AT W O RK
W I T H C A N A DA’S B USINE S S L E A D ER S
J A N / F E B / M A R 2 0 13
AT WO R K W I T H CA NA DA’S B US I NES S L EA DERS
Not Your Garden Variety
in People The YMCA of Greater Toronto strengthens communities by creating healthy workplaces and positive career tracks p. 74
CEO Amelia Warren shares how Epicure Selections’ premium mix of corporate responsibility, environmental stewardship, and bettering the nation’s health has led to unprecedented success p. 16
+ Helping the Congo Prosper PharmAfrican ensures the region’s vibrancy by investing botanical materials into business and international trade p. 139
VOLUME 3, NO. 11
SUCCESSION PLANNING RONA > p. 96
KNOW THY MARKET SmartPoint Research > p. 118
SHAPING UP CANADA Slimband > p. 124 9/13/12 6:27 PM
CREATING BETTER CUSTOMER COMMUNICATION
COLLECT DATA / PERMISSIONS / PREFRENCES
CREATE MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIPS
CLIENT PORTAL IMPLEMENT DATA
COMMUNICATE DISPERSE DATA
SPLICE Software provides unique human audio as an on demand service for enterprises. SPLICE connects business and web applications together, offering enterprises the ability to connect with their customers using personalized greetings, notifications, reminders, thank-you, newsletters, surveys, Purl’s and targeted marketing. At the same time, SPLICE uses the data gained through each call to populate the company’s calling list database and maintain their Do Not Call list and Preferences & Permissions. SPLICE delivers voice, phone, text/SMS, Landing pages, Mobile landing pages, Email, Direct mail, Print brochure, Phone and web applications in a cloud-based solution. Through software as a service model (SaaS).
T: 403.720.TEAM (8326)
220, 6125 - 11TH STREET S.E. CALGARY, AB. T2H 2L6
The Roundup grab bag
inside look Scott Miller of PaperChef
industry watch Rachel Neild of Think Travel
stat wall Going green
Investing in People
Off the Map
Modern-day spice trade Epicure Selections has all the ingredients needed in a recipe for success
20 Pushing Yourself Testing the limits with Tara Kelly, president and CEO of SPLICE Software
23 The right leadership Chief HR officer Katya Laviolette discusses the strengths of TC Transcontinental
See how the YMCA of Greater Toronto helps strengthen communities by creating healthy workplaces and positive career tracks
25 Money Smarts PUR founder and CEO Mark Yamada explains the intricacies of investing
27 Planning ahead Building a stronger financial future with Evelyn Jacks, founder and president of Knowledge Bureau
30 For the love of the job Susan Hodkinson, COO at Crowe Soberman, discusses her multitiered career
33 Leader at Heart Navigating the financial sphere with Manulife’s assistant VP and chief counsel, Jennifer Mercanti
36 Finding your niche Talking finance with Stephen Spellman, president of CENTUM Mortgage Specialists
39 like father, like son Tom Heinsoo, president of Heinsoo Insurance, explains why sometimes Dad knows best
42 learning on your feet On the job with Mia Kukic, principal and owner of Alger & deForest Insurance
44 follow your gut Nir Orbach, president and CEO of Illumiti, shares the secrets to his success
47 lessons learned CNOOC’s Joe Bradford helps lead expansion into Alberta’s oil sands
52 Filling the gaps Jonas Software showcases its creative culture as one of Canada’s largest software companies
56 Keeping a healthy edge Testing and research drive the development of natural health products at Cyto-Matrix
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table of contents
Employee count at data-analytics company Apption might be small, but it solves problems of grandeur
60 A team effort Moveo takes a collaborative approach to physical and sports rehabilitation
58 The fixers
64 Full speed ahead Cogeco Cable is constantly managing and encouraging innovation among its developments
66 When Tech Goes Holistic Javelin is creating technology that has the power to transform the medical field
69 New Heights Esprida takes remote monitoring and management services to the next level
Cause & Effect
83 finding the cure Balance Medical Center uses an alternative approach to medicine to not just treat but cure the ailment
86 paying it forward See how Boardwalk Real Estate has made it a mission to help the less fortunate every year
88 shifting gears LIFT Philanthropy abandons a popular program in order to bring about more social change
PharmAfrican founder Carole Robert has been a champion for environmental responsibility in business for two decades, particularly in exporting and international trade.
90 the Best of both worlds The Nielsen Clinic fuses traditional and alternative medicine to produce the best results
92 the right choice Dexterity Consulting makes sure the charity you’re donating to is the right one for you
94 pulling off the impossible SiMPACT convinces communities and businesses to have each other’s best interests at heart
The Biz: Solutions
100 Getting the numbers right When an accounting firm’s software solution isn’t quite right, it turns to Ideaca
104 satisfaction guaranteed See how LOEM Consultation’s employee bonus benefits have enhanced customer service
106 h.r. made easy HRWARE’s software solutions help manage employees for companies of all sizes
108 from piles to essential files Magna implements order with a better framework for data storage within the automotive industry
112 full of freight 123Loadboard.com uses innovative Internet tools and fresh ideas to keep trucks filled and rolling
114 a winning formula Learn how Lorraine Moore is helping to build a bright future for energy giant TransCanada
116 keeping it steady Strategic growth and patience have laid the groundwork for A.P.E. Maintenance’s success
PharmAfrican ensures the region’s vibrancy by investing its botanical materials in business and international trade
118 know thy market SmartPoint Research gives clients insight into what customers really want
120 one-stop shop Optrics Engineering marries diverse staff expertise with supreme client care for the ultimate service
122 the connectors Eyeball Networks connects millions of subscribers with patented technologies
124 Shaping up Slimband’s proven weight-loss tactics and success stories help clients reach an ideal weight
143 today’s cutting edge Aecometric has become an innovator in its field by being on the leading edge for years
129 leading the charge
with FGL Sports
72 keeping clients coming back with Quadrant Marketing
80 managing IT for 14,000 employees with Goldcorp
96 Keeping franchises intact with RONA
136 building a corporate community with Vermilion Energy
Lyne Parent-Garvey prepares Hydro Ottawa’s workforce for future challenges
132 enhancing human capital How Options Consulting Solutions’ recruitment strategies offer the best of both worlds, for job seeker and employer
50 bringing in the right clients
127 taking flight Navtech finds success through excellent customer service and by juggling the latest in aviation technology
139 The congo prospers
146 How to Start a Business in a Down Economy Eight things to keep in mind when getting off the ground in tough times, by Gary Evans of DemGem
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Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
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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.
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A t w o r k w i t h ca n ada â€™ s b u s i n e s s l e ad e r s
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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 email@example.com. Office 205 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 3200, Chicago, IL 60601
J a n / F e b / M a r 2013
For a long time, I stopped making New Year’s resolutions.
Photo: Samantha Simmons
I’d tried them in the past, but they’d usually fizzle out within a few weeks, sometimes days. I’d lose interest. I’d get lazy. I’d choose a more convenient routine than the resolution required, even if the goal I’d set meant bettering my health or state of mind or financial situation. I would simply choose the easy way out. But last January, something changed. Since I was getting married in July, I told myself I needed to slim down—that I had until the wedding to get down to 165 pounds from my 193 (severely overweight for my height). I told myself I’d tried to lose weight before, but unlike years past, this year I meant it. I challenged myself to stick with it. I made a plan—a strategy that included a strict diet and a regimented workout routine. I gave up some of my favourite foods, passed on meeting up with friends for a drink, missed out on work functions and birthday parties. All of those scenarios held temptations that would
sidetrack me and undermine what I’d set out to do. Because this time I was serious: I was going to lose weight, no matter what. So I kept at it. The morning of my wedding, I was down to 154 pounds— well past what I’d hoped to lose. I never felt better, not just because my health had drastically improved, but because I had followed through on the goal I’d set for myself. I had accomplished something difficult, and it was all thanks to that resolution I’d made and to sticking with it, even when coworkers brought in doughnuts, or when my mom made cookies when I would visit. And now, 2013 is here. That means most of us have made a New Year’s resolution by now. And why not? At the start of every year, once we’ve shaken off the disappointments of last year, there is advantagemagazine.ca
nothing but promise, hope, possibility. New beginnings. A new year holds nothing but ways in which we can improve ourselves, our jobs, our relationships, our lives. Maybe you want to contribute more to your community, or maybe you want to finally make that business transaction, or maybe you just want to get to know your employees better. Whatever it is, now is the time to set a goal. Because a resolution means plotting a way to do something better, whether it’s for yourself or those around you. It means improvement. It means finding a solution to a problem. That’s why this issue is packed full of solutions. Just take a look at the Biz (p. 99), where we outline some of the most pressing problems and how some companies are facing them, working past them, rising above them. Whether it’s HRWARE simplifying HR processes for all industries across the board, or SmartPoint conducting surveys so that companies can better market their services, or Navtech improving technology within the aviation industry, there is no solution not worth highlighting. These are all accomplishments, and no matter the industry or region or job role, the aim is to make our surroundings a better place through our contributions, whatever they may be. But don’t just take the Biz’s word for it. The theme of “solutions” extends to all parts of this issue—from the YMCA strengthening its community with job training and fitness programs (p. 74), to Balance Medical Center implementing alternative medicine to better a patient’s well-being (p. 83), to Javelin improving technology within the medical and dental fields (p. 66), and much more. Every page is full of achievements, of overcoming hardships, of persevering, of following through. New Year’s resolutions aren’t for everyone. Oftentimes they’re just pipe dreams we hope to accomplish before realizing we don’t have the slightest inclination to actually pull them off. But now, with the dawn of 2013 right outside the door, I challenge you, dear reader, to make one resolution this year, if you haven’t already—one that will help give you peace of mind. I don’t care if it means putting less cream and sugar in your coffee, or if it means merging with your competitor to eliminate the competition; all I care about is that you try. Challenge yourself. You might be surprised at what you accomplish.
Michael Danaher Senior Features Editor advantage
J a n / F e b / M a r 2013
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Grab Bag inside look Industry watch stat wall
Time Machines The Brick Flip Clock mixes contemporary design with a vintage aesthetic. See this and other desk accessories in our Grab Bag.
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Desk Jockeys Personalize your workspace with these unique—and functional—accessories
1. Indispensable dispenser
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Designed by Folmer Christensen, this stainless-steel tape dispenser upends the standard tape dispensing mechanisms, and it has a small footprint to boot. One Hand Tape Dispenser / $125 / canoeonline.net
With a 22.5” reach, this sleek, versatile LED lamp comes in solid American walnut and solid-oak shade options, which adds a subtle tone of prestige to any workspace. Rich Brilliant Willing LED Table Lamp / $249 / dwr.com
2. Keeping time
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Powered by two D batteries, this wireless flip clock communes a streamlined sense of style with a touch of vintage sensibility, because the best timepieces are timeless. Brick Flip Clock / $374 / northernicon.com 12
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No more crying over spilt milk (or coffee) with the Spink. Catered to mug-owners, this device encloses your beverage within a shock-resistant shell, and has a suction cup on the bottom to keep things anchored. Spink / $19.95 / spoonsisters.com
by Benjamin van Loon
5. Cork it These bookends combine three functions in one. Showcase your Dale Carnegie book collection, water your banzai tree, and tack up your to-do lists, all in one place. Cork Planter Bookend Set / $48 / canoeonline.net
6. Tray bien Though it was designed with the iPad in mind, the Dock Tray isn’t hardwareexclusive. Made of sustainably sourced oiled oak, the Dock Tray holds and positions your tablet, and doubles a discreet storage tray. Dock Tray / $93 / northernicon.com advantagemagazine.ca
Good Food Comes Home PaperChef managing partner Scott Miller talks about the foodie revolution by Julie Knudson The world’s top chefs no longer have exclusive access to one of the secrets of great food. Used for everything from cupcakes to fish, from baking to grilling, parchment paper is infiltrating kitchens across the country and making everyday cooks masters of mealtime. Scott Miller saw that parchment paper could offer tremendous convenience to time-pressed consumers. Today, the energetic 29-year-old has built PaperChef into one of the top innovators in the cookware industry. Here, Miller tells us about the shift to healthier eating, his passion to uncover what people really need, and how parchment paper gives us a connection to our food.
paper in the kitchen “We see parchment paper as a way to elevate cooking. It’s kind of what lululemon is to yoga; we are that to the culinary world. PaperChef products help people cook healthier, easier, and more conveniently. It’s been intimidating for consumers to grab onto, but it’s actually a very easy.”
rise of the foodies “There’s been a fundamental shift in thinking about food. People are moving toward local diners that source locally and focus on organic foods. And the whole farm-to-table movement isn’t just happening in the big cities—it’s also going on in small communities around the country. In addition, today’s consumers are taking in a lot more foodiefocused media properties. Those are all things that are prompting consumers to seek us out.”
innovations in parchment “We started with rolls of parchment paper, and then moved into more specific applications, like our cooking bags and baking cups. We had people telling us that they were having a hard time trying to fold our paper into pouches. That led us to make a bag, and now consumers can just take their salmon, their vegetables, and their seasonings, and throw it all right in the bag. That way the whole meal comes together.”
continuing the convenience “I think we went through 20 years of what I call the ‘convenience revolution,’ where everything became about now. We saw the rise of quick, on-the-go meals. I think one of the things driving our growth is that people still seek out convenience. They’re still very pressed for time, but they’re also looking to elevate their experience a little.”
getting real “I want to understand what the real issues are, even if they’re uncomfortable or you have to confront things that aren’t easy. I have a relentless drive to find out what’s happening. I’ve learned a big lesson from trying to hire for skills, background, and experience, versus bringing in talented people who are of a like mind—who share our philosophy and passions.”
miller’s Favourites Movie: Fight Club TV Show: Seinfeld Album: Rubber Soul by the Beatles
on inspiration “I’ve been listening to Apple Keynotes for about five years. I’m interested in creating products you’re proud of, and how to push new products out every year that always raise the bar. My father has also been a real inspiration to me, and to this day he mentors me. It’s been really great to have him as a trusted advisor.” advantage
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Staying Alive Technology and regulation have changed the Canadian travel industry, but travel agencies aren’t going anywhere by Julie Schaeffer Increasing competition from online travel purveyors has left the Canadian travel industry in flux—but traditional travel agents are still quite relevant, says Rachel Neild, owner of Ottawabased Think Travel Inc. Below, Neild tells us more: “Technology has changed the industry. I’ve been in the industry for 20 years. When I started, technology wasn’t a part of the industry; we were using faxes. Now web-based travel engines allow consumers to book their own travel. Technology has been a huge driver of change. Another change has been increasing regulation. In the past, people were giving credit-card numbers to fraudulent companies. Now, each province must comply with the directives of a regulatory body. In Ontario, it’s the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO). It’s been a challenge to stay alive. We have to comply with increasing regulations—everything down to how present invoices. At the same time, we’re competing against people booking online. Meanwhile, many airlines have cut our commissions. Travel agencies are still relevant. If you need to book a flight from Chicago to New York, it’s easy to do that online, but there are always consumers who need professional guidance. If you’re booking an expensive trip, or one with many components, you appreciate the guidance of an experienced professional. I think there will always be the need for the live interaction a travel agent offers—travel agents will just cater to a different clientele. I’ve had clients with me since I started in the industry. They’ve followed me when I went off on my own. My clients could book flights on their own, but they come to me because they want to be sure they’re getting the best option and price, and they’re willing to pay a service fee to get it.”
Sign of the Times Rachel Neild explains what travel agencies need to know to keep up with the boom in DIY travel Understand the client As the industry has changed, so has my business. I used to do a lot of pleasure travel bookings, but now I specialize in a niche market— customized personal and group travel such as adventure travel, retreats, and destination weddings. Add value You have to think of ways to present yourself as a niche market and give the client added value. Ask yourself why clients would pay you a service fee. Create personal relationships Agencies fall into two groups— corporate and leisure—and both are built on personal relationships. You have to establish trust.
Travel in Numbers A statistical look at the travel industry’s monthly facts and figures, based on May 2012
5.3m 4.5m 795k 378 k Trips Canadians made abroad 14
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Trips Canadians made to the US
Trips Canadians made overseas
Trips to Canada by residents of countries other than the US advantagemagazine.ca
Go with the Flow The publicâ€™s push toward sustainability has yielded some noteworthy numbers
Percentage of areas that believe climate change is due only to human activity
A national breakdown of where the country stands on the issue of climate change A: 57%
British Columbia Manitoba Prairies
A: 57% of Canadians believe that climate change is occurring partially due to human activity and partially due to natural climate variation
B: 31% of Canadians believe climate change is caused solely by human activity
C: 12% Not specified Source: IPAC-CO2 Research Inc.
Positive Energy Canadiansâ€™ approval and preferences for how to use and implement alternative energy
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spice trade From selling out of a station wagon to a direct-sales model, Epicure Selections has all the ingredients necessary in a recipe for success by stephanie vozza
A tasting party featuring Epicureâ€™s spices and wares.
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off the map
enturies ago, peppercorn could pay the rent, cloves were worth their weight in gold, and nutmeg was used to purchase Manhattan. Spices were an important commodity. Today, British Columbia-based Epicure Selections is out to prove just how important spices can be in a modern business world. Family-owned and women-run, the company was launched in 1991 from the kitchen of founder Sylvie Rochette, a working mother with a flair for blending spices. “Not a lot of products were available that didn’t have MSG or other unnatural additives,” says Amelia Warren, Epicure Selection’s CEO and Rochette’s daughter. “My mother would preblend spices to make her own cooking faster and more efficient.” Rochette’s friends encouraged her to share her products, and she started selling her spices out of the back of her station wagon at farmers’ markets and craft shows. Her first sale netted her $375. Six years and thousands of dollars in sales later, Rochette got to a place where she needed to scale her business. Wholesale markets were an option, but what was really needed was someone showing the customer how to use the spices; what was really needed was a lot more Sylvies. And so Epicure Selections adopted the direct-sales model in 1997. In its first year, sales tripled, and the company has grown every year since. “We’ve grown organically and funded our growth internally,” Warren says. “We went from having one consultant—Sylvie—to having 14,500. Our home team has grown from one to 175.”
“I have always wanted to play a role in making the planet and our community a better place ... I fell in love with Epicure Selections and with what’s possible when business is oriented towards delivering both profit and social good.” —Amelia Warren, CEO
Adding cookware and a wide array of food products, from chocolate to beverages to salsas, Epicure Selections has also grown into Canada’s largest direct-sales company, with 2012 sales projected to be more than $50 million. Warren credits the amount of care and attention—the kind you’d use to make a favourite dish—as the reason for the company’s phenomenal success. “Our products are also one of a kind,” Warren says. “They taste better, and we ensure our consumers learn how to use our products through our independent consultants, online recipes, and how-to cooking videos.” advantagemagazine.ca
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Founder Sylvie Rochette and her daughter, Amelia Warren, CEO.
Organic at heart Epicure Selection’s environmental commitment
End-to-End Solutions for all your technology requirements.
Epicure Selections CEO Amelia Warren is guiding her company’s commitment to sustainability. With a desire to leave the world better than she found it, Warren considers sustainability to be an investment, not only in the environment, but in people as well. “We make sure we offer food that supports people in cooking and eating well,” she says. “And we are committing to clean products, with no additives or anything you cannot pronounce.” Three principles guide the company’s corporate social responsibility efforts: environmental stewardship, health and wellness, and caring and sharing. Below are six of the company’s achievements in environmental stewardship.
Epicure Selections implemented a comprehensive recycling and waste-management program, diverting more than 13 tonnes of garbage from landfills.
We’re honoured to partner with
Epicure Selections® Congratulations on 15 successful years leading the field in providing opportunities for women entrepreneurs across Canada. Find out how we can support your business:
Environmentally friendly materials are used whenever possible, with more than 70% of its materials printed on recycled paper.
The company’s registered dietician and research-and-development chef contribute their time and provide health-and-wellness information to team members as well as members of the community.
Epicure Selections was awarded Employer of the Year Crystal Award for Business Excellence due to its safe, clean, equitable, and inclusive work environment and above-average wages.
Epicure Selections is a member of IMAGINE Canada and donates more than 5% percent of pretax profits to charities each year.
Sylvie Rochette personally volunteers with Voiles Sans Frontiers in Senegal, sponsoring a child and putting 3 young women through midwife training. She also supports a large local family and a medical dispensary in Madagascar.
off the map
Ultimately, Warren says, Epicure Selections’ mission is to support people eating healthy meals, now more than ever. “Food plays an important role in health,” she says. “We are experiencing pandemic levels of heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes. More attention is being paid to what we eat, and more people want to cook from scratch.” In addition to good health, Warren is proud that her company offers women a chance to become entrepreneurs. While income varies, she says some earns six figures each year, and others earn a couple hundred dollars a month, “which can pay for hockey lessons for the kids,” she says. “There is a misconception about people who are in direct sales—that they’re just party ladies,” she says. “That couldn’t be further than the truth. Theirs are stories of entrepreneurship, of sacrifice and passion. I’ve learned so much from our consultants. They’ve taught me a lot about what’s required to be successful.” Warren, for her part, says she was never brought up to run the business. “I wanted to go into the nonprofit sector,” she recalls. “I took a summer job here, in 2007, creating the Epicure Foundation, our charitable organization. I have always wanted to play a role in making the planet and our community a better place, and after a summer at Epicure I saw how powerful it could be to give women a chance to contribute to their families and their communities. I fell in love with the business and with what’s possible when business is orientated towards delivering both profit and social good.” Warren took the CEO role in 2009, with advice from her mother. “She told me, ‘Always be prepared to work really hard. Endeavour to lead by example. And know that you will make a lot of mistakes and be okay with that.” Warren lives by her mother’s belief that to whom much is given, much is expected. She says her role is to position the company to grow and prepare for the future growth, with plans to double in size within the next seven years. Since assuming her role, she’s made changes to sales force, the product mix, and the training program. Warren has also concentrated on engaging their sales force and home office employees. “I spent 2011 really listening to key stakeholders in the field,” she says. “I asked advantagemagazine.ca
about what’s working and about how we can continue to improve the business opportunity. As we grow, so has the need to increase investment in our consultants. We upped the training, recognition, and online tools we offer, and enhanced our compensation package.” Epicure Selections has heavily focused on IT, building its e-commerce and creating an effective digital strategy that communicates the spirit of the business. Constantly improving, the company is also going through a rebranding process to reassess its packaging, materials, and processes, to ensure it is in line with its goals and objectives. Last year, it started initiatives timed with the company’s 15-year anniversary, which it has dubbed its Quincinera celebration. Warren considers it a celebration of the company reaching “young adulthood” as a business, having outgrown some of its systems and processes, and reevaluating its organization. “We strive to have a business that is contributing to the planet and community,” she says. “Underlying everything we do is an ongoing desire to positively affect the world.” In 2007, the company launched the Epicure Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of Canadians through nutrition education and poverty relief. The foundation has awarded more than $750,000 in funding and in-kind donations to more than 50 Canadian charities, such as the YWCA Crisis Shelter and Residence in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Martha’s Table Community Program in Kingston, Ontario, and Anna’s House in Steinbach, Manitoba. Although Epicure Selections continues its phenomenal growth, Warren says the company remains closely tied to its roots. “At our core are high-quality spice blends that are delicious and good for you,” she says. Spices that are changing the world, making them more valuable than ever before. _a
A message from gsati
GSATi’s relationship with Epicure Selections reflects our shared determination to succeed and champion opportunities for women businesses. As a woman-owned business, we’re excited to support CEO Amelia Warren with all her technology needs as she guides her team of entrepreneurial women through their 15th successful year into the future.
by the numbers
number of spice blends offered in 1991
number of spice blends offered when Epicure Selections launched its direct-sales model
number of spice blends offered in 1998, a year after launching its party plan
number of spice blends available in 2000
number of spice blends offered today
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Strength in strategy
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The need for strong communication skills
Making our mosaics
The need to push yourself
“If you don’t hit difficult times, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough.” Testing the limits with Tara Kelly, president and CEO of SPLICE Software Interview by Lynn Russo Whylly
ara Kelly wrote her first program in COLBOL when she was nine, and rented out her “smelly” markers in school for milk money. Clearly born with business savvy and an entrepreneurial spirit, it’s no surprise she went into business for herself after college, opening a health-food store. She sold the store in 2001 and opened Simply Health Systems, an appointment reminder software company. In 2006, she started SPLICE Software Inc., introducing a new generation of enterprise voice applications to the international market that gives companies the ability to listen to and communicate with their customers and employees on a large scale, 24/7, without deploying an expensive live network. We recently spoke with Kelly, the president and CEO of the Calgary-based firm, to hear about her business strategies. Advantage: Why did you start SPLICE?
Tara Kelly: Based on my previous experience in telephony and customer service, I thought phone interactions were fairly poor, and I knew we could do better. There was a tremendous opportunity to splice and merge audio and, with that, create a better experience using automation. I wanted to inspire people to realize that if they opened their mind, they could see how capable and valuable it was. What is your strategy for running a successful company?
You have to know who you are and what you stand for. We exist because we believe advantagemagazine.ca
it can be better. That’s the primary pillar of our strategy, and we rally around that belief. My job is enabling people to make better decisions in line with that vision to meet 100 percent of our objectives. I focus on being clear and showing leadership. You pride yourself on your tenacity. Can you tell me about that?
One of the best compliments I’ve gotten from a software developer is that I know when to push and when to quit. People have called me the Energizer Bunny. If I believe the value’s there in a product or service, there’s no stopping me. If I get turned away, I just think that means we chose the wrong
Tara Kelly’s Career Milestones 2006 Launches SPLICE Software
2009 SPLICE expands into the US
2010 SPLICE wins its first national award, an Innovator Tech Award
2010 Expands into the UK and India
2011 Launches its Full Customer Permissions and Preferences program
2012 Launches a not-for-profit division to benefit the homeless and other community groups
road in, or perhaps they didn’t hear me knocking. Sometimes you have to be tenacious about your timing, your patience, and your approach. How has your strong ability to communicate helped you lead the company?
Any time you want to accomplish something that hasn’t been done before, or do it better, you need to communicate, not just with advantage
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depends on seeing things differently
Photo: Paul S. White
The SPLICE delivery team hard at work, at the company’s office in Calgary.
clarity, but also with passion and vision. You need to change the way somebody deals with you. It’s about listening and understanding as much as it is about speaking. You’re not going to be able to move those people if you don’t understand what they value and what motivates them. This aligns with our core values and has been a big part of our delivery. Do you have a certain philosophy for managing people?
I like to stay close until people are ready to run on their own and then let them go with as much leash as possible. I tell them to use your head, know your numbers, and trust your heart, but go with your gut. I have a favourite saying I picked up from Angela Ahrendts at Burberry’s: people will forget what you said and what you do, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel. I try to promote and live that in all aspects of my life. You have an interesting philosophy about mosaics. Tell me about that.
I believe that everyone who enters your life and interacts with you, chooses to spend an extra five minutes with you, or shares a story with you—they’re being woven into your mosaic, a picture of you made of tiny tiles, and each tile is a person who has shared something with you. Every day, we choose 22
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to be a part of someone’s mosaic, and if we can be more open and transparent about it, we can make these beautiful pictures with our lives. Have there been any difficult times while at SPLICE, and if so, how did you get through them?
There are always difficult times. During the early stages, getting customers and raising money—that was really tough. If you don’t hit difficult times, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough. When the going gets tough, I think you need to compartmentalize and bite off one part at a time and nail it. Also, getting through them is about making sure you have cheerleaders in life, that you’re networking and you’re participating in the ecosystem. You should be hitting those challenge points every year. Looking at your career at SPLICE, what are you most proud of?
That we built this international company. That we raised all of our funds privately, and we’ve had phenomenal growth—30 percent in 2011. And the value we’ve driven. I think we’ve been well operated, efficient, and disciplined in our process, and I’m so proud of the team that makes it happen. The thing that wows me most is being so lucky to have such brilliant people on my team!” _a
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“We’re focusing on development— ensuring we have talent in place, so when jobs open up we can fill them with the right leadership style and competencies.” Chief HR officer Katya Laviolette discusses the strengths of TC Transcontinental Interview by Ruth E. Dávila
Photo: Pierre Charbonneau
s an HR executive, Katya Laviolette is multifunctional in her skill set but singlemindedly driven to achieve. Having worked in a range of sectors—transportation, aerospace, publishing, and media—she applies the sum of her experiences to her current position as chief HR officer for TC Transcontinental. Now on her second term with the marketing giant, Laviolette leads the HR function in effecting organizational change within an indubitably fast-paced biz. Here, she comments on culture, values, and change.
Advantage: What were your early years like, before your career was even on your mind?
Katya Laviolette: I was born in Montréal. My mother was British, and my father was French-Canadian. My parents got divorced at a young age. My mother returned to England, with my brother and myself, to get her nursing degree, and then we returned to Canada and settled in Edmonton. I believe my childhood years were very formative. It was not easy to be a single mother raising two children in the ’70s—my mother was extremely resilient, and I believe that has had a significant impact on my career.
Benefits of bilingualism
Operating in a digital age
Growing up outside Québec, how did you pick up French?
In Edmonton, my mother insisted we register to French immersion and attend a school far away from where advantage
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“We’re moving from an entrepreneurial to an innovative culture, and from a collegial workforce to a teamwork-driven one.” —Katya Laviolette, Chief HR Officer
we lived. As such, I took French immersion until I was 14. When I moved back to Montréal to start my career in 1994, it was a 360. I challenged myself to take jobs where I could really learn my French. I put myself in situations where I would have to speak it and learn the culture. How has bilingualism benefitted your work?
I’m an Anglophone who speaks French, and being fully bilingual has certainly helped me. We have clients and operations throughout Canada and a small group in the United States. Being bicultural—and having exposure to different cultures—has
Katya Laviolette’s Career Milestones 1993 Earns bachelor of commerce with honors from the University of Alberta
You lead a large function at TC Transcontinental, balancing both relationships and responsibilities. How do you stay on top of things?
We have approximately 125 people in the HR community. I have seven direct reports who all have staff below them. I believe in giving broad direction and delegating responsibilities across the team, as well as providing the necessary support and coaching required. I give a lot of space. I’ve got high expectations and like to make sure we deliver as a team. Also, I like to be close to operations. I get out to visit the plants. Sometimes I’ll pop into an operational review or finance meeting. I’m involved in the [planning] process for the company as a whole. As an HR professional, it’s important to push to be in those things. Then you can begin to translate what the org needs. In the short of it, it’s about being close to the business. What is different your second time around at the organization?
When I returned, TC Transcontinental had begun its shift from a traditional publisher/ printer to a marketing-services organization. The publishing piece has become much more challenging as platforms are changing dramatically in the digital era. It’s about reinforcing our brands and building quality content and adding value for our customers. Today it’s about integrating social media, Internet, and mobile. The digital component is hitting organizations in every which way.
Becomes vice president of people and culture at CBC/ Radio-Canada
How is TC Transcontinental navigating the new digital frontier?
1994 Earns master of industrial relations with honors from Queens University
2001 Becomes director of HR for Bombardier Aerospace
2003 Becomes vice president of HR at Transcontinental Media
2012 Becomes chief human resources officer at TC Transcontinental
helped me establish solid business relationships.
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We are the largest printer in Canada and a leading publisher of consumer magazines. To maintain these levels, the pressure is enormous. There is a lot of new competition—very
small players who have nimble cost structures. If we used to offer, say, one or two services to our customers, we can now offer multiple services. There is still a significant need for print publishing—a lot of retailers rely heavily on print for their marketing campaigns. But what retailers and customers are saying is, what kind of additional tools do you offer in the interactive space—web, mobile, e-mail? For us, it’s about how we make that shift to the marketing services space. From an HR perspective, how is the company managing the evolution?
We’re reskilling the workplace and dealing with cultural change. Then there’s org design, having the right structure to be able to execute and deliver your business plan in the future market. We’re focusing on development—ensuring we have talent in place so when jobs open up we can fill them with the right leadership style and competencies. (We have a lot of success with internal hires and promotions.) If you don’t have the right people at the top, you can see very quickly how the business can cease to be effective. Changing operationally is a challenge, but changing a culture is exponentially more complex. How is TC Transcontinental faring?
That’s a foundational piece. We’ve rebranded the corporation to give it a new, fresh look— to show customers we’re a marketing-services company. At the same time, we’re refreshing our values, changing internally and externally how we’re perceived. We’re moving from an entrepreneurial to an innovative culture, and from a collegial workforce to a teamwork-driven one. We worked for over a year to develop and implement these new values and are now tying them to our performance management system, to measure and ensure the right behaviours are in place as we move through our transformation. _a
A message from tc transcontinental
TC Transcontinental recognizes that success depends on seeing things differently. With a commitment to innovation and a passion for meeting client needs, TC Transcontinental stands proudly among the top in its industry. Towers Watson congratulates TC Transcontinental and Katya Laviolette on their vision, leadership, and continued success.
“I bought my first four shares of common stock when I was 10 years old.” PUR founder and CEO Mark Yamada explains the intricacies of investing Interview by Mark Pechenik
ven as a child, Mark Yamada had a passion for investing. “I bought my first four shares of common stock when I was 10 years old,” he recalls fondly. As CEO and founder of Torontobased PUR Investing Inc., Yamada employs his lifelong interest to advance his firm’s expertise in exchange traded funds (ETFs) and risk-based portfolio construction. His efforts have successfully advanced PUR into the top ranks of Canadian investment firms. We recently spoke with Yamada about his winning investment approaches and future plans for PUR.
Advantage: When did you become aware of the value of ETFs?
Mark Yamada: I was developing the high-net-worth division for Guardian Capital, a Toronto-based investment firm in 2001. Simply put, ETFs are groups of securities that trade like an individual stock on a stock exchange, such as the Standard & Poor 500 or the S&P/TSX Composite Index. I came to realize that they offered distinctive benefits for investors. What are the advantages of an ETF?
Advantages of ETFs
Planning for the future
An ETF resembles a mutual fund but with important pluses. In Canada, a common stock mutual-fund investor typically pays 2.6 percent in annual management fees. ETFs charge only 0.15–0.75 percent in fees. ETFs also offer investors more flexibility and control. Mutual funds are traded at the previous day’s closing price. ETFs can be traded at any time, can also be sold short, are tax efficient, and outperform median actively managed mutual funds with strong consistency. Finally, ETFs are more transparent than mutual funds—investors know exactly what they own at all times. advantage
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PŮR Investing Inc. is a registered portfolio manager and software development ﬁrm specializing in risk management and disruptive technology for pension plans, investors and their advisors.
For more information please contact: Mark S. Yamada, President & CEO firstname.lastname@example.org www.purinvesting.com 26
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“With almost 1,500 ETFs in North America, demand for our tools that help screen, sort, and build portfolios will expand as investors seek support.” —Mark Yamada, CEO & Founder
What are the benefits that PUR offers in ETF investing?
PUR can and does build institutional quality portfolios for individuals. By their nature, ETFs are efficient packets of well-diversified risk, making them ideal portfolio building blocks. Our professional advisors use techniques, including risk budgeting, that only the largest and most successful pension funds employ. Other investment firms using conventional asset allocation techniques have found them less effective in recent years because of persistently high market volatility. PUR is also a software development firm. We power the ETF Screener that is on the TMX Money Website. PUR has developed a powerful ETF portfolio construction tool for professional advisors. Building tailored portfolios that match an individual’s tolerance for risk and investing time horizon, it automatically notifies advisors when rebalancing trades are suggested. Uniquely, it rebalances to a constant risk, which is more effective in preserving capital than the normal fixedasset mix method. It is the only automated web-based ETF construction tool in the
PUR Investing’s Corporate Milestones 2006 PUR Investing opens its doors (ETFs in Canada: 26)
2008 Target date fund 3.0 - Euromoney Handbook article is published (ETFs in Canada: 77)
2010 ETF Screener launches on TMX Money website (ETFs in Canada: 157)
2011 Rotman International Journal of Pension Management article is published (ETFs in Canada: 227)
2012 ETF Portfolio Construction Tool launches (ETFs in Canada: 260)
world that we know about. It is certainly the most sophisticated. ETFs in North America have enjoyed explosive growth in assets and numbers; their popularity is likely to continue as more investors discover their advantages. What does PUR offer for retirement planning?
One in five Canadians is a civil servant with a defined benefit (DB) pension that we taxpayers guarantee. Fewer than 17 percent of private-sector employees enjoy DB pension security. Seventy percent of Canadians do not have a workplace pension at all. ETFs can help the rest of us by lowering costs. PUR has developed a third generation of target date fund (TDF) for defined contribution (DC) pension plans, the fastest-growing segment of the pension market. Conventional target date funds start with high amounts of stocks and automatically reduce them as retirement approaches, eliminating the need for investors to make these decisions. That is great, but they often fall short in managing risk. PUR’s approach not only makes TDFs more effective, but also makes them more like comprehensive DB plans by targeting to replace a percentage of income. Our paper “What DC Plan Members Really Want” was accepted and published in the Rotman International Journal of Pension Management in its fall, 2011 issue. What would you still like to achieve with PUR Investing?
My colleagues and I are excited to be at the vanguard of two explosive markets, ETFs and DC pensions. With almost 1,500 ETFs in North America, demand for our tools that help screen, sort, and build portfolios will expand as investors seek support. A looming pension crisis in many parts of the world, and a major shift towards DC pensions, means approaches like PUR’s Target Date 3.0 can help investors get better retirements. We plan to find strategic partners to take our capabilities around the world and to find business partners to help us leverage our talented team’s efforts to challenge convention and disrupt the status quo. _a advantagemagazine.ca
“We focus on what is left after taxes, inflation, and fees over time. That’s what clients really want to know: will there be enough when we need it?” Building a stronger financial future with Evelyn Jacks, founder and president of Knowledge Bureau Interview by Erin Brereton
ounded by Evelyn Jacks in 2003, Knowledge Bureau, a virtual postsecondary institute, offers professional development courses for tax and financial advisors, as well as financial education for its clients. In addition to diploma and certificate programs, Knowledge Bureau offers Master Financial Advisor and Distinguished Financial Advisor designations. Jacks, an educator and author of close to 50 books on tax and wealth management, has received several appointments and designations during her career— including being named one of Canada’s Top 25 Women of Influence by Women of Influence magazine and serving on Canada’s Federal Task Force on Financial Literacy and Manitoba’s Lower Tax Commission. In 2013, Jacks will become the second female president of Western Canada’s oldest private business club, the Manitoba Club. We spoke with her about being a woman in the financial-services industry and the importance of fiscal planning.
Online financial education
Fiscal literacy and planning
Being a woman of influence advantage
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Advantage: What was your inspiration for launching the Knowledge Bureau?
Evelyn Jacks: Having practiced in the tax industry for many years, I found many taxpayers were frustrated with a “silo approach” to their financial affairs. My vision for Knowledge Bureau was to meet the need for a highly educated industry of wealth advisors who work with families using a strategic, tax-efficient approach to investment, retirement, estate, and succession planning. Our curriculum provides the technical skills advisors need to know to work better together. Did you always plan to make the Knowledge Bureau an online resource?
Adults are busy. The entire structure of Knowledge Bureau, from the start, was
Evelyn Jacks’s Career Milestones 1986 Earns the YWCA Business Woman of the Year Award
1995 Is named Manitoba’s Woman Entrepreneur of the Year
1997 Wins Rotman School of Business Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award
1998 Business Leadership Award from the Canadian Embassy and Business Women’s Network in Washington, DC
1998 Is appointed to the Manitoba Lower Tax Commission
2003 Founds Knowledge Bureau
2010 Appointed to Canada’s Federal Task Force on Financial Literacy
2011 Named one of Canada’s Top 25 Women of Influence
2011 Manitoba’s Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award
2012 Manitoba Club first vice president
2013 Becomes Manitoba Club president
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“Teaching tax literacy and its important role in wealth accumulation and preservation has become my life’s work.” —Evelyn Jacks, Founder & President
anytime, real-time learning. That’s why every single course hour has a lesson plan and multiple components: instructor-led PowerPoints, reference journals, online quizzes, and practical skill deliverables. Students use professional software, online calculators, and do research in online libraries. Whether they are earning a certificate toward a specific skill, like tax preparation, or a designation that trains advisors to work strategically on an interadvisory team, our students can custom-design their programs to help them obtain work or start their own business. The site has a dual purpose: to educate tax and financial advisors and also to help their clients understand finance. Was it difficult speaking to two very separate groups?
It’s a challenge when you have multiple audiences as diverse as tax, legal, and financial advisers—all working together with worried clients, who are often confused about the financial consequences of various life or economic events. Advisors often need to be educators and advocates for the family. Their clients need help setting goals and then making good financial decisions. We publish books for them and courses for advisors that take a collaborative approach to building sustainable family wealth. We focus on what’s left after taxes, inflation, and fees over time. That’s what clients really want to know: will there be enough when we need it? What kind of instruction do financial professionals receive?
Usually, the way financial advisors find us is that they first have some need to take hours of continuing professional development for a licensing or regulatory obligation. The Knowledge Bureau offers certification programs—our courses are also certified by other licensing bodies and professional organizations—and an academic path toward two designations that distinguish the student as a strategic, tax-efficient wealthmanagement specialist. You were appointed by the Minister of Finance to serve on the Federal Task
Force on Financial Literacy. What did the role involve?
We produced a report that included a framework for implementation and 30 recommendations to improve financial literacy in Canada. The process involved travelling across the country to better understand Canadians’ challenges managing their finances. We came up with a wonderful and broadly accepted definition for financial literacy: it’s having the knowledge, skills, and the confidence to make responsible financial decisions. Now, across the country, people are using that definition and guidance document to improve financial understanding in their community. You’ve won a number of awards over the years. Which was the biggest surprise?
They were all incredibly meaningful. It was a wonderful honour to be named a Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year—a national award—and also this past year to be named one of Canada’s top 25 Women of Influence. Have you faced any challenges being a woman in the industry?
When I started my career, there were very few other women doing the work I did in the tax field. But when I saw my first tax return, I was a young schoolteacher, and I didn’t understand the terms. I knew that for the rest of my life, taxes would be our biggest expense. I thought, “If I don’t understand this, millions of other Canadians mustn’t as well.” That brought passion and purpose— teaching tax literacy and its important role in wealth accumulation and preservation has become my life’s work. _a
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“Ideaca has brought us leadership, sound project planning and the ability to understand how to resolve our business issues. And we appreciate that they are themselves a well-run, well-organized professional services firm.” Susan Hodkinson Chief Operating Officer, Soberman LLP Ideaca.com | 866.816.4332 | Toronto | Kitchener | Vancouver | Calgary | Edmonton | USA
Susan Hodkinson (left) poses with staff at Crowe Soberman’s annual summer event.
“If you can find something you love to do, work hard at it, and then enjoy it, there’s just no end to what you can accomplish.” Susan Hodkinson, COO at , discusses her multitiered career Interview by Erin Brereton
Entering the accounting industry J a n / F e b / M a r 2013
Women in the workplace
ounded in Toronto in 1958, Crowe Soberman LLP has grown to be one of the largest independent public accounting and business advisory firms in Canada. As its COO, Susan Hodkinson manages firm operations—including finance, IT, human resources, facilities, and marketing. Advantage spoke to Hodkinson about her diverse professional background, balancing several roles at her current employer, and how she’s worked to inspire women in the workforce. advantagemagazine.ca
could, over a couple of glasses of wine, solve the problems of the world.
Advantage: How did you get your start in the accounting industry?
Susan Hodkinson: I didn’t intend to come out of university and become COO of an accounting firm. But when I graduated, I thought, “It’s time to start making some money,” and got a job as assistant to the controller in a law firm in London, Ontario. I worked very closely with the general manager and was able to take on projects in different areas, such as facilities, technology research, and marketing. I had my finger in a lot of different pies and really enjoyed doing a lot of different things at the start of my career. Your background includes 20-plus years of management experience at professional-services firms, including law firms, and five years at a private club management company. How did those positions prepare you for your current role?
Everything built on each other, in terms of learning. But there has been a common thread through every environment I’ve worked in, from law firms, to accounting firms, to hospitality companies: developing your people is a consistent recipe for success. People always say they want to earn a lot of money, and we all do, but I really am a believer in the theory that says you need to help employees continue to learn and grow. Nobody wants to be bored. If people are happy, feeling energized, motivated, and connected to your business, it’s going to be successful. You’re responsible for managing the operations of several departments. What’s the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge, but also the greatest excitement of my job, is managing all different areas—meeting with the IT director to talk about a new software agreement; next, meeting with HR management about a recruiting project; and then speaking with our facilities guy about renovating a portion of a floor. I have to turn on and off different parts of my brain quite quickly—I really do love it. You’ve been very involved with Women for Women, Crowe Soberman’s female professional group. What is its central goal?
It’s an opportunity for younger women professionals to get out and get some networking experience with their colleagues in a safe environment. It’s a great opportunity for us to let our clients get to know each other as well. In past years, we concentrated on single speakers—high-profile business advantagemagazine.ca
Susan Hodkinson’s Career Milestones 1983 Graduates from University of Western Ontario
1987 Gets first job as an assistant to the controller at Lerner and Associates in London, ON
1987–1989 Switches to law firm work as HR director at Stikeman Elliott LLP
1989–1997 Administrative services director at Torys LLP
1990–2008 Completes education at Queen’s University, the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, McGill University, and the Anderson School of Business at UCLA
1997–2002 Senior VP at private club management company Clublink Corporation
2002–2007 Chief administrative officer at now-defunct law firm Goodman and Carr
2007 Joins Crowe Soberman
2009 Earns Glass Slipper Award in 2009 from Women’s Post
people, politicians coming in—but for the last couple of years, we’ve hosted panel discussions. Last year, we had a panel on women’s health with three female doctors and one senior female executive from the pharmaceutical industry. Are you active with any other networking or professional-development groups?
I just returned from the Canadian annual general meeting of the International Women’s Forum, which is a fabulous group of women from all walks of life: business, politics, art, philanthropy. We get together to support each other, exchange ideas, and support women’s leadership going forward. I’m always struck by the power that can happen when like-minded and determined women get together; it’s pretty amazing environment to be in. It’s also really fun—I think that collectively, the group
You also received a Glass Slipper Award in 2009 from Women’s Post magazine, given to recognize someone who has helped women achieve success. What did the award mean to you?
I was honoured to be given the award. It made me recognize that maybe I’d made a small difference in terms of helping women get ahead. It was a complete surprise to me; it was presented to me at an event, and both my daughters were there. They knew at the beginning of the evening, but I didn’t—it was a pretty amazing night for me. What advice would you give women who are just starting out in the workforce?
First and foremost, get a good education; being able to communicate well verbally and in written form is hugely important in regard to success. Never miss an opportunity to try something new or meet someone new—and there’s no substitute for working hard. If you can find something you love to do, work hard at it, and then enjoy it, there’s just no end to what you can accomplish. _a
A message from ideaca
Like Soberman, Ideaca is a premier professional services company committed to delivering value to our clients. With offices across Canada, Ideaca delivers innovative solutions around Enterprise Resource Planning, Business Intelligence, Portals and Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Custom Development and Integration, Customer Relationship Management, and Application Infrastructure. A message from ppi
As a group plan sponsor or business owner you’re not simply looking to put a group benefits or executive benefit plan in place, you want your program to have a meaningful impact on the health and attitudes of members of your workforce. Together with Crowe Soberman’s advisor and our team, PPI took the time to understand what’s important to their firm through a unique process called GAPP - an in-depth analysis of Goals, Actual Results, Possibilities and Priorities. This process helped us design a custom plan for their business that brings together group benefits, grouped individual products and unique proprietary solutions for employees and executives. It’s a consultative approach that has made PPI a leading marketer of insurance solutions across Canada. advantage
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Norton Rose Canada congratulates Jennifer Mercanti for being recognized as one of Tomorrow’s Leaders among the In-House Counsel community. Jennifer is a rising star. Every one of us can benefit simply by taking the time to plan ahead. PPI brings people and possibilities together by supporting advisors in the design and delivery of custom insurance plans to protect your business and your employees. Whether you work with PPI Advisory, dedicated to the high net-worth market or PPI Solutions, serving the broader market, we can help you create a legacy that’s right for your business.
PPI. The link between.
2900 lawyers 42 offices 6 continents 1 vision
www.ppi.ca Victoria Vancouver Kelowna Calgary
5002 PPI Advantage Mag 2012_FA.indd 1
Edmonton Winnipeg Kitchener Mississauga Toronto
Ottawa Montréal Halifax St. John’s
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I Jennifer mercanti
“Leadership begins in the heart; I truly value people and their contribution to the organization.” Navigating the financial sphere with Manulife’s assistant VP and chief counsel, Jennifer Mercanti Interview by Tina Vasquez
f you’ve even entertained the idea of referring to your younger self as precocious, you’ll reconsider after speaking to Manulife Financial Corporation’s Jennifer Mercanti, the financialservices company’s assistant VP and chief counsel for its investment division. At just 10 years old, she began to work for her father every weekend. At 14, Mercanti came to the conclusion that law was fascinating, so at 16 she began working at a local law firm, spending hours at the copy machine, but happy nonetheless. At 20, she had been attending Western University for one year when she took the LSAT and applied to law school. Despite being told it was a long shot to get accepted without a degree and after just two years of undergraduate studies, she was accepted, entering law school at the unprecedented age of 21. Now, as senior legal officer for investment products, Mercanti spends her days providing strategic legal advice for product oversight and wealth-management business leaders. As a leader, she sets the strategic direction for the legal department and fronts a team of lawyers and law clerks. Here, she talks to us about the source of her work ethic and her team-orientated leadership style.
Advantage: What do you think made you so motivated at such a young age?
Jennifer Mercanti: My father was an Italian immigrant and entrepreneur who built his life around a Canadian franchise to an American chain; he now has more than 165 locations in Canada. He instilled a work ethic in me that was influenced by his upbringing and by the challenges he faced as an immigrant. Looking back, I realize I was mature for my age, but at the time it was just a certainty I felt. As a teenager, I already knew I wanted a law degree. I think that kind of drive is less commonplace now. What were some of the challenges of attending law school at the age of 21?
Establishing a strong work ethic
Wearing multiple hats
Walking up the steps of the University of Windsor Faculty of Law on my first day was very intimidating. I was nervous but excited. In Canada, law schools are very selective and not very many people attend each year. Initially, I had to prove myself to the faculty and advantage
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my colleagues, but they treated me with respect once they became aware that I had integrity and the skills to perform at the same level. What’s a typical day like for you?
Busy! I am responsible for the oversight of all legal issues for Manulife Investments, the investment division of Manulife Financial Corporation, including disclosure documentation for more than 135 investment funds and 155 segregated funds and insurance products. I have been involved in more than 40 new product launches and over 30 fund mergers and security holder meetings. I also regularly provide educational sessions to ensure that legal policies are understood by all. I am a member of the
Borden Ladner Gervais LLp
Extends Its Congratulations To Jennifer Mercanti
Jennifer Mercanti’s Career Milestones 1997 Enters University of Windsor Faculty of Law after 2 years of undergraduate studies at Western University based on academic achievement
For her outstanding leadership as Avp and Chief Counsel of Manulife Investments.
Graduates from University of Windsor Faculty of Law and Articles at Norton Rose Canada
2002 Called to the Ontario Bar and works as associate counsel at Norton Rose Canada
2004 Becomes a partner at BMK Lawyers in Burlington, ON
2005 Joins AIC Limited in Burlington as associate counsel
2009 Manulife Financial Corporation acquires AIC Limited’s investment fund assets (including Jennifer) and becomes senior counsel
2010–2011 Promoted to assistant VP and chief counsel of Manulife Mutual Funds (2010) and assistant VP and chief counsel of Manulife Investments (2011) and nominated for Stars of Excellence Award
Calgary | Montréal | Ottawa Toronto | Vancouver | Waterloo Region Lawyers | Patent & Trade-mark Agents Borden Ladner Gervais LLP is an Ontario Limited Liability Partnership.
2012 Nominated and selected as finalist for the Canadian General Counsel Awards in the Tomorrow’s Leader Category and winner of the Lexpert Rising Stars Leading Lawyers Under 40
Manulife Investments Leadership Team and act as director, officer, audit committee member, and trustee of various companies. Outside of work, I am cochair of the Charity of Hope and a certified Yoga Alliance instructor. Where does yoga come into play?
It helps me in my day-to-day job. Yoga teaches you to put things into perspective, and it gives you a calmer sense of being. I only discovered yoga a few years ago, but I decided to become certified earlier this year. It required over 200 hours of training over a period of three months. How would you describe your management style?
I’m very team-orientated. Leadership begins in the heart; I truly value people and their contribution to the organization. I recognize the importance of empowering people by supporting and encouraging them to invest in their development, which will ultimately enhance their contribution to the organization. Very few women make it to the level you have. Why do you think so few make it to the top in the financial industry?
It takes a lot of hard work, perseverance, and integrity, and in my particular case, it helped that I started so young. I am pleased to be in this position at Manulife and am encouraged to see more doors opening for women in senior positions in the finance industry. _a
A message from borden ladner gervais llp
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG) is a preeminent, full-service national law firm focusing on business law, commercial litigation, and intellectual property solutions for our clients. With more than 750 lawyers, intellectual property agents, and other professionals in six Canadian cities, BLG assists clients with their legal needs, from major litigation to financing and patent registration. For further information, visit blg.com. A message from norton rose
Norton Rose was fortunate to have Jennifer begin her securities law career with us, and we enjoy our continuing relationship with her as a friend and colleague. We were pleased to see Jennifer recognized for her hard work and dedication at the Canadian General Counsel Awards.
J a n / F e b / M a r 2013
Character is everything.
is one way to
describe a company with $454 billion* in funds under management.
At Manulife, we like to manage from a position of strength. Thatâ€™s why we think being a wellcapitalized and highly rated public company is important. In Canada, our investment portfolio includes much more than government and private sector bonds. We invest for the long-term in assets such as infrastructure projects, prime real estate and commercial mortgages for small- and forw ard- lands in British medium-sized businesses. Across Canada, our investments also include timber th in k ing energy projects trustworthy Columbia, energy resources in Alberta, cranberry farms in Quebec and renewable in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces. Strength is our base and it fuels our success â€“ for your future. To learn more, please go to www.manulife.com
The way we see it, being strong, reliable, trustworthy and forward-thinking is what true character is all about. These qualities are at the heart of everything we do. And thatâ€™s why, for 125 years, millions of clients across Canada, the U.S. and Asia have trusted us to help them with their biggest financial decisions. To learn more, please visit manulife.com *at June 30, 2010 Manulife, Manulife Financial, the Manulife Financial For Your Future logo, the Block Design, the Four Cubes Design, and Strong Reliable Manulife, Manulife Financial, the Manulife FinancialofFor Future logo, the BlockCompany Design,and theare Four Design, and Strong Trustworthy Forward-thinking are trademarks TheYour Manufacturers Life Insurance usedCubes by it, and by its affiliates underReliable license. Trustworthy advantagemagazine.ca J a n / F e b / M a r 2013 Forward-thinking are trademarks of The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company and are used by it, and by its affiliates under advantage license.
“I don’t know what I’d be doing if I weren’t doing this, but I know I wouldn’t be very happy.” Talking finance with Stephen Spellman, president of CENTUM Mortgage Specialists Interview by Julie Schaeffer
tephen Spellman, president of CENTUM Mortgage Specialists Inc., a Halifax, Nova Scotia mortgage brokerage, seemed destined for the job. “I was working as a branch manager for a Household Finance when a friend of mine offered me a position at a company he owned,” Spellman explains. “Three months later, I purchased his company, and a few years after that, I bought into the CENTUM Financial franchise.” Below, Spellman tells us how that came about—and what he’s been doing since.
Advantage: How did you end up buying a company so quickly?
Stephen Spellman: I learned a lot about the financial services industry when working at Household Finance and my friend’s company, Preferred Dealer Financing, and decided to open my own business in the industry. Why did you choose CENTUM Financial?
I explored opportunities with different franchises, and CENTUM Financial stood apart. It was 200 locations and 2,500 mortgage specialists across Canada. It’s been a success because it really understands that selling
Breaking into business J a n / F e b / M a r 2013
The perks of social media
Finding a worklife balance advantagemagazine.ca
“Social media has simply changed the way businesses are interacting with consumers. It’s the way we’ll communicate with clients in the future.” —Stephen Spellman, President
a mortgage is about more than offering a better interest rate. In addition to great products, CENTUM Financial has a back end in terms of accounting, marketing, and Internet strategies—which are important for franchisees—and a branded logo. What makes your business unique?
As a middleman between banks and consumers, we add value. I’m always surprised by how little consumers know when they’re used to dealing with banks. Banks just don’t educate people about why they get approved or don’t get approved for a loan. I sit down with my clients, show them their credit profile, talk to them about the qualifications banks look for, and if they can’t get approved, tell them how to fix that situation. Essentially, we prepare the client for a loan. Do you think you’re more qualified than your competitors?
I’ve been writing mortgages for 24 years. I’m a longtime member of the Canadian Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAMP) organization. And I took the time to get certified as an accredited mortgage professional, or AMP. I think the latter is extremely important, because in Nova Scotia—unlike in Ontario—you don’t have to be licenses to be a mortgage broker. advantagemagazine.ca
Was this your dream job?
It wasn’t in the beginning, but I was certainly intrigued when I was introduced to the industry. The educational system doesn’t teach people about income and credit and debt ratios—all the things the consumer who wants to borrow money needs to know. So you go to a bank and apply for a mortgage, and a loan officer says yes or no, nothing else. We educate our clients, so those who don’t qualify for a loan know how to fix whatever’s wrong. It’s about consumer awareness. I understand you rely heavily on social media?
Absolutely. Over the last three years, I’ve embraced new technologies in addition what we traditionally do—calling them every three to six months, that sort of thing. Social media has simply changed the way businesses are interacting with consumers. It’s the way we’ll communicate with clients in the future. What’s the best part of your job?
I really enjoy the ability to interact with clients and find solutions to their challenges, whether they’re looking to purchase a first home or a third home. I have a philosophy—that all business is about relationships. I have fabulous relationships with my clients.
What part of your job don’t you like?
The long hours. I work 10–12 hours a day, six days a week. How do you ensure a healthy work-life balance?
I learned a long time ago not to answer my phone at 11:00 at night. When I started in the industry, I did. I quickly realized I was setting a precedent, however, because if customers can reach me at 11:00 at night, they’ll call me at 11:00 at night. I have no problem scheduling evening or weekend meetings, and even going to clients’ homes. But there have to be restraints. Banks don’t answer the phone at 11:00 at night, either. What would you be doing if you weren’t running a mortgage brokerage?
That’s a tough one. I’m passionate about what I do. I don’t know what I’d be doing if I weren’t doing this, but I know I wouldn’t be very happy. _a
Stephen Spellman’s Career Milestones 1986 Graduates from Dalhousie University
1994 Begins working as a branch manager at Household Finance
1997 Joins and purchases Preferred Dealer Financing
1998 Expands Preferred Dealer Financing into a mortgage brokerage
2004 Buys into the CENTUM franchise, founding CENTUM Mortgage Specialists
J a n / F e b / M a r 2013
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“I planned to go to law school, but my father needed someone to help him out for a short period of time … His claws went into me.” Tom Heinsoo, president of Heinsoo Insurance Brokers, explains why sometimes Dad knows best Interview by Julie Schaeffer
hen Tom Heinsoo graduated from college, he planned to go to law school, but his plans changed when his first-choice school rejected him. His backup plan? Become a Toronto police officer—an idea Heinsoo’s father immediately opposed. “He had nothing against the police, but thought I’d be restricting my career options,” Heinsoo recalls. Father knows best, as it turned out: Heinsoo eventually took over his father’s company, Toronto-based Heinsoo Insurance Brokers Ltd., which now has six employees. Here, he tells us about his journey.
Advantage: How did the company get started?
Growing from a one-man shop to a large-scale operation
Tom Heinsoo: My father started it. He was a postwar immigrant to Canada from Estonia. After the war, the Estonians had to leave because the Russians were occupying the country, so he immigrated here with my mother. He initially worked in a photography store but was introduced to the insurance business, and he decided to establish an independent brokerage.
Serving the Estonian community
Following in your father’s footsteps advantage
J a n / F e b / M a r 2013
How did the business grow from a one-man shop to a large operation?
My father started selling life insurance and then branched out to include property casual, auto, and small-business insurance. It’s grown from there. Did he market to a specific clientele?
At the time, there was only one other Estonian insurance brokerage in Toronto, and the natural client base for someone like him was postwar immigrants. A lot of them were Estonians. That’s because, until Estonia regained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Toronto had the largest group of Estonians outside Estonia, around 15,000. When did you come onboard?
I joined the company in 1986 after graduating from the University of Toronto with an undergraduate degree in economics and political science. I planned to go to law school, but my father needed someone to
Tom Heinsoo’s Career Milestones 1951 Tom Heinsoo’s father, Ilmar Heinsoo, establishes Heinsoo Insurance Brokers Ltd.
1986 Graduates from the University of Toronto and joins the company
1991 Takes over many operations when his father becomes Honorary Consul General of Estonia in Canada
1998 Takes legal ownership of the company
2000 Heinsoo takes full control of business and merges with another brokerage
2002 Is appointed Honorary Vice Consul of Estonia
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“You can go on a buying spree and acquire other brokerages, or you can grow incrementally, through production. We’ve done both. We’d like to double our growth within the next five years.” —Tom Heinsoo, President
help him out for a short period of time, so I told him I’d be there for six months, at most a year. I had big plans. I wanted to follow my own path. But six months has turned into 25 years. Did you stay because you had a passion for the business?
Initially, I stayed because I felt an obligation. A longtime employee—my father’s righthand person—left the business about a year after I joined. My father was left in the lurch. His claws went into me. He said, “You have to help me out.” I agreed to stay for a couple more years, at most. Then my father had a stroke in 1999 that incapacitated him, so I carried on the business from there. Did you grow to love it, at least?
“Love” may be too strong a word, but I definitely enjoy the business. As I got more involved, I started to appreciate the fact that it was our own business, and the more we put into it, the more we got out of it. The results were tangible. It’s so different from the experience of being a cog in a wheel in a large organization. Do you still have a lot of Estonian clients?
My father spoke Estonian, English, Finnish, German, and Swedish. Consequently, a sizeable proportion of his original client base was made up of these ethnic groups. However, over the years, our book of business has become as diverse as the population of the city of Toronto. We still share office space with the Consulate of Estonia. I guess that’s unique for an insurance brokerage.
How did that happen?
My father was acting Consul General of Estonia when it was under occupation. When the country regained its independence, he became Honorary Consul General of Estonia in Canada. At that point, Estonia had no other diplomatic representation in Canada, so the consulate here was acting like a full-fledged embassy. We were issuing visas and passports and performing various other diplomatic activities. How do you grow a business like yours?
You can go on a buying spree and acquire other brokerages, or you can grow incrementally, through production. We’ve done both. We’d like to double our growth within the next five years. What advice would you give someone who’s looking to follow in your footsteps?
It would be difficult to start an insurance brokerage, because you have to be contracted with different insurance companies. You’d have to go through another brokerage—work for another brokerage, establishing a book of business, using it to branch out on your own. You could also amass some capital and acquire another brokerage. What was the best business advice your father ever provided?
Treat people with respect, especially in a competitive environment. Everyone is looking for an excuse to leave you for price. We don’t sell based on price, but on customer service. We try to go the extra mile for customers. _a advantagemagazine.ca
Heinsoo Insurance Brokers Ltd. was established in 1951 as a general life and property casualty brokerage. Over the years the business has remained family owned and operated and has developed into a full service Toronto area broker. We pride ourselves on knowing how to take care of our customers' personal and commercial insurance needs. We work with
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“I had to learn on my feet because I didn’t have much choice.” On the job with Mia Kukic, principal and owner of Alger & deForest Insurance Interview by Christopher T. Freeburn
ising to a challenge is nothing new for Mia Kukic, principal and owner of Calgary’s Alger & deForest (A&D) Insurance Inc. Formerly from Sarajevo, Kukic moved to Canada after the tumultuous breakup of Yugoslavia in the mid-1990s. A lifelong piano player (who studied music and marketing at university), Kukic’s first job in Canada was teaching piano. She eventually launched her career in the insurance business at Royal Bank of Canada looking to supplement her music income. As her career as an insurance broker blossomed, Kukic continued to teach piano until she purchased A&D. “Handling 60 students a week in addition to running an insurance brokerage became a little too much,” she recalls. Here, Kukic speaks with Advantage about running her own brokerage.
Buying a business J a n / F e b / M a r 2013
Upgrading the infrastructure
Advantage: When did you see an opportunity to become a business owner?
Mia Kukic: I worked at A&D for about seven years before I bought the firm. I attracted a lot of new business, doubling the company’s revenue during the first four years I was there. The previous owner, Darrell Williamson, was contemplating retirement, and I think he had it in mind to sell me the business eventually. A friend of mine, Darlene Taylor, suggested that I take over the business. When Williamson told me he wanted to retire, I asked if I could buy the business and he agreed. Six months later, I became a new owner. How did your learn to run a brokerage?
Williamson mentored me. He would go on vacations and say, “Well, you’re running the business while I’m away.” So I had to learn on my feet because I didn’t have much choice. Fortunately, I am a fast learner. When I saw that I could do more than just a senior broker, it became my motivation to learn the business as quickly as possible. What changes did you make?
When I bought the business, the operation was a little dated. We didn’t have a good filing system, the computer equipment was ancient, and there really wasn’t a phone system. I purchased new phones and computers, and updated the records system. I also adopted a new approach to employees, offering more flexibility with working hours. What sort of insurance does your firm offer?
We offer both personal and commercial lines from major insurers like Intact, Aviva, and Premium Marine. Auto and home coverage are our
The customerservice difference
Growth through acquisition advantagemagazine.ca
“We let our customers know they have a personal broker who knows their circumstances and their needs, and can give them one-on-one service.” —Mia Kukic, Principal & Owner
always give every customer fast and efficient service. Clients call us and say, “Well, I need this type of coverage,” and they know we will have a policy ready for them almost immediately. We let our customers know they have a personal broker who knows their circumstances and their needs, and can give them one-on-one service. What’s next for the firm?
biggest products on the personal side, while auto, property, and business insurance dominates commercial coverage. We also offer specialized business insurance for professionals, like errors and omissions coverage. The business is about 60 percent personal and 40 percent commercial insurance. How does the economy affect your business?
has some level of insurance protection. Previously, people didn’t see a need for business insurance, because their customers weren’t asking about it. So business insurance has become a huge market for us. We are also seeing a rise in residential-building owners insisting that tenants obtain renters insurance. How do you market the business?
We feel changes in the economy a little slower than other businesses. If you want to take out a mortgage or drive your own car, insurance is mandatory. Also many professionals—doctors, for instance—have to carry liability insurance in order to operate their businesses. So some level of insurance coverage is always necessary for most people, regardless of the economy.
Until recently, 99 percent of clients came from referrals, so we didn’t do much marketing. Now we advertise in community newspapers, we have our name in the local Yellow Pages, and we have set up a website. Finally, we cosponsor various community events like golf tournaments.
How has the firm’s business changed?
Happy customers are my goal. I want our clients to be satisfied with the service they received, not just with the insurance products we sold them. Insurance products are pretty similar; the bottom line for why people choose one insurance broker over another is customer service. We try to
With the rapid development of Calgary’s oil-and-gas industry over the past five years, business insurance is in greater demand. It doesn’t matter how small the company or contract is, people want to see that whoever they are doing business with advantagemagazine.ca
What differentiates your firm from other brokerages?
Growing organically takes a lot of time. Buying another brokerage will make us grow faster. I’m hoping to acquire another brokerage in the next year or so. _a
Mia Kukic’s Career Milestones 1995 Arrives in Canada from eastern Europe; starts teaching piano and becomes an insurance broker at Royal Bank of Canada to supplement her income
2000 Works as a general insurance broker at Liberty Mutual
2004 Joins Alger & deForest as an insurance broker
2010 Becomes principal and owner of Alger & deForest
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Photo: Glen Brown
“Follow your gut; it’s usually a pretty good predictor of future events.” Nir Orbach, president and CEO of Illumiti, shares the secrets to his success Interview by Stephanie Vozza
Building the right team J a n / F e b / M a r 2013
Facing tough economic times
re you in or are you out? This is the question Nir Orbach, president and CEO of the systems integration and management consulting firm Illumiti, asks himself when he’s expanding his business. With a strong focus on emerging markets, Illumiti helps clients implement enterprise management and business intelligence software. Headquartered in Ontario, Illumiti also maintains offices in Calgary, Denver, Boston, Houston, and Zurich. The majority of its clients are in Canada and the United States, and the company is looking to grow its market share and increase its presence in these countries. Further expansion is planned in the UK and Latin America, where it is working with partners to enhance its local capability. advantagemagazine.ca
And Illumiti has the track record to do just that, as Orbach was named one of the Branham Top 20 Movers and Shakers in 2012, and his company ranked 97th on Branham’s 300 list of Top Canadian Technology Companies, climbing 24 spots from last year. Orbach credits his success to two things: people and persistence. Advantage caught up with the busy CEO and asked him to share his advice for budding executives. Advantage: How did you launch your company?
Nir Orbach: Previously, I had been a partner in an IT company. After we had gotten clients ready for 2000, we experienced a downturn in the sector. Most IT companies did. The company was being wound down, but I still saw a need in the marketplace. I decided to offer the services I felt were needed, and I built a team of primarily independent contractors. My secret was to pay them more than market value. I quickly built a good reputation in the market because I had the best talent. And the best talent meant the best service for my customers. What qualities did you look for when building your team?
They had to have the same values that I have. They had to have a passion for customer service. And they had to have understanding that building long-term relationships is the key to creating a sustainable and thriving business. I looked for alignment of vision and values. They had to be pragmatic, and they had to care that the solution they were providing customers really worked and was the best solution, as opposed to simply delivering a solution. You launched your company in 2000. What did you do to face the tough economic climate of 2007 and 2008?
When the economy is struggling, that is the time to be industry specific in your focus instead of just broad selling. It’s time to be zoned into your industry and take it vertical. And it’s the time to work to become the leader in your industry. And that is exactly what we did. During 2007 and 2008, the advantagemagazine.ca
resource sector was able to withstand the downturn. These companies had been part of our business, so we dialed into what they needed and cranked up our efforts when the economy started to hurt. How do you grow globally?
The team is important. It’s all about finding the right people. We are in the consulting
Nir Orbach’s Career Milestones 1994 Earns master of science in electrical and industrial engineering from the University of Witwatersrand
business, so our service is our people and our time. Also, you have to look at your industry vertically. In each sector where we play, we look for a clear strength. That drives lead generation, both through word of mouth and our multifaceted marketing efforts. You recently received some great accolades from Branham. What does this mean to you?
It means that we are doing things in a way that the market appreciates and recognizes. Most importantly, it means our customers are benefiting from our services and are able to purchase more services. It’s a win-win. Why do you believe you’ve succeeded?
People are the number-one reason companies will succeed. You’re only as good as your team. As a leader, you have to have persistence even in a tough market. You need toughness to get through difficult times. And you need to be willing to challenge yourself to stay competitive and challenge yourself to always do better. Our successes have come due to the lack of fear of investing in something new in order to kick off a new division. It takes guts to go in willing to invest a significant amount of money. Also, you have to have the staying power. I’ve tried testing the waters gently only to realize that you need to be all in or all out. Luckily, I’ve made more good decisions than bad ones! _a
1994 Becomes consultant for Spearhead Systems Consultants
1996 Becomes VP for Tullamore Advantage
2000 Launches Illumiti
2011 Is named SAP Business Allin-One Partner of the Year, Canada
2012 Is named one of the Branham Top 20 Movers and Shakers; Illumiti ranks 97th on Branham’s list of Top Canadian Technology Companies
A message from crowe soberman llp
Congratulations to Nir Orbach and the Illumiti team on their recent achievements. We are proud to be their trusted business advisors, and to have assisted in their success. Like Illumiti, we believe that success can only come from pushing one’s own personal limits. As Crowe Soberman, we are one of Canada’s premier chartered accounting firms. Established in 1958, we are a full-service firm serving Canada’s midmarket business segments with audit, advisory, tax, and risk consulting. Through our membership in the Crowe Horwath International network, we have a global reach that extends to 167 firms in more than 100 countries. advantage
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Photo Credit: Cassie's Camera
CNOOC Canada, the new energy for Canada’s oil sands! CNOOC Canada Inc. is a Calgary, Alberta-based company that develops major integrated bitumen and heavy oil projects in Canada using its proprietary OrCrude™ process. Established in 1999 as OPTI Canada Inc., the company was acquired by CNOOC Limited on November 28, 2011 for approximately US$2.1 billion and renamed CNOOC Canada Inc. We have a dedicated, experienced staff focused on joint venture, technical and financial operations. By way of a joint venture with Nexen Inc., we own a 35% interest in the Long Lake Project. The project consists of a steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) operation and an upgrader, each with expected through-put rates of approximately 72,000 bbl/d of bitumen at full capacity. The upgrader will produce 58,500 bbl/d of products of Premium Sweet Crude (PSC™) at full capacity. We also have a 35% interest in over 406 sections of land on four leases in the Athabasca oil sands area that are in close proximity to a number of other SAGD projects. On July 23, 2012, our parent company, CNOOC Limited, announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Nexen Inc. To learn more about CNOOC Canada Inc., please visit www.cnooccanada.com.
Over and above We love a good challenge. An evolving global economy requires global knowledge. We help take your business beyond borders with our significant depth and international reach.
2900 lawyers 42 ofﬁces 6 continents 1 vision nortonrose.com
“This is one example of one of the hardest lessons for any manager— how to detach and trust your people. If you insist on doing everything by yourself, you will fail.” How CNOOC’s Joe Bradford is helping lead expansion into Alberta’s oil sands
Interview by Mark Pechenik
ilitary leadership experience, along with a nontraditional learning style, allows Joe Bradford to be a key contributor in Chinese energy giant CNOOC Limited’s entry into Canada’s oil sands. A graduate of St. Francis Xavier University and Queen’s University, Bradford served as a Canadian Army infantry officer, a legal clerk in Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal, and a private-practice attorney before entering a successful managerial career. His corporate achievements include serving as vice president with ESBI Alberta Inc. and OPTI Canada Inc. We spoke with Bradford about his work within CNOOC Canada Inc.
Photo: Cassie Molyneux
Advantage: What is your role at CNOOC?
Joe Bradford: As vice president of joint ventures and legal, I lead a team of marketing, engineering, production, and commercial specialists. Together, our team executes CNOOC’s strategic joint venture goals in North America. How did you get your start with the company?
Strengthening the oil sands
As an OPTI Canada executive, I was intimately involved in OPTI’s strategic, complex dual-track acquisition/recapitalization process in 2009. Due to the hard work of numerous executives, employees, investment bankers, and counsels, advantage
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pulling it together
CNOOC successfully acquired OPTI in November 2011. I was honoured when CNOOC asked me to continue with the company. What are the advantages of working for a world energy leader such as CNOOC?
Oil-sands projects are capital intensive, technically challenging, and require long-term vision. CNOOC brings significant financial and technical strength to the oil-sands sector. For example, with our partner Nexen Inc., we just approved an expansion at the Long Lake project. The influx of talent and funding, combined with CNOOC’s dedication to the joint venture, has created opportunities just not possible under OPTI.
Big deals that span the globe and draw on interdisciplinary expertise make things happen in the energy sector. Gowlings is proud of our role in transactions that shape the industry, including CNOOC’s acquisition of OPTI Canada Inc., the 2012 Chicago Atlas Awards Global Energy and Services Turnaround Deal of the Year.
montréal • ottawa • toronto • hamilton • waterloo region • calgary • vancouver • beijing • moscow • london • gowlings.com 48
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What are some challenges between your Canadian operations and CNOOC’s mainland headquarters?
A key difference is business decision making. As a CNOOC company, we prepare reports for headquarters regarding significant capital undertakings. I quickly learned that our reports were being reviewed at multiple corporate levels, including the investment, marketing, and finance departments. This process differs significantly from more traditional, linear decision making. In contrast, CNOOC takes a broader, consensual approach toward highlevel corporate decisions. We’ve adapted by allowing enough time to accommodate these review procedures. Concurrently, we answer any questions or offer assistance to help advance the process. Budgeting is another cultural business difference. With many projects it is accepted practice that actual expenditures will vary significantly from budgets. With CNOOC, there is strong emphasis on detailed planning when preparing a budget, followed by dedicated adherence to the budget. As an infantry officer, I learned that time spent planning is rarely wasted and that maintenance of the objective is advantagemagazine.ca
“My belief that a properly empowered team will always achieve greater results than the individual is at the core of my managerial approach.” —Joe Bradford, Vice President of Joint Ventures & Legal
the key to success. I like CNOOC’s approach to budgeting. What is your managerial style?
My belief that a properly empowered team will always achieve greater results than the individual is at the core of my managerial approach. The fact that I have dyslexia helped me to realize that the challenges I faced as an individual can be overcome by the team. How so?
It has shown me that I can’t do everything. For instance, before I send out anything in print, I have an assistant who thoroughly
Joe Bradford’s Career Milestones 1996 Barrister and solicitor at Norton Rose LLP
reviews and edits my work. This is one example of one of the hardest lessons for any manager—how to detach and trust your people. If you insist on doing everything by yourself, you will fail. So, by involving staff and delegating wherever possible, the people I manage are given the opportunity to grow and develop leadership. I am very loyal to my team, and benefit from the team’s loyalty as well. The quality and productivity of their work is consistently exceptional. What would you still like to achieve with CNOOC?
I want to be part of CNOOC’s growth in North America. I am learning of CNOOC’s strong interest in environmental protection, health and safety, and aboriginal affairs. These issues are part of the efficient and effective development of the oil sands. CNOOC is one of the best-placed companies to ensure that our natural resources are appropriately developed. _a
2000 VP of regulatory and legal for Electricity Supply Board International (Alberta)
2006 Appointed VP of commercial and legal for Advanced Biodiesel Group Inc.
2008 Appointed VP of legal and administration for OPTI Canada Inc.
2011 Granted designation of ICD.D from the Institute of Corporate Directors
2011 Appointed VP of joint ventures and legal for CNOOC Canada Inc.
2012 Finalist in the Deal Making category for the 2012 Canadian General Counsel Awards
A message from norton rose canada llp
Norton Rose Canada LLP is a member of Norton Rose Group, a leading international legal practice with 2900 lawyers in 42 offices worldwide. The Group is strong in financial institutions; energy; infrastructure, mining and commodities; transport; technology and innovation; and pharmaceuticals and life sciences. A message from gowlings lafleur henderson llp
“I witnessed Joe’s diplomacy and strong negotiation skills working with him on CNOOC International Limited’s acquisition of OPTI Canada Inc. Our efforts led to the deal being recognized as the 2012 Chicago Atlas Awards Global Energy and Services Turnaround Deal of the Year. Gowlings looks forward to continuing its relationship with CNOOC.” -David Lefebvre, Partner, Gowlings
YOUR BETTER STARTS HERE
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How FGL Sports brings in the right candidates Angie Rainkie shares eight steps to successful job recruitment By Julie Schaeffer
Be a champion for your industry The key to successful recruiting is believing in the business, says FGL’s director of recruitment, Angie Rainkie. “Retail is becoming increasingly seen as a viable career option with a long runway for opportunities providing considerable growth and development,” she says. While that has not always been the case, employment with large organizations with multiple banners is changing the way people used to think of the opportunities available to an employee. “I’m an ambassador for a career in retail, as I have had the opportunity to move from a very successful career in operations, in both small and large retail organizations, to leading the recruiting for field hiring across the corporate banners for FGL Sports,” she explains. “I communicate to all candidates that while academia certainly adds to one’s skill set and provides the ability to move into a more senior role, it’s possible and desirable to be a lifelong retailer, finding those opportunities for growth and development.”
MEET FGL SPORTS With 325 stores, 14,000 employees, and 2011 revenue of $1.5 billion, FGL Sports Ltd. is the only national sporting-goods retailer in Canada. It sells an assortment of products, from athletic footwear to technical equipment, and its merchandise mix includes brand-name and private-branded products.
Have the right tools
Post the job request
For the past five years, FGL Sports has used the applicant tracking system Hodes iQ, now known as Hodes Technomedia. This platform allows Rainkie’s team to handle recruiting in one of two ways. First, for managerial positions, recruiters run the entire recruiting process—posting jobs, prescreening candidates, and conducting interviews; they then present the district or store managers a list of fully screened candidates. But for nonmanagerial store positions— although the recruiters post jobs, and the platform directs applicants to store managers, who review and screen through résumés and arrange interviews—the software gives store managers their own dashboards.
The recruiting process starts with a district or store manager sending Rainkie’s team a request to post a job. Rainkie’s team then posts the notification to the job boards best suited to bring in candidates. “We use Monster, Jobshop, Craigslist, and a number of small niche boards specific to different markets, such as Calgary Jobshop,” Rainkie says.
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Make the hire
At the most basic level, recruiters and hiring managers need to know if candidates want to work in retail, why they want to work for FGL Sports, and if they can relate to both the customer base and the employee value proposition. Rainkie acknowledges that the temptation to prescreen via social-media sites is there—“We call this the Facebook generation,” she says—but recruiters tend to use only LinkedIn. “It takes away the craziness that you see on the other social-media sites,” she explains. “It’s basically a résumé with referrals.”
After narrowing candidates using prescreening, online assessments, and in-personal behavioural assessments, the hiring manager then conducts a fit interview to determine who the best candidate is.
“Retail is becoming increasingly seen as a viable career option with a long runway for opportunities providing considerable growth and development.”
Perform an online assessment A lot of organizations use online psychometric testing to determine whether job candidates inherently have the desired behavioural traits. Those traits, Rainkie says, depend on the role. “For a supervisory role, such as a department sales manager, we’re looking for the ability to connect and develop teams, [as well as for] listening and teaching skills; for a sales associate role, we’re looking for the ability to connect with a customer and tell a story about the product, which means they can they easily engage in a conversation with people they don’t know, and if they have a desire to learn.” To that end, prescreened candidates answer 80–150 questions. The system then analyzes the information and generates a profile. If the profile is a good match to the established benchmark, it is only one of the factors that determine whether the job candidate moves forward.
—Angie Rainkie, Director of Recruitment
Adapt Conduct an in-person behavioural assessment Like the online assessment, this behaviour-based interview—designed specifically for FGL Sports—pulls out key behaviour traits that Rainkie and her team feel are important for a candidate to have in order to be successful. For example, FGL Sports currently is very focused on finding candidates who live an active lifestyle. “It’s one of the critical success factors, because we have recognized that people who are active and interested in participating in sports and sports activities can relate to customers who come into our stores looking for sporting goods,” Rainkie explains.
Rainkie acknowledges that managers, who throughout the corporate banners of FGL Sports hire approximately 6,000 people a year, can spend an inordinate amount of time on recruiting. To take away the administrative burden, reduce the time it takes to fill a position, and improve quality of hires, Rainkie’s team is currently running two pilots in the Ontario region for Sport Chek. “With the pilots, we provide the same level of support we would in end-to-end recruiting for hiring management,” she says. “Store managers are ecstatic. All they have to do it put up their hand and say, ‘I need two sales associates who can sell skis and bikes,’ and they get a list of prescreened candidates and then only have to conduct a general fit interview.”
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CEO Barry Symons has helped Jonas Software become a leader in the construction industry, thanks to its Premier software, whose cloudbased technology provides anytime, anywhere access to job files.
Filling the Gaps Jonas Software CEO Barry Symons discusses the creative culture at one of Canada’s largest software companies By Frederick Jerant
orporate missions are sometimes expressed with buzzwords and fuzzy concepts. Not so with Jonas Software. CEO Barry Symons is both direct and succinct when he says that “Jonas strives to be the premier supplier of software and services for each vertical in which we participate.” Jonas Software, based in Richmond Hill, Ontario, was founded in 1990 by Gary Jonas, who has a background in programming for the construction industry. “He’s an entrepreneurial guy,” Symons says. “He decided he could produce software that was better than current market versions, and that’s why he started the company.” More than 20 years later, Jonas Software is a major provider of innovative enterprise management software solutions. Having a presence in such markets as construction, private club, food service, education, fitness, leisure attractions, moving and storage, radiology information systems, and metal distribution centre, the company maintains a global presence as well, with offices in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the Caribbean. All in all, Jonas Software services about 20,000 clients in more than 15 countries. “We’re the premier supplier in most of our markets and, over time, we plan to be the leader in every market in which we participate,” Symons says. “Our ranking in a particular vertical
“We want our clients to know that we’ll maintain and support their investment indefinitely.” —Barry Symons, CEO
is usually a function of how long we have been investing in those markets.” And a key factor in that quest is innovation. For example, in a business world where users commonly pay for every upgrade, Jonas offers “software for life.” “We realize that buying our products represents a significant investment,” Symons says. “Remember, we offer enterprise-wide solutions, not single-function products. And we understand that implementing system-wide change can be painful, even when everything goes well. We want our clients to know that we’ll maintain and support their investment indefinitely.” The company is currently working on a cloud-based version of its enterprise management software, Jonas Premier. Aimed at the construction trades, Premier offers fully integrated accounting, administration, reporting, job costing, purchasing and inventory, time entry, and document storage modules. “We recognized the dynamics of that industry, and current trends in innovation, and are focused on developing the first true cloudbased offering for the construction market,” Symons says. Cloud computing offers many advantages to smaller businesses, Symons says. There’s little investment in on-premise hardware, which obviates complex setups and onsite IT support. Off-site workers, such as in construction and landscaping, can access company data from any computer, at advantage
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any time, via a simple Internet connection. And Jonas maintains all of its servers 24/7. “If there’s a functional problem, we’ll fix it right away,” Symons says. “That eliminates a big headache— if your on-site server goes down, you wait for assistance, or pay plenty for emergency service.” At the same time, the company is working on Jonas Enterprise, an on-site client server system. Seems to run counter to emerging cloud technology, doesn’t it? “There are advantages to cloud computing, but sometimes people are quite comfortable with their existing client/server technology,” Symons says. “In those cases, we can provide a better-performing software package that is fully compatible with their technology platform.”
5 questions with Barry Symons 1. Is there a technology, trend, or idea that’s driving your company forward? Cloud technology. Buying, maintaining, updating, and backing up their own servers is sometimes onerous, especially for smaller companies. They don’t always want, or need, to pay for that IT expertise. 2. How do you innovate on a day-to-day basis? Jonas Premier utilizes sprints in an agile development environment. At the end of each sprint, we freeze the code while the product is tested; this allows the developers to try new things. The ideas don’t always succeed, but there is more success than failure. This environment encourages innovation. 3. How has the notion of innovation changed in the past decade? We used to think of it as the
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building of new products only. Now we see innovation as part of the work cycle; it encompasses all aspects of what we deliver to our clients. 4. How do you cultivate innovation among your workforce? Through “productive paranoia”—we constantly look over our shoulders for who or what might replace us on top. The whole team thinks about new ideas, and the best ideas are investigated further. Everyone focuses not just on what is there now, but also on what could be there. 5. How can a company encourage innovation without breaking the bank? By incorporating it into your schedule. It encourages innovative thinking, draws employees into the development process, and has little additional cost. The benefits can be tremendous.
“Our employees are encouraged to explore new concepts; some of them work, some of them don’t. But each one is focused on making a better product.” —Barry Symons, CEO
And the corporate culture at Jonas encourages employees to be innovative. “We’re fond of saying that success is celebrated; failure is a great try,” Symons says. But it all comes from focusing on practical ideas. For example, “businesses generate a lot of electronic documents that aren’t always readily accessible,” Symons says. “So we developed Jonas Digio document management software. It enables accounting staffers to quickly search by contract, customer name, dollar-value, and other parameters, review contracts, and retrieve other information. “If you want to stay on top, you need to be innovative,” Symons says. “That’s why, even though we had little expertise in document management at first, we set out to develop a solid product. “Our employees are encouraged to explore new concepts; some of them work, some of them don’t. But each one is focused on making a better product.” _a
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Keeping a Healthy Edge Testing and research drive the development of natural health products at Cyto-Matrix By Cristopher T. Freeburn
5 questions with Loretta Masaro 1. What does innovation mean to your company? We would describe innovation as state-of-the-art formulations backed by safety and efficacy data. 2. How do you innovate on a day-to-day basis? You really have to have your finger on the pulse of the market. We analyze scientific data daily. I read PubMed
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Photo: Dwayne Brown Studio
oretta Masaro has a passion for natural health. Together with her husband, Randall DeMone, she turned that passion and their combined experience in the health-product and pharmaceutical industries into Cyto-Matrix, a leading Canadian producer of professional natural health products. Based in Ottawa, Cyto-Matrix products are distributed across Canada. “We sell our products through licensed naturopathic doctors, medical doctors who practice holistically, and some specialty pharmacies,” explains Masaro, who serves as president at Cyto-Matrix. The couple launched the company 10 years ago, holding down other jobs during its early days. As the company took off, Masaro came to believe that she needed more than a background in clinical nutrition to run the business. She went back to school and earned an MBA. “The business courses gave me a new confidence, financial understanding, and an ability to look at things from a new perspective,” she says. The company’s product lines include vitamins and minerals, botanicals, probiotics, and protein powders. Cyto-Matrix prides itself on product standardization. “Our products are quite
Loretta Masaro and her husband, Randall DeMone, launched Cyto-Matrix a decade ago, holding down other jobs during the company’s early days.
And you have to stay in touch with the customer on a regular basis. We never follow a trend for the sake of following a trend. We let the research and the experience of our clinicians drive our products.
every day to see what the latest research is saying. If there’s enough evidence to support a new product, then you bring one out. Sometimes 4. How do you cultivate innovation among your the research tells us how to reformulate existing products. workforce? You start at the very beginning, during the hiring process. 3. Is there an technology, We look for people who trend, or idea that’s driving your company forward? have already demonstrated examples of thinking outside You can’t be complacent. You the box. We have a policy of always have to be vigilant.
not hovering over people and watching their every move. While they have to stay within our company guidelines, we want them to be creative. 5. Where do you hope this innovation will lead you in the next five years? We want to continue producing the best, most evidencebased natural health products on the market. We do hope to expand into the US in the near future. Their regulatory system is quite different, so we are working to adapt to that.
“We’d rather start all over again than risk losing the trust of the physicians we work with.” —Loretta Masaro, President
different from those you would normally find in a retail store,” Masaro says. “Doctors expect a higher degree of active ingredient in our products.” When the company considers launching a new product, it takes time to carefully assess what naturopathic doctors need. “They have very different needs compared to laypeople, who shop at retail stores,” Masaro explains. “We start by assessing the key needs of clinicians who are practicing.” An advisory board of naturopathic and medical doctors then reviews the products. Once that is done, the products are tested. The company manufactures products in a state-of-the-art facility. “Our products are produced in strict compliance with the regulations of Health Canada,” Masaro notes. Once a product has been produced, it goes through another round of testing with naturopathic doctors, to make certain it works as expected without side effects. “We need to see what the product does when used by real patients,” Masaro says. “The entire process enables us to bring innovative and effective products to the market.” That focus on research and testing makes Cyto-Matrix stand out among natural health product companies. “We are really known as an evidence-based company,” Masaro says, noting that Health Canada research found that while 71 percent of Canadians use natural health products, 49 percent expressed some level of skepticism about their effectiveness. “The reason people are skeptical,” Masaro explains, “is that they have seen a lot of misleading ads, and it has left them with the impression that our industry is lacking in evidence.” Masaro sought to change all that with advantagemagazine.ca
Purity | Integrity | Innovation
Cyto-Matrix. “We search the scientific literature to make certain that our products are safe and that we don’t make any claims that aren’t supported by scientific research,” she says. That stance has produced a reputation for credibility that has translated into loyal customers. The company doesn’t use binding agents, fillers, and colouring agents in its capsules. “Many patients of naturopathic doctors have allergies and heightened sensitivities,” Masaro explains. “Products with those sorts of additives can interfere with treatment.” In fact, Cyto-Matrix avoids additives altogether. “What you get in our products are the pure ingredients,” Masaro says. “We don’t add sweeteners or flavouring agents unless they are natural.” The company also uses vegetarian-sourced capsules, instead of the animal-based gelatin capsule used by other companies. Inside the capsules, the company only uses highly standardized botanicals and the active forms of the vitamins and minerals. Masaro notes that the company has grown largely through word of mouth. Earning the trust of naturopathic doctors has been the decisive factor driving the company forward. “We want to be the most-trusted natural health products company in Canada,” Masaro says. “When we set out, we felt that if we gained the trust of our customers, success would follow from there.” The company has achieved that trust by devoting itself to making the most scientifically supported natural health products on the market. “We will never release a product that we have even the slightest question about,” Masaro says. “We’d rather start all over again than risk losing the trust of the physicians we work with.” _a
Cyto-Matrix Inc. is a Canadian owned and operated professional natural health products company. Our products are distributed only through licensed health care professionals to ensure optimal safety and efficacy.
We are 100% committed to improving the health of your patients. New clients of Cyto-Matrix quickly become loyal clients of Cyto-Matrix. The excellent clinical results that are achieved with our products, combined with our honest and ethical approach, has earned Cyto-Matrix the trust of many of the most scrutinizing Canadian health care practitioners.
1-866-783-7504 / 613-599-1653 firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Fixers Employee count at data-analytics company Apption might be small, but it solves problems of grandeur By Jennifer Nunez
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Photo: James Park
pption is an award-winning data analytics software company in Ottawa that helps organizations solve complex business problems by building predictive analytics software solutions in a unique and cost-effective way. As a small, expert data-science and -software company, Apption can handle the toughest problems normally reserved for the very large software consulting firms. Many business process systems that were built in the ’90s are in need of upgrades, and a full system replacement can cost millions of dollars. Apption builds upon its clients’ existing software and database systems, modernizing them up with intuitive user interfaces and powerful back-end analytics. This allows its clients to realize the great benefits of new software and data science at low risk and at a fraction of the expected costs. This has been an especially attractive offering during the current economic situation. Apption works with large enterprise organizations, public-sector, and Crown corporations. “Because we focus on solving challenging problems, we find our clients like to retain us as ongoing strategic technology partners,” says Brian Joe, CEO of Apption. “We have solved many challenging problems and have grown exclusively based on referrals and recommendations from our happy clients.” Successful serial entrepreneur Joe and his team of 28 software and data analytics experts at Apption have won numerous industry awards for growth and technology capability, including the prestigious Microsoft MSN award for Best Software Team Development. The company got involved early in the big data analytics field when it began in 2005, deciding to focus on what was then called the Artificial Intelligence market. It quickly built an enviable reputation in modernizing applications with new software architectures and adding innovative data analytics within those applications. This let organizations get much more from their systems by making sense of their data and directly optimizing business performance through better workflow and better decision-making.
The data analytics experts at Apption, led by CEO Brian Joe, have won numerous accolades for their tech capabilities.
Apption uses its software and analytics frameworks to rapidly develop analytic solutions and de-risk the deployment of them. For example, Apption designed a suite of data algorithms for a large organization to glean insights from the massive amounts enterprise data it was generating but was unable to make use of. Apption built these ground-breaking data analytics into a system that runs on a private virtual cloud in one of its main buildings, which analyzes more than 40 million pieces of data a day. “This innovative system is allowing them to understand their clients better and how well their business is performing,” Joe says. “This new data-driven information
is creating new revenue opportunities and has spawned more ideas for new analytics projects in the company.” The company has been encapsulating what it has learned and has implemented it for different clients, putting it into reusable frameworks that let the company rapidly prototype new solutions for clients. “We have a family of analytic solutions that we can easily adapt for new environments to bring our customers new cost-saving and revenue-generating solutions at low cost and low risk,” explains Jennifer Francis, vice president of analytical solutions, who previously held VP positions at IBM in analytics. “Apption has the unique, advantagemagazine.ca
proven ability to match business needs with big data science and operational deployments to create winning pragmatic solutions.” The firm makes it a point to stay on top of leading technologies, like cloud computing and the many advances in data analytics and software architectures. Apption’s corporate culture is about innovation using the best of new technologies and putting this expertise to use in systems that are delivered on-time and on-budget to make its clients successful. Apption also likes to tackle general problems and invests in R&D to incubate new inventions. From this process, the company launched wholly owned Gazaro Inc., a technology company that analyzes retail prices of millions of products on a daily bases. “It chronicles all of the pricing and product information that is on the Internet, in order to come
up with what the competitive prices are and provide the analytics and price intelligence and trend analyses that our customers are looking for,” Francis explains. Gazaro, with it’s 360PI platform offering, has won supply agreements with several major North American retailers and is positioned as the technology leader in the fast-moving field of price analytics. Apption has recently been investing heavily in analytics R&D to optimize outcomes and performance within the lucrative online marketing campaign space. “We will soon be releasing a new analytics solution that we think will blow the doors off online marketing campaign effectiveness,” Joe says. “I get very excited thinking about this offering and the other analytic solutions we are able to provide for our clients as we continue our growth and leadership in the embedded data analytics solution space.” _a
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5 questions with Brian Joe
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1. What does innovation mean to your company? Innovation means applying our expertise in the latest in software technologies and predictive analytics to solve complex problems in unique ways, to create extreme value for our clients. Our innovative solutions help enterprise work smarter and saves them money. 2. Is there a technology, trend, or idea that’s driving your company forward? We started seven years ago, focusing on building predictive data analytics solutions. In that time, the amount of usable data has grown astronomically, and cloud computing has lowered the costs of getting analytics working for any enterprise. The market need in getting the power of analytics into operational systems is what is driving us forward. 3. Where do you hope this innovation will lead you in the next five years? We are not only active in creating embedded analytic solutions as part of re-architecting and modernizing
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4. How has the notion of innovation changed in the past decade? I think the exponential growth of Internet and mobility has really unlocked the power of software applications. The speed of adoption of innovation has increased dramatically, as well as the ability for nimble and focused companies like Apption to get their innovation into the market more easily than in the past. 5. How do you cultivate innovation among your workforce? Innovation is in our culture. We encourage it by creating a learning environment where risk taking is encouraged. People share with others the challenges they are solving and how they did it, which sparks new ideas and approaches. Innovation is cultivated at Apption every day by the nature of the work we do and the type of people we hire.
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As a triathlon participant, Dr. Jenn Turnerâ€™s passion for sports has fueled her drive with Moveo.
A Team Effort Moveo takes a collaborative approach to physical and sports rehabilitation By Kelli Lawrence
f teamwork does wonders for a football, baseball, or soccer game, it has a similar effect when one of these sports (or any other, for that matter) leads to injury and subsequent rehabilitation. So goes the philosophy of Moveo Sport & Rehabilitation Centre, founded in North Vancouver, in 2006, by three women with various backgrounds in health care. Moveo is the first North Shore clinic of its kind to unite a wide span of health professionals and fields into one comprehensive unit—the goal being to create a higher standard of rehabilitative care. “Our specialty really is our team approach,” says Dr. Jenn Turner, a founding partner who currently serves as Moveo’s president. “We do not use the term lightly. It permeates everything we do at the centre.” Moveo’s team currently includes specialists in physiotherapy, chiropractic, massage therapy, active release techniques, athletic therapy, acupuncture, orthotics, and functional training—components that, when combined as needed, provide Moveo with first-rate service and innovative care. The idea is that patients under this kind of watch are destined to receive the right kind of treatment at the right time in their healing
“Our specialty really is our team approach. We do not use the term lightly. It permeates everything we do at the centre.” —Dr. Jenn Turner, President
process, ultimately leading to fewer treatment sessions and a speedier recovery. “Open communication between our practitioners, as well as the referral source, ensures that care is focused and efficient,” Turner says. “Our goal is to make each and every client feel [like] a part of ‘Team Moveo.’ We really go out of our way to ensure that clients absolutely get the treatment they need to facilitate a speedy recovery and get them back to their sport or activity much quicker.” To say Turner has firsthand, personal experience with sports and the nature of sports injuries is to make quite an understatement. She has an interest and involvement in triathlons (swimming/cycling/ advantage
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running marathons) that dates back to her teen years, and has progressed to long-course triathlons over the past decade, medalling in international events and even competing at the Ironman level. She also serves as the “injuries” columnist for Triathlon Magazine Canada, and recently travelled with Canada’s cycling team at the 2012 Summer Olympics—speaking even more to her ability to recognize and treat the stresses of highimpact sport. “My patient and athletes have confidence that I know ‘how it feels,’ being so involved myself,” Turner admits. And the benefits reach beyond that. “Training and racing [also] make for great networking experiences,” Turner says. “We already know we have a common thread, and training conversation occurs from there— where connections can be made and relationships can be built.”
5 questions with Dr. Jenn Turner 1. Is there a technology, trend, or idea that’s driving your company forward? Involvement—putting my hand up to say, “I’ll help,” or, “I’ll be there,” or, “Here’s how I can contribute.” This company is not run by one individual but by ideas, attitudes, and contributions of each and every team member. 2. Where do hope this innovation will lead you in the next five years? In the same direction that I am heading right now! Continuing my work with Olympic athletes. Gaining more insight and knowledge, and maybe opening another clinic or two with the same concept as Moveo and Optimum, the other clinic I own in the Fraser Valley. 3. How has the notion of innovation changed in
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the past decade? I think, mostly, innovation has a technology focus. Technology certainly has a role in our field, but it can’t replace what we do. We have to use technology to enhance our work. 4. How do you cultivate innovation among your workforce? Have a clear vision and values, hire team members who share it, and put mechanics in place where they can actively participate. 5. How can a company encourage innovation without breaking the bank? Have a clear focus; know where to innovate; focus on results, not just doing things differently, but ensuring you are getting results from what you are doing differently.
“Open communication between our practitioners, as well as the referral source, ensures that care is focused and efficient. Our goal is to make each and every client feel [like] a part of ‘Team Moveo.’” —Dr. Jenn Turner, President & Founding Partner
More connections tend to lead to more growth, which is certainly in Turner’s three-year plan for Moveo. Whether it’s in the form of expanded facilities, additional practitioners in fields like nutrition, personal training, or yoga, or increased information/clinics based on needs identified through the company’s client population, Turner is eager to develop Moveo into a business that has even more to offer and engage with the community. To that end, she has also started a website overhaul, integrated successfully with social media, and expanded community partnerships. “A potential satellite clinic could become a reality for Moveo in the next year, thanks to some of these relationships,” Turner says. “In this way, we could carry out our team approach throughout the lower mainland.” Still, it’s hard to beat the connection that comes from simple event participation. “It is really awesome to be racing and to see my patients and clients of Moveo out there at local races and events,” Turner says. “I think the sense of community is instilled at a greater level by us standing by and supporting events that make us successful.” _a advantagemagazine.ca
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Movéo is the first clinic on the North Shore to bring together health professionals from various fields into one team to provide exemplary service in rehabilitative and preventative care. The diverse knowledge and experience of these different health professionals is brought together to provide efficient and innovative care. Our goal is to exceed the expectations of each and every client.
Full Speed Ahead With the ever-increasing speed of technology, Cogeco Cable is constantly managing and encouraging innovation among its developments By Chris Allsop
nnovation is creating better and more effective products,” says Philippe Jetté, CTO of Cogeco Cable Inc. “We also use innovation to optimize processes and services. Innovation is all about teamwork, and—as it is a process that involves a lot of people—it needs to be organized and managed.” It is through innovation in a number of areas that Cogeco Cable, headquartered in Montréal, has become the second-largest HFC cable operator in Québec and Ontario. The company offers audio, analogue, and digital television, alongside high-speed Internet and telephony services, to its residential customers. Cogeco Cable also provides to its commercial customers, through its subsidiary Cogeco Data Services, a suite of communication solutions, colocation, and managed digital services. The company enjoyed its largest growth spurt after it went public in 1985. According to Jetté, this was achieved through an innovative program of customer-service delivery. Since then, Cogeco has managed to retain and grow its market share through multifaceted innovation through the delivery of its products and services, as well as on its own internal processes and systems. “We use a lot of technology internally to automate and simplify our operations,” Jetté explains. “Through innovative tech, we lower the costs of delivery so that more customers can enjoy our products at a better cost.” The external face of Cogeco’s innovation with products and services is the end result of a complex and carefully orchestrated idea-funnelling system. Jetté reports that the many ideas considered (or “brought into the innovation process”) are collated from inside the company and from customers. Each concept is looked at by skilled, multidimensional groups of employees who are able to consider any proposal from a multitude of perspectives: economic, marketing, partner development, in light of technology trends, how the idea fits with Cogeco as an organization, and, eventually, how to take the idea to market.
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“Through innovative tech, we lower the costs of delivery so that more customers can enjoy our products at a better cost.” —Philippe Jetté, CTO
“As the ideas are evaluated, some are prioritized and their velocity increases through the funnel,” Jetté says. “The better ones emerge and become development projects, where development specialists bring the ideas to fruition. It’s very technical, but that’s how we not only encourage innovation but manage it also.” The innovation capabilities of Cogeco, and that of its competitors, are being tested by the technological sea changes currently taking place within its industry. According to Jetté, at the root of the change was the introduction of IP, in the early 1990s, over the existing cable and fiber-optic technologies. “In the mid-’90s at Cogeco, we knew that we could bring Internet connectivity to our customers, and the company worked very hard to launch as the first cable operator in Canada to provide Internet services over cable,” Jetté says. “This success was not just a tech thing. It was an organization-wide effort to bring the right technology to market at the right cost.” But the challenge to be early to market
“Innovation is all about teamwork, and—as it is a process that involves a lot of people—it needs to be organized and managed.” —Philippe Jetté, CTO
continues to press, and Jetté believes that innovation based on IP technology is still in its infancy, with significant changes to video services coming to market over the next couple of years. “There’s going to be a lot of evolution on how video services are delivered to multiple devices. When you add multiple applications, such as basic data messaging and telephony, then you can start to personalize the suite of applications that each customer
5 questions with Philippe Jetté 1. What does innovation mean to your company? We look at innovation in the telecommunication space as a way to bring better products and services to the marketplace, but also as a way to simplify our own operation and to lower costs. 2. How has the notion of innovation changed in the past decade? I would say that the velocity of innovation has increased. The marketplace demands
more and more products and services. This has changed the way we work, as we have to establish highly disciplined processes to respond to the market’s needs. 3. What do you enjoy about innovating? The fun side of innovation— other than always exploring new ideas—is that it is very dynamic, as the marketplace is dynamic. You can be working on something, but if the technology is not mature
wants to use,” says Jetté. “We will see the delivery of personalized services over IP networks, with voice, data, and video services converging. It’s going to be the same on the business side, where business applications are migrating onto an IP delivery over data networks, allowing companies to personalize their needs and become much more efficient. All at a better price, and all achieved through continued innovation.” _a
enough, or the market has changed slightly, then new, more relevant ideas become available. You need to be very flexible in your thinking, and you need to be relentless and have the energy for changing and optimizing things. 4. What do you think defines an innovative company in the 21st century? For me, an innovative company in the 21st century will be highly focused on the market; it will be able to predict and work with the market, be very proactive, and bring solutions on time
to the market at the right, low cost. 5. How can a company encourage innovation without breaking the bank? It is a question of timing. Working on advanced services at the right time is a much lower cost process than speculating on leading-edge services. There’s an important difference there. If you’ve done a good job evaluating the value of your innovation for the end user and the economic profit of your concept—and you can be agile in moving the right project to market—you will make money to feed the continued funnel of innovation.
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When Tech Goes Holistic Javelin’s John Carlan and Ted Lee are creating technology that has the power to transform the medical field By Tina Vasquez
any companies may claim that their products and services are changing the world, but it’s rarely true. Only a small handful of innovators are doing something truly special, and Oakville, Ontario’s Javelin Technologies Inc. is one of those companies. Founded by John Carlan and Ted Lee in 1997, the company offers SolidWorks mechanical and electrical design software and 3-D printers, as well as providing training to companies interested in utilizing these technologies to accomplish their unique goals. Initially, the secret behind their success was sensing that a revolution was coming—one that had 3-D design technologies changing the way that products were conceived and brought to market. “In certain businesses, there’s inertia and disbelief,” Carlan says. “We were able to build our business on the fact that people underestimated the capabilities of our design and engineering software tools.” Essentially, the story of how Javelin started is the story of who the cofounders are. Both Carlan and Lee have the unique ability to spot emerging trends. That, paired with their expertise and knack for cutting-edge technology, has resulted in some interesting partnerships. For example, Javelin’s work with CHG Hospital Beds, Inc. has it assisting the company in its quest to create the best hospital beds in the world. Using Javelin’s analytical software, CHG is testing the bed’s breaking points, and using Javelin’s visualization software, CHG is using 3-D technology to get a sense of how the bed would work before a prototype is built. CHG’s product designer, Jason Cerny, worked with Javelin and its SolidWorks software at his previous employer, and what the designer truly respects about Javelin is that the company does not try to “oversell” on software. The goal, rather, is to educate and equip its clients with the best tools it needs to get the job done. “Javelin is always looking at the next best thing. They step out of their comfort zone to explore new ideas and business opportunities,” Cerny says. “They are not risk adverse, yet embrace change.”
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Cofounders Ted Lee (left) and John Carlan are helping to make great strides in the medical and dental fields.
Until its release, CHG is remaining quiet on the specifics of its new hospital beds, but one thing is for sure: Javelin’s technology is helping the company craft something the medical field has never seen before—and it’s not the only example. As diagnostic imaging becomes more commonplace, Javelin’s 3-D
printing technology is taking centre stage, enabling medical professionals to print out 3-D images of body parts. Recently, a surgeon was able to use Javelin’s technology to print out an image of his patient’s heart to better brief his staff for this delicate surgery. “Two heart surgeons recently came in for advantagemagazine.ca
SolidWorks software training to learn how to use 3-D modeling to develop tools for heart surgery,” Lee says. “This has the power to change how they work. Now, they can basically hold their ideas in their hands; they can view every aspect of their prototype and work out any issues before they commit to having it manufactured.” So not only does this technology help professionals better prepare for serious procedures, but it’s also changing the way custom prosthesis and braces are made. Essentially, Javelin is helping to revolutionize the medical field—and the dental field isn’t too far behind. Javelin is helping to change how dental labs operate. Mouths can now be scanned with lasers, and those images are e-mailed to a dental lab that can use Javelin’s 3-D printers to print out the impressions and construct what’s needed. This “digital dentistry” eliminates countless steps, cuts costs, and makes processes more efficient.
Carlan and Lee are incredibly humble, asserting that their technology is simply the next logical step and that it’s their clients who are doing the amazing work. “We’re just glad to be a part of it,” Carlan says. “Our clients are doing great things every day. We’re the guys who give the tools to implement great ideas; we’re not the guys coming up with great ideas. Our role is to support them and ensure they can achieve their business goals.” _a A message from audaxium
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5 questions with John Carlan & Ted Lee 1. What does innovation mean to your company? Ted Lee: “Innovation” is an overused term, but to me it means creativity with implementation. There are many great ideas, but it’s not innovation until it’s implemented. 2. Is there a technology, idea, or trend that’s driving your company forward? John Carlan: 3-D everything—it’s the next revolution. We want to provide our customers with a full 3-D experience for bringing their ideas to life. It’s the best way to convey and communicate information because it’s how we view the world, so why not view information the same way? 3. How do you innovate on a day-to-day basis? TL: I question things daily. I always ask, why were we doing this in the first place? It’s a way to remain focused on the goal.
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4. How has innovation changed in the past decade? JC: As a company, pushing your limits is now an integral part of being successful and remaining competitive. In the past, it was about how you could execute, what you can deliver. Now, it’s about how you can evolve. 5. How can a company encourage innovation without breaking the bank? TL: Ask all of your employees for suggestions. You’d be surprised where some of the best ideas come from. You can also pay attention to other industries. If you have a very enjoyable experience at a restaurant or department store, figure out how to apply their processes to your business. JC: You can also spend a couple of bucks on a white board and place it in a strategic spot. Allowing employees to jot down ideas and get their creative juices flowing can lead to something truly innovative.
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“Innovation is all about going out there and trying new things and experimenting.” —Asad Jobanputra, Director of Technology
New Heights Esprida takes remote monitoring and management services to the next level By Christopher Cussat
sprida Corporation has always looked for the next new innovation to further promote its remote-monitoring and remote-management solutions that were initially developed for the retail market. In 2002, Esprida was one of the first companies to recognize the growing wave of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. With the falling costs of hardware, wireless accessibility, and by foreseeing the 3G revolution, Esprida realized these future trends fit the monitoring and management systems that the firm already had in place. In fact, with relatively minor modifications, Esprida’s existing products were able to readily address the needs of this growing market and the new types of equipment that eventually came online. Esprida has solidified itself as one of the top remote-management companies with its flagship product, Esprida LiveControl, which helps alleviate many remote-monitoring and remote-management-service
needs. “One of our flagship product’s primary purpose is to connect equipment so problems can be diagnosed and fixed remotely rather than sending somebody on site,” says Asad Jobanputra, director of technology, “which in turn reduces operational costs and increases service uptime.” He uses the example of digital billboards, which comprise one of Esprida’s markets. “It costs a lot of money to send a team to work on these highway billboard systems,” he says. “What we’re doing is installing wireless connectivity that allows repairs and software updates to be done remotely.” In addition to digital billboards and signage, Esprida has given companies a significant benefit through its remote-support software for products like retail checkout registers, photo kiosks, self-service kiosks (like wedding registry and price-checking kiosks), e-government kiosks (Michigan’s Department of Motor Vehicles is a client), credit-card readers and check scanners for retailers, and healthcare advantage
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information centres. Esprida LiveControl is also used to manage one of the largest selfservice deployments, with about 100,000 endpoints worldwide. Jobanputra believes that the market is still quite fragmented, and even within the expanding network of interconnected M2M communications, there are still an abundance of niche segments. “What makes us unique is that we have a platform solution—so rather than building something from scratch, our customers can come in and basically adopt our scalable, tested, and proven solutions.” Innovation is a naturally ingrained and vital aspect of Esprida. “We’re a software development company,” Jobanputra says. “Our biggest asset is our combined brainpower to produce innovative solutions—that is the essence of Esprida and how we operate.” He also believes that Esprida’s innovation stems from developing its products and services, and building them in such a way that appeals to the needs of multiple markets and customers simultaneously. When asked where his company finds the inspiration to be innovative and constantly come up with new ideas, Jobanputra says that much of it comes from being and working directly in the market with customers or partners and then bringing new ideas back to Esprida. For example, the firm has been
“Innovation comes where you are able to do things better, cheaper, and more cost effectively—and it opens doors to do new things you couldn’t do before.” —Asad Jobanputra, Director of Technology
instrumental in the evolution from PCs using dial-up modems to embedded applications using wireless or 3G connectivity within connected endpoints—all at a much lower cost. “Innovation comes where you are able to do things better, cheaper, and more cost effectively—and it opens doors to do new things you couldn’t do before,” Esprida says. One of the ways in which Esprida has had to adapt to a continually changing business is adjusting to how it works with clients—especially as the firm began to expand its customer
5 questions with Asad Jobanputra 1. Is there a technology, trend, or idea that’s driving your company forward? The big trend that really excites us is this idea of the Internet and machine-tomachine communications. For example, we recently worked in the financial industry to provide checkscanning solutions that would allow financial institutions to centrally manage equipment usage and transactions across potentially thousands of scanners simultaneously. What’s also really exciting about what we do is hitting commercial applications first
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before they hit the consumer market, while enabling new business models. 2. How has the notion of innovation changed in the past decade? It continues to get faster and faster—especially with software and technology. Ten years ago, half of these commercial applications were still on dial-up—and now it’s 4G networks streaming all sorts of content. The underlying skill sets and knowledge base required to do this are increasing, but your time to implement new releases or products is getting faster and
portfolio. Jobanputra explains that the challenge sometimes is to work within the operational and planning processes of larger companies and maintain the agile processes of a small, dynamic technology firm. “Process constraints slow down innovation,” Jobanputra says. “Innovation is all about going out there and trying new things and experimenting.” In building Esprida’s team, Jobanputra has also learned how innovation can occasionally be unintentionally suppressed. “When we landed our first couple of big clients, we successfully adapted to a stricter and more rigid delivery model—and it actually made people hyperfocussed on performing specific tasks with no means to voice new ideas about the solution as a whole,” he says. Jobanputra feels that, as a result, net contribution was diminished slightly. “So what I have found now is that we have an improved tolerance for new ideas and deviations from the plan,” he says. “If someone else has a new idea and it’s better than the original plan, we’ll try to incorporate it either immediately or in the next development release.” This, he says, has really changed the way people work. “Team members are now more willing and able to contribute new ideas and approaches to things because it allows greater individual contribution to product releases— and ultimately results in better products.” _a
faster. Let me give you this example: about 10 years ago, we did a new release of our products maybe twice a year, and now we do one every month.
technical environment, some older and existing business models don’t necessarily make sense anymore.
5. How can a company encourage innovation 3. How do you cultivate without breaking the innovation among your bank? workforce? The best way to do it—alI try to break down some of though it’s not always feasithe bureaucracy or steps and ble—is to share the risk with approvals required to do things, someone else. If you and a and instead give more space partner are developing a new for people to experiment and product and you’re a piece of come up with new ideas. that new product line, then you’ll be innovating together 4. What would you say rather than on your own. Plus, defines an innovative you’re pooling not just the company in the 21st resources involved in building things, but also the resources century? and experience involved A company that’s able to in marketing, selling, and come up with products encouraging user acceptance faster—and one that also for a new way of working or a realizes and accepts that new way of doing things. in this new and changing
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How Quadrant Marketing keeps clients coming back Molly Spinak offers four key attributes for satisfying and retaining a strong client base
Give great strategic advice, and be honest and clear
By Christopher T. Freeburn
“Clients trust that we will recommend what’s best for them,” says Molly Spinak, founder and president of Toronto-based Quadrant Marketing. The key to building and maintaining that trust is to tell the client exactly what Quadrant’s team thinks is the best marketing strategy or tactic to achieve their goals. “Giving people the best advice in the nicest, kindest way, but telling them the truth about how we see things is paramount,” Spinak explains. However, not everyone is willing to take advice, even when they are paying for it. “A client will sometimes say, ‘Thanks for your opinion, but we’re still going to do it this way,’” Spinak notes, adding, “That’s okay. Then we will be the best agency to execute, but we fulfilled our positioning as an agency by giving clients our honest opinion first. We also have a policy of total financial transparency with clients—we track our hours, and we’re glad to sit down and review. We generally put in a lot more hours than we get paid for.”
Put the client’s needs first “If the client succeeds, we succeed; if the client doesn’t, we don’t,” Spinak says. “So putting the client’s needs ahead of ours—financially, strategically, and in every other way—will, in the long run, put us ahead, too.” Sometimes that means foregoing short-term revenue, as well as telling potential clients that Quadrant isn’t the best fit for their needs. “We have walked away from business after looking at a client’s marketing situation, saying, ‘You have an advertising awareness problem and need to put the money into media.’” While such advice often comes as a surprise to would-be clients, they tend to remember that Quadrant put the client’s interests ahead of its own. When they do need the types of services we offer, Quadrant finds itself with a new client. Existing clients, too, have come to rely on Quadrant’s servicefocused philosophy, knowing that their interests come first.
MEET molly spinak A Montréal native, Spinak attended McGill University, originally graduating with a biochemistry degree. Realizing that the biosciences weren’t for her, she went back to school for marketing. Hired by General Foods (now Kraft Foods), she rose quickly, becoming the company’s second female brand manager. After General Foods, she worked at Warner Lambert and Richardson-Vicks, where she served as director of marketing and sales. In 1987, facing a traffic jam of high-level overseas assignments, a growing family, and teaching MBA courses at York University, she decided to strike out on her own. “I decided that I was going to do it my way,” she says. “I think doing a great job is important and telling the truth is important.” She instilled those values in Quadrant Marketing and has never looked back.
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“Putting the client’s needs ahead of ours, financially, strategically, and in every other way will, in the long run, put us ahead, too.” —Molly Spinak, President & Founder
Hire and train the right people In marketing, human talent is the foundation for success. “People will make you or break you in this business,” Spinak says. “I’ve lost business because I hired or kept the wrong people.” Quadrant’s 55 employees are treated like gold and understand the company’s operating philosophy. Getting highly talented, ethically responsible, and dependable employees is crucial for the business. “We try to get as many people involved in the hiring process as possible,” Spinak says. “We
have structured interviews with preset, specific questions for candidates, and we use outside testing models to ensure fit.” But finding good employees isn’t enough, either. Developing talent is another key aspect of Quadrant’s edge. “We have a lot of hands-on involvement by senior managers during employee training,” Spinak notes. “We send employees on courses, conduct ‘lunch ’n’ learns,’ bring in keynote speakers, and circulate information on what’s working and what isn’t. The industry is changing, and we need our employees to be current on what’s happening out there.”
Deliver consistent service and creativity “We have grown to where we are without even marketing ourselves,” Spinak observes. “If you ask our clients, they will say they never want to let us go.” Kraft has been a firm client for 25 years, Procter & Gamble for 23 years, and Heinz for 14 years. “We keep our clients because we focus on what’s important to them—strategic smarts, great creative, meticulous execution, ontime project delivery, and staying within an approved budget—no surprises,” Spinak explains. That means producing marketing campaigns that fit the client and produce the results desires. It also means producing promotional materials that engage the target audience and solicit interest in the product. Finally, it means rolling out the strategy and the execution with attention to detail. “In any campaign, there are thousands of details that have to be just right,” Spinak says. Quadrant relies on its staff and its training to make sure every aspect of a campaign as been reviewed and executed perfectly. “We have processes and forms that we have developed in which every possible question or ‘what if’ is addressed,” she explains. The firm also relies on teamwork. “Every campaign is a team effort,” Spinak says. “With multiple people, and therefore checks and balances, we don’t miss a detail.”
Such practices have helped Quadrant evolve over the years. Since its founding, in 1987, the agency has split into independent companies, with Quadrant continuing as a general marketing communications agency, and Q2 Marketing Communications offering fully integrated services, including television and print advertising, media buying, and digital/socialmedia solutions. But Quadrant succeeds where others fall short by sticking to simple principles that keep its clients happy and loyal.
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Apri is a leading provider of group benefits, insurance, and group retirement and pension solutions. It delivers a much deeper level of caring, while offering the security of knowing that you and your loved ones can live through an adverse event or change in lifestyle. Apri’s underlying promise is to get you back to the life you desire— living as planned. A message from aird & berlis llp
Aird & Berlis LLP is a prominent Canadian law firm with a well-established local, national, and international practice. We are pleased to provide legal services to Quadrant Marketing and would like to congratulate Molly Spinak on 25 successful years in business.
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A young man participates in a discussion in the Youth Leader Corps, one of the many educational initiatives implemented by the YMