams every couple weeks to see what they are doing and to tell them what the company is doing at a corporate level. We want our operations abroad to remain involved at a strategic level.” Additionally, much of the company’s business requires international coordination. For example, the financing for the Peru mining operation is being assembled by lawyers in Manitoba, New York, and Peru.

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Don’t overreach The company recently sold a nickel project in Central America. The nickel operation didn’t fit in with the company’s focus on copper and zinc. “We had just acquired the project in Peru, and we started developing a new project in Manitoba,” Donnelly says. “They took up most of our current capacity to develop projects. We have a lot of technical expertise, but undertaking three development projects at the same time would have been a strain on our resources. The project Hudbay sold would also have required a huge capital commitment in a risky environment, so the company opted to realize value by selling it. Such a decision plays into the company’s strategy. “We don’t want to spread ourselves too thin,” Donnelly says.

Proactively manage risk “When the company was considering its strategy a couple of years ago, it wanted to grow outside of Manitoba,” Donnelly says. “So it concentrated on regions in the Americas that are politically stable, mining friendly, and safe places to invest money.” Moreover, Hudbay avoids locations with volatile or shaky governments, or places with regulatory environments too restrictive or hostile to mining. Given its overseas operations, the company risks fines and reputational damage if individual employees engage in local corruption. In order to deal with that danger, in addition to employee education, the company has implemented controls designed to prevent employees violating anticorruption rules. “You have to make it so that one person can’t go and write a cheque or buy a car all by himself and hand it over to someone,” Donnelly says. “We make sure our financial people know exactly where company money is going at all times.”

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A message from osler hoskin & harcourt

Hudbay is a Canadian and international success story. Osler is proud of its long association with Hudbay, and we are especially pleased to see our friend and alumnus Patrick Donnelly recognized for his commitment to excellence—both as a leader and as a lawyer.

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the innovators

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Susi Bolender’s motivation behind founding Preferred Interpreters was driven by wanting to help the deaf community thrive in an increasingly digital age.

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the innovators

A New Interpretation Preferred Interpreters bridges the communication gap between the deaf and hearing communities By Lisa Ryan

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ince founding Preferred Interpreters Inc. in 2004, Susi Bolender has emerged as one of Canada’s premiere advocates for the deaf community. With her Vancouver-based company, Bolender has bridged the communication gap between deaf and hearing people through the innovative use of technology and experience interpreters. “Deaf people make up a small population overall, but their needs are quite significant in terms of just accessing regular day-to-day services, because they can’t hear,” Bolender says. “I worked for other companies, and I found that they weren’t really taking consumer preference into consideration; they just would send interpreters first come, first serve. I wanted to make it more of a customized approach.” Through her services, Bolender allows deaf people to select which interpreter they would prefer to work with—“Often deaf people are disadvantaged because they don’t like the interpreter or their style of signing,” she says— and then book the time that they would like to have the interpretation done through media. The interpreters and the clients are then put into contact through the use of video chat, and the desired third party is connected via

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“Deaf people make up a small population overall, but their needs are quite significant in terms of just accessing regular day-to-day services.” —Susi Bolender, Founder

conference call, so the interpreter provides a three-way interpretation. “With the use of technology, we can connect remotely through whatever programs offer video services—Skype, for example, or even FaceTime on your iPhone—so accessibility dramatically increases,” Bolender says. “If you live in a remote northern area, you can now have access to an interpreter, whereas without it you would be stuck. Having that technology is a fantastic opportunity for people to connect more frequently with ease and access.” Preferred Interpreters, at its inception, was the first company in Canada to provide such advantage

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the innovators

a customized, technologically advanced approach. “Our industry in Canada is slow to change because it’s a newer field,” Bolender explains. “In terms of changing the industry nationally, I’m now able to provide interpreting services coast to coast, whereas previously it was more concentrated to British Columbia. I provide interpreting for parties through conference calling in Toronto, for example.” However, she points out, the Canadian interpretation industry is currently 10–15 years behind its American counterparts, primarily due to financial restrictions. Bolender has been working towards adding video relay interpreting—a faster, more convenient service that is commonplace in the American hearing field—as one of her company’s services but has found it to be an uphill battle. “Video relay interpreting is not something

“Through my work, I’m able to marry my passions for advocacy and entrepreneurship.” —Susi Bolender, Founder

that we have funding for at this time, but it’s definitely a future goal for Canadians because it’s already established in the US and has been for years,” Bolender says. “Unfortunately, that money and funding probably has to come from our government, but there seems to be so much red tape that it’s not accessible at this time.” Yet, despite the roadblocks, she is hopeful that she’ll be able to offer video relay services in the coming years. “I think that we’re getting there in terms of making the needs known to the powers that be, who hold the funding, or the funders, who maybe are interested in the project,” she says. But whether or not that comes to fruition anytime soon, Bolender hopes to be able to continue to offer Preferred Interpreters’ services to deaf people across the country. “The deaf community is quite oppressed, and through my work, I’m able to marry my passions for advocacy and entrepreneurship,” she says. “I really put all my motivation and energy and drive to expanding services so that people have more fair access.” _a 38

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5 questions with Susi Bolender 1. What does innovation mean to your company? It means listening to what people want and responding to that desire and need, rather than sticking with what works. 2. Is there a technology, trend, or idea that drives your company forward? Mac and the new programs they’ve come up with over the past few years—iPhones with FaceTime, in particular—are far and above other smartphones like BlackBerrys. 3. Where do you hope this innovation will lead you in the next five years? If we have the funding to get video relay interpreting off the ground, then a deaf person has truly equal access to the rest of the citizens in the

country. They can just pick up the phone and make a call, and that would be fantastic. 4. How do you believe that the notion of innovation has changed over the past decade in the business world? In the past, the ability to be innovative was squashed—if you had an idea, you passed it onto someone else. Now we’re encouraged to become small-business owners and entrepreneurial. 5. How do you believe a company can encourage innovation without breaking the bank? Trying to source out what services and programs are already existing rather than reinventing the wheel, so that the innovation is really building on someone else’s innovation.

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the innovators

In the Cloud Vancouver-based Vivonet‘s creativity fosters advancement in the POS restaurant business By Kristina Anderson

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hen technology meets need, it’s possible to create a brilliant yet simple product through innovation. That’s exactly what Ryan Volberg and Kevin Falk did when they founded a point-of-sale (POS) company called Vivonet Inc., serving a niche market in the restaurant industry. “This industry was ripe for innovation,” explains Volberg, who grew up steeped in the restaurant business and knows every facet of it —from dishwashing to owning and managing. For a while, he worked for a local restaurant POS company. He met Kevin Falk there in 1997, and in 1999, they took what they learned and decided to find a better solution for managing restaurants—one that could offer customers the same powerful systems that the best retailers in world enjoyed but at a fraction of the cost, by leveraging the Internet. As Volberg explains, while most restaurant owners typically excel at menu creation,

Ryan Volberg cofounded Vivonet so that the restaurant industry could benefit from a stronger consumer connection.

5 questions with Ryan Volberg 1. Is there a technology, trend, or idea that’s driving your company forward? The mobile and social web. Vivonet’s mobile applications allow consumers to order and pay for products from their mobile devices and integrate their product experiences into their social-media profiles. The idea is that we are extending the POS terminal into the hands of the consumers and that we view all products as social assets. This

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results in convenience for the consumer and, at the same time, creates more profits for the restaurant. 2. Where do you hope this innovation will lead you in the next 5 years? Continued growth of the company, and for us and our customers to remain relevant and exciting in an everchanging industry. 3. How has the notion of

innovation changed in the past decade? I think the pace of innovation is changing so much. Today, innovation is not an option; you have to innovate to survive. 4. How do you cultivate innovation among your workforce? Innovation is who we are. It’s a part of our corporate values. You have to be courageous explorers, hire the right, innovation-oriented people, and allow them in to work in an environment that is not afraid to fail, because often innovation is the result of many failed attempts.

5. What defines an innovative company in the 21st century? You have to be courageous. You have to be willing to think like a 12-year-old—by that, I mean being in touch with your inner child. You need to tune into the expectations of a generation that has never used a rotary phone and see the world through their eyes. In my generation, technology was complicated, but that has changed. Now, we are insulated from the complexity; the most successful companies are replacing complexity with elegance.

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the innovators

The Answer “I encourage people to take chances because, looking back, it is always the chances you took that dominate the highlight reel of your life. That’s what leads to innovation.” —Ryan Volberg, Partner

Yes

is

You can accept credit cards with embedded EMV chips. Choose Halo point of sale

cooking, and food service, they often have trouble with the technology side of running a restaurant. “We provide the terminals that are like the modern-day cash register, which of course has been around forever,” Volberg says. “But with our systems, we give customers the business power of an expensive infrastructure at a low cost. We help them manage their businesses, such as generating insightful reports that can show them what their best-selling menu items are or who their biggest-selling serving staff is.” Other benefits for customers include not having to worry about obsolescence, creditcard security, and viruses. Interestingly, operating in the cloud is far more secure for restaurant owners than having their own terminals on-site. “There’s actually been cases of burglaries where someone breaks into a restaurant and steals the entire terminal with all the credit-card numbers on it,” Volberg says. “You don’t have that worry working in the cloud. Our Tier I data centre, including a thirdparty certification, is built with a huge amount of security and fidelity. It’s significantly safer.” Most of Vivonet’s customers are a mix of independent restaurants, small chains, and large foods-service providers such as Sodexo, with 6,000 locations in North America. Vivonet’s clients are located in all 50 states and all provinces of Canada. For Vivonet, it works to keep the focus narrow for now. “We tend to focus on the part of the market that has not had cost-effective access to the technology they need to be competitive,” Volberg says. “The bigger chains have made that investment already. So we see it as the democratization of information, something advantagemagazine.ca

that levels the playing field, giving the small guy the same powerful business tools that the big guys have.” For instance, having the capability of printing a report showing your best selling items on Mother’s Day each year presents an informational advantage, helping business owners stay in the black. In fact, it’s something that Volberg believes could have helped his own family. Volberg’s dad owned a number of food-service and retail enterprises; however, he ended up losing the businesses, forcing him into bankruptcy. That experience had an effect on young Volberg, inspiring him to think of ways to be innovative in a highly competitive business. Volberg studied business administration and psychology at Simon Fraser University and computer-based information systems at the University of Victoria. “I saw how hard my family worked, and it wasn’t good enough,” Volberg says. “They didn’t understand where they made money and where they lost. Where are the profit leaks? I’m convinced that having access to information such as what we can make available now would have saved their business.” The lessons of diligence and perseverance had a profound effect on Volberg, and it’s something that he carries with him today. And it has paid off. For instance, after a rough beginning with their company’s product Halo, which Volberg says was years ahead of its time, it finally took off. Volberg’s keen sense of what the product needed to do, combined with Falk’s technology skills proved to be the perfect innovation partnership. “Our company’s success and popularity demonstrates that good things do happen out of bad,” he says. _a

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the innovators

“Innovation is where we really get to shine. It’s about thinking beyond what’s currently out there and finding new ways to build something better.” —Gary Eisenstein, president and founder.

Hitting Refresh Falcon-Software stays afloat in the turbulent tech seas by staying abreast of the latest trends and customer needs By Christopher T. Freeburn

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ary Eisenstein didn’t start out in the software business. Twenty years ago, he owned a wire-and-cable brokerage firm, West Coast Wire. In order to efficiently handle requests from customers, the company developed a software-based catalogue called CableSmart, which listed thousands of cabling products from dozens of different manufacturers. CableSmart proved so successful that after Eisenstein sold West Coast Wire, he decided to build a new business, Falcon-Software Company, Inc., around it. “I liked how the program worked, and it gave West Coast Wire such a big advantage,” he recalls. “I wanted to be able to sell it to other buyers of wire-cable products across North America.” The product was revolutionary in 1993. Soon, Falcon-Software received requests from cabling manufacturers to create electronic catalogues to showcase their products. “Eventually, the customized

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catalogues made more money than sales of CableSmart,” Eisenstein says. Gradually, Falcon transitioned away from CableSmart and more towards customized e-catalogue services, for such clients as Hitachi. “It seemed like overnight, but it was really more like a year’s process of shutting down CableSmart and going into a services-based model,” Eisenstein says. The process repeated itself when Falcon’s customers began requesting something new: custom development for the web. The result was Falcon’s first online catalogue. “We were in the right place at the right time,” Eisenstein says. “We were putting a little more thought into it, providing deep amounts of content to our customer’s clients.”   Web catalogue services naturally evolved, and Falcon began providing proprietary content management system (CMS) for its clientele. As CMS solutions grew in popularity, Falcon faced a choice. advantagemagazine.ca


the innovators

“We had to make a decision,” Eisenstein says. “Did we want to be a software company, or did we want to be a services company? It made more sense for us to shelve our proprietary CMS and invest in relationships with larger CMS vendors, which was the best decision I’ve made in years.” The move allowed Falcon to keep the sales constant, as Eisenstein was able to focus on deploying a vendor’s software and winning bids. In addition, the vendor partners were invested in seeing their products implemented, and they became an inadvertent sales force. Today, Falcon specializes in “.net” CMS solutions and has become proficient in delivering them. In order to add value for customers, Falcon doesn’t just deploy CMS, however—it also provides on-site and remote training for its clients. “We customize CMS systems so they can integrate with customer-relationship-management systems, enterprise-resource-planning systems, and shopping-cart systems offering a more complete e-business solution.” Adapting website content for viewing on different mobile devices is currently one of the Falcon’s leading services. And while the company remains headquartered in Victoria, British Columbia, it has offices in both Seattle, Washington, and Dallas, Texas. “When we were looking to open up other locations, we contacted our CMS vendor partners and asked them what areas were being underserviced,” Eisenstein says. “Those areas became our focus. There’s no use competing in a market like Boston that’s overrun by CMS integrators.” The company is currently considering opening additional locations in Toronto and Chicago. While others try to guess the future of technology, Eisenstein takes a different view. “I don’t play the prediction game,” he says. “My customers will always tell me where I need to be. I just have to make sure that I’m listening.” _a

A message from sitecore corporation

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5 questions with Gary Eisenstein 1. What does innovation mean at Falcon? Innovation is where we really get to shine. It’s about thinking beyond what’s currently out there and finding new ways to build something better. It also means opportunity—the opportunity to take something that’s being innovated and to put our own twist on it to help our customers. 2. Is there a technology, trend, or idea that’s driving your company forward? Mobile applications and social-media technology have definitely been the driving force for us over the last 24 months, but as far as new technologies, we are seeing a rise in web engagement management and website personalization as the future driving forces for Falcon-Software. 3. How do you cultivate innovation among your workforce? It’s almost not necessary. We have a talented group. A lot

of the time, I have to make sure I have provided enough time in my schedule to hear the ideas our team has come up with. The challenge is on my part, not theirs. 4. How can a company encourage innovation without breaking the bank? We make a conscious effort not to be that cutting edge. It’s a big risk. I take what’s already been innovated and improve on it. A lot of times, the first company out of the gate with new technology doesn’t make the most money. 5. How has the notion of innovation changed over the last decade? Organizations are finally starting to fully comprehend how innovation can be so important to the growth of their business. With that said, I’m still on occasion stumped by the number of companies out there that have yet to adopt the undisputable advantages of technology.

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the innovators

Left to right: CEO George Tomes, CTO Ron Guenther, and director of application development Kenneth Berry gather on Bayleaf’s Yaletown office rooftop patio.

On the Edge Bayleaf Software stays on top of rapidly changing technology by incorporating innovation on a daily basis By Ashley T. Kjos

Photos: Jaylene Photography

T

he introduction of new technologies into the marketplace and the speed at which technology is changing has never been faster than it is today. In this type of climate, the Vancouver-based tech company Bayleaf Software Inc. embraces innovation as a top priority to help it stay current and competitive. Innovation is a value that Bayleaf addresses on more than one level. “We don’t just focus on it during downtime or slow periods; it really is core,” says Ron Guenther, chief technology officer. “Innovation is something that is embedded in all the work we do.” Since 1993, Bayleaf has been using processes and technology to deliver solutions to its clients and to integrate those solutions into its clients’ business plans. Bayleaf ’s emphasis on constant innovation, strong client relationships, and developing a sustainable advantage

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has kept the company ahead of the changing technology curve. Today, Bayleaf is positioned to take on larger and more complex projects, such as the new e-commerce website for the British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA). “Ten years ago, technology changed every two years; now you hear about it in the mainstream news almost every day,” Guenther says. Recognizing the current pace of changing technology, Bayleaf puts a lot of effort into evaluating the latest changes and choosing which new technologies are right for it and its clients. “We are responsible for knowing what’s happening on the edge of innovation and deciding how best to apply that to what we are working on with our clients,” says CEO George Tomes. Communicating these possible solutions to its clients has helped foster strong, long-term relationships—another important aspect of Bayleaf ’s success. “Relationships are our business,” Tomes says. “Since advantage

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the beginning, the majority of our work is with return clients. We’re not big on marketing, and prefer to be farmers as opposed to hunters.” To this end, Bayleaf relies on strong communication and delivery processes to take an active role and grasp the client’s situation. “We need to understand what our clients do and how they do it,” says Kenneth Berry, the director of application development. By constantly refining processes and enlisting the latest technologies, Bayleaf has positioned itself to take on complex projects, including the aforementioned BCAA website. The project began when BCAA determined it wanted to use the Sitecore platform as its CMS (content management system). Bayleaf is a Sitecore implementation partner, and BCAA ultimately chose Bayleaf to head the project. “We had identified Sitecore as a very strong platform and, over the years, had developed an implementation expertise with Sitecore,” Berry says. “We were approached by the BCAA after its internal evaluation resulted in the selection of Sitecore as its desired CMS.” BCAA wanted to simplify the technology behind its website while also improving integration with internal systems. Building on the creative look and feel developed during an earlier design phase, Bayleaf took charge. “Complex integration points between the

website and internal systems were reorganized to streamline information flow,” Berry says. “Getting people to the buying point easier—that was the goal, whether it be for travel medical insurance or membership.” As with any large corporation, there were established internal systems at BCAA, and Bayleaf rose to the challenge by successfully integrating the new front-end web experience, seen on BCAA’s website, with the backend systems. “This is an example of what we’ve worked for,” Tomes says. “We used all of our experience to successfully deliver a large and complex project in a compressed timeline.” _a

A message from sitecore corporation

Bayleaf Software has been a Sitecore Certified Solution Partner for more than three years. The company’s 18 years of consulting success has been made possible by a commitment to its clients and the development of long-standing relationships. It gets to know your business, provides valued advice, and assists clients in meeting their business goals. Bayleaf has successfully implemented Sitecore solutions for British Columbia Automobile Association, the University of British Columbia, the Industry Training Authority, and Spartan Controls.

5 questions with George Tomes 1. What does innovation mean to Bayleaf? To us, innovation means improving on a daily basis. We look at our processes of delivery, and that’s where we’ve focused our efforts over the years. We’ve moved from smaller projects that were easily managed to more complex projects by improving the technology

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behind our delivery. 2. How does Bayleaf innovate on a day-to-day basis? We are always evaluating. We are not looking to make huge steps forward; we are looking to move forward regularly and rhythmically. 3. Is there a technology,

“We’re not big on marketing, and prefer to be farmers as opposed to hunters.” –George Tomes, CEO.

trend, or idea that’s driving your company forward? One idea would be communicating efficiently. This entails organizing ourselves from requirements gathering through to deployment, so our team can execute efficiently and effectively. 4. Where do you hope this innovation will lead you in the next 5 years? I hope to continue a positive relationship with all of our clients. I think that when you’re a service provider,

you have to be on the front of the curve, and you have to listen and react and give good advice to get good results. 5. How has the notion of innovation changed in the past decade? Ten years ago, it was about technical proficiency, using a better tool set. Today, it’s all about communication. It’s a given that you’re using efficient technologies; now you have to communicate that to your team, to the client, and to the market.

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the innovators

Internet Cowboys With the vast digital frontier still hardly tamed, Non-Linear Creations is bucking the web for companies in all industries By Kelli Lawrence

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hinking back to the state of the Internet in the mid-1990s is kind of like recalling the state of television some 50 years earlier: the more people knew about this innovative and exciting technological wonder, the more people wanted to know about it. And unlike TV, the technology behind the Internet allowed it to be manipulated and developed by the public relatively quickly. But it begs the question: how many people really knew what they were doing at the time? “An awful lot of developers were pouring into [the Internet], but there was no one you could talk to that could really explain why it was worth investing the money,” recalls Randy Woods. “So we were able to step in and fill that gap.” “We” refers to the partnership of Woods and Shannon Ryan that developed into an IT professional-services company known as Non-Linear Creations Inc. (NLC). The company helps organizations leverage technologies to produce different outcomes—a process that has evolved countless times since the company’s inception in 1995, but at its core remains remarkably unchanged.

5 questions with Shannon Ryan & Randy Woods 1. What does innovation mean to your company? RW: For us, innovation is about understanding the business drivers for the client, and inventing a new way of meeting those drivers. 2. Is there a technology, trend, or idea that’s driving your company forward?

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RW: At the end of the day, we’re driven forward by the potential of the Internet. That’s not one technology or trend; that’s about us living in a deeply networked world. 3. How has the notion of innovation changed in the past decade? SR: The single greatest

Partners in creation: CEO Shannon Ryan and president Randy Woods.

change I’ve seen is that innovation can now come from anywhere and anyone. What the Internet has taught us is that there’s no such thing as a monopoly on good ideas. 4. How do you cultivate innovation among your workforce? SR: We’ve tried to make everyone at NLC understand that if you can find a better way to do it, absolutely go for that way, and Randy and

I will be right behind you to embrace it. 5. How can a company encourage innovation without breaking the bank? SR: We call it open innovation application—the ability for people to contribute their ideas, have the collective wisdom of the crowd, vote on those ideas, and then have a existing process in place to flush out the validity of those ideas in a way that constantly keeps the organization moving forward.

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“What the Internet has taught us is that there’s no such thing as a monopoly on good ideas.” —Shannon Ryan, CEO

“It’s about selling more, connecting more, and communicating better from within,” says Ryan, CEO, of the company’s goals for its clients. “The challenge is not so much the technology itself but how you put it within an organization that makes sense.” With the National Gallery of Canada, Rogers, CIBC, and the National Wildlife Federation on its roster, it’s clear that NLC has developed a healthy, wide-ranging appeal for its services. What’s surely not as easy to see, though, is Ryan and Woods’s lack of technology background: Ryan spent his early years in software sales; Woods was an environmental lobbyist and consultant at the time that NLC was founded. But what they lacked in experience they more than made up for by surrounding themselves with what Woods calls “some unbelievable talent.” This gave way to full-fledged innovative team by the turn of the century, which was necessary to keep up with the rapid growth of the Internet. “One person just couldn’t do all that,” says Woods, who serves as president. Growth allowed Ryan to work more on his business rather than in it—creating an environment that strongly emphasized idea ownership and initiative. Such a strategy keeps NLC on the cutting edge despite an ever-quickening Internet pulse. “The pace of innovation around, not only the external side [of what we do], but how it affects literally all of us on the planet—it’s a frightening concept when you think about it,” Ryan says. “But it’s a good thing—it just means it’s getting bigger and better and more exciting.” In many cases, the Internet’s also getting a lot more affordable; what used to cost an organization three-quarters of a million dollars could now run as little as $30 advantagemagazine.ca

thousand. However, more often than not, a company’s decision to take an innovative risk is only partly about the money. “[For example], government clients just aren’t going to swing for the fences,” Woods says. “In most cases, it comes down to the culture of the organization rather than the vertical they’re in.” The ability to share information online is now key for many of NLC’s clients, and a couple different tools are cited for fostering that ability. Microsoft SharePoint transforms communications within a company’s firewalls, while digital-marketing platforms turn public publishing platforms into true business vehicles. It’s a far cry from a few years ago, Woods notes, when “everyone and their brother” claimed to strategize via social media but had little value to show for it. NLC, on the other hand, takes pride in being much more than a strategy group. “We are where the rubber meets the road,” Woods says. “Whatever we’re suggesting to you, it better be doable in the real world, because you might be asking us to make it happen.” _a

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the innovators

Breaking Equity Barriers Kensington Capital Partners launches a new fund that brings highminded investment strategies to the lay investor By Stephanie Vozza

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rivate equity investment was once an option only for those select few who could both meet the very high minimum threshold and commit millions of dollars to a single investment. Kensington Capital Partners Limited has changed that. Founded in 1996, the Toronto investment firm has launched the Kensington Global Private Equity Fund, which offers the broader public a chance to purchase shares in a diversified portfolio of hard-to-access private equity funds and to direct investments in private companies. “Most who invest in private equity are forced to lock in for at least 10 years, with a minimum investment of $5 million,” says managing director Rick Nathan. “These are complex investment structures designed for large pension programs.” Kensington capitalized on a gap in the market. Many consumers were frustrated with their investment options, relying primarily on stocks and bonds. “The stock market has been trading sideways for the past 10 years, and bonds are paying historically low rates of return,” Nathan says. “Individual investors and smaller institutions couldn’t tap into high-return alternative opportunities. So we developed a strategy to package alternative asset classes with no minimum investment, making an out-of-reach opportunity easy to access for those investors. It was exactly the answer they were looking for.” Launched in 2007, the Kensington Global Private Equity Fund operates more like a mutual fund. Investors put in money up front, and they receive a valuation twice a month. Risk is reduced because the fund holds private equity funds as well as direct investments in private companies. The fund also has a very active management approach. Nathan says that the typical privateequity investor spends time reviewing choices before making a selection, but then usually puts the investment in a drawer and reads the quarterly reports. “That’s not our approach,” Nathan says. “While we do our up-front homework, once we make the investment, it’s the beginning of our business relationship.” “We become an active investing partner focused on building strong relationships,” adds managing director Tom Kennedy. “Through this approach,

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“Most people are unable to invest in alternative assets like private equity because of traditional structural barriers. We remove those barriers.” —Rick Nathan, managing director.

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we have learned about new opportunities and directly developed assets that are higher performing than other models we’ve seen.” For example, Kensington invested in TriWest Capital Partners, a Canadian buyout fund, based on its long history. “We’ve spent lots of time working with the TriWest team,” Kennedy says. “Subsequent to our first investment in their fund, we have made two further investments directly into companies alongside TriWest in our portfolio. We ‘cherry pick’ the opportunities we like best.” To add diversification to its product mix, Kensington also manages hedge funds and infrastructure investments. “Private equity is time intensive,” Kennedy says. “The addition of investing in other types of funds allows diversification and better risk management. Our move into infrastructure was prompted by the long stream of investment opportunities we’ve been seeing for the past several years. These assets are cash-flow generative, inflation protected, and it’s a stabilizer for us because it’s less volatile.” “We’ve been innovative in our infrastructure

and hedge funds, as well,” adds managing director John Matovich. “While there are other hedge-fund products that target individual investors, most infrastructure funds target only the institutional market. We’ve learned through discussions with investors that they’d like to focus on all three areas: private equity, hedge, and infrastructure.” Such a strategy is unique among fund managers, who primarily focus on growing their base of assets. Kensington, by contrast, focuses on generating the highest performance from its investments. “We’re in the business of wealth creation,” Nathan says. _a

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5 questions with Rick Nathan 1. What does innovation mean to your company? Kensington is an innovator in our investment strategy and in creating new investment products for our investors. Most people are unable to invest in alternative assets like private equity because of traditional structural barriers. We remove those barriers to provide everyone with the opportunity to participate in these strong performers. 2. How has the notion of innovation changed in the past decade? Since the market collapse and recession of 2008/09, the need to innovate has become urgent, as everyone questions the traditional approaches to investing. This trend is accelerating, as the old ways just don’t work anymore.

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3. How do you cultivate innovation among your workforce? By recruiting highly intelligent and creative professionals, and challenging them to think differently about our markets, our funds, and our investments.   4. What defines an innovative company in the 21st century? An innovative company must be constantly challenging its industry, its people, and itself, with a continuous flow of new ideas and new solutions for its customers and partners.   5. How can a company encourage innovation without breaking the bank? By having the best people and providing them with a collaborative and creative environment that encourages new ideas and that rewards success. It really is about people, not expensive gadgets.

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COO Gillian Holcroft in the company’s Technology Demonstration Facility in Montréal.

Torch Song Plasma-torch manufacturer PyroGenesis has evolved to meet the opportunities in new markets By Chris Allsop

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ouldn’t it be easier if we could take all our waste and hurl it into the sun? Just burn up all the potential landfill and pollutants that would otherwise leak into the water table? Well, until technology makes this Futurama-esque proposal cheaper and a lot more feasible, the world has PyroGenesis Canada Inc. and its plasma waste-to-energy systems. PyroGenesis was founded in 1992, and began life as a plasma-torch manufacturer. Plasma is the fourth state of matter, occurring when molecules are heated to such an extent that they become an ionized gas. Everyday examples of plasma include the sun and lightning. Heating the core of a PyroGenesis plasma torch to such a state— which gets as hot as 10,000 degrees Celsius—requires tremendous amounts of energy, but the company uses no fossil fuels, instead relying on electricity and gas.

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In the late 1990s, PyroGenesis teamed up with the US military to use its plasma technology to destroy hazardous waste (previously, the company’s torches were employed for advanced material development and thermal coating). PyroGenesis decided to expand its remit from manufacturer to engineering company, and worked closely alongside the US Navy for 10 years to develop a plasma waste-disposal system that would be compact enough for installation aboard aircraft carriers. At the same time, PyroGenesis was developing plasma technology for land-based use. The systems were designed so that they could be energy efficient and run at the lowest possible cost. Following 15 years of development and assistance from Canadian government research investment, PyroGenesis sold its first land-based plasma waste-toenergy system to the University of Athens in early 2000, installed a two-tonne-per-day unit in Montréal three years later, and in 2008 sold a 10-tonne-per-day commercial version to the US Air Force. advantagemagazine.ca


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Plasma is superior when compared to other waste-management systems, as it can handle any kind of waste. “Landfill as a method for waste disposal brings with it the whole legacy issue, with the potential liability of pollutants draining into the water table [and] greenhouse-gas emissions from the decomposition of the waste,” says Gillian Holcroft, COO. “Compare plasma to incineration, and plasma can take hazardous and nonhazardous waste, and doesn’t generate harmful by-products. Although incineration is cleaner than it used to be, you’re still left with waste at the end in the form of fly ash and bottom ash.” An incinerator, which acts like a large fireplace, is another common form of waste management, but again it is inferior to plasma technologies. Incinerators are only 25 percent energy efficient, whereas plasma is 40–45 percent efficient through gasification using an internal-combustion engine. “It’s just a cleaner, more efficient technology,” Holcroft says. As such, there’s huge market potential for plasma. Such systems could provide a more decentralized approach to waste management since they are efficient at a smaller scale, with 100-tonne-per-day systems able to treat waste for around 16,000 homes. That’s a reduction in the energy bill of about 15 percent. Holcroft admits that the capital and operating costs of a plasma system are comparable to incineration. However, plasma’s added benefits—notably that it creates more electricity to sell back to the grid and provides recovered slag that can be sold as a construction material or as metal to a recycler—help it surpass the competition. “For now, people want to see more plants in operation and see the technology work as advertised,” Holcroft says. “And we have an advantage in that we have a reference plant working at a US air base.” PyroGenesis’s evolution as a company provides another key advantage. The company advantagemagazine.ca

“Landfill as a method for waste disposal brings with it the whole legacy issue, with the potential liability of pollutants draining into the water table [and] greenhousegas emissions from the decomposition of the waste. Compare plasma to incineration, and plasma can take hazardous and nonhazardous waste, and doesn’t generate harmful byproducts.” —Gillian Holcroft, COO

offers a complete package, with the ability to develop, design, and manufacture plasma systems entirely on its own. Since the company has been working on developing smaller systems for ships, it also has a lead in creating small-scale systems. “Making something work on a small scale is not as technically obvious and economically viable as making something work at a larger scale,” Holcroft says. “Because we’ve been successful in this, our target market in the short to medium term is for the

100-tonne-per-day and smaller systems: hospitals, airports, smaller communities, marine vessels, and military bases. But our technology is very scalable, so we will eventually scale up to address larger requirements.” PyroGenesis went public in 2011, and has just recently completed a new patent for a system that can even destroy refrigerants. All in all, the company’s results are worth tracking—and far better than hurling refrigerators into the sun. _a advantage

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The Municipality Muse Using its clients as a source of inspiration, Vadim Software has created products that help automate and simplify operations for municipalities in Canada and the United States By Erin Brereton

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Vadim’s Mobile Building Inspections software eliminates the need for building inspectors to carry heaps of documents, and reduces their workload by requiring information to be entered only once.

“Our software enables local citizens and employees to do things online, so they don’t have to go stand in line at a counter to get a copy of their tax bill or pay a parking ticket,” Jarvis says. These customers act as a key source of creative inspiration for Vadim. In 2003, the company began distributing its software suite via a hosting environment—an idea that came from a client request—in addition to a server-based system. The hosting system makes it easier for remote customers to access the software and receive updates. “A specific client had the need [for a hosting environment], but not the IT resources,” Anderson says. “We accommodated them through a provider in their region and expanded the offering from that point on.” Vadim’s product line isn’t the only thing that’s grown. Before expanding, in 2001, Vadim serviced roughly 70 customers primarily

located in British Columbia. Today, the company’s client base includes more than 260 customers in Canada and the United States. “Anytime you’re writing municipality software that works with laws and regulations in a region and you move to another region, that’s a big deal,” says COO Ron Begg. “It’s completely different.” To help assess customer satisfaction, Vadim performs an annual independent third-party survey of its clients, who are also contacted throughout the year by Vadim account managers and executives. Vadim also hosts four client conferences a year, which feature guest speakers and client presentations that highlight Vadim’s software products’ most innovative features—such as the customization capabilities of Vadim’s popular property-tax and utility-billing solution. As the market evolves, Vadim, which was advantagemagazine.ca

Photo: Darryl Malcaba

ince its start more than 35 years ago, Vadim Software has made numerous enhancements to its municipal, financial, and utility-management products. However, the company has kept one thing the same: its first client, the District of Summerland in British Columbia, which Vadim signed in 1975. The company, which was one of the first to offer integrated accounting solutions for local governments, places a strong focus on both client needs and creativity. Vadim’s dedication to customer service has, in fact, helped fuel its product innovation. In response to the needs of its local government clients, Vadim has developed software solutions that help municipalities budget, handle accounts-payable operations, allow citizens to view and pay utility bills, track businesslicense status, and more. “We have, front and centre, focused on our clients’ success,” says Wendy Jarvis, Vadim’s general manager. “We value long-term relationships, which is proven by our high customer retention rate.” Vadim has been successful in part to its concentrated client base. Since opening its doors, the company has catered to the municipal sector. Yet crafting unique and innovative local-government software with multiple functions involves some specific challenges. “A municipal payroll module has to be different than what a standard business would have, and they also need custom-revenue applications, such as taxes and ticketing,” says Vadim’s director of sales, Wayne Anderson. “It’s an accountsreceivable module, expanded times 10.” Vadim’s software integration is one of the company’s biggest selling points. Customers can purchase a solution from one vendor that provides everything from core financial software to the ability to access property taxes online.


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purchased in 2001 by technology provider StarDyne Technologies Inc., plans to create and incorporate new functionalities into its software solutions to keep up with changing customer needs. “We keep building the product out,” Begg says. “Each technological revolution is a big deal to our clients.” The company also plans to enhance its mobile-technology applications, eventually allowing building inspectors to access GPS and other functionalities when working in the field. Vadim would also like to add increased integration in its modules for citizen-engagement services so that residents can access business directories and event details—another idea sparked by client input. “Like everybody else, municipalities are

being asked to do more with smaller budgets,” Jarvis says. “If we can provide software and services that give them efficiency or reduce the number of people coming in to ask about their tax bill, the tool can give municipal staff the time to do things that are more valuable to the organization.” _a

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5 questions with Ron Begg & Wendy Jarvis 1. How do you innovate on a day-to-day basis? WJ: We’ve got some really bright lights in our organization, both on the client-facing side and in the research-and-development environment. I love it when you can see the ideas click and grow. 2. Where do you hope this innovation will lead you in the next 5 years? RB: Technology just for the sake of technology isn’t what Vadim does. Our products go a long way to make organizations much more efficient and reduce the effort required to get the job done. 3. How has the notion of innovation changed in the past decade? WJ: Our clients’ expectations have accelerated. If you have a web page that’s not updated every couple of

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days, people get bored. We have a desire as a society for things that are new and fresh. 4. What defines an innovative company in the 21st century? WJ: Recognizing that the status quo isn’t good enough, even if it’s really, really good right now. Tomorrow, what you’re doing today is going to be outdated. RB: You can’t be complacent. You see the most opportunities with vendors who have become complacent either not taking the product forward or ignoring the market we focus on. 5. How can a company encourage innovation without breaking the bank? WJ: Get rid of the mind-set that innovation costs money. Some of the best ideas we’ve had have been inexpensive but have been perceived erroneously as roadblocks and really were not that big of a change.

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A New Status Quo in Risk Management Since its inception, The Mitchell & Abbott Group has found success in unexplored areas of the insurance market By Julie Knudson

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ack in the late 1980s, the Mitchell & Abbott Group Insurance Brokers Limited looked at the senior insurance market and realized it was a niche waiting to be found. “Seniors don’t usually have kids jumping around in the back seat of the car distracting them, they don’t have occasional drivers driving their vehicles very often, and they don’t put a lot of miles on their cars,” says the firm’s vice president of operations, Tom Graves, CIP, CCIB. The conventional wisdom had labeled seniors as a normal segment of the general population of the insurance world. It’s this notion that Mitchell & Abbott rejected, which put the company on the leading edge of an enormous trend. “Now everybody has a seniors program, it seems,” Graves says. Following its discovery of the senior market, Mitchell & Abbott has continued to move the insurance industry forward by looking at the existing landscape with new eyes. In the mid1960s, Wayne Abbott identified a need within the restaurant industry, calling for a brokerage with the expertise to stretch from advising the corporate team back at headquarters to providing coverage for franchisees at locations across the country. Tim Hortons was the first to participate in Mitchell & Abbott’s comprehensive new franchise program, and it remains

5 questions with Tom Graves 1. What does innovation mean to your company? We’ve always been proud of the fact that we have been transactional with our insurance companies, long before anyone else thought of going to insurance-company portals. We have been technically cutting edge for a very long time when it comes to communicating.

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2. Is there a technology, trend, or idea that’s driving your company forward? I think we’re very service-oriented. The customer’s always first here. Our 800 number is working between nine and five every day, but after five o’clock, if you hit the general mailbox, you can still be attached to my cell phone, even if it’s two in the morning.

“Innovation, to me, is staying on the cutting edge of your industry, but also not being afraid to look at anything new.” —Tom Graves, vice president of operations.

3. How do you innovate on a day-to-day basis? We expect our brokers to think on their own, and if there’s a way to solve a problem, we look for it. We review every renewal that goes out of this office, and our retention is excellent. It’s over 90 percent. 4. How has the notion of innovation changed in the past decade? Obviously it has a lot to do with information technology as social media. For example, right now we’re looking at establishing a

Facebook presence. We already use paid search engines. We try and look for things that will keep us in front of the public. 5. What defines an innovative company in the 21st century? Innovation, to me, is staying on the cutting edge of your industry needs, but also not being afraid to look at anything new. We’re still very hands-on with our customers. It’s that consistency of knowing who you’re going to be talking to— that’s a big comfort to people.

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a cornerstone of the brokerage’s success. “It is our largest account,” Graves says. “We do everything from the stores to the auto fleet to the children’s camps and foundation—and all the liabilities in between.” Other restaurant chains, such as Wendy’s, also participate in the program. And along with adding an employee-benefits department and other innovations, Mitchell & Abbott has a growing list of out-of-the-box accomplishments. In one area, Mitchell & Abbott is proving that customer-focused change is still the key to moving forward, rather than reducing service and satisfaction to mere dollars. “We do a whole bunch of things for seniors besides just writing their insurance,” Graves says. He and his team regularly speak to groups at retiree association meetings, giving Mitchell & Abbott the chance to not only be recognized within the market, but also the opportunity to continue learning what its customers need. And the brokerage is known for helping clients no matter what. “We’re on the phone a lot with people who we don’t even insure,” Graves says. “They’re just trying to pick our brains so they can avoid insurance nightmares.” With agents increasingly moving to a cheaper, call-centre approach, Mitchell & Abbot’s have realized that, despite costs, its commitment to old-fashioned customer service is simply the right way to do business. “We encourage our clients, if they have a question, to call us instead of the insurance company,” Graves says. “We are your broker, and we’re the ones you pay a commission to—to help you in the world of insurance.” Providing that kind of one-on-one support has dropped off the radar in today’s e-mailsaturated world. “I think it’s an innovation that’s been lost, and we hold onto that dearly,” Graves says. With customer service as a primary driver, it isn’t hard to encourage innovation within the Mitchell & Abbott organization. Orphan files—where clients may have their auto policy through one brokerage and their home through another—are one example that Graves says gives his brokers the opportunity to help customers save money while building the firm’s book of business. “I think we’re at 80 percent of multipackaging for all of our clients,” he says. And instead of just sending out automatic renewals, Mitchell & Abbott contacts each client directly. This hands-on approach continues to provide the firm with a solid bottom line, and Graves says that Mitchell & Abbott’s satisfied customers frequently offer his team the highest compliment of all: “We get a lot of business from referrals.” _a advantagemagazine.ca

CONGRATULATIONS TO WAYNE AND JOHN AND EVERYONE AT THE MITCHELL & ABBOTT GROUP!

Source Cable & Security has been a long time business partner of Mitchell & Abbott providing them with a number of reliable and cost-effective business services including Internet (via fiber), telephone service and a "state-of-the-art" telephone system. We wish them continued success and we invite other businesses to call us at: 905 574-6464 when considering their communication needs.

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905 574-6464 WWW.SOURCECABLE.CA The Standard Life Assurance Company of Canada o ct / n o vLife / d e c 2012 57 April 2012 advantage ©2012 Standard


How Helene Messier brings in the best talent The senior VP of HR at Birks & Mayors showcases her expertise in building a solid team By Lynn Russo Whylly

Be cutting-edge When Birks & Mayor Inc.’s then–president and CEO Thomas A. Andruskevich hired Helene Messier, he wanted to raise HR to a more strategic level. However, he didn’t have any specific goals or tasks in mind, and simply said, “Build everything.” When Messier began, all the HR programs were in place, but they weren’t very competitive, and she set out to restructure the department from the ground up. “[Today], the benefits are now more leading-edge,” Messier says. “We have recognition programs in place, including a service-award program for our own corporate sales division, which Birks sells as part of its corporate gift-and-recognition program, and we also use it ourselves. We built a new performance management and compensation strategy with a variable structure. And we launched Birks & Mayors University, where we believe in hiring the attitude and teaching the rest.”

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Be hands-on To keep the company one step ahead of the competition, Messier likes to be hands-on with hiring. Rather than work with recruiters, she personally seeks out new employees, relying on networking through LinkedIn or personal connections. “This has worked well for me,” she says. “It’s easy to search for certain profiles that you would not have had access to before.” When recruiting for the store level, Messier encourages store management to walk the malls, and when they see people who offer an exceptional experience, she invites them to give a potential candidate a business card. “You have to identify the people you want and go after them,” she says.

MEET HELENE MESSIER Helene Messier, who holds a BS in commerce and an MBA, cut her teeth in HR at Bell Canada, where she was asked to lead a strategic initiative redesigning the management compensation strategy. She was managing a lot of people at the time, and she thought HR would help her to better manage people. She moved from there to the Milk Producers Association, where she served as assistant general manager for three years, and joined Birks & Mayors in 2000 as senior vice president of HR.

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Game Plan

“We believe in hiring the attitude and teaching the rest.” —Helene Messier, Senior Vice President of Human Resources

Offer quality, ongoing training Once the right people are found, they are put through the Birks & Mayors University training program. “It’s rare to find people who have all the product knowledge you need to sell a one-carat diamond ring, so we have an extensive curriculum that our employees go through when they join the company,” Messier says. It starts with a one-week in-class program called the Birks & Mayors Celebration Service & Sales, in which new recruits learn sales techniques, systems and operational procedures, and some product knowledge. That is followed by an online program called PEAK (Product Education and Knowledge), which comprises a series of modules on diamonds, pearls, precious metals, timepieces, and more, with a test at the end of each module. There are additional programs for advanced product knowledge and a curriculum for management competencies and skills.

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Skim the cream

Don’t sit still

The way new employees behave during the first week of training is a great indicator of whether they’ll be successful or not, Messier says. “The program helps us quickly spot leaders and weed out those who are not a good fit sooner than if they were trained on the job. We are a high-performance-driven company, and there is not a lot of tolerance for low performers.”

“My job is not just about waiting for things to happen and then fixing them,” Messier says. “It’s working with colleagues to build high-performance departments and helping them get there. We started in 1879 in Canada, and in 1910 in Florida, and that long-standing success is because of the contribution of our people. Under the leadership of our new president and CEO, Jean-Christophe Bédos, we want to take this company to new heights. We must continue to hire the best people available and train them to be the best they can be. That, to me, is how we are going to become a prestigious jewellery brand recognized internationally. And that is how HR will continue to make a valuable contribution.”

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Treat employees well Retaining the best employees, once they are on board, is critical. Birks & Mayors maintains a set of six guiding principles, which includes “treating each employee with respect and trust.” In addition, each new hire receives a wallet-size card printed with the company’s vision and mission. Messier maintains an open-door policy for all employees, while senior management is committed to responding to all client and employee e-mails within 24 hours.

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A message from standard life plc

Standard Life PLC is a leading long-term savings and investment company. In Canada, Standard Life has been doing business for 178 years and provides long-term savings, investment, and insurance solutions to more than 1.4 million customers. Standard Life is proud to provide the employees of Birks & Mayors with group insurance solutions since 2000.

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Welcome to the “She-Suite” Move over, fellas—the c-suite isn’t just for men anymore. And with October serving as Women’s History Month, we take a moment to highlight some of the top women executives who are shaking things up in Canada. From corporate giants to c-level names that have appeared on Profit W100 lists or on RBC Entrepreneur Award ballots, the execs featured hereafter have major pull—and for good reason. Here’s a diverse look at some of the movers and shakers around the country.

Featuring 11 of Canada’s top female executives

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Melanie Jeannotte of Vital Benefits

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Linda Hipp of LIJA

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Monique Mercier of TELUS

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Bronwyn Mondoux of Cinnamon Toast New Media

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Launi Skinner of First West Credit Union

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Nina Gupta of Greenlite Lighting

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Sonya Gill of Youzus

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Gwen Klees of Groupe Laperrière & Verreault

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Elizabeth Legge of Ovation Group

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Dr. Munira Jivraj of Millennium Dental

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Neena Kanwar of KMH Cardiology and Diagnostic Centres continue >


Vital Benefits photos: Erin Wallace


Welcome to the “She-Suite”

Success from Scratch

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elanie Jeannotte and her sister created Vital Benefits to foster opportunities for female businesswomen—both in the office and in other local organizations

by Erin Brereton

When Melanie Jeannotte decided to start her own business, she’d already amassed a significant amount of industry experience working for major Canadian insurers and a midsize consulting firm. However, she felt that her next career step should be to strike out on her own—and help improve clients’ experience in the process. Thus Jeannotte and her sister, Laura Barkley, launched Vital Benefits Inc. in 2006. The company reviews a company’s health or pension programs and designs new, cost-effective programs that align with their corporate strategy. Jeannotte hoped to provide companies and their employees with a single point of contact for support and advocacy when working with their benefit, insurance, and pensionplan providers. In Vital Benefits’ early days, the sisters’ father, a former marketing and sales executive, pitched in to help develop the new company’s marketing initiatives. In the healthcare and financial-services industries, Jeannotte says, it isn’t uncommon for companies to be passed to family members as parents retire. As such, some industry associates initially assumed

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Jeannotte’s father had started the company decades ago. However, although he helped with Vital Benefits’ early promotional efforts, the sisters were the ones driving operations—and growth. “When we opened our doors, we did not have a single client,” Jeannotte says. “We built this business from scratch.” Gaining Ground Jeannotte, who today serves as managing partner and CEO, worked steadily to help the company establish itself in the industry. Since its inception, Vital Benefits has experienced significant growth—ranging from 25 to 40 percent a year—and currently works with more than 100 corporate group clients in Canada. Jeannotte has also been able to move from being half of a team of two to a top exec with 13 team members. “We try to stay ahead of the curve,” she says. “That’s not always possible in a smallbusiness environment, but we know that once we hit certain work-capacity limits, our metrics say that we need to add x number of employees.”

View from the Top

“I may be the face of the company, but it’s the furious paddling of feet under the water that keeps it all rolling smoothly on the surface—and ultimately growing.” —Melanie Jeannotte

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Welcome to the “She-Suite”

“When we opened our doors, we did not have a single client. We built this business from scratch.” —Melanie Jeannotte, Managing Partner & CEO

Balancing Act Three ways to help achieve the ideal work-life balance by Melanie Jeannotte

1. Evaluate your obligations. Women always have multiple balls in the air. Determine which balls are glass—such as your health or family—and which work issues can be viewed as rubber. Sometimes you have to let a rubber ball bounce to keep the glass ones in the air. 2. Prioritize. To keep up with work and family demands, social activities sometimes have to take a backseat. You may want to see your girlfriends every week or month—but sometimes that’s just not possible. 3. Make peace with your decisions. So many women carry a lot of guilt about juggling those choices. You have to put away the guilt.

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Jeannotte uses the industry knowledge she gained from years of working with benefit-, pension-, and insurance-plan providers, as well as her public-speaking skills, to stay personally involved in the company’s marketing efforts, which have been a major factor in its growth. “We’ve always been incredibly disciplined about our marketing strategy, and have been focused on providing education in the marketplace,” Jeannotte says. To that end, Jeannotte participates in an annual breakfast series that Vital Benefits sponsors, which features educational sessions on five different topics. Jeannotte also speaks at conferences about topics, like drug-cost management, and writes about hot legislative and industry updates on the Vital Benefit’s blog.

Client Considerations In her free time, Jeannotte has also volunteered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Calgary and the Children’s Cottage Society, a family service provider. She also believes in giving back as a company, and encourages employees to suggest organizations or issues they care about for a donation program that involves Vital Benefits assigning a portion of pretax profits to community causes. “I may be the face of the company, but it’s the furious paddling of feet under the water that keeps it all rolling smoothly on the surface—and ultimately growing,” Jeannotte says. The success that Vital Benefits has achieved, both in terms of growth and for broader development, was no accident: the Creating a Community The same year that Vital Benefits opened, Jean- company’s founders set a five-year goal to reach specific growth targets when it opened. notte also started Vital Women, a group that However, Jeannotte remains commitoffers female entrepreneurs a forum to share ted to her original entrepreneurial goal of ideas and advice. Although it originally began providing customers with the best possible as a quarterly speaker-based program strictly experience. for female entrepreneurs, Jeannotte eventually “Managed growth is important to us decided to open Vital Women up to businessbecause we’re a service-driven organization,” women who didn’t necessarily own companies. Participants range from women who run Jeannotte says. “It’s not bad to exceed our targets—but only if we can service the new accounting firms and retail stores to imbusiness properly.” _a migration attorneys to a woman who runs a bathing-suit-fitting business. The group has also changed its format and no longer exclusively sponsors education-based events. “We realized over the years that we just A message from manulife financial want to connect,” Jeannotte says. “The most Thousands of Canada’s largest—and smallest— effective events involved networking and chat- employers have entrusted their group plans to ting in a social environment.” Manulife Financial. We make group retirement Members of the organization share best- plan management easier for employers while practice advice—and try to hire each other engaging employees to save. And we offer a broad whenever possible. range of benefit products and plan designs to suit “We really try to support the women in our the needs of sponsors and members alike. Visit us group anytime we need services,” Jeannotte says. at manulife.ca.

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Manulife Financial Salutes

Melanie Jeannotte

&

Congratulations to Vital Benefits Inc. on your well deserved

Calgary LLP

recognition

PROUD PARTNERS OF MELANIE JEANNOTTE & VITAL BENEFITS

in Advantage.

CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR RECOGNITION AS AN INDUSTRY LEADER AND BUSINESS SUCCESS STORY

Vital Benefits

Specializing in Employment and Human Resource Law

Manulife is one of Canada’s leading providers of Group Retirement Solutions and comprehensive Benefit plans. We’re proud to partner with professionals like Melanie, serving employers throughout Alberta.

Bryan & Company Calgary LLP has extensive experience in employment law and frequently provides advice regarding the interpretation of employment legislation as well as human rights, privacy, occupational health and safety, Workers’ Compensation and labour legislation.

www.manulife.ca

MICHAEL D. AASEN

Celebrating 65 Years of HR Excellence

Partner Employment and Human Resource Law Group Chair new location

#320, 903 – 8th Ave. S.W. Calgary, AB T2P 0P7 direct: 403.261.3348 fax: 403.269.9304 Manulife, Manulife Financial, the Manulife Financial For Your Future logo, the Block Design, the Four Cubes Design, and Strong Reliable Trustworthy Forward-thinking are trademarks of The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company and are used by it, and by its affiliates under license. 05/2012

mdaasen@bryanco-cgy.com

www.hrac.org

bryanco.com


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Welcome to the “She-Suite”

Fusing Fashion & Sport

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inda Hipp didn’t like the outfits she had to wear when playing golf, so she designed her own. Now, through LIJA, she is helping women to “play beautifully.”

by Lynn Russo Whylly

introduced Hyp Golf—a play on both her Linda Hipp comes from a family of golfers name and the market she was trying to attract. and took up the sport herself at age 25. But “My first customer was Arrowsmith Golf as she was dressing for the course, she found and Country Club, on Vancouver Island,” she the apparel at her disposal conservative and says. “They took a chance on me when most limiting. Through research, she discovered buyers want to see you grow for a few years that young women were the fastest-growing first. I was so grateful to have them. Then othdemographic taking up the sport, yet the clothing lines catered to older women. “That’s ers began to recognize the market shift and found that we had what they were looking for. when the idea hit me,” she says. “I thought there must be thousands of young women like That’s how sales grew.” For the first two years, it was just Hipp me who want their golf fashion to cater to their sense of personal style. I had a marketing and an office assistant working out of the house. Hipp functioned as a jill-of-all-trades, degree and some business experience, and I while the assistant handled sales and service. jumped into the fashion industry.” “Back then, I had a lot of energy,” she says. “I She quit her job and worked out of a was so passionate about the business, and I small home office, using the basement for was excited to learn every facet.” warehousing. Her days were spent sketch By 2000, professionals began wearing ing rough design ideas. “Our colour stories Hyp Golf apparel on the LPGA tour, and that set us apart, as well as the detail we put into took the line to a whole new level of success. the product,” she says. “We wanted to inspire For the spring 2005 season, Hipp wanted women to play beautifully, and we pushed those boundaries by fusing fashion and sport.” to change the name of the company to exemplify the growth of the brand. They chose For her spring 1998 inaugural season, LIJA, a play on the word “leisure.” “Although she started with 12 styles. A friend who sales were growing, we found that people were distributed golf shoes gave Hipp a four-bymisconstruing us as a junior line, and we felt four-foot corner of his booth at an October it was deterring sales a bit,” Hipp recalls. “We 1997 Vancouver trade show, and she officially

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View from the Top

“I don’t put much thought into being a female CEO. I’m used to being around other women who run businesses. Regardless of being a man or a woman, everyone’s got opportunities these days, and if you have a passion, just follow it and you’ll be successful.” —Linda Hipp

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Working the World Tips for managing rapid growth on a global scale by Linda Hipp

Really understand the markets you’re moving into, because there are many government regulations you may come across. Do your homework. Experience the market.

• Understand your competitors before you jump in. You have to know what the playing field is like. • Take it slowly, and create successes in the market you’re in first before growing.

also knew that we wanted to expand beyond golf and wanted to leave ourselves open, in case we decided to grow into other categories of active apparel. So all of that combined made the timing right for a name change.” Following the rebranding, LIJA was named one of Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies by Profit magazine, and has since been named five times. In spring 2008, LIJA launched a leisure collection, and in spring 2009, its tennis and activewear collection. Activewear now makes up slightly more than half of sales. Today, LIJA has 16 employees in its Richmond, British Columbia, office. North America is still the company’s biggest market, representing 80 percent of sales, but LIJA has branched out into the United Kingdom and six European Union markets, as well as Dubai and South Africa. The company does half of its manufacturing overseas and half in Vancouver. And the accolades have continued. In summer 2010, the firm was chosen as an official provider of merchandise for the

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2010 Open Championship in Scotland. In addition, Hipp has received recognition as a Business in Vancouver Top 40 Under 40 winner, one of Canada’s Top Women Entrepreneurs, and a prestigious APEX award. LIJA has been named one of British Columbia’s 50 Fastest Growing Companies twice by Business in Vancouver, and Canadian Company of the Year by SCOREGolf magazine twice. She is a member of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs and works as a mentor with other women starting up in the fashion business. “I really feel like we’re making an impact in the industry,” Hipp says. “We’ve changed the way women wear golf apparel, and I sense we’re starting to do the same in tennis and activewear. Other brands are starting to look to us, to see what we’re doing and what makes us a success. I’m really proud of that. LIJA inspires women to play beautifully. I had a meeting at a tennis club a few months ago and I saw women wearing our product. When I see women wearing LIJA, it’s my proudest and most satisfying moment.” _a

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ow TELUS’s Monique Mercier has helped redefine the role of women in the legal workplace

by Seth Putnam

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It’s 2 p.m. on a sunny March afternoon in Vancouver, and Monique Mercier is in the middle of a heated duel. Mercier is the chief legal officer for TELUS Communications Company, one of Canada’s telecom giants, and right now she’s in the driver’s seat of a complex transaction about a share conversion. Some hedge-fund sharks are out to make a short-term gain, and Mercier’s legal team is developing a strategy to counterattack. “The first thing is to be very calm—that’s my trademark,” Mercier says with a chuckle. “When you go home, you have to think of something else for a couple of hours.” It’s a delicate situation that requires as much heavyweight leverage as it does finesse. But then again, that’s why TELUS hired Mercier. Her story begins long before she assumed the role of senior vice president and chief legal officer for the company in October 2011. It turns out that law and politics are Mercier’s heritage: her paternal great-grandfather became the prime minister of Québec, while her maternal great-grandfather became the province’s chief justice of the Québec Supreme Court. “It’s always been present in my family,” she explains. But at the onset, something other than law occupied her attention. “I had very good marks in school, and I was thinking of going to medical school.” After spending some time in a hospital, however, she

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Photo: Jean-Francois Berube

Calm, Cool & in Control


Welcome to the “She-Suite”

quickly realized that medicine wasn’t the path for her and eventually thought, why not law? She switched to social science at the last moment, six months before the deadline to apply for university. “Law turned out to be the right place for me,” she says. After a Commonwealth Scholarship and a master’s degree in politics at Oxford University, she returned to Canada. Not knowing exactly which field she wanted to pursue, she followed the open doors in front her into tax law. “Every area of tax law is very interesting, but it quickly became extremely technical,” Mercier says. “I found myself stuck in a small office working on a big transaction by BCE—they were buying a company—and I was exploring a single tax definition that was 15 pages long.” Just a few offices over, another team in her firm was handling all the negotiations, and it dawned on her: enough with tax law. It was on to corporate in the law department of BCE. “Tax law changes constantly, so you’ve got to eat and drink it,” she says. So she traded one type of late night for another and within three weeks was negotiating a high-octane deal. “It’s way more multidisciplinary,” she says. “You work with all the different departments to achieve a result, and you’re at the rudder from beginning to end.” A roller coaster of high stock shares and company acquisitions provided a constantly evolving work climate for Mercier, and eventually TELUS bought the company where she was working. She stayed on in the legal department, quickly became the head of the Québec office, and in October was promoted to chief legal officer over the entire company, which meant a move to Vancouver. Despite such quick changes, she says, the adjustment is going smoothly. “I think it’s a strength that I have. Your team has to feel that you’re in control and in charge. I think it’s part of my personality, but it’s not easy—especially when we’re bombarded with issues from all directions.” And when you preside over 60 attorneys and paralegals at a company the size of TELUS (last year the company’s revenue approached $10 billion), the sheer weight of the responsibility would be enough to make your knees buckle. “The range of issues we have to deal with is incredible, because the landscape for telecommunications evolves constantly,” Mercier admits, alluding to regulatory hopscotch and the flash flood of new technologies. Not to mention the ever-changing issue of privacy. Think of healthcare. It wasn’t so long ago when medical information was scrawled on forms and squirreled away in

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A New Frontier Monique Mercier’s thoughts on the legal needs of the communicatuon industry

Going from wired to wireless: Now we’re seeing a huge movement of cordless. My daughter, for instance, doesn’t have a landline in her apartment. This is the new reality for the current generation, and it requires sensitivity from those of us who are developing future policy. Nascent technologies and practices: It’s the same way with televisions accessing the web, or making calls with the Internet. Cable companies are suddenly competing with telephone companies, and with that comes a whole set of legal issues. Privacy legislation: We’re safeguarding very sensitive health information, and we have many processes in place to ensure compliance with privacy legislation. There are all sorts of consumer protection legislation that are being enacted from province to province, and the game changes at such a rapid rate. You have to keep up. file cabinets in doctors’ offices. Information was private, only accessible to the doctor’s secretary. Now TELUS is helping to digitize those records in electronic health records, so that when a patient walks into a pharmacy or a new doctor’s office, physicians are up to speed on past history, improving their ability to offer service. The technology has the additional advantage of being more secure than paper files—encrypted and held in secure data centres rather than on paper files—but it does mean the company has to pay attention to healthcare privacy law for the first time. If Mercier is undaunted by this, it’s due at least in part to the fact that she’s been blazing frontiers as long as she’s been in this business—particularly in the area of women’s rights. In 1987, she became the first woman at the law firm where she was employed to take a maternity leave. “The only other woman in the company who’d had a baby was induced on a Thursday and back in the office by Monday,” Mercier explains. “There was no policy. She was telling me, ‘Monique, you have to be like a man.’” But Mercier was undeterred. She spoke to the head of the firm and convinced him to develop a policy that allowed her to take four months. She ended up taking two and a half instead. “This is where we started,” she says. “But these days there’s not a stigma associated with maternity leave, and we’re continuing to fight against being second-class citizens.” In Mercier’s mind, it’s better for women now. But is it easy? Is it an effortless balance of work and family? No—and the continued struggle for equality will require bold choices.

“I’m not like a man,” Mercier says with conviction. “I have a different personality, different strengths, and a different approach. It’s a question of choice: what kind of life do you want?” _a

A message from cain lamarre casgrain wells

Cain Lamarre Casgrain Wells has proudly contributed over the years to the success of TELUS, an exceptional company and one that shares our values of excellence, reliability, and authenticity. As a result, we are all the more delighted to have the opportunity to work closely with Monique Mercier, its new senior vice president, chief legal officer, and corporate secretary in striving to achieve the target objectives. We salute Ms. Mercier’s determination, professionalism, initiative, and leadership. A message from osler hoskin & harcourt

TELUS’s philosophy is to “give where we live.” Osler is proud of its relationship with this remarkable Canadian company and salutes Monique Mercier’s outstanding contribution to TELUS’s success, with her steadfast commitment to being engaged with her community. She has given and continues to give where she lives and thereby sets an admirable example for her colleagues and friends. We would like to congratulate her for the excellence of her work, the great team spirit that she demonstrates day in and day out, and her many achievements, both professionally and personally. Toutes nos félicitations, Monique!

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The cooks of creativity (from left): Alix Mitchell, Bronwyn Mondoux, Beverly Hyatt, Lauren Reid, and Sean Vincent.

A Flair for Flavorful Design

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ronwyn Mondoux, owner and creative director of Ottawa-based Cinnamon Toast New Media, focuses on maintaining a fun, friendly work culture while cooking up original and innovative designs for clients by Kelly Hayes

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Inspired by the owner of a small lingerie shop where she worked in her teens, Bronwyn Mondoux earned her bachelor’s degree with a specialization in new media from Ryerson University, in Toronto, and went on to launch the design-savvy marketing business she had been dreaming about for years. The name of the company, Cinnamon Toast New Media Inc. (CTNM), came easily. “The root of the name is my childhood love for cinnamon toast and a longtime joke I had with my dad about naming my future business by this yummy breakfast snack,” Mondoux explains. “The funny thing is, the name Cinnamon Toast was one of the smartest business decisions I have ever made. If they don’t remember my name, they definitely remember the business name! Plus, cinnamon is one of those things that harvests a feeling of nostalgia, warmth, sweetness, and comfort. I can’t think of a better way to conduct a business and grow its culture.” Not long after establishing her company, Mondoux was approached by a multimillion-dollar print company in Toronto and offered a job. Not wanting to lose the brainchild she had just gotten off the ground, she pitched a partnership to the company. Two years later, she bought out her former partners (though it came with some unexpected costs and legalities).

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Welcome to the “She-Suite”

After the buyout, Mondoux faced a new challenge: her boyfriend (now husband) was given the opportunity to attend medical school in Ottawa and invited her along. She decided to follow her heart. “Moving the business to a completely new location where I knew no one was a huge risk,” Mondoux says. “The good news is that it encouraged me to network like crazy! I was lucky enough to meet a small handful of businesswomen who were also growing and developing their businesses. With their support and backing, I was able to make enough connections to jump-start the business again, and shortly thereafter I was able to hire my first employee, Alix, who is still with Cinnamon today.” Since its incorporation in 2006, CTNM has grown its staff to five full-time employees. “We work together in ‘the design kitchen,’ to cook up and develop clever, personalized product recipes that help foster and support business growth and brand advocacy,” Mondoux says. Serving as both creative director and owner, Mondoux’s typical days consist of project management, creative direction, the odd HR task, and personally working on her design accounts. Mondoux also makes every effort to keep her employees happy. “Maintaining a warm and inspired work culture is incredibly important to not only my personal belief but also the success of Cinnamon,” she says. “The key to CTNM’s past, present, and future success can be accredited the dedication to nurturing a positive team environment. The office thrives on creative energy and a playful, relaxed atmosphere that includes riveting playlists, takeout picnics on the office floor, impromptu dance parties to alleviate stress, and a mix of Modern Family or New Girl during lunch. Revolving around the age-old philosophy of ‘work hard, play hard,’ I believe that a positively energized and empowered employee results in stronger client relationships and an unrivalled work ethic; and the proof certainly lies in the cinnamon-flavoured pudding!” In addition to cultivating a fun and friendly internal culture and promoting work-life balance, Mondoux also ensures that her team members are good at what they do and well equipped to manage accounts and service each client. “I train my employees to be capable and confident problem-solvers so

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Talking to the Team Why do you like working at Cinnamon Toast New Media? I love working at Cinnamon because it’s a place where you can be truly creative and try anything. We pride ourselves on creating something different, fresh, and polished. Our environment is fun and family-like, but we are still able to keep things professional. Who wouldn’t love that? What makes it different from other marketing/design agencies? We are given the freedom to try something new and put our ideas out there. We work together as a team to create something amazing for our clients.

Alix Mitchell Design Thinker

What’s on the horizon? We are young and quickly growing. We stop at nothing to make our clients happy, and we love to see how quickly the company is growing and stepping into bigger and better things all the time.

Why do you like working at Cinnamon Toast New Media? It has an extremely fun and creative environment. Complete fluidity maintains an open and honest community. What makes it different from other marketing/design agencies? There’s no stuffiness or competition. We all work together to create amazing designs. What makes Cinnamon Toast shine? We not only make designs, we make long-lasting friendships.

Lauren Reid

Office Superstar

Why do you like working at Cinnamon Toast New Media? We share a lot of the same values. Our work environment is very much like a family, and we treasure positive attitudes and good humour. When taking on new projects, we are continuously pushing ourselves to come up with new and surprising ideas that exceed the challenges given to us by our clients. What makes it different from other marketing/design agencies? At CTNM, the designers work closely with our clients. Designers act as project managers to eliminate the middleman and create better relationships with our clients.

Beverly Hyatt Design Thinker

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“Cinnamon is one of those things that harvests a feeling of nostalgia, warmth, sweetness, and comfort. I can’t think of a better way to conduct a business and grow its culture.” —Bronwyn Mondoux, Owner & Creative Director

that clients may be guaranteed an efficient and productive experience at every stage of the design process,” she says. While CTNM takes every measure to not only please but thrill its clients, the agency believes each client needs to be actively involved for a win-win outcome. “A good marketing campaign is often a bottomup approach that asks your target market to think and participate,” Mondoux explains. “Our particular industry is changing drastically with the introduction of social media, and next to a stylish chic approach, it is all about brand value and philosophy. Customers are interested in purchasing from brands that parallel their beliefs, and this means that a brand needs to know their beliefs. Believe it or not, a lot of clients haven’t thought about marketing this way, and when you ask them to talk it through, they get really excited.” By involving the clients in this unique process and employing a firm policy to never use templates, CTNM guarantees clients final, polished products that nobody else will have, which has resulted in approximately 90 percent of CTNM’s contracts being referred by word of mouth. It has also helped the agency land a number of notable clients, including

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Canada Post, Passport Canada, Signature Foods, Welch LLP, and the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. Looking to the future, Mondoux says her team will continue to find new ways to maintain its upbeat culture while also creating one-of-a-kind designs for clients. “We have a lot of fun at our office, and we make sure to showcase this in our approach to social media and the Cinnamon brand. We are designobsessed, and we aren’t afraid to show it!” On top of her business success, Mondoux has found new happiness at home as a mother to a seven-month-old baby girl. “It has added its complications to being a very focused businesswoman and wanting a family,” she says. “My husband and I are both career-minded but have always wanted a family. Juggling both lives is an ongoing challenge, but one with so many rewards.” In the end, Mondoux has no regrets. “Owning my business has added interesting ups and downs, but it has also given me the freedom to live my life my way,” she says. “Like I’ve heard other business owners say, being an entrepreneur isn’t always about the money. Being an entrepreneur will ultimately set you free.” _a

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From Coffee Cups to Big Bucks

L

auni Skinner has Starbucks to thank for her recent success at First West. As president of the coffee empire, she gained the expertise necessary to become CEO of British Columbia’s third-largest credit union. by Lynn Russo Whylly

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Launi Skinner was born to lead. Her greatest strength: “I can maximize a thousand people to [manifest] a vision,” she says. “I can take broad-scale concepts with large groups of people and achieve great results.” Skinner got an opportunity to decide what that vision would be when she came onboard First West Credit Union as CEO in 2010. At the time, First West was putting the finishing touches on a rather unique business deal: it merged two credit unions, Valley First and Envision Financial, but preserved both brand names and cultures. “Each of them had a strong, well-known brand across [their respective] local communities for decades, so changing the names would not have been in anyone’s best interest,” Skinner says. “So they merged under the parent company of First West, achieving scale across the company but keeping their names and local leadership.”

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Welcome to the “She-Suite”

Today, First West is the third-largest credit union in British Columbia, with $6.6 billion in assets, more than 169,000 members, and nearly 1,400 employees. Combining the two companies has given First West more leverage with vendors, put more buying resources at its disposal, provided opportunities to promote staff members that, as a smaller organization, it might not be able to afford, and allowed it to change local lending limits as a result of a bigger balance sheet. Skinner came to First West with 20 years of business-building and leadership experience at Starbucks and 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. As president of Starbucks US, she oversaw 7,000 company-owned stores and 3,400 franchises, managing a team with operational responsibility for 130,000 employees. She also has a history of community involvement, including her past role as the event chair for the Vancouver YWCA Women of Distinction Awards, as a community leader for the Minerva Foundation, and as a member of the Board of Governors for Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Her success has not gone unnoticed. In 2007, Skinner was listed as one of “Four Women to Watch” in Fortune magazine’s 50 Most Powerful Women feature. In both 2010 and 2011, she was named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network, and in 2011 she received the Stevie Award for Best Canadian Executive. As her first task at First Union, Skinner began shaping the new group’s vision. The result was First West’s “six ideals”: succeed together; act local; value all; make commonsense decisions; create good things; and inspire exceptional results. “They are our guiding principles,” she says. “They give our people empowerment and an emotional connection to where we’re going and why we’re going there, and provide a filter to make decisions against, guiding them to make the best decision at that moment.” Skinner is extremely competitive, having played basketball and ridden horses competitively as a teen. But she also considers herself a servant leader—someone who’s sole responsibility is to serve their constituents. At Starbucks, she learned a lot about how customers want to be treated from the moment they walk through the door. Early in her career, she met former Starbucks president Howard Behar. “[Behar] was passionate about delivering an exceptional customer experience,” she says. “He said, ‘We’re always quick to find the

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View from the Top

“I like to be a role model, not just for other women, but for everyone. If I can give women advice on being in a leadership role, I would—but I don’t think about being female. I just do what I do because I love doing it, and I’m lucky because I’ve had some great people helping me get here.” —Launi Skinner

problem but never quick to be the one to fix the problem.’ So one day he asked, ‘If not you, then who?’ and it stuck with me. It made me realize that I am the solution.” Skinner took this message to heart and uses it to empower her staff and team all the time. “I used it recently in our town-hall kickoff meeting to help the 1,100 staff members who attended understand what a powerful role they play in how they respond to a member question, and that when they look for a different solution, the whole organization is better because of that,” she says. Another key skill Skinner uses on the job is listening. “My daughter asked me what I do at my job,” she says, “and I thought, ‘How do I break this down into something a four-yearold would understand?’ I told her, ‘I listen a lot.’” Listening, she says, is probably the most underrated yet important skill for a leader, not just listening to the words being spoken, but also to the words not being spoken. “[Behar] used to say the walls speak,” Skinner says. “If you walk into a room, stand there and check out the body language and the vibe in the room. If you listen, you’ll hear more about what’s not being said or what needs to be asked than what is. I also found that listening helps me understand that there is no single way of getting from point A to point B, and I don’t get stuck on doing things one way.” For all people who aspire to lead, Skinner says, don’t be afraid to take risks: “It’s not about the fancy title. Embrace your opportunities, and they will lead you to success.” _a

By the Numbers

169,000 members

$6.6 billion

assets under management

37

branches

28

insurance offices

1,400

employees

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On Valentine’s Day, Greenlite gave away free CFLs to people walking on the street, to spread the word of Greenlite’s energy-efficient bulbs.

Shedding Some Light

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orn to be a businesswoman, Greenlite’s Nina Gupta takes energy-efficient lighting to an international level by Christopher T. Freeburn

Business is in Nina Gupta’s blood. The daughter of a globe-trotting entrepreneur, Gupta—who traces her roots back to India, though she was born in England and lives in Canada—accompanied her parents on many international business trips as a child. “I lived in Switzerland, the United States, India, and England,” she says. “By the time I was 14, I’d seen half the world.” While she was seeing the world, Gupta was also learning the basics of running a business. “I could send a telex at the age of 12,” she says, laughing. One night, her father had an epiphany while landing at an airport. “He saw the lights of the city and realized that lighting is a necessity, not a choice,” she says. That led her family to set up state-of-the-art lightbulb factories in India, to service the global market.

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While her father built his business, Gupta struck out on her own. At age 18, she started working in the apparel industry as a buyer for major retailers. She wanted no part of college. “I hated school with a passion,” she confesses. After so much time spent watching her father do business, Gupta was used to freedom, even though her mother still needed some convincing. “My mother’s biggest regret is that I wasn’t a law student at Harvard,” she says. By the time she was in her mid-20s, Gupta had moved from buying clothes for big-name retailers to owning her own clothing boutiques. After leaving the apparel business, Gupta settled down to raise a family in Québec. Her father, however, advised her to get back into business for herself. That advice launched Greenlite Lighting Corporation. Originally a distributor for products from the family’s lighting business in India, Greenlite eventually transitioned to concentrating on energy-efficient lighting only. “We dug in our heels and said we are only going to promote energy efficiency; we will not sell the cancer and the cure,” says Gupta, who serves as president. Today, Greenlite services a niche market with compact-florescent lamps (CFLs) as primary products, followed by the introduction of LEDs.

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View from the Top

“Honestly, I’ve never ever faced any kind of gender issues in my work. I find overall that the business community is very supportive. If your numbers make sense, if your business plan makes sense, I don’t think anyone cares anymore.” —Nina Gupta

At first, the company faced an uphill battle persuading customers to switch from the cheaper, though highly inefficient, incandescent bulbs. “I used to call people and say, ‘I’m selling CFLs,’ and they thought I was talking about the Canadian Football League,” Gupta recalls. Based in Québec, with a sales arm in California, Greenlite found the United States a more receptive market compared to Canada. Having experienced an energy crisis, American consumers were more open to the idea of ditching incandescent bulbs to save money. “Even today, about 95% of our business is in the US,” Gupta says, though Greenlite continues to make inroads into the Canadian market. However, getting CFL prices low enough to attract new consumers remains an ongoing challenge. “Right now a CFL costs two dollars, while a incandescent costs 50 cents,” Gupta observes. But the 50-cent incandescent lasts about 1,000 hours, while the two-dollar CFL lasts 10,000 hours. “If you look at it from a returnon-investment point of view, the CFL is way ahead of the incandescent,” Gupta says. “The thing is that consumers have to pay the two dollars today, so we need to educate consumers.” Despite the lack of awareness, Gupta has no doubt that North American consumers will eventually ditch incandescent bulbs, opting for the greener alternative, as even governments across the world propose programs to ban incandescent bulbs. “Our mandate today is

to be the only provider of innovative, energyefficient lighting to build a community around environmental sustainability,” she says. Greenlite has grown steadily from revenue of $300,000 in its first year to approximately $25 million in 2010. Gupta plans to raise that to $45 million in five years. The company is very dedicated to transparency and ethics, and this philosophy has stood Greenlite in good stead. While her own children are in their 20s now, Gupta says she has tried to include them in her work from an early age, emulating her own upbringing. “I took them everywhere I could,” she says. “I think the best education you can give a child is travelling and seeing the world and how people live.” That sort of family experience is what Gupta credits for her own success. “Having a strong family takes the fear away,” she says. “It leads to success in business, because you know how to focus on the right things.” _a

A brighter future Fasken Martineau offers sophisticated, innovative and, above all, value-added legal advice for a clearer vision of where you are heading.

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Fasken Martineau is proud to count Greenlite Lighting, one of the leading North American energy-efficient-lighting companies, among its clients. Thank you for choosing our team as your professional partner and for the confidence you have placed in us for your legal needs.

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Welcome to the “She-Suite”

On a Mission

F

rom radio to TV to social-media agency Youzus, Sonya Gill has emerged as one of Canada’s top personalities. But her real aim is to inspire those around her.

by Julie Knudson

Ever since her start in broadcasting, in 2003, Sonya Gill, social-media dynamo and president of Youzus Media, has been everywhere. While still in journalism school, she helped put together pitches for TV networks. She quickly decided her goal was “to be the next Oprah,” and getting her own show became her target. An internship at CBC was followed by a stint on The Weather Network, where Gill broadcasted through the night and then served tables during the day. “When your passion is that strong and you have a goal that big, you won’t stop at anything,” she says. Urged by friends to “go compete in something,” Gill became a contestant in the Miss India Canada pageant. There she was spotted by Asian Television Network (ATN), which promptly offered her a TV- and radioshow gig. “It really gave me a platform to talk about taboo topics,” Gill recalls. She tackled important issues, such as rape and abuse— normally off limits in Indian culture—with her characteristic candor. When the recession hit, Gill was laid off. However, two days later, Worldband Media, working in collaboration with BBC, offered Gill her own afternoon show on HD radio.

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She again had creative control, interviewing everyone from the Food Network’s Padma Lakshmi to the Vancouver Canucks’ Manny Malhotra to actor Brian George, of Seinfeld and The Big Bang Theory fame. “I interviewed some amazing people,” Gill remembers. At the same time, she was immersed in the emerging world of social media, connecting with listeners and spreading her sphere of influence. But everything wasn’t perfect in Gill’s world. In 2009, her best friend was tragically killed, an event that shocked Gill to the core. She needed direction, and a mentor advised her to follow her dream of moving to New York City. Gill packed her bags and left Vancouver soon after the funeral. “It felt good to be leaving,” she says. “I felt like I was going on to bigger and better things.” Once in New York, Gill quickly began making connections. She worked with Brook Shields’s sister and mother, interviewed Kanye West, and met JayZ. “Music has always followed me for some reason,” she says with a laugh. It was in New York that Gill began hosting what she calls her “Meeting of the Minds.” With impressive connections to industry

View from the Top

“I love every moment of it. It’s an incredible feeling, but my first and foremost thing is to inspire and to lead. I want more people to do what I’m doing.” —Sonya Gill

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Welcome to the “She-Suite”

“It finally all made sense to me. I am meant to coach people, to inspire and lead people. That’s what I do on the show, and that’s what I get to do in my business.” —Sonya Gill, President

Getting the Word Out How to get a business connected by Sonya Gill

1. YouTube: You need videos that will go viral and get you a lot of hits. 2. Twitter: Schedule tweets throughout the day. You should be tweeting at least every hour. 3. Facebook: Post status updates at least three times a day, and make sure your cover picture is eye-popping. 4. Blog: Without a blog, it’s very hard for your name to start appearing in search engines. 5. Connect: Find someone who knows your brand and can help you leverage yourself on the Internet.

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leaders, Gill wanted to set up regular get-togethers where New York’s movers and shakers could exchange contacts. The idea was a hit. “It became more of a woman’s thing, because I noticed that the women were connecting on a grander scale,” Gill says. “They went on to make even more relationships.” Not long after her move to the Big Apple, Gill formed Youzus, a social-media agency catering to corporate, small-business, and entertainment entities. “Every single time someone needed me for coaching, social media, broadcasting, or hosting, they would ask me if I knew so-and-so to connect them with,” Gill recalls. “I thought, well, everyone seems to use me. So ‘use us.’ Youzus.” In 2009, Gill, who was already prolific on Twitter and Facebook, launched the Youzus blog. Four professional coaches wrote about their specialties, including finances, relationships, personal development, fashion, and beauty. It was about “helping people live their best lives,” Gill says. Though Gill had returned to Vancouver to teach social media at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, she selected Toronto for the site of her next workshop, an affordable session where people would be coached on personal development while making new connections. “It was the same kind of concept that started off in New York, but this time it was taking it to another level,” Gill says. She relocated to Toronto later that year to pursue a position with the Food Network,

and soon after was cast on a new show produced by elleFACTOR, where she’s a coach and mentor. “It finally all made sense to me,” she says of the opportunity. “I am meant to coach people, to inspire and lead people. That’s what I do on the show, and that’s what I get to do in my business.” Today, Gill believes that many corporate brands are still afraid of social media. The potential for negative interactions with customers is often among their chief concerns, but it’s something Gill says they need to overcome. “If they push through all of that and create a positive impact on the Internet, their business will thrive that much more,” she says. Gill believes the ubiquity of the online environment is important to success, saying that some companies are finally “using social media in their favour.” She cites examples like Air Canada, where customer concerns are handled quickly and transparently, and Coca-Cola, whose realtime advertising budget has been trimmed in favour of online channels. “It’s always better to go liquid than to just have a 30-second ad on TV, where you don’t know if that person left to go to the fridge,” Gill says. With many hats to wear and numerous responsibilities to balance, Gill has become one of Canada’s top personalities, creating her own brand and enlisting her own expertise, no matter what project she attaches herself to. Whatever’s next on the list is sure to be just as vital as what she’s already accomplished. _a

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Making It in a Man’s World

E

arly on at GLV, Gwen Klees was the only woman at the conference table. Here, she explains how she stays independent as the firm’s vice president of legal affairs. by Kristina Anderson

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One part intuition, two parts team player, and three parts legal powerhouse, Montréal attorney Gwen Klees thrives in the field of law, which she explains is still comprised predominately of men. Fortunately, as VP of legal affairs and corporate secretary for Montréal-based Groupe Laperrière & Verreault Inc. (GLV), Klees says she likes working with men. That’s a key skill set for a female attorney in a senior management position of such a calibre. Over the years, Klees has hit on a formula for succeeding in this mostly male-driven environment—while gaining respect and making friendships in the process: it really comes down to the fact that the male brain is just different. “I’ve realized that men are solution-oriented,” Klees explains. “They want to hear the solution, not hear the problem. And they like taking risks. It’s a different

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Welcome to the “She-Suite”

thought process than most women have. So, as a woman working with men, you have to adjust your approach while remaining yourself. Otherwise, you won’t be considered credible.” A native of British Columbia, and the fourth girl in a Dutch family of six, Klees attended Laval University, in Québec City, where she studied primarily civil law. Attending law school allowed Klees to learn and retain her French while becoming knowledgeable about the complexities of international law. After completing her articling at the national firm McCarthy Tétrault (then known as Clarkson Tétrault), Klees transferred to its Montréal branch, where she spent two years. Klees was assigned to the larger commercial litigation cases, giving her experience that would suit her well in her current role as a general counsel. While there, she was first exposed to working in teams primarily composed of men. While bringing up her three daughters, she also worked as a staff attorney at the Royal Bank of Canada, Bell Canada, and CDPQ (Québec pension fund) before joining GLV in 2003. At GLV, she found herself in a conference room for several days, the only woman within a group of 22 men. “That’s where I really learned that I could function well with men,” she says with a laugh. “It can be difficult; you have to be able to change your tack. Women need to look like they are in control of the situation and not look as though they are presenting the problem without the solution.” Klees also learned that getting attention from men in a work setting is not automatically a bad thing. “This may happen from time to time,” she explains. “But if you get a comment on your appearance, for example, try not to take it personally. It usually means they like you and [it] was probably not meant disrespectfully. It’s just one way they have learned to engage you.” Klees believes that GLV’s traditionally male engineering environment is slowly gaining more women, even at the senior management and executive operational levels. “Women contribute both an emotional and scholarly intelligence and are adept team players,” she says. “Teamwork, risk management, and negotiations are skills that I believe that I’m valued a lot for.”

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How to Manage Risk on a Global Scale by Gwen Klees

1. Stay connected: Effective risk management includes the ongoing participation and input of the operations team that financially supports the risk. 2. Learn from your past risks: Always manage future risks with today’s information. 3. Balance both sides: Legal risks need to always be assessed with commercial risks in order to be properly mitigated and managed. 4. Renegotiate: A risk to your company today may not be one tomorrow (and vice versa), so reassess your risks constantly. 5. Change your perspective: Risks are impacted by culture and geographical outlook; try to look at risks from a European versus Canadian versus US perspective, depending on what country the risk may occur in.

Because GLV is an international company, Klees manages a legal team of 10 around the globe. They keep in touch with calls, Skype, e-mail, shared databases, and by travelling. “One thing that helps us a lot is having electronic databases and file folders that we all access,” Klees explains. “Because we do a lot of international acquisitions or divestitures, litigation, customer or supplier agreements, and other contracts, it’s crucial that we are all looking at the same version of the same file.” In her free time, Klees enjoys serving as a mentor and career coach for young professionals—primarily women—and benefits from mentoring herself. “Because more and more women are entering the professional world, I started realizing how important it was for me to share the experience I was having,” she says. “Prior to me becoming a vice president, I was in charge of a department. That’s where I realized that if you talk like a VP and act like a VP, they will start recognizing you for those qualities. Whereas often women wait to be patted on the back, men take a more proactive approach toward career mobility. It’s ideas like this that I want to share with younger women.”

Klees—who previously ran marathons and loves physical activities, including horseback riding, most outdoors sports, and some yoga— also believes that getting plenty of exercise is a key stress reliever for professionals in pressurecooker positions. “When I see people in a business environment not coping well, I always encourage exercise,” she says. “It really helps.” All in all, Klees finds great satisfaction in her job at GLV, which controls more than 45 operating entities, doing business in many countries. “It’s very diverse.” she says. “That’s what makes it so much fun.” _a

A message from gowlings

With more than 750 business-savvy legal professionals active in key global industries, Gowlings provides its clients with pragmatic commercial advice, both domestically and internationally. Thanks to their unparalleled level of technical and legal expertise, our professionals offer exceptional representation in a dynamic and competitive market. We value the relationship we have with Gwen Klees and the team of GLV Inc., and we are proud to be their one-stop law firm in terms of business law, intellectual property, and litigation.

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H

ow Ovation Group’s Elizabeth L e g g e t u r ne d h a nd-s e w n promotiona l boxers into a promotional-products solutions provider by Erin Saunder

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Photo: Glenn Mackay

Silky Success

Growing up as one of nine children on a farm in rural Canada, Elizabeth Legge was more destined for a life as a wife and mother than as one of the country’s leading female entrepreneurs. Legge learned hard work, resourcefulness, and strong moral values from the unique experience of living with such a large family. Everyone had to contribute to the household in order to live in harmony in a small home, and each member was counted on to do his or her part. These lessons would go on to help shape her business world. “There were six girls and three boys,” says Legge, who today is the president of Ovation Group Inc., a promotional marketing company. “The six daughters were all encouraged to marry and move away from the farm.” Initially, that’s just what Legge did. By age 19, at the urging of her father, she was married and living with her husband, a man she barely knew, in a rural Manitoba community. “I look back and I wonder, ‘What was I thinking?’” she says. “There was not much to do in a small town, and without an immediate opportunity to pursue continuing education, I began designing and making clothes. I had to figure out a way to make a living.” After staying out west for a year, she and her husband moved back to Toronto. Together, they opened several consecutive business franchises. This opportunity offered new learning experiences in a business environment. “Life is a chain of events,” Legge says. “Something happens that changes the direction your life will take.” A little more than a decade later, Legge moved on to work as a sales executive for Motorola, and she credits that sales experience for teaching her the art of cold calling. However, by then her marriage was struggling. “I decided to quit my job in an effort to save my marriage but, in the end, realized we had different goals,” Legge says. “A few months later, I left my husband and closed that door. I just started my life over, including changing my name. I thought, ‘I’m going to change my life. I will be happy with my decision, and I am determined to succeed!’” With only a maxed-out credit card to her name, no source of income or a personal bank account, and nowhere to go, Elizabeth spent a few nights sleeping in her car until she created a plan.  In the early ’90s, boxer shorts were the hot new fad. Growing up on the farm, Legge had learned to sew at the age of 12. With six girls in the family, it was a necessity to be crafty. Legge hired her sister, and together they started a business selling handmade, silk boxer shorts. Each pair was carefully sewn and monogrammed, and these boxers became the flagship promotional product for Ovation Group. However, it was difficult to make a living. Legge had to make phone calls to reach out to more companies and quickly discovered that she had a knack for setting up in-person meetings. This realization allowed her to grow eager and confident. One day in 1992, she walked into Mac Tools and landed her first large contract. She had previously discovered a unique new promotional product that could be branded, and the company’s purchasing manager loved it.


View from the Top

“I am a president of a company, but I don’t present myself in that way. I am humbled by that title. I am happy to have a business that’s successful and thriving. I have been rewarded in my life in meeting wonderful people who have become clients, and many whom I consider my friends.” —Elizabeth Legge

six figures. With the order, Legge realized she That same day, Legge received a purchase orhad come full circle and had found her place der that included a deposit cheque. “I opened in the business world. a business account and started my promo Legge credits her success to the relationtional distributing company with that order,” she says. “We continued a mutually successful ships she has been able to form over the years. She calls it a journey of learning experiences. business relationship for several years, until [Mac Tools] relocated the purchasing division “When I look back, I never dreamed I would become a businesswoman or ever achieve to the United States.” what I have at this point in my life,” she Legge continued reaching out to more says. “I am very proud that after 20 years of corporations by cold calling and then dropexpertise and service, we still have most of our ping by their offices to discuss their promooriginal clients.” tional needs and requirements. The orders These days, Legge has more than just started to flow in. In those days, it was a challenge to find a source for items that some her successful business to hail. After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 and unclients needed. However, not having previous experience in the industry did not deter Legge dergoing a double mastectomy last Novemfrom being resourceful and connecting with a ber, Legge is a cancer survivor. “I just keep moving forward,” she says, “I treasure the life company that could fulfill a client’s need. experience and business knowledge gained Legge did not realize it at the time, but dealing with clients over the past 20 years. she was creating a viable, growing business Life is a journey that unfolds like a deck of and learning the keys to success by using those strong family values of self-reliance, dependabil- cards. Each of us has to play the hand we are dealt, but ultimately it is a chance to seize the ity, and resourcefulness. Through perseverance opportunity and make the best of it—every and persistent phone calls, the list of potential single day!” _a customers increased, as did the business. As the years went by, Legge developed solid relationships with all of her clients. “We fulfilled their every need by asking the right questions, earning their trust, and delivering A message from ash city what was promised,” she says. “It was that Ash City congratulates Elizabeth Legge on 20 simple! I learned that my clients were countyears in business. ing on me to help them succeed, and I would Ash City knows how committed Elizabeth continue to succeed only after they won.” Legge is and how much she deserves this recog Almost 10 years later, a corporate client nition. With almost four decades in the industry, asked Legge to create and manufacture a Ash City is one of the corporate promotional custom order of boxer shorts for a marketing apparel names that can meet all your apparel and campaign. The total order value was close to decoration needs.

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The Millennium Dental team prides itself of promoting overall wellness to its patients.

Smiling Bright

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r. Munira Jivraj sinks her teeth into three decades of success, thanks to her renowned practice, Millennium Dental by Erin Sauder

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“It’s always a delight to see beautiful smiles,” says Dr. Munira Jivraj. “A beautiful smile not only makes people feel good but is also important in relation to our health. Perhaps that’s why I’m so passionate about dental care.”   For Munira Jivraj, owner of Calgary’s successful Millennium Dental, cosmetic dentistry is about more than just creating beautiful smiles—it’s about treating the patient holistically, ensuring balance and personal care. Jivraj was born in Kenya to a family of Indian descent, and while at boarding school in England, she began to contemplate her future in medicine. “I was good at science,” Jivraj says. “Every Indian child wants to be a doctor, so I said, ‘Okay, I’ll do medicine.’” Today, Jivraj is pioneering the field of cosmetic dentistry and is considered one of Canada’s most notable

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View from the Top

“I’ve had challenges, but I’ve never thought, even one day in my life, ‘Let’s give it up. I can’t be bothered with this anymore.’ It’s been a wonderful journey.”

Specializing in Medical and Dental Offices

—Dr. Munira Jivraj

businesswomen (she was recently the recipient of the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Momentum Award). Her journey began at the behest of a friend in medical school who thought Jivraj should spend a weekend experiencing the atmosphere on his campus. “He said to me, ‘Come and spend a weekend, and you’ll know if this is something you’ll like,’” Jivraj says. “So I spent the weekend, and it was the most depressing weekend of my life. I just knew it wasn’t for me. But then I thought, ‘Now I have to go back to the drawing board.’” However, after visiting a dental school in London, Jivraj saw a future for herself. After receiving a full scholarship, she graduated in 1983, with short-term goals for her career. “I distinctly remember saying, ‘I’ll just be a dentist for 10 years. Then I’ll be married and have kids and look after my family and that’ll be it. It’ll keep me excited for a decade,’” she says.

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But as the years went on, Jivraj’s enthusiasm didn’t wane. “I loved it,” she says. “There’s such a great satisfaction in doing it. And one nice thing about dentistry is that you can get instant gratification. As soon as you fix someone’s tooth, they love you.” In 1988, a mere five years after she completed her degree, Jivraj opened her own dental practice. “It was me and one receptionist, and our location had previously been a bank,” Jivraj says. “We started from scratch and quickly evolved into a successful practice with a total of 12 staff members. One of my associates became my partner.” Jivraj’s experience in her practice only deepened her passion for the field, and she sought ways to further hone her skills. She took courses at the prestigious Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies and received a mastership in cosmetic dentistry. Then, in 2008, Jivraj took over at Millen-

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Welcome to the “She-Suite”

Talking Teeth & Tactics with Dr. Munira Jivraj

What do you like most about your job? The fact that I can change people’s lives. I had this young girl, 21 years old, and her mom was always telling me, “She’s miserable. She doesn’t smile.” Her daughter eventually came into office. She had a few teeth missing and her bite was all over the place. And I thought, “Let’s see if we correct her smile what will happen.” As soon as we did that, this girl began smiling. As soon as you make people feel good, their whole personality changes.

nium Dental and has watched the practice grow. “The staff, the whole team, everybody here really promotes not only a nice smile but wellness in the whole body—wellness in teeth positioning, jaw positioning, posture,” Jivraj says. “Some practices you go into and it’s ‘fill and drill.’ Here, it’s more like you are actually restoring the patient to the bite she was born with.” As one of the few women in the field of innovative cosmetic dentistry, Jivraj claims her natural inquisitiveness has been integral in her success. “Dentistry is a system,” she says. “You have to look at the whole mouth and how it’s organized. It’s an involved profession, and you have to really get into it and study it and take time for continuing education. If I had a failure in something—a broken crown or filling—I’d think, ‘Why did this happen?’ You have to keep questioning yourself.” Ever humble, Jivraj says she could not have come so far without the support system her close-knit family provides. “I had a mother and mother-in-law and a lot of support from my kids,” she says. “I didn’t feel like I was sacrificing my kids for my profession or sacrificing my profession for my kids.” Three decades into her profession, Jivraj’s passion for her work is still going strong. “I can’t think of a profession that is more satisfying for me,” she says. “Of course, I’ve had challenges, but I’ve never thought even one day in my life, ‘Let’s give it up. I can’t be bothered with this anymore.’ It’s been a wonderful journey.” _a

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What’s the biggest misconception of dentistry? That having a root canal is the worst thing one can have done. I don’t think it’s that bad. It can be painless. I have a lot of people say that it wasn’t bad at all. How do you stay engaged with trends in the industry? I do a lot of continuing education, taking different courses. I do a study club with one of our labs. I go back to [the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies] once in awhile. What’s your top teeth tip? If you ignore your teeth, they’ll go away.

Dr. Munira Jivraj.

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Welcome to the “She-Suite”

The Waiting-Room Warrior

H

ow Neena Kanwar of KMH made a name for herself by reducing medical wait times from several months to a few days by Lynn Russo Whylly

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No one likes to be kept waiting for a medical appointment when they’re not feeling well. But imagine waiting a year for treatment of a potentially life-threatening illness. That’s exactly what was happening to patients with heart disease in the Ontario area back in the late 1980s. “To see a cardiologist, the wait time could be four to six months,” recalls Neena Kanwar, president of KMH Cardiology and Diagnostic Centres. “Then the cardiologist would decide they needed a test and that would take two to three months, and by the time they got treatment, it could take a year.” Kanwar, who was a nuclear-medicine technologist, saw both a need and a way to improve the system. In 1988, armed with nothing more than a great idea and a healthy dose of self-confidence, Kanwar struck out on her own, making a very convincing argument, first to her husband, who agreed to sell their home to generate start-up funds; next to some colleagues, whom she persuaded to become partners (she bought them out in the early 1990s); and finally to a bank manager who agreed to provide a loan. Clearly, they all saw something in both Kanwar’s idea and her self-assuredness that spelled success. They were right. Today, KMH has eight locations throughout Ontario, including its headquarters in Mississauga, and four facilities in the United States. “I had never run a lab before,”

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The experienced lawyers you can count on From acquisitions, dispositions and financing, to tax and regulatory matters, Aird & Berlis LLP is actively engaged in all aspects of Canadian business and their international expansion. We have extensive expertise in the range of multifaceted legal issues that affect you. Count on us for legal counsel from a business ® perspective. For more information, please contact:

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Kanwar says. “I just found out what I needed to do to get an imaging centre started and went about doing it.” KMH provides access to rapidly evolving medical technology, state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment, and highly qualified specialists. Its 150 employees deliver nuclear medicine and MRI and diagnostic services to 85,000 patients annually. Today, KMH provides the testing within two to three days. “That’s a definite paradigm shift,” Kanwar says. KMH’s competitive edge stems from the fact that its imaging and health records have always been digital. “We don’t have any legacy systems,” Kanwar says. “We haven’t had paper charts and films for more than 15 years. Everything is electronic and available for physicians to review online through a secure server, so that makes us very efficient and substantially reduces the wait time for patients to get results and treatment.” A board of medical directors helps KMH stay on top of the latest trends. The company is also heavily involved in ongoing research and clinical trials, which helps it track the latest technologies and medicines in action, and view the results firsthand. “Some [projects] are related to new medications; others to new imaging techniques and agents,” Kanwar says. “If we participate, then we’re helping to improve medicine, and that’s a way of giving back to the community. We want to advance the knowledge of medicine and ultimately help the patients.” When a trial is successful, then KMH benefits from already having experience with that type of testing or medication. “It puts us a step ahead,” Kanwar says. For her visionary thinking and business success, Kanwar has received a variety of awards and recognitions over the last few years. For six of the last seven years, she has been recognized as one of Chatelaine’s Top 100 Women Business Owners. She’s made Profit magazine’s Top 100 Female Entrepreneurs list annually since 2006, and she received the Government of Ontario’s New Pioneer Award in Entrepreneurship in 2009. Last year, Kanwar was named Entrepreneur of the Year by B’Nai B’Rith. Kanwar’s appreciation for all she has gained in life is evident. In 2006, Kanwar and her husband, Vijay Jeet, donated $5 million to the Credit Valley Hospital Foundation in Mississauga. The funds were used to help with the construction of the new Vijay Jeet and Neena Kanwar Ambulatory Centre. For Kanwar, satisfaction comes in helping people. “We get e-mails or letters from pa-

View from the Top

“Honestly, I don’t think achieving success matters whether you are a man or a woman. I don’t think of it like that. I simply think about the benefits of working for myself. Success for anyone is about doing what you want—what you love. And I am. It’s a lot of fun.” —Neena Kanwar

tients saying how well they were looked after by the staff, and they want to commend how the facility looks or how they were treated,” she says. “Those are the times I sit back and feel that we’ve really accomplished something. There are even times when patients tell us that we basically saved their lives. It’s not the revenue that satisfies me; it’s being able to help patients, and getting e-mails like these. That makes all the hard work worthwhile.” Going forward, KMH is continuing to acquire more facilities in both the United States and Canada, and is exploring the possibility of packaging and selling its homegrown electronic health-record software. Wherever there is a patient in need of the best diagnostic treatment, Kanwar wants to be there. _a

A message from aird & Berlis llp

Located in the heart of Toronto’s business district, the law firm of Aird & Berlis LLP comprises a diverse group of more than 130 of Canada’s most talented lawyers practicing in the areas of corporate/commercial, energy, environmental, financial services, litigation, municipal and land-use planning, real estate, and tax. We are pleased to provide legal services to KMH Cardiology and Diagnostic Centres.

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This communication is provided as a general informational service to clients does not constitute, legal advice on any specific matter, nor does this message create an attorneyclient relationship. These materials may be considered Attorney Advertising.

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Without proper guidance, the landscape can be challenging. To be successful, you need a business partner that understands the realities of your industry, including the regulatory complexities. As Canada’s largest law firm, with the largest Investment Management Group, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG) is that partner. From registration and regulatory compliance, to product structuring and implementation, we know the market and the legal landscape. Our practical solutions, from the preliminary stages of product design to the ongoing compliance with legal requirements, have produced success for our clients, and more than our share of accolades. BLG has more Investment Management lawyers recognized by peers for their expertise than any other Canadian law firm in the Mutual Funds Law and Private Funds Law categories of The Best Lawyers in Canada ® 2012 and the Investment Funds and Asset Management category of the 2011 Lexpert ®/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada. The Firm is also ranked in the Leading category for Investment Funds in Canada by the Practical Law Company. To find out how Canada’s top Investment Management team can assist you in Montreal, contact fred enns at 514.954.2536 or fenns@blg.com or anick morin at 514.954.2532 or amorin@blg.com, or visit blg.com

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How Duncan Ross Associates builds long-standing relationships A step-by-step look at how the firm, and yours, can remain vibrant after 25 years By Julie Schaeffer Commit to your investment philosophy Many boutique investment firms say they preserve capital and produce above-average returns, but Duncan Ross Associates Ltd. does it in an unusual way. The firm offers two private pooled funds (the Pooled Trust, founded in 1988, and the Equity Fund, founded in 1994) as well as segregated accounts. What differentiates the firm is its value-driven investment philosophy, focused on investing in undervalued companies with solid business fundamentals, and an emphasis on long-term absolute performance rather than quarterly relative performance. “The value-investing philosophy is one that has worked well over time,” says Mariel Hamou, marketing and communications. “Our investment style is kind of boring; it allows us to sleep at night, and it allows our clients to sleep at night as well. It is something that hasn’t changed and never will. Our motto is ‘Slow and steady wins the race,’ and we’re committed to it.”

Market through word of mouth The first clients of Duncan Ross Associates were people in the community of founder Robert Duncan Ross: family, friends, and business associates. Since then, the firm’s client base has grown organically through word of mouth. “We believe that if you’re doing your job well and your clients are happy, they’ll recommend your services to their friends and families,” says Mariel Hamou, marketing and communications.

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Illustration: Chloe Cushman

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MEET DUNCAN ROSS ASSOCIATES For a firm that has not actively sought clients in a traditional manner, Duncan Ross Associates is doing a pretty good job. The boutique investment firm, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, has built long-term relationships with hundreds of prominent Canadian businesspeople and philanthropists, many of whom remain committed clients for life. How the firm does it, says marketing team Sophie Dynbort and Mariel Hamou, is about more than consistent returns.

Ensure clients are a good fit “We often refer to a David Ogilvy quote: ‘Avoid clients whose ethos is incompatible with yours,’” says Sophie Dynbort, marketing and communications. To that end, the firm seeks to ensure all clients are a good fit in terms of their investment time horizon, goals, and risk tolerance. “It’s particularly important because our philosophy is long term, and our portfolios are concentrated,” Dynbort says. “We focus on quality rather than quantity, so it’s very important for clients to recognize how their expectations fit within the realities of our investment philosophy. We can normally tell that within the first couple of meetings through a series of interviews and questionnaires. In the early stages of courtship, we discuss risk tolerance and other factors to ensure suitability—but it’s only when faced with a downturn that human nature reveals itself.”

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Game Plan

“If you’re doing your job well and your clients are happy, they’ll recommend your services to their friends and families.” —Mariel Hamou, Marketing & Communications

Educate clients Duncan Ross Associates considers its clients as partners, and seeks to educate them about the firm’s investment philosophy. The firm’s quarterly reports are a good example. These reports, called letters, seldom discuss the economy or markets, and don’t focus on short-term performance. Instead, they tell a story that highlights an aspect of the firm’s value investing philosophy. “We see our quarterly letters as an opportunity to educate clients about our way of thinking,” Dynbort says. “We believe that allowing our clients to understand and share our way of thinking, as opposed to just simply reporting our every move, has allowed them to feel more confident and trusting in our decision-making. We’re really building partnerships with our clients.”

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Reinforce your vision Good customer service, say Hamou and Dynbort, doesn’t involve being everything to everyone; it’s about doing what’s best for the client. To that end, the firm discourages shortterm thinking. “Every once in a while, we get a nervous flyer, especially the way the markets have been the past few years, but we’re not going to perpetuate that fear,” Hamou says. “During these times, we reinforce our conviction in our investment philosophy and like to remind our clients of a familiar quote by Warren Buffett: ‘Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy only when others are fearful.’”

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Adapt Although Duncan Ross Associates has not needed to actively grow its client base, it recognizes that there’s a natural life cycle in the investment business. “We’ve lost a few clients along the way, and getting the next generation on board with our investment philosophy is not as simple as it seems,” Dynbort says. “Younger people don’t necessarily have the patience and temperament that’s required to weather the ups and downs of the market; they tend to have a short-term mind-set.” The firm has opened an office in Montréal and is gently expanding into the local community. “We’ve met many interesting people in nontraditional ways—mainly due to our involvement in the equestrian, contemporary-art, and aviation communities,” Dynbort says, “and our corporate culture is a lot more colourful because of it.”

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Photo: George Pimentel, WireImage/Getty for TIFF

Coming from an academic background in film, Piers Handling used to drive five hours to see the Toronto International Film Festival. Today, he serves as its CEO.


Movies for Grown-ups

Photo: Charles Leonio WireImage/Getty for TIFF

The Toronto International Film Festival’s central hub, TIFF Bell Lightbox, serves as a sleek, sophisticated, and year-round home for film

by Lindsey Howald Patton

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Photo: Charles Leonio WireImage/Getty for TIFF

Crowds gather in TIFF Bell Lightbox’s interior for the premiere of Vaquero. The theatre has the capacity to hold up to 1,348 people.

T

he design of a movie theatre often winds up like this: the building is large, with two wings spread on either side of a central, windowless atrium. It looms over the cars filling its parking lot, while its pink and turquoise neonaccented sign proclaims its name in buzzing light: Stadium 14, Majestic 18, Valley View 16, etc. In other words: nothing even remotely similar to the sleek, silvery glass tower added in 2010 to Toronto’s skyline. The stepped roof of TIFF Bell Lightbox is a sly reference to the Villa Malaparte in Jean Luc Godard’s 1963 film Contempt. Inside, you can watch that new indie documentary or the latest from a rising Chinese filmmaker in one of the cinema’s contemporary red chairs, 98

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“You know that you were kind of with a clubby group of people who were as excited about seeing these films as you were.” —Piers Handling, CEO

designed by the same company who did the seating in the Paris Opera House. There are art galleries and a restaurant that serves cocktails with names like Black Swan and War Horse. The glassed-in master control booth is on view in a bold-red frame in a three-storey atrium. On hand at the concession stand, rather than the typical popcorn and M&Ms, are date pecan scones and quiches with spinach and goat cheese. The Toronto Star pronounced TIFF Bell Lightbox a complex with an impressive number of uses but which functions primarily as the Toronto International Film Festival’s home base, a “movie house for grown-ups.” Piers Handling, TIFF’s CEO, couches it in broader, slightly more sentimental terms: “A home for movies,” he offers as a definition for the Lightbox, which stands on the advantagemagazine.ca


Movies for Grown-Ups

Photo: George Pimentel, WireImage/Getty for TIFF

Q&A with Piers Handling

What do you, personally, love about film? In the hands of a true artist, film reorders the way you look at the world. When I was younger, film allowed me to lose myself in someone else’s world, so it was a form of escapism. As I became older, I became more interested in those films that questioned the rules and challenged notions of escapism. There are so many different ways of putting image and sound together. The films I respond to challenge convention, break the rules, and play with ideas of time, space, off-screen space, landscape. Film is often seen as diversionary entertainment. I love films that unsettle me in some way, reorder the world, and make me think. You come from an academic background in film. How do you think that prepared you for the position you have now with TIFF? It made me very conscious of what constituted a good film, as you quickly become acquainted with the classics of cinema. It provided me with a context for everything that I saw, which was invaluable. It also allowed me to talk to filmmakers about their work, comparing it to other films. When you critically dissect a film to write or lecture about

it, you really begin to understand how films work at every level. How many films do you actually get to sit down and watch during the fest? During the festival, I see no films. My job is to host, problem solve, and be everywhere. In Cannes and Berlin, I see about 30 films over the course of each festival. In your photo on TIFF’s press page, you’re holding hardback copies of the biographies of Jean-Luc Godard, William Faulkner, and Jean Renoir. Explain. Godard is the reason I became involved in cinema, so he started my career. I saw Weekend when I was 19, and the light went on. I still love his work. I am a huge bibliophile, and books are as important to me as cinema; Faulkner is a great love, but it could as well have been Tolstoy, Balzac, Lawrence, Wolff, and many others. Renoir speaks to the past of film and my love for that era of the black-and-white cinema. You missed the Annapurna book. I love the mountains; I ski fanatically and climbed seriously when I was younger, and have climbed and trekked in Nepal around Annapurna and Everest. These books constitute important parts of my life. Music is missing—and that is also a great love.

Cameron Bailey and Piers at the Page Eight red-carpet premiere.

northwest corner of King and John Streets in Toronto’s budding entertainment district. Not a house for movies—any venue in the world can throw off the lights and start the reel; you come, you stay to watch, you leave—but TIFF Bell Lightbox is a place where you come, you stay, and then you stay longer, and then you come back, even if it’s not to see a film at all. Home—a kind of all-encompassing, permanent residence for film and the people who love it. (That last part could be taken literally; set back on the Lightbox’s John Street side is a tower condominium of private residences.) Having a permanent home is unusual for a film festival. Most film festivals, even massive ones like TIFF, are gypsies of a certain kind. They swoop in on a city, overcome and fill its available screens, hotels, and sidewalks with directors, fans, celebrities, media, and advantagemagazine.ca

buyers, then retreat after it’s all over to regroup for the next splashy season. When TIFF Bell Lightbox was conceived, “there was nothing like it in the world,” Handling says. “When we had this notion of a building, it was a staff-driven idea,” he says. They were working out of an anonymous high-rise and knew that the festival itself, by then one of the most highly regarded film events in North America, would continue to thrive if the situation changed little. But TIFF had evolved into something more than a 10-day industry event that people looked to for movies headed down the Oscar road. The organization, under Handling’s direction since 1994, was developing year-round programming. The diverse, dynamic city of filmgoers—Toronto residents watch more movies per capita than all cities in North America but Los Angeles and New advantage

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Movies for Grown-Ups

By the Numbers

336

Number of films showed during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) last year

Exterior shot of TIFF Bell Lightbox, located on the northwest corner of King and John Streets in Toronto.

3,461

Number of films submitted for consideration to TIFF last year

900

In minutes, the longest film showed in 2011 (The Story of Film: An Odyssey)

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Number of theatres in TIFF Bell Lightbox

1,348

Number of cinema seats in TIFF Bell Lightbox

34

Average age of TIFF employees

$20 million TIFF’s revenue

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York—had proved it could support it. Handling wanted an archive and library, wanted to revive old films on large screens, wanted to offer screen space to small, niche film festivals, and wanted to develop a teen film festival and a children’s film festival. For all of this, TIFF would need a home. To convince the board of directors, Handling took several members on a trip to Europe to show them the British Film Institute in London, Berlin’s Deutsche Kinemathek, and the Cinémathèque Française in Paris—all examples of what TIFF hoped to be in Canada.   “They went over as skeptics, and they came back as advocates,” Handling says.   What resulted after years of planning, strategizing, and running an extensive $196 million capital campaign is this: five cinemas, ranging in capacity from an intimate, 80-seat space to a multiplex-style 528-seater; two restaurants, one casual, one higher-end, both by O&B; two galleries (a James Bond exhibition opening in one this fall); offices that contain the 150 or so TIFF staff members; and 38 stories of condominiums above TIFF’s five floors, called Festival Tower. According to the local firm Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg

Architects, the envisioned design for the Bell Lightbox blends “the solidity of architecture” and “ephemerality of the medium of film.” The 37th edition of the film festival took place this September, and Handling has only missed it twice. In 1976, the festival’s first year, he was working in Ottawa, flipping through pages of film magazines and marking the movies he would have to drive five hours or more to see. “You couldn’t see them in Ottawa,” he says, “you had to go to either Montréal or Toronto.” Today, TIFF is easily counted among one of the world’s top-tier film events—it’s common for the media to call it second only to Cannes in Paris—but in that first year, there were no sold-out houses. Still, “there was just such excitement in the cinemas,” Handling says. “They weren’t full. Far from it. But you know that you were kind of with a clubby group of people who were as excited about seeing these films as you were.” He drove the five hours back to Ottawa and remarked to one of his friends, “This thing is really going to work in Toronto. “It’s one of the few real insights I’ve had in my life.” _a advantagemagazine.ca

Photo: Sonia Recchia, WireImage/Getty for TIFF

In minutes, the shortest film showed in 2011 (349 (For Sol LeWitt))


Heenan Blaikie is proud of its continuing partnership with AGF Management Limited

“Heenan Blaikie has become a trusted advisor over the years. My role at AGF Management Limited has continued to grow and evolve and so has our relationship with Heenan Blaikie. Heenan Blaikie is able to provide the guidance and strategic advice I need as my goals and responsibilities shift and expand. The Heenan Blaikie team has shown the depth and breadth of expertise required by AGF.�

Mark Adams SVP, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary AGF Management Limited

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How Mark Adams balances different roles at an international investment firm AGF Management’s general counsel shares tips for keeping on point on all fronts By Christopher T. Freeburn

Photo: Patrick Fordham

Don’t get buried in the details “If the company is negotiating a services agreement with IBM, I can’t spend my time working on it, because I just don’t have enough time,” Adams says. That sort of work is managed by other lawyers at the firm. “I delegate enough to my team so that I can spend more of my time providing advice to the management team at a strategic level,” he says. Certain members of the legal team have also been provided special responsibilities, handling issues particular to two key business lines at the company, further relieving burdens on Adams’s time.

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Stay informed “I am not a compliance expert, but I have to keep myself up to speed with compliance issues,” says Adams. “I get calls every day from senior- and executive-management team members asking me, ‘Hey, compliance raised this issue, so why do we have to do this?’” In order to answer such questions, Adams makes a constant effort to remain current with the breadth of legal and regulatory issues facing the company. “It’s almost a mediator role, and, as a result, I need to rely on my team, but I also need to know what’s going on,” he says. “There are a lot of decisions that have to be made that require legal advice and input.”

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Communicate constantly Adams holds frequent and regular meetings with his compliance, corporate-governance, and general-legal teams. Such meetings elicit dialogue between the team members and keep everyone on the same page. “My teams are located on the same floor, and I have a lot of hallway and ad hoc discussions with them every day,” Adams says. “It is basically strategic watercooler chat.”

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MEET MARK ADAMS After eight years at investment management firm AGF Management Limited, former securities lawyer Mark Adams wears many hats. The seasoned executive serves as general counsel, senior vice president, and corporate secretary. With responsibilities spanning regulatory compliance, corporate governance, and legal advice for operations spread across the world, Adams has to balance his time and skills. “Sometimes all the roles come together, but sometimes they all pull in different directions,” he says, noting that the company depends on him to provide comprehensive legal guidance. “In private practice, you can say, ‘Well, I’m not totally sure of the facts you’re talking about because I am not in your business,’ whereas because I am embedded in the business, I am completely accountable.”

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Game Plan

Know your cycles

Manage globally, hire locally

While he has many responsibilities, Adams finds that each has a specific time frame. Managing those time frames allows him to juggle many tasks. “As corporate secretary, I have to manage the quarterly board meetings,” he says. Preparing for each meeting is a month-long process. At first, Adams felt consumed, but he quickly observed that it was a regular process. “Once you notice the cyclical schedules of these things, you can kind of build everything else around them,” he says.

With business units operating all over the world, AGF contends with numerous constantly changing regulatory environments. “It’s a minefield,” Adams admits. The key is to deploy the right resources in the right place. “The preference—if money wasn’t an object—would be to have your own people on the ground at every operation, but you have to make trade-offs,” Adams explains. In some areas, like the United States, the company has inhouse compliance personnel. Elsewhere, it retains outside firms or consultants. “It’s crucial to have someone on the ground who knows what they are doing,” Adams says. “We do the same business all around the world, but every place we do business wants us to do it under different regulatory structures.”

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Prioritize “Knowing what you need to do first is a key challenge for every executive and every organization,” Adams says. “Legal, governance, and compliance are shared services among our various business units and entities, and everyone is demanding my time, saying, ‘Well, my project is a priority.’” Adams concedes there’s no magic formula to tell you what actually is most important—just experience. “After a while, you develop a bit of an instinct,” he says. “I’ve been with the company for eight years, and I know if something is a key issue for us.”

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Be proactive Adams holds regular meetings with AGF senior executives. “These meetings are an opportunity for them to bring up issues and concerns they have, and it’s a chance for me to say, ‘Hey, here’s an issue we in legal or compliance think is coming down the road, and I know it will affect your business unit,’” he explains. He also uses e-mail to keep the management team aware of impending issues. “I’ll send them an e-mail saying, ‘Here’s something we see as an potential issue, and this is why it’s relevant to your business.’”

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A message from heenan blaikie

Heenan Blaikie is a full-service Canadian law firm that provides a wide range of services to leading Canadian and foreign banks and other financial institutions. We regularly help structure, negotiate, and complete complex transactions. We use a multidisciplinary approach to provide innovative transactional and strategic advice.

“I delegate enough to my team so that I can spend more of my time providing advice to the management team at a strategic level.” —Mark Adams, Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary

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when no one’s ever seen times like these? We’re Yorkville Asset Management, a boutique investment management firm that delivers portfolio management services to Canada’s wealthiest families and foundations. Our principals collectively bring over 145 years of successful wealth management experience, and a decidedly fresh approach to risk management. If stability and capital preservation are among your primary objectives, our goals are aligned and we should probably talk. To learn more about Yorkville Asset Management or to discuss your portfolio of $2 million or more, please contact Chief Investment Strategist Mr. Hussein Amad at 647-776-7480 or hamad@yorkvilleasset.com.

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www.yorkvilleasset.com

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the biz

Grit Showing firmness of mind and spirit; unafraid in the face of hardship

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A diversified financial company weathers the economic crisis

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Bringing banks into the digital age

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Pushing the insurance industry forward

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Competing with the big dogs

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Constantly evolving in a competitive field

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Taking financial paralysis out of the equation

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On the ground during the financial maelstrom

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Backing up one city’s law enforcers

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A new CEO helps revitalize a company

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A solid strategy proves itself in tough times

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Fixing a community rattled by a fishing collapse


Global’s head office, in Richmond Hill, ON, houses Global RESP Corporation, Global Insurance Solutions, and Global Maxfin Investments.

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world-class balancing act With four diverse entities compromising its core, the Global family of companies walks the tightrope of finance and finds steady success by julie schaeffer

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n 2008, a crisis befell the financial markets, and by September 17, 2008, more public corporations had filed for bankruptcy in the United States than in all of 2007, triggering a crisis of confidence that sent the global financial markets into a tailspin. While most financial companies faltered, one in particular chugged on, thanks in part to its diversified offerings. “All four companies under the Global umbrella function in the financial-services industry, but each one focuses on a different area and has its own strengths and weaknesses,” says Sam Bouji, CEO of the Global family of companies, one of the largest independent financialservices firms in Canada, with more than 200,000 clients collectively. “If one of our companies feels the pressure of market events, our other companies are likely going smoothly. That allows us to not just persevere through tough times but to thrive.” Global is the brainchild of Bouji, an Egyptian immigrant who began selling Group Scholarship Plans, an education savings plan in which contributions are pooled together and invested mostly in fixed-income instruments, in 1989. It was a new field for Bouji, but he excelled. Over the course of the following years, he noticed there was room for an individual education savings plan that could be more responsive to the needs of Canadians who want their children to have postsecondary education. In November 1996, Bouji created the Global Educational Trust Foundation, a nonprofit foundation that created an education savings plan, and in 1998 he got approval to distribute it through Global RESP Corporation (formerly Global Educational Marketing Corporation). The distinct features of that product— which Bouji called the Global Educational Trust Plan—led to rapid success, and Bouji began exploring other areas of the financial-services industry. Today, the Global family of companies serves clients in every Canadian province and has offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montréal, and Halifax, as well as affiliate offices across Canada. With 150 full-time employees and close to 1,300 independent sales associates, Global provides

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GRIT

Hailing from Egypt, CEO Sam Bouji’s Global group of companies now serves every province in Canada.

A diversified financial company weathers the economic crisis

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“I could stay awake at night worrying about the markets, but that doesn’t accomplish anything. Instead, I review my vision and stay steady in my plan, making changes to accommodate the situation wherever possible.” —Sam Bouji

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the biz

GLOBAL FAMILY

corporate and securities litigation

Skilled Advocacy Expert Advice Our firm is committed to providing exceptional client service founded on our legal expertise, our wide-ranging experience and our ability to understand our clients' business. Our advocacy is always skilled and creative; we deliver concise and practical advice to achieve our clients' goals.

Crawley Meredith Brush LLP Corporate and Securities Litigation Suite 800 - 179 John Street Toronto, Ontario M5T 1X4 p 416.217.0110 • f 416.217.0220

www.cmblaw.ca 108

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services to 200,000 Canadians through four divisions: Global RESP Corporation (a distributor of education savings plans), Global Insurance Solutions Inc. (a distributor of insurance products), Global Maxfin Investments Inc. (a distributor of mutual funds), and Global Maxfin Capital Inc. (a full-service securities dealership). “We cater to the family market,” Bouji explains. “With Global products, you can ensure your family’s safety with life insurance, plan for your children’s education with an education savings plan, save for retirement with a retirement account, and invest whatever you have left over in a full-service brokerage account. We have a product for every Canadian at every life stage.” It’s a strategy that works well for Global’s clients, the sales associates who sell the company’s products. “Our sales associates have the opportunity to carry up to three licenses, which allow them to sell everything they need to develop a full financial solution for their clients, the Canadians who rely on our products,” Bouji says. Global’s diversification also, as noted, lets it get through tough times. During the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, for example, the mutualfund industry suffered tremendously, with many funds declining by 40 percent and losing 60 percent of their assets. Although that affected Global Maxfin Investments, Global RESP Corporation was going strong. “We invest securely because we want people who purchase our plan to sleep at night, knowing they’ll be able to send their children to postsecondary education,” Bouji says. “While that might lead to lower returns in good times, it protects principal in difficult times. The Global Educational Trust Plan, which is now 13 years old, has never reported a calendaryear with negative returns, and has provided about a 4.8 percent average annual return since its inception.” That’s not just a good track record for a single division; it gives Global the liquidity to acquire other entities as needed. “When the markets declined in 2008 and 2009, many smaller businesses suffered, and we saw an investment opportunity,” Bouji says. “Over the

Global By the Numbers 150 employees 1,300 salespeople 10 provinces $3 billion assets under

management/administration

$44 million gross revenue

past seven years, we’ve acquired seven small and medium-size financial entities.” Included, he says, are some mutual-fund dealers. By acquiring their assets when they were down in the financial crisis, Global was able to benefit when the markets rebounded in 2010. “I dream and I plan,” says Bouji of the vision behind Global’s diversification strategy, but he notes that overcoming tough times starts with a unique perspective. “You have to understand that there are things you can control and things you can’t control. The things you can control, you must be aware of and deal with; the things you can’t control, you have to let go. That’s not to say you ignore them; you acknowledge them, but you accept the situation and do whatever you can, personally, to make a difference in your own life.” As an example, Bouji points to the European debt crisis, which has driven the global markets’ wild ride of the past year. “We have nothing to do with that situation, but we feel the impact regardless,” he says. “I could stay awake at night worrying about the markets, but that doesn’t accomplish anything. Instead, I review my vision and stay steady in my plan, making changes to accommodate the situation wherever possible.” _a advantagemagazine.ca


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grit Bringing banks into the digital age

When launching Pacific & Western Bank, David Taylor, president and CEO, utilized his experience writing software programs as a biologist.

Branchless banking Pacific & Western Bank has no retail storefronts, which means less overhead and a higher bottom line than traditional banks by lynn russo whylly

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avid Taylor didn’t follow the typical career path when he decided to launch Pacific & Western Bank of Canada (PWBank), so it stands to reason that PWBank is not your typical bank. In fact, being atypical is the key to its success. Originally a biologist who wrote software programs for science projects, Taylor conceived a program that would allow banks to utilize the Internet for deposits and lending, eliminating the need for tellers. In the early 1990s, he hired two college graduates to create the program. In 1993, Taylor launched the bank, a branchless entity that uses the software and the model he created to gather deposits from a nationwide network of deposit

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“We have less overhead, so more of our net-interest income drops to the bottom line.” —David Taylor

brokers and lend those funds to low-risk markets. “We have less overhead,” says Taylor, who was named president and CEO, “so more of our net-interest income drops to the bottom line.” In 2002, PWBank received Schedule-I status—the same as traditional banks. And in 2006, Taylor launched Versabanq Innovations to sell the software program to the banking world and made both companies wholly owned subsidiaries of Pacific & Western Credit Corp. Another one of Taylor’s creative ideas was Discovery Air. “This was an endeavour we undertook to help a customer,” he recalls. advantagemagazine.ca


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Pacific & Western Bank’s Milestones

2011

1993

PWBank signs up its first leasing company

PWBank is founded

2004

P&WCC launches Discovery Air

Early 1990s

David Taylor hires two programmers to build his proprietary software program

2002

The bank receives Schedule-I chartered bank license as a wholly owned subsidiary of Pacific & Western Credit Corp. (P&WCC)

leasing companies and offered to electroniIn 2004, Taylor and his team took the small cally acquire their leases, clearing their balance company, which “was providing aerial forestsheets so they could borrow more and grow fire services to the Ontario government, and their businesses. “We modified our software to decided to make it bigger and stronger,” he allow for the electronic transmission of their says. “But then, once we did, the bank had leases to us, then scrubbed the leases to ensure no interest in it any longer, so we spun it off and listed it on the Toronto Stock Exchange.” they meet our criteria,” Taylor says. “This gave us a new asset class with a high spread and a When the financial crisis struck in Seplow risk. The vendors also provide cash coltember 2008, Versabanq was hit hard, and lateral to ensure our risk is low.” the software was back-burnered. PWBank, In January, PWBank launched a credit because of its unique model, was fairly well card in partnership with Home Hardware, guarded from the recession. “Our distribuCanada’s largest independent retailer, with tion network, from which we get deposits, approximately 1,100 stores nationwide. To includes financial advisors and financial date, “the card has been well received, and planners across Canada,” Taylor explains. the rate at which customers are signing up “To complement their suite of products, we for the card is ahead of target,” Taylor says. provide a GIC-guaranteed banking deposit Its most recent project is a partnership investment. So when their clients want to with bankruptcy trustees, who collectively park some money for a period of time, they have $2.5 billion in trust deposits at any given deposit it with us.” time. Pacific & Western Bank is working While PWBank wasn’t in quite the desperate situation as large banks, Taylor says, with two of the largest trustees in Canada to develop software that would allow it to “the situation caused a rapid depletion of the access their funds and use it as a loan source. bank’s capital that we were forced to replace “That gave us an entirely new source of with expensive debt, and the spread we were deposits that were not interest-rate sensitive,” formerly able to earn on loans to publicTaylor says. “Our ability to create timely sector entities evaporated.” The experience reports saved the trustees some administraexposed weaknesses in PWBank’s model, tive work.” and the executive team decided it was time The liquidity crisis, Taylor admits, to start diversifying the bank’s asset mix. taught them some hard lessons and caused In its endeavor, PWBank called upon advantagemagazine.ca

2012

PWBank launches the Home Hardware credit card PWBank signs up its first bankruptcy trustee

them to undertake some unique measures to reduce risk and diversify. But thanks to Taylor’s vision and everyone’s hard work, PWBank has emerged as a much stronger and more diversified bank. “We’re on solid footing,” Taylor says, “and looking forward to what we’re seeing evolve as a very bright future for Pacific & Western Bank.” _a

A message from link advertising

Link Advertising has had the privilege of enjoying a strong strategic partnership with David Taylor and his team at Pacific & Western Bank of Canada since 1998. We have grown to admire and respect the bank as it continues to build a reputation for expertise and innovation. At the outset of our relationship, David Taylor and his team challenged Link: “There is an old adage, ‘To be successful in business, you must be either better, faster, cheaper, or you must be different’; we plan to be all of these.” David Taylor and his team constantly strive to be different. Link Advertising Inc. is a fullservice agency developing integrated communications that execute targeted tactics to enhance the branding and selling strategies of our clients. We provide passion, knowledge, experience, and an effective process to develop integrated communications. Our difference is, we will do whatever it takes to get the job done. advantage

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Strategic partnerships can’t be measured in dollars and cents.

Why Mutual? Because we are your friends and neighbors. We are a team of dedicated professionals committed to successfully offering high-quality services at competitive prices, consistent with maintaining steady growth, financial stability, and fair settlements of claims.

Residential Insurance Auto Insurance Commercial Insurance Farm Insurance

Experience the mutual difference. visit www.pwbank.com or www.linkad.com

www.claremutual.com


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GRIT Pushing the insurance industry forward

President Janice Belliveau spoke at the 2011 MAMIC Convention, addressing the changes in the industry in terms of governmental regulation.

dawning of a new era Janice Belliveau of Clare Mutual helps improve the everchanging insurance industry by vincent j. studebaker

I

n the Maritimes, there is an old saying: “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.” The same saying could be used to describe the insurance industry within which Nova Scotia-based Clare Mutual operates. However, in five minutes, there is no guarantee of condition improvements—government regulation, competition, and demutualization are just a few examples of the constantly changing environmental factors that are getting more difficult to keep up with. Even Nova Scotia’s weather—the increasing frequency and severity of rain and windstorms—is becoming a significant underwriting challenge. Founded in 1936, Clare Mutual originally offered only fire and lighting insurance. In the 1980s, facing competition from other providers, it expanded to offer homeowners’ insurance as well. Today, it has 4,500 policies and writes

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“Change doesn’t come about like magic. It takes time and a proactive approach, and this starts at the most important place: within ourselves. –Janice Belliveau

more $2.7 million in premiums annually, thanks in part to recognizing the importance of a local focus. “We know our clients’ insurance needs, and we insure properties when others will not, such as locally constructed wood and sawdust burning installations,” says Janice Belliveau, who serves as president. In order to survive as a small insurance company, Clare Mutual abides by one basic principle that is important going forward: it’s had to change the way it thinks, if it is going to be able to implement the changes that have to come about to guarantee future success. “Change doesn’t come about like magic,” Belliveau says. “It takes time and a proactive approach, and this starts at the most important place: within ourselves.” One of Clare Mutual’s strong suits is networking with partners it trusts. “As a small company of four staff members and three agents, we can’t do it all, nor do we have all the knowledge and resources needed to run an insurance company; we have to network with partners we trust,” Belliveau says. “For example, our reinsurer, Farm Mutual Reinsurance Plan, in addition to providing reinsurance expertise, provides much guidance and assistance regarding regulatory changes. Grant Thornton LLP and the Ontario Mutual Insurance Association have been key in the implementation of International Financial Reporting Standards.” In addition, the company views change as an opportunity. “Change is a constant in today’s insurance industry,” Belliveau explains. “It’s an opportunity to review existing operations and implement the necessary changes to keep up with the never-ending industry changes and better meet the needs of our clients.” advantage

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496 OF THE FORTUNE Quick Tips Surviving as a Small Insurance Company

Consider change an opportunity. In the next few years, two of our agents will be retiring. This change, though difficult, is an opportunity for change, a time to take a close look at company operations and see how things can be changed to better meet the needs of our clients and our company, today and in the future.

• Stay with partners you trust. No one can go it alone in this ever-changing industry. For example, our reinsurer, Farm Mutual Reinsurance Plan, in addition to providing reinsurance expertise, provides much guidance and assistance regarding regulatory change. Grant Thornton LLP and the Ontario Mutual Insurance Association have been key in the implementation of International Financial Reporting Standards. •

BUILD WITH CISCO.

Network. Our industry is made up of a large number of individual mutual-insurance companies and associations. Within this group, there is a tremendous amount of knowledge and resources. The insight gained by networking with these colleagues is invaluable.

For example, Clare Mutual will see two of its three commission-based agents retire within the next few years. Instead of simply replacing them, Belliveau used the change as an opportunity to consider if the business model was working. She decided it could be improved, and made plans to implement a new distribution system. As commissionbased agents retire, they’ll be replaced by salaried customer-service representatives who will communicate with the clients primarily over the phone, and client visits will be done by loss prevention staff. Having two people manage a portfolio instead of one will allow Clare Mutual to better manage risk with a more controlled cost. A large part of the success of this implementation is a result of networking with Erie Mutual, based in Ontario,” Belliveau says. “Their experience and guidance with this project has been invaluable. The Canadian Mutual system is made up of a large number of individual mutualinsurance companies, many of them smaller 114

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companies like Clare Mutual. “Looking to the future, it’s difficult not to see, to one extent, a network of shared resources and, to the other extent, a network of possible mergers,” says Belliveau. “Can we survive without these changes? Can we—as an industry and as individual companies—be strong enough to see the strengths of our neighbouring mutuals and be willing to work with them?” Belliveau is insistent, however, that the future success of Clare Mutual and the mutual industry will be by making industry slogans a reality. With slogans like “Together we can, together we will” and “Mutuality and working together,” there is a whole other level of success that can be achieved by the mutual industry that cannot be attained with the current model. “Can we look at our mutual colleagues and see the strengths in resources and knowledge that we can pull together, as a group, to reach the next level of success?” Belliveau asks. “Here lies the true challenge.” _a

©2012 Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. advantagemagazine.ca


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grit Competing with the big dogs

President Denis Dumouchel views it as CBCI’s responsibility to show skeptics just how beneficial the company’s services are.

smarter business CBCI Telecom’s videoconferencing technologies save companies time and money

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here’s a company in Canada where employees are key—where work-life balance is not merely promoted but linked specifically to customer satisfaction in an effort to ensure prosperity and growth. That company is CBCI Telecom— Canada’s largest reseller of videoconferencing products— which works closely with industry-leading manufacturers like Cisco Systems to provide videoconferencing services and solutions to public and private sectors. Denis Dumouchel, the president of CBCI, believes in a familial workplace where employee satisfaction is not merely preached but practiced. “Everyone in the company depends on the satisfaction of the customer,” he says. “My employees must feel satisfied first in order to satisfy the customer.”

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“Everyone in the company depends on the satisfaction of the customer. My employees must feel satisfied first in order to satisfy the customer.” —Denis Dumouchel

by matthew isaia

Employee satisfaction is so vital, in fact, that once a year Dumouchel brings his entire staff to CBCI’s main office, in Montréal, for a two-day retreat devoted to teamwork and customer service. The retreat serves as an effort to attain the company’s vision: to reinvent and facilitate the way of doing business using video technology and audiovisual services. CBCI envisions a future where organizations—no matter how big or small—use their services in order to collaborate with coworkers and customers to successfully conduct business. Of course, the company has its share of competition. In past several years, free videoconferencing services such as Skype or advantage

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Decisions, Decisions The Benefits of CBCI and Videoconferencing

WHO'S BEHIND THE LEADING VIDEOCONFERENCING COMPANY'S CROSS-CANADA MPLS NETWORK?

the fastest growing Ethernet Fiber Carrier in Canada

Why to go with CBCI • Overall quality of products • Complete devotion to customers • Customer satisfaction guaranteed • Reliable installation Why to go with videoconferencing • Saves time and money • Cuts down travel time • Increased productivity among virtual companies and teams • Supports environmental initiatives Google Video have been on the rise—yet CBCI has continued to thrive. The reason, according to Denis Dumouchel, is because free videoconferencing services are the inferior option. To him, free services lack focus and competitive edge, which hinders the product, whereas CBCI devotes itself completely to videoconferencing, in order to ensure the quality of its product. “If you want to be great, you need to focus,” Dumouchel says. “Once customers use our videoconferencing, they won’t go back.” This confidence isn’t unfounded; after all, for 10 years in a row, Dumouchel’s company has been awarded Partner of the Year by Tandberg and Cisco Systems. In addition, CBCI is the preferred provider of videoconferencing services and solutions to the Canadian federal government, provincial government, and the healthcare industry. CBCI’s biggest obstacle, however, is not its opponents touting free services; rather, it’s a more internal one. Given the esoteric nature of videoconference technology and audiovisual services and solutions, finding talented resources can be a struggle. Therefore, it’s up to CBCI to search for new and talented candidates and educate them internally. An additional obstacle created within the industry has everything to do with perception and the somewhat habitual nature of business. Companies deeply rooted in the face-to-face, physical presence of meetings and conferencing will sometimes shy away from videotechnology providers. In an effort to refute this somewhat antiquated way of doing business, CBCI works diligently to promote the

ever-evolving benefits of videoconferencing. The company welcomes the chance to present a new and cutting-edge way of conducting business. CBCI views it as the company’s responsibility to show sceptics just how costeffective and beneficial their service is. Moreover, by striving to cut down company travel by 60 percent, CBCI works to save its customers both time and money. “People like to travel, but our service allows people to work remotely at home or in an office,” Domouchel says. “So you’re looking at no travel, no hassle, no stress.” The one irrefutable aspect of CBCI’s service is its ability to provide customers with easy solutions that drastically improve their work-life balance. Whether it’s the ability to communicate seamlessly with coworkers (regardless of geographical relations), or the amount of money saved through videoconferencing, the company guarantees it can improve any working environment. As a leading provider of video technology, CBCI is dedicated to enhancing productivity and quality of life for all of its users. Who wouldn’t benefit from that? _a

A message from fibrenoire

Fibrenoire is a next generation telecom company that specializes exclusively in fibre-optic Internet connectivity and private network business services. Fibrenoire operates its own IP NGN Carrier Ethernet network of over 4,000 kilometres of fibre in Québec and Ontario. Fibrenoire is also a proud service provider of CBCI’s MPLS network.

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grit Constantly evolving in a competitive field

From left: Richard Rosenbaum, chairman and founder; Joe Horvath, president and CEO.

Tech titans How The RSC Group rode the ups and downs of its sector and emerged as a mainstay in its field by julie edwards

S

ay the term “technology partner” and many business people’s eyes glaze over. However, there’s no other way to describe the role of the Vancouver-based RSC Group, and that’s completely fine with them. While the company understands that its customers may not understand the “how” of its products and services, the RSC Group has built a solid reputation as a company to tell you why its needed. “Over the past 23 years, we’ve become the predominant leader in our field and have served more than 800 customers,” says Richard Rosenbaum, chairman and founder of RSC. “We know our product. We’ve developed a niche in the midmarket, and we understand that client [base] extremely well.” “Midmarket” translates into companies with $50– 100 million in annual revenue. RSC provides enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, which integrate and streamline internal and external management functions advantagemagazine.ca

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“Over the past 23 years, we’ve become the predominant leader in our field and have served more than 800 customers.” –Richard Rosenbaum

across an entire organization, including such tasks as payroll, accounting, sales, and distribution. As a Microsoft partner, RSC works almost exclusively with Microsoft Dynamics, which it customizes to meet specific client needs. “Our solutions are never ‘out of the box,’” Rosenbaum says. “We tailor each installation for the client’s business processes. We work with Microsoft because its packages are very ‘configurable’ and adapt easily to the customer’s requirements.” Joe Horvath, RSC’s president and CEO, says one challenge of implementation lies in minimizing disruption to the client’s daily operations. “It’s somewhat of an art to roll out a new ERP system—there are so many pieces and moving parts,” he explains. “We often favour a phased approach for this reason.” advantage

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Discover why so many businesses are turning to SilverPoint Systems for the best & brightest in IT support. Here’s why so many businesses depend on SilverPoint Systems for IT service and support: • Our Microsoft Partner status – reserved for companies that demonstrate excellence

While RSC has an office in Alberta, the company’s business mainly centres on its Vancouver location. “We have clients in a range of fields—including manufacturing, nonprofit, education, and financial services— because we made the decision to build our business in a meaningful way by serving the local market instead of going after specific verticals,” Rosenbaum says. “Being local allows us to offer a very personalized approach to customer service, which, in turn, has meant long-term relationships with clients.” RSC’s customer-service approach abets this process, as it focuses on accountability and a transparent approach. “We don’t leave things to chance before, during, or after implementation,” Rosenbaum says. “It’s equally important to provide value postimplementation—such as providing technical

in implementing Microsoft technologies • An entire team of experts at your service – dependable consultants and engineers that

RSC By the Numbers

work as your partners in IT and success • Round-the-clock technical support – IT help when you need it most Technology services from SilverPoint Systems are designed, created and implemented with your unique business needs in mind, so you know you’ll see a return on your IT investments today and in the future.

We just get to the Point. SilverPoint Systems Ltd. Unit 101 • 20678 Duncan Way Langley, BC V3A 7A3 604-200-2234 • info@gosilverpoint.com www.gosilverpoint.com 118

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Number of employees. As a smaller company leveraging big ideas, each employee must balance business acumen with technical know-how.

$7

mil.+

Annual revenue. RSC wrangles the rocky roads of the tech industry by reevaluating its model during slow years.

support, product updates, and hosting events for software users—because it keeps clients coming back.” To deliver this vast array of services, RSC employs team members who have as much business acumen as they do technical skills. “We hire business-savvy people who can marry big-picture processes with day-to-day details,” Horvath says. “Our tools are the software, but the leadership and expertise comes from our people. Our goal is to empower employees in their day-to-day processes through software to transform entire companies.” Of course, the technology field has not been without its ups and downs over the two decades RSC has been in business, but Rosenbaum says he views a downturn as an opportunity. “Slow times are good times to take a hard look at how you are doing business and reinvent how you go forward,” he says. “It’s all about evolving as a company, because change is constant.” For example, RSC recently revamped its marketing approach to include a rebranding and a more prominent online component. “We realized we didn’t have our marketing approach nailed down, so we made the decision to invest in marketing, and refine processes around that move,” Horvath says. Another challenge the company addressed is juggling billable resources, as it was easy to become overloaded in one area. This was fine until that area slowed down. “You take your foot off the gas, then wind up with no work,” Horvath says. “We formalized the process of project management so we would always have someone devoted to coordinating resources so that each project is appropriately staffed.” RSC is now evolving into a new field: business intelligence, or using data generated through ERP systems to surface trends and patterns. The company will use the technology to provide real-time, actionable information to clients to help with their budgeting and planning. “We’re about more than just selling software,” Rosenbaum says. “We are a professional-services firm focused on helping our clients be proactive about improving their bottom line.” _a advantagemagazine.ca


the biz

grit Taking financial paralysis out of the equation

Chris Clarke, president and founder, gives clients a financial plan that is right for them.

building Prosperity A smart advising plan has First Affiliated keeping families stable during tough economic times by mark pechenik

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hen asked how the economic climate has affected her firm, Chris Clarke of Toronto-based First Affiliated Holdings Inc. offers a straightforward assessment. “The current economic landscape is uncertain, and the financial markets are characterized by excessive volatility,” says Clarke, president and founder of First Affiliated, a leading Canadian multifamily office working with affluent Canadian families and business owners. “Families and businesses often lack confidence about their futures, are uncertain who to turn to for advice, and feel paralyzed when it comes to decision-making. Consequently, our 23-year record of providing safe refuge for clients by remaining true to our values of long-term strategic financial planning is even more relevant today.” First Affiliated’s Family Prosperity Plan is the foundation of its approach. This unique, innovative strategy takes an industry-leading, integrated approach to addressing clients’ wealth, lifestyle, and legacy-management concerns. advantagemagazine.ca

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“We sit down with the client to discuss, analyze, and understand their personal attitudes, beliefs, priorities, and objectives, both for today and the future.” –Chris Clarke

“We work in partnership with each family’s advisors—accountants, tax advisors, attorneys, and others—to create, implement, and monitor a plan that preserves wealth, empowers prosperity, and builds legacies,” Clarke says. “We are guided by the client’s values, goals, and aspirations.” The first step in developing a Family Prosperity Plan is to organize and assess current financial resources, and to project the future outlook based on the client’s needs and desires. “We sit down with the client to discuss, analyze, and understand their personal attitudes, beliefs, priorities, and objectives, both for today and the future,” Clarke says. Each family’s entire financial landscape is addressed. “Family-owned businesses, for example, are often excluded from the analysis by traditional investment advisors,” Clarke says. “However, because we realize how important these enterprises are to family security, they are critical to consider when developing the client’s Family Prosperity Plan.” Subsequently, action is taken to establish what Clarke calls “capital thresholds” for achieving objectives. “We identify the minimum pool of capital (in today’s dollars) required to meet each goal,” she says. “We then develop longer-term strategies through financial mechanisms, such as income generation and cash management; investments, tax, estate, and succession planning; and even philanthropic initiatives necessary for meeting these goals.” These strategies are then implemented with the assistance and expertise of the family’s existing advisory team. First Affiliated regularly measures plan performance as compared to its clients’ longterm goals. By doing this, changes can be made quickly and effectively to ensure the plan stays on the right track. “It is important that there be accountability for results to the client’s objectives,” Clarke says. “Traditionally, the investment industry measures performance to their own objectives, which is not always to the client’s advantage or requirements.” Other First Affiliated initiatives round out the wealth-management services advantage

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provided to clients. Through its First Affiliated Academy, for instance, strategic legacy planning and education help to establish true financial stewardship, and ensure that both wealth and lasting legacies are passed on to the next generation. In addition, the First Affiliated Foundation was established to help clients fulfill their strategic philanthropic goals. This strategy is far different from traditional financial-advisory services. In fact, clients do not need to have liquid portfolio assets to find value in the services. “By taking into account a client’s total financial picture, we can provide them with the most comprehensive roadmap possible for growing and maintaining their wealth,” Clarke says. Furthermore, First Affiliated’s fee-based service model helps ensure objectivity in putting together the financial roadmap. “Too often, when it comes to commissionbased wealth management, there is the temptation to sell a certain financial product, which may or may not be appropriate for the client,” Clarke says. “Our model ensures we are a partner in our clients’ success.” First Affiliated is privately owned and does not sell any products. “This approach puts us on the 120

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same side of the table as clients,” Clarke says. “It enables our professionals to be completely objective, and to provide honest, unbiased expertise that is truly in the client’s best interest.” Yet another key aspect of First Affiliated’s philosophy, and one which strongly differentiates them from the competition, is the ultimate goal of its efforts: “Our goal is to preserve wealth and empower family prosperity,” Clarke says. “As trusted and accountable advisors, we oversee the complex demands of wealth management, to optimize the family’s financial affairs and free up their time. Ultimately, this reduces their worries so they can focus on other priorities in life.” This integrated and collaborative approach, Clarke believes, spells good news for First Affiliated in the midst of these trying times. As a result, her firm is opening several new offices throughout Canada. “People are looking for a better way,” Clarke says. “We’re fortunate that an increasing number of successful families are choosing First Affiliated to not only watch out for their interests, but to enable them to move forward with confidence during these challenging economic times.” _a

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the biz

grit On the ground during the financial maelstrom

Bill Harris (right), partner and portfolio manager at Avenue, believes in the golden rule when it comes to investing.

staking your ground Avenue Investment Management puts its money where its mouth is, investing alongside its clients and staying true through economic turbulence by matthew isaia

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hen Canada’s market crashed, Avenue Investment Management Inc. found itself looking down the barrel of a gun. One company in particular was on the fast track to failure. Teck Mining Company, Canada’s largest diversified mining company, saw its stock drop from $50 to $3. The partners at Avenue had their share of sleepless nights as they scrambled for profitable solutions. “If you’ve dug yourself into a hole, the first thing you do is stop digging and find a way out,” says Bill Harris, a partner and portfolio manager at Avenue. That’s exactly what the firm did. Believing in its own philosophies and sticking to its standard practices, Avenue turned its sights to strategic planning and analysis. The team recognized the value of the Westshore coal terminal that Teck

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“If you’ve dug yourself into a hole, the first thing you do is stop digging and find a way out.” –Bill Harris

was operating on, which yielded 12 percent returns and $75 million in cash. Avenue took immediate action, purchasing the coal terminal at $7 a share and selling it at $24 a share 18 months later. This was a major boon for the investment firm in a time of economic turmoil. “China’s always going to need coal,” Harris says. By 2009, the company was up 33 percent as the market turned, taking the lowest hit of any other company in the country. Avenue operates under two very specific philosophies: client services and strategic investments. The four partners are personally committed to achieving the long-term financial goals of their clients by creating, preserving, and protecting their clients’ wealth. In its simplest form, they follow the golden rule: treating clients how they would like to be treated. The partners are 100 percent invested alongside Avenue’s clients, so their rate of return is contingent upon client success. If the firm doesn’t make a positive return, it cuts its rate in half the following year. This may seem risky to some, advantage

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Portfolio Management & CRM Solution Since 1987

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but to Avenue, this strategy has successfully guided the firm since its inception. The company believes in an investment philosophy of capturing a solid rate of return to its clients with as little risk as possible. To achieve this, only companies with solid profit margins and a proven track record of doing business are chosen to invest in. “[We find] well-managed companies that we believe have a dominant or unique competitive advantage,” Harris says. “We focus on quantifying the intrinsic value of these companies and buying ownership interests in them when they are selling at a fair valuation.” Today’s economic environment is good for Avenue. The investment industry has seen increased stability and solid return rates as individual businesses seek to become more stable through cost-control methods. “Owning a high-quality, well-managed business is how you get through a financial crisis,” Harris says. Weathering the storm of the market crash proved to the partners at Avenue that sticking to their investment strategy and business philosophies, despite external factors, is key to survival. Harris’s story is a triumphant one, and it shows that having confidence and determination can be the difference between success and failure. By staying true to its principles, the company will continue to grow its portfolio by investing in credible businesses to achieve its clients’ long-term financial goals. _a

Avenue By the Numbers

10 Years in business

4

Number of partners

225 Number of clients

For more information contact us at: Montreal Office: 450-662-6101 Toronto Office: 647-345-0100 info@croesus.com

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the biz

GRIT Backing up one city’s law enforcers

Michael Taylor has served as general manager of WPCU since 1990.

first-class backup The security provided by Winnipeg Police Credit Union might not be bulletproof, but it keeps Winnipeg’s finest secure for life beyond law enforcement by christopher t. freeburn

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olice officers face unique challenges, both on the job and with managing their money. For decades, the Winnipeg law-enforcement community has turned to its own dedicated credit union to meet those challenges. Founded in 1949, the Winnipeg Police Credit Union (WPCU) was created by police officers frustrated at the inability of traditional banks to meet their needs. “Back then, banks were very restrictive about lending, and they didn’t offer deposit services that satisfied the needs of the law-enforcement community,” says Michael Taylor, WPCU’s general manager.

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“A lot of institutions come out with new services that are just window dressing and provide no real value to customers.” –Michael Taylor

“Our understanding of police officers’ personal circumstances gives us an advantage in tailoring our services to fit them,” Taylor explains. “When it comes to borrowing money, confidentiality is critical because our board of directors is composed of other police officers or retired police officers. So we provide our management team with a lot of latitude to approve loans without having to report to the board.” Taylor says the WPCU serves about 750 of the 1,100 police officers in the Winnipeg Police Department and their families, as well as retired officers. Though the WPCU is open bonded, it has opted to restrict membership only to the lawenforcement community. “You can’t walk in off the street and become a member,” Taylor explains. “We are open to police officers, their family members, and anyone they wish to refer.” That makes the WPCU one of the few semiclosed credit unions in Manitoba. The WPCU has only one branch office, located in downtown Winnipeg, adjoining the City of Winnipeg Police Service headquarters. However, because police officers work varying shifts around the clock, the branch isn’t always accessible to them. For that reason, the WPCU has been a pioneer in implementing new technologies to provide anytime access to accounts. “We recently implemented mobile banking,” Taylor says. “Because we are a single-branch operation, and because police officers use a lot of sophisticated technology, advantage

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Winnipeg Police Credit Union’s Milestones

1992

Adopts TelPay and Teleservice, 24-hour accounts access, and bill payment

1999

Implements cu@home Internet Banking

2001

Starts online brokerage through Q-trade

1965

Eliminates passbooks switching to automated banking

1949

Winnipeg Police Credit Union is founded

we tend to be a leader in technology.” The WPCU offers Internet banking and bill payments to all members without charge—a rarity even among credit unions. In keeping with its track record of promoting leading-edge technology, the WPCU was the first credit union in Canada to deploy a Synergy Document Management System in 2011, providing paperless documentation for financial transactions, including electronic signatures. The WPCU fosters a business atmosphere that satisfies its members’ expectations, treating police officers as professionals. The WPCU extends this to its own staff. “Whenever we hire staff, we prefer professionals—people with degrees and track records of professionalism in their jobs.” An agile niche player in Manitoba’s 124

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2007

Offers Telpay “Pay Anyone Anywhere” service

2011

Deploys Synergy Document Management System

2002

First credit union in Manitoba to offer cheque imaging

financial-services market, WPCU adapts quickly to a constantly evolving financial environment. “Unlike a big bank that has to seek approval from the head office in Toronto, when we need to make a change, we can proceed from concept to implementation very quickly,” Taylor observes. Still, the WPCU has remained highly competitive with mainstream banks and much larger financial-services providers, offering higher interest rates and lower service charges to members than they can find at conventional banks and credit unions, and even at online banks. “A lot of institutions come out with new services that are just window dressing and provide no real value to customers,” Taylor says. “We constantly examine and evaluate what other banks are doing, to see if we can adapt those services to serve our members.” _a advantagemagazine.ca


the biz

GRIT A new CEO helps revitalize a company

CEO Bernard Parkinson was brought onboard to help stabilize Platinum and boost its stock value.

keeping alberta online A new CEO at Platinum Communications sparks smart growth and keeps the province’s rural areas wired to the web by julie knudson

Photo: Julie Jenkins

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here wasn’t any one thing that led to the financial instability that slowly stalled Platinum Communications Corporation’s growth. “They ran into typical issues encountered when growing a company from scratch, and they ended up spending a lot of cash on a lot of different projects that didn’t pan out,” says CEO Bernard Parkinson. After unmanaged growth scattered the company’s resources, the prior management team, under direction from the board, realized it was time to trim. But after a considerable amount of cutting had been accomplished, the company still wasn’t out of the woods. “They hadn’t really positioned themselves for

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“Once you go through difficult times and you get out the other side, you have a sense of optimism within the company.” –Bernard Parkinson

growth, and they didn’t know where to take the company,” Parkinson says. Growth of Platinum’s network was opportunistic in the early days. “They just kept extending out farther and farther, like an Oklahoma land grab,” Parkinson says. The situation soon pulled resources away from the head office, which began to present significant operational, capital, and logistical problems. “You had to hire more support people, you had to buy more trucks, put up more towers and radios, and you had more service and support calls,” Parkinson explains. “You do that long enough and you’re spread out all over the map, trying to coordinate a geographically diverse wireless network.” After years in this pattern, Parkinson says the difficulties finally came home to roost. “[Platinum’s] management team didn’t have the broad-based skills to bring it all together and make it all work in unison,” he explains. The easy solution was to trim head count, put the company on a tight budget, and focus on hoarding cash. But Parkinson says that quick fix didn’t put the organization in a good position for the future. “It’s tough to grow your company when all you’re thinking about is controlling your costs,” he says. advantage

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Platinum By the Numbers

12 10,500 Years in business. Despite a rocky start, Platinum has leveled for steady growth.

Subscribers. Platinum has made a business of providing wireless Internet to the booming regions of Alberta.

Platinum subsequently lost money, and the share price plummeted. That’s when they decided it was time to find experienced management. Parkinson, who had orchestrated start-ups and turnarounds at several other companies, was brought onboard to stabilize the organization and work toward boosting the stock’s value. “And that’s what I’ve been doing for two and a half years,” he says. Platinum started out in the residential Internet market, but Parkinson sees excellent opportunities for growth in both the commercial telecommunications markets and, more importantly, through acquisitions. “I’ve redirected a lot of the resources within the company to the commercial division, as that customer base is more stable and the ARPU [average revenue per user] is much higher, contributing to more-stable earnings, which enhances the overall valuation of the company,” he says. By acquiring its rural-market competitors, Platinum as found another avenue to revitalize itself. “We figured if we bought our competitors in or near our network, we would be able to integrate their subscriber base into ours and, through rationalization of costs, pretty quickly have a significant lift in our earnings,” Parkinson says. 126

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The company has already initiated two purchases this year—AlbertaHighSpeed and MyCanopy—and Parkinson says his team is looking for more. “We can expect a lot of operational efficiencies by acquiring these smaller ISPs,” he says. Through its solid economic base, which is centred on the oil-and-gas industry, Alberta has a lot to offer businesses. “If you look at any economy in North America, I’ve got to say that Alberta has one of the fundamentally strongest,” Parkinson says. It’s something Parkinson believes works in Platinum’s favour, and he’s aggressively looking for new opportunities, especially further north. “It’s taken quite a while to redirect much of our energies into servicing the significant commercial activity out there in rural Alberta, especially in the oil-and-gas industry,” he says. Parkinson explains that small companies are often too opportunistic, which translates into lack of focus, and that long-term profitability takes a backseat to the quest for nearterm revenue. Platinum’s experience with that unsustainable model led it to a difficult spot—with very little cash in reserve to take advantage of capital investment opportunities and a company preoccupied with simply staying afloat. But Parkinson says he and his

senior team worked hard to steer the company back onto the solid footing it enjoys today, and it’s a position that invigorates the entire organization. “Once you go through difficult times and you get out the other side, you have a sense of optimism within the company,” he says. “A lot of the internal operational functions work together more effectively, and exciting business opportunities that you can participate in start to come your way. It’s a good feeling when you can then execute properly and gain the respect of the marketplace.” _a

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grit A solid strategy proves itself in tough times

Principal Richard Tattersall serves as vice president, portfolio manager, and compliance officer at Heathbridge.

tried & true

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s the calendar changed from 2008 to 2009, investors were worried. The stock market was tanking, dragging portfolios down with it, and investment managers’ phones were ringing off the hook with clients concerned about dwindling account balances. But the clients of Heathbridge Capital Management Ltd. weren’t feeling quite the same squeeze, thanks to the company’s strongly disciplined, time-tested investment strategy. “Our philosophy was distilled from firsthand observations of the best and worst practices of money managers across North America over the course of a couple of decades,” says Richard Tattersall, CFA, one of Heathbridge’s principals and portfolio managers. The firm’s trademarked “Checkmark Investing” is a methodical approach that “makes logical 128

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“People who are interested in having a logical discipline investment and some no-nonsense advice—we’re the people for them.” –Richard Tattersall

sense,” Tattersall says. Potential securities are carefully screened for the right mix of financial sturdiness and a position of strength within their industry, and then monitored over a period of time to ensure they’ll make good long-term investment vehicles. As stock prices fluctuate, companies grow, market pressures change, and the financial landscape evolves, Heathbridge diligently cultivates its portfolio. It purges low performers or companies that have likely reached the zenith of their earning potential, and add new companies with room to grow, all in an effort to maximize profits and minimize risk. “In practice, it has done very well,” Tattersall advantagemagazine.ca

Photo: Jennifer Roberts

Sticking to a proven investment strategy helped Heathbridge Capital Management weather the downturn by julie knudson


the biz

Principal, VP of finance, portfolio manager, and head trader Rupel Ruparelia visits the jobsite of a mining company that Heathbridge invests in.

says. “Our track record is measurable over the past 16 years.” Focused on high-net-worth clients who favour a careful, long-term approach to investing, Heathbridge currently serves about 155 families across Canada. Its average client invests around $2 million through the firm, more than double the company’s perfamily minimum. When the downturn came, Rupel M. Ruparelia, CFA, also a principal and portfolio manager at Heathbridge, says the team’s long-standing proactive communication strategy headed off many of its clients’ concerns. “They receive a fair amount of information from us on a regular basis, so it helped to temper the phone calls we were getting,” Ruparelia says. And while the team did have clients calling in, Ruparelia says, the firm was “sending e-mails, blogging, chatting with people, and making sure clients were in the loop.” When the economy was at its worst, Ruparelia says investors were bombarded with bad news every time they looked at the newspaper, a scenario that can make it hard for people to think long term. “Our role is advantagemagazine.ca

to help them through dark periods like that, and make sure we’re there for them,” he explains. Heathbridge had already divested itself of the securities carrying the highest risk by the time the market nose-dived, and because the firm stuck to its strategy and avoided making panic-driven decisions, Heathbridge’s client accounts were still up year-over-year when most of its competitors were down. “We tend to go down by less and then recover more quickly,” Ruparelia says. “This happened in 1998, 2002/2003, and 2008/2009.” Much of Heathbridge’s growth happens through word-of-mouth referrals, which is just fine with Tattersall. “We’re happy to grow slowly and steadily,” he says, “because our first duty is to do well for our existing clients.” The firm isn’t interested in becoming a behemoth, preferring instead to focus on the types of families that share its tried-andtrue investing philosophy. “People who are interested in having a logical investment discipline and some no-nonsense financial advice—we’re the people for them,” Tattersall says. _a

Quick Tips Heathbridge’s 5 Steps to Checkmark Investing 1. Identify good companies. Screen for companies that have a competitive advantage or significant attributes, as well as strong financial positions. 2. Monitor companies’ long-term performance. Evaluate potential portfolio companies for their investment worthiness over the long haul. 3. Look for pricing opportunities. Take advantage of companies where the price has dropped for short-term reasons, so the entry price makes it a good investment. 4. Maintain diversity. Carefully build a portfolio of diversified securities, typically spanning 20 or so different industries with minimal duplication. 5. Harvest profits. When a company has a good run, trim back to collect profits and control risks in individual holdings. advantage

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the biz

grit Fixing a community rattled by a fishing collapse

General manager Michael Boudreau has helped revitalize Isle Madame.

Calming the waters St. Joseph’s Credit Union helps stabilize a community after its cod-fishing industry closes by lynn russo whylly

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icture the Gorton’s fisherman in his yellow rain gear and you’ve got a good idea of the workers inhabiting Petit de Grat, located on Isle “We couldn’t stand by Madame, an island off the southern and do nothing, and we coast of Cape Breton Island, in Nova Scotia. couldn’t make it harder Isle Madame is a small community of just for people to qualify for a 3,000 whose predominant industry is fishing. loan.” The island has two fish-processing plants and –Michael Boudreau two boat-building facilities. Yet, today, while the fishing business is thriving, Michael Boudreau, the general manager of St. Joseph’s Credit Union Limited, would like to see the community doing better. “The population is down about 17 percent over maritime career move to the mainland. Meanthe past 10 years,” he says. while, the older generation is slowly aging out. In the mid-1990s, 500 people out of a But for those who live there, Isle Mapopulation of 4,000 lost their jobs when the dame remains a close-knit community, and cagovernment put a moratorium on cod fishing. tering to its culture is part of the credit union’s “Our main employer closed its doors, and that mission. Founded in 1936, St. Joseph’s serves severely impacted the community,” Boudreau its 2,400 members and 300 organizational says. In addition, there aren’t many opportuni- accounts from a single branch and driveties for youth, and when they’re old enough, through ATM, and is one of just two financial those not interested in pursuing a fishing or institutions physically located on the island 130

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(the other is also a credit union). “Without our presence, our residents would have to travel quite a distance to do their banking,” Boudreau says. For people who don’t want to make the trip to the branch, St. Joseph’s also offers complete online banking and has a Facebook page with more than 250 fans. “That’s very important for us, especially for reaching the youth,” Boudreau says. “Today’s consumer is all about ease and convenience. They want to bank online or through their smartphone. They demand and deserve the best services.” Most of St. Joseph’s business comes through word of mouth and radio marketing. “We conduct four marketing campaigns a year,” Boudreau says. Beyond that, most of the credit union’s business comes from referrals, with the friends and children of members coming in and opening accounts. In addition, St. Joseph’s is very involved in the school system. It offers a “Fat Cat” account for children between ages 5 and 12, to introduce them to the concept of money management. Then every Wednesday, two employees go the local school and collect the children’s deposits, while teaching them about things like budgeting, student loans, and bank fraud. At the end of the year, they hold a big party and give out prizes such as iPods. At the highschool level, St. Joseph’s provides a financial literacy textbook in both English and French. The classes have resulted in youth coming in and opening accounts, Boudreau says. But it was the codfish crisis that jumpstarted the credit union’s community involvement, which is a critical component of St. Joseph’s strategy today. “We couldn’t stand by and do nothing, and we couldn’t make it harder for people to qualify for a loan, so we decided to take 10 percent of our earnings and set up a community economic development fund,” Boudreau says. “To date, we’ve injected more than $350,000 into community projects.” This year, the credit union system is getting a boost from the United Nations, which has declared 2012 the International Year of the Cooperative and is planning a major marketing campaign. “We’ll do our own messaging here as well,” Boudreau says. Going forward, Boudreau feels that the credit union’s local presence will continue to be its competitive advantage. “We’re locally owned, and because of our commitment to the community, I think people will deal with us over the competition,” he says. “We’ll continue to provide our members with innovative financial opportunities. As long as we keep doing that, we’ll be okay.” _a advantagemagazine.ca


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How Kootenay Savings Credit Union finds longevity by serving its community The historic company offers six ways to become a benevolent agent By Christopher T. Freeburn

Emphasize company values Kootenay consistently communicates its strong commitment to community, teamwork, ethical values, and cooperative philosophy to all of its 260 employees. “We sit down and present new employees with our vision and values on their first day,” says CEO Brent Tremblay. “We tell them, ‘If these values don’t match your own, then this is probably not where you want to be.’”

1

Deliver financially With Kootenay, the power of membership has a real advantage. For 11 years running, the credit union has paid its 40,000 members a 10 percent annual profit-sharing dividend. “There’s not another credit union in the province—or the country, for that matter—that has shown that kind of return to their member-owners,” Tremblay says. He notes that even during the past several years of economic uncertainty, Kootenay has paid the dividend. Since the introduction of profit sharing in 1992, the credit union has returned a remarkable $65.2 million back to its member-owners. Profit shares are paid annually and are based on the amount of business each member conducts with the credit union.

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MEET KOOTENAY Kootenay Savings Credit Union came into existence in 1969 through the merger of three small, independent, community-based credit unions. “It was the first merger of its kind in British Columbia where three successful credit unions voluntarily joined forces to better serve their members and communities,” says Kootenay CEO Brent Tremblay (above left; Forrest Drinnan, above right). Over the years, it has grown to encompass 13 branches spread across the rural, southern stretches of British Columbia, known as the Kootenays. “We cover as large a geographic area as a branch network as any other credit union in the province,” Tremblay says. The company maintains wealth management and insurance subsidiaries, as well as a self-funded community charitable foundation.

Delegate power locally “We give our local branch managers and our three regional managers the power to make decisions in their areas,” Tremblay says. “And they advise us about issues affecting their communities.” In several of the markets served by Kootenay, chartered bank branches have closed, leaving the credit union as the only local financial institution. “Local decision-making means that approvals on important products like a home mortgage can be made the same day and often within the hour,” Tremblay says. “Chartered banks have to report back to their corporate headquarters, which may be located across the country, in order to get approval—and that takes time.”

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Game Plan

Provide effective customer service

Contribute to the community

Kootenay relies on outstanding customer service to maintain its business. “Given our size, we can’t afford to be price leaders,” says Tremblay, noting that the company’s financial products and interest rates are in line with chartered banks. “Since we can’t be price leaders, we compete by offering superior service.” To meet the changing needs of its customers, Kootenay has been an early adopter of new technology. “We beat the banks on Interac e-Transfers, and we were one of the first to introduce a mobile banking application,” Tremblay says. And while Kootenay has an effective marketing program, it attracts most new members through word-of-mouth recommendations. “That comes from our reputation for providing excellent service, strong community support, and an overriding goal of improving each member’s financial life,” Tremblay says.

Investing in the local communities it serves is part of Kootenay’s corporate DNA. “Our board chair, Forrest Drinnan, recognized an opportunity to help stimulate the growth of local nonprofit groups and projects,” Tremblay says. In 2009, Drinnan’s idea took shape, and Kootenay proudly distributed one million dollars from the Kootenay Savings Community Foundation to several smaller community organizations. The groups are now prospering and bringing a positive effect to the region as a whole. The credit union also sponsors a variety of special events each year, including golf tournaments, which specifically benefit healthcare initiatives. Another successful initiative is Family Movie Nights in the Park, which attracts thousands of people. The movie is free to the whole community, and moviegoers are asked to bring nonperishable food items to support the local food banks. “One of the expectations for all our employees is that they will be involved in some way in their local communities,” Tremblay says. “In fact, that’s part of how we measure their performance.”

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Engage employees “We truly believe that encouraging employee commitment furthers all of our other goals,” Tremblay says. Kootenay takes steps to insure that its employees feel that their service and ideas are appreciated. “Our senior managers get out across our network so employees get face-to-face time with them,” Tremblay says. “Our branch managers do a very good job of involving employees in things that affect them.” Kootenay offers an internal leadership program that focuses on coaching employees to achieve better performance, by identifying member needs and recommending sound solutions. “Leaders aren’t just found in the management levels of an organization; they exist at every level,” Tremblay explains. “We believe the stronger leadership skills we can develop in our employees, the stronger our organization will be.”

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A message from roler

For more than 20 years, ROLER has been an integral provider of green strategies to hundreds of Canadian organizations. We are very proud to have been selected by Kootenay Savings Credit Union as its partner of choice for estatements and look forward to many more years of service, for an even greener tomorrow.

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PULP & PAPER | OIL & GAS & MINING | INDUSTRIAL & POWER GENERATION

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Africa On Safari Inc. is keenly concerned with the protection of the wildlife environment and works closely with local African governments to ensure that this natural heritage is protected for future generations to enjoy.

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green thumbs

An aerial shot of Canfor’s three pulp mills (clockwise from far top): the Northwood, Prince George, and Intercontinental mills.

Can one company help change how its industry is perceived? canfor pulp is, becoming a sustainable steward in an industry typically viewed as hazardous to the environment. by ashley t. kjos

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he evolution of the Canadian forestry industry in the past five years has been important. The business of pulp-, paper-, and wood-product production has gone from being an environmental detriment to a prominent source for the emerging bioeconomical revolution. Joe Nemeth and his company, Canfor Pulp Products Inc., have been at the centre of that change. “There has been an incredible resurgence in the interest and perception of opportunity in the forestry industry, and it all centres around bioeconomy,” says

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Nemeth, CEO for Canfor Pulp. Nemeth has spent his entire professional career in the industry, and his work has far-reaching and exciting implications that include the development of green energy, biofuels, and biochemicals. Nemeth was exposed to the forestry business at a young age, with his father being a forester himself. Nemeth’s first 18 summers were spent following his father with a compass, helping survey the trees and the lands where his father worked. This led to an education in forestry at the University of British Columbia and the beginning of his professional career at BC Forest Products.

It was his interest in sustainable power and its implications within the industry that led him to Canfor Pulp. Working on a joint venture to build the first stand-alone greenenergy power plant with TransAlta Power, Canfor Pulp asked him to come aboard, and he has been a champion for the progression of sustainable energy ever since. Nemeth—and leaders like him across the forestry sector—has helped lead the transition toward better recognition of the green potential of wood waste. “The logs were being turned into lumber, but what was left—the sawdust, bark—was just being burned off, and I thought to myself, ‘What a waste,’” Nemeth says. These fibres have a lot of potential for use, and the realization of their potential has changed everything for the industry. “Over the past 25 years, forestry has been increasingly viewed as a sunset industry, one whose role as a large global player had been diminished,” Nemeth says. “Now, Canada is seen to be sitting on one of the largest untapped resources, with a lot of experience and infrastructure to once again advantage

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green thumbs

Photo: Don MacKinnon

“There has been an incredible resurgence in the interest and perception of opportunity in the forestry industry, and it all centres around bioeconomy.” —joe nemeth, ceo

be a global leader in this whole new area of bioeconomy.” The way the fibres can be utilized is threefold: The renewable wood waste can be turned into green energy in energy plants that use the waste to heat and electricity. The wood fibres can also be used to produce biofuels (such as cellulosic ethanol), which are as effective as fossil fuels and reduce the greenhouse-gas emissions up to 85 percent over gasoline. The excess woodwaste fibres can also be broken down into their chemical elements, including cellulose nanocrystals. These needle-shaped fibres comprise 20 percent of a tree’s mass and can be used to produce biochemicals and a substance called nanocrystalline cellulose. The substance is stronger than steel and lighter than paper, and its commercial implications include aerospace technology and bulletproof vests. In addition, Nemeth is also part of the larger regional dialogue. As cochair of the British Columbia Pulp and Paper Task Force, Nemeth is involved with a collaborative effort involving the government, the industry, education, and employees. “We’re working with the provincial government 136

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to develop a long-term vision to change policy and implement processes that will put us in a position to become a global leader in this emerging bioeconomy,” Nemeth says. Canfor is doing its part internally as well. “Any big business has a social license,” Nemeth says. “If you behave responsibly, you will be supported by government policy and the community. If you don’t—if you abuse that privilege—you can lose the social license to operate.” To that end, Canfor has created a senior position dedicated to environmental responsibility. This director of sustainability reports to Nemeth with a report card. The company has invested $200 million since 2010—most of that going towards improving its environmental performance. A few of the recent highlights include the reduction of air emissions from its precipitators by 90 percent and also removing much of the sulfur smell that paper plants are known for, by collecting the odour-producing gas and burning it off. “We have 1,200 employees, and many of them live in the local community,” Nemeth says. “It’s important to keep them and the entire community happy and healthy.” _a

the word on green Canfor Pulp CEO Joe Nemeth touches on some of the buzzwords floating around the green-energy movement

Green washing “Well, it’s not a good thing; it’s telling a positive story that’s not substantiated by fact.” Alternative fuels “It’s now real. There are real technologies and real sources of fuel, like biomass, that can replace fossil fuels—and it’s green. It’s all about cleaning up our environment and doing something good.” Sustainable Education “It’s an untapped opportunity. If we can develop new technologies, new energy, and fuels using biomass, why can’t we employ these technologies in remote communities? What if we take this knowledge and it allows them to be selfsufficient, generate their own power, and heat their own communities?”

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Photos: Brian Peters

green thumbs

Throughout 2010 and 2011, IAMGOLD undertook biodiversity assessments at each of its operations sites. These assessments included qualitative data analysis, stakeholder identification and consultation, and biodiversity impacts and risks.

Can H.R. help shape a company’s Eco-consciousness? Lisa Zangari believes so, as She helps build a solid foundation for IAMGOLD’s corporate success. by mark pechenik

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hen IAMGOLD Corporation adopted its comprehensive Sustainability Framework, it turned to Lisa Zangari to help gets its employees onboard. It was a momentous task, and one that Zangari, IAMGOLD’s senior vice president of HR, continues to this day. The campaign is a watermark for the industry, as it brings eco-conscious decision-making to a field traditionally without it. And why did IAMGOLD decide to lead the charge? “We focus on sustainability because it is the right thing to do,” Zangari says. IAMGOLD is one of Canada’s most successful middle-tier gold-mining companies,

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producing approximately one million ounces annually from four gold mines in Canada, Africa, and South America. In taking an industry-leading approach to health-and-safety environmental stewardship, the Torontobased company ensures that comprehensive methods are taken to mitigate the impact of its gold-mining operations. For Zangari, that meant getting the workforce aligned on all levels, from the corporate suites to the employees in the field on three continents. Zangari works to keep the culture consistent in each locale, and points towards IAMGOLD’s Zero Harm policy as the banner by which IAMGOLD operates. “Our official brand foundation is: Empowering people, extraordinary performance,”

Zangari says. “And I would be remiss if I didn’t state that our brand is firmly anchored in our commitment to Zero Harm—“zero harm” to our employees, the environment, and to the communities where we operate.” Today, the Zero Harm policies are ingrained in the culture of IAMGOLD. “It defines who we are, and everyone—from technical mining engineers to office support staff to truck operators—finds a great deal of value in it,” Zangari says. The success of this initiative’s rapid adaptation is a result of IAMGOLD’s progressive corporate culture. “We are a dynamic family,” Zangari says. “If you were to spend any amount of time with us, you would no doubt get the sense that IAMGOLD employees advantage

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green thumbs

IAMGOLD is committed to continually improving water efficiency at its sites while minimizing harmful discharges into the water.

“We are a dynamic family. If you were to spend any amount of time with us, you would no doubt get the sense that IAMGOLD employees take incredible pride in our company and treat the business as if it were their own.” —lisa zangari, senior vice president of human resources

take incredible pride in the company and treat the business as if it were their own. Each day, our employees embody our values of teamwork, respect, transparency, excellence, diversity, learning, innovation, and—most importantly—accountability. We deliver what we say we will.” In many ways, IAMGOLD’s success stems from its specific approach to talent acquisition. “Whether we are attracting operators in Burkina Faso, geologists in Suriname, or engineers in Canada, each new employee must want to contribute, be courageous and challenge the status quo, bring forth new ideas and introduce innovation, and truly want to make a difference,” Zangari says. Teamwork is another boon for the company. “The ability to engage others to achieve a common goal is critical,” Zangari says. “We assess these qualities through rigourous interview and assessment processes that go well beyond the human-resources team.” IAMGOLD also places great emphasis on professional aptitude and experience when considering talent. “There is a war for talent in our industry right now,” Zangari says. “There are many opportunities globally and, unfortunately, not enough talent to meet our needs.” This tough field has Zangari maintaining a rigourous recruitment process. Though it can take longer to make the right hire, it’s 140

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sustainability initiatives. “The majority of essential for the company to stay competiour recruits seek us out given our committive. IAMGOLD places value on formal ment to Zero Harm,” Zangari says. “This is education, international experience, and critical in our industry, and while we screen cultural sensitivity. “This experience is not all recruits for health and safety practices, always easy to find, which is why we have they equally screen us. Our student caman extensive university student and graduate paign is anchored in Zero Harm and has program that allows us to recruit the best received many accolades from our students and brightest, [whether] still in university or … Not only does it get their attention, they a recent graduate, and give them the experiare aligned with our philosophy and realize ences they need to make a difference within immediately upon starting their employment the organization,” Zangari says. with IAMGOLD that this is the foundation To ensure the likelihood of suitable of our business.” candidates, IAMGOLD has established Looking ahead, IAMGOLD anticipates partnerships with several universities in continued growth. “We will be looking to North America and Europe to help facilitate expand our operations through exploration mining curriculum design. In addition, stuand acquisitions,” Zangari says. “And you can dents are actively recruited to participate in be sure that our Sustainability Framework company internships. will continue to figure prominently in all of “Our summer internships, for example, these efforts.” _a provide students with meaningful work experience on projects where they can apply their knowledge and skills,” Zangari says. “The graduates that we hire experiA message from evans group ence a comprehensive orientation program where they learn about IAMGOLD’s history, Evans Group helps organizations manage leadership succession needs, select and integrate new culture, and future. Our leaders provide clear executives, and accelerate talent development. expectations and support development initiaIAMGOLD is a valued client, and Evans Group is tives; many even serve as mentors to these proud to partner with it in the development of its new employees.” leadership and executive teams. Call Dr. Charles This recruitment process has been Evans at 519-835-8459 to get started! further advanced through IAMGOLD’s advantagemagazine.ca


EVANS GROUP ORGANIZATIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Applauding Excellence

CIBC congratulates Beth Summers, Chief Financial Officer, Just Energy Inc.

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for her achievements as an executive in the energy sector. We are proud to recognize Beth for her contribution and innovation in the industry, and her commitment to charitable organizations. Beth sets a strong example for other women in business. cibcwm.com

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“We have something great to offer. We’ve created a market that clearly demonstrates that energy customers are looking for green products and will pay a premium for it.” —beth summers, cfo

Will people pay more for green energy? Beth Summers of just energy thinks so, despite the high premiums. by kristina anderson

N

o one likes to open an electricity bill only to get “shocked” by the high rate. So if consumers of electricity and natural gas were given the choice to pay more for energy produced in a green way, would they willingly do so? Surprisingly, the answer is yes, according to Beth Summers, CFO of Just Energy Group Inc., a leading, competitive North American retail-energy provider. Operating in 13 US states and 6 Canadian provinces, Just Energy appeals to deregulated markets where consumers can choose their energy supplier. Summers has spent her entire career working in the energy sector, once serving as executive vice president and CFO at Hydro One, and also as a chartered accountant at Ernst & Young. She explains that this complex market is dependent on a number of factors, including whether an area is regulated or deregulated. “Our focus has expanded significantly to offer residential and commercial consumers green-energy alternatives through renewable-energy credits and carbon-offset projects that 142

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enable them to offset the emissions associated with their everyday energy consumption,” Summers explains. “Essentially, the green-energy technologies that we invest in mean we’re putting more choice and control in the hands of consumers who want to act now to reduce their ecological footprint.” But as the original source of this energy is invisible to the consumer, how does the end user know if the energy they are buying is in fact green? First, it’s essential to understand how this intangible system works. Pinpointing exactly how the company sells its products presents an exercise in defining an abstract consumer concept. With the exception of its Hudson Solar Energy division, Just Energy does not produce the power, nor does it own the transmission and distribution lines or equipment involved in providing consumers with electrical power. What it does, however, is act as a broker between the energy producers and the consumer to provide the energy supply. As a measure of accountability, Just Energy has its green purchases reviewed yearly by an independent third-party accounting firm to verify that Just Energy’s green purchases match its green-energy sales. This provides validation that Just Energy’s greenenergy investments reconcile with customers’ energy selections. “In terms of energy, it’s more expensive to produce green,” Summers explains. “It is pricey technology. Also, with respect to advantagemagazine.ca


green thumbs

I n s u r a n c e

S e r v i c e s

L t d.

the word on green There’s a lot of buzz these days about the business of offering green alternatives to consumers. Can something so intangible be profitable? Beth Summers, CFO of Just Energy, discusses her perspective on the matter.

SUSTAINABLE: “I prefer to say ‘green’ over ‘sustainable,’ as ‘going green’ suggests more of a vision of what you can accomplish. The goal is to reduce your impact on the environment. Our customers do care and are willing to pay more for green products that reduce their carbon footprint.” EDUCATION: “A large part of selling energy involves educating customers on the choices they may not know are available to them. It may be a challenge at first to explain the options, but when they do understand, they often choose green.” COMMUNICATION: “When we enter into contracts with customers, we inform them of the green projects we support. For example, customers in New York will note a wind farm in Erie County. A customer in Ohio will see a green-energy project in their state. It’s not always a one-to-one situation, but we can show where greenenergy credits and offsets are generated. Whenever possible, we pursue projects that reside in the communities we serve.” INVESTORS: “Today, there are investment entities looking specifically for companies that are socially responsible. They will look closely at a company’s green record.”

electricity, in most instances the energy infrastructure is aged and not designed to take the generation feed into the system where this sustainable energy can be created. For example, a wind farm works best where there is lots of wind. But that’s not necessarily a place where there’s lots of population or readily available transmission and distribution. Same with large-scale solar.” So while the goal of purchasing green power is a good one, it’s definitely not the easiest nor the least expensive. However, it is something consumers are demanding in larger and larger numbers. “When the company first started selling this product, we were pleasantly surprised to see the extent of customer demand for green,” Summers says. “No one expected it.” In select regulated markets, Just Energy offers a product called JustClean. Unlike its commodity-based green-energy options ( JustGreen Power and JustGreen Natural Gas), JustClean is a noncommodity-based carbon-offset product specially designed to help consumers offset their carbon footprint and the related environmental pollution. Figures from Just Energy’s third quarter of the 2012 fiscal year reveal that of the advantagemagazine.ca

company’s new customers over the last 12 months, 33 percent elected to buy the green product over traditional energy. Summers says that the products are offered such that customers can offset a portion or 100 percent of their energy consumption. “We have something great to offer,” says Summers of the third-quarter sales. “We’ve created a market that clearly demonstrates that energy customers are looking for green products and will pay a premium for it.” _a

Young & Haggis specializes in high end homes, auto, life/ disability, and business insurance in the Calgary area. Founded in 1964 by Jack Young, we continue to be family-owned and operated. We have built our reputation for honesty and sound service by taking care of our clients with fairness and reliability.

A message from kpmg

KPMG has built one of Canada’s largest power and utilities practices and services–leading organizations in the generation, trans­mission, distribution, and retail energy and electricity sectors. Our clients range from new start-up firms to major power and utility corporations. KPMG also has an impressive track record assisting companies with acquisitions, divestitures, organizational changes, and advisory services. We understand the ongoing regulatory challenges that impact companies in the energy industry, and we regularly represent clients in regulatory proceedings. In turn, we help regulators understand indus­try and stakeholder perspectives.

Young & Haggis Insurances Services Ltd. Suite 205, 11420 - 27th Street SE Calgary AB T2Z 3R6 P 403-255-7781 F 403-258-2138 info@young-haggis.com www.young-haggis.com

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How Young & Haggis Insurance grew a family business in the digital age A look at the firm’s gift for fusing family values with cutting-edge technology By Mark Pechenik

MEET YOUNG & HAGGIS Since first opening its doors nearly 50 years ago, Young & Haggis’s success has been based upon recognizing, appreciating, and meeting the needs of its customers. The current owners of this Calgary-based family business—Barb Haggis and Robert Young (pictured above, front row), children of the firm’s founder, Jack Young—have further expanded upon this concept by effectively incorporating technology into their proven customer-service mix.

Retaining customers

Advocacy as policy

“Growth isn’t possible without a solid foundation of existing clients,” says Barb Haggis, co-owner of Young & Haggis Insurance Services Ltd. For this reason, the firm goes to great lengths to satisfy its current customers. Availability and accessibility are key to its effectiveness, and clients are well aware that if they have questions or concerns, help is just a quick phone call away. Whenever possible, answers or assistance are provided with the initial call. If additional follow-up is required, it is realized as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Another way that Young & Haggis keeps its customers satisfied is through agency-wide advocacy. Haggis cites one recent example where the firm intervened on a recent claim. The client had paid for a waiver of depreciation coverage. Through this option, the automobile’s book-value depreciation is waived so the vehicle can be replaced for the full, original cost if damaged or destroyed. “When we checked with the client, she told us she had received a claim check for $25,000 rather than the original $30,000 she had paid for the car,” Haggis says. “We promptly followed up with the insurance provider and obtained the additional $5,000 that was due [to] her.” Such attention to customer issues and emphasis on client satisfaction, whether or not claims are involved, is common to Young & Haggis, and is a significant part of its highly focused customer-retention policy.

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Game Plan

Building referrals Frequently, customer retention leads to new clients. “Quite often, our customers—many of whom have been with us for two or even three generations—will recommend us to family, friends, and colleagues,” says Robert Young, co-owner. Whether it be a fast turnaround on a claim or quickly providing advice and policy changes, clients are eager to share their positive experience with Young & Haggis with those close to them. This process, in turn, is a reliable source for building Young & Haggis’s customer base. “Nothing succeeds like successfully meeting the needs of your clients,” Haggis says. “Our reputation for consistently reliable service, passed on through our current customers, continues to be a strong conduit for new customers.”

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Keeping in tune with clients Young & Haggis’s embrace of information technology has further strengthened—and maintained—its growing book of clients. This is perhaps most evident with the firm’s website. Immediately upon accessing the site, visitors are warmly greeted by a Flash Player-driven video image of Robert Young. Another major feature of the website is its Education Centre, which provides concise, unbiased information about insurance needs—from coverage for teen motorists to home, auto, or even RV insurance. The website also provides PDF versions of the Young & Haggis newsletter, Insurance Update, which offers timely tips and insights into insurance topics and issues.

Harnessing new media Social media figures prominently in Young & Haggis’s technology offerings. Traffic continues to build on its Facebook page, while the firm’s smartphone applications are winning rave reviews from clients and even prospective customers. A presence on YouTube, as well as social-media platforms Twitter and LinkedIn, further expands upon Young & Haggis’s commitment to digital communications.

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The family business advantage While it may not be readily apparent to customers, Young & Haggis’s operation as a family business remains a strong competitive advantage. “Nearly half of our staff are family, while the other staff are fully invested in our family values as a business,” Haggis says. “We truly take our motto, ‘Our family takes care of yours,’ to heart.”

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“Growth isn’t possible without a solid foundation of existing clients.” —Barb Haggis, Co-owner

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Top Tips

How to Keep Your Employees Motivated

Doug Williamson is the president and CEO of The Beacon Group, a Toronto-based firm specializing in organizational transformation and effectiveness programs, as well as talent identification and leadership development. Williamson writes and speaks on the importance of employee engagement and has worked with clients such as Mercedes-Benz USA, the Globe & Mail, and Scotiabank, among others.

Expert advice on engaging your workforce

Treat Employees as Investors In other words, position all of your messages in the same way you would to any investor. Give them a reason to be optimistic in the future, even if they are in a funk today, and then create the most favourable investment climate you possibly can.

tell the truth and nothing but the truth

By Doug Williamson

Watch your Say/Do ratio Perhaps the most important driver of employee engagement is the credibility of the leadership team. The best way to destroy credibility is to not keep your promises. So, if you say you are going to do something, then do it!

Find the Core Group and Deputize Them

In most cases, the employee wants to know what the company plans to do, so tell them straight. You will gain more by telling tough news early rather than late and by showing you are on top of things. The worst truth is still better than the best lie.

Treat Employees as Adults You are simply not going to win the hearts, emotional wallets, confidence, and support of your employees by assuming they don’t see what is going on every day. In fact, the average grassroots employee probably has better early warning systems than most VPs and knows exactly what needs to be done to make things better.

In every organization, there is a parallel leadership team—a group of people of all ages, tenure, and seniority who are the “go-to” people and who may not even show up on the senior-level organization chart. These are the influencers—the people other people go to when they need to validate or translate what is going down from the top. These people ultimately determine what others think, so their support and their use as a communication network is critical. Embrace them, and allow them to influence for the positive. People want conversation, not memos, speeches, and town halls. They want to be engaged one to one in dialogue that matters to them, not to you. It’s the same as an election: You need to shake hands and kiss babies. Get out. Talk to people. Create conversation. You might even decide to be really brave and engage in social media, to create the conversation in real time.

Create Real Dialogue

discriminate with intelligence Not all employees are created equal. While tough to admit, some employees matter more than others. As a result, the employee population cannot be thought of as one homogeneous mass. It is made up of different constituencies, each with their own wants, needs, and fears, and therefore requiring their own investment strategy. 146

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Make the Business Case

If you believe it’s going to be a tough period ahead with tough decisions that are going to have to be made, make the case for why the company needs to adjust and trust that logic will rule the day. Help people do the math and most will understand there are both assets and liabilities. advantagemagazine.ca advantagemagazine.ca


* New Lines of Credit Only. Some conditions may apply.

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Trusted Advisors to Just Energy KPMG is proud to work with Beth Summers and the team at Just Energy. We applaud their efforts and ongoing initiatives for the advancement of Green power and sustainable energy practices. kpmg.ca

© 2012 KPMG LLP, a Canadian limited liability partnership and a member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. All rights reserved.

Advantage #10  

Oct/Nov/Dec 2012. Cover featuring Melanie Jeannotte of Vital Benefits.

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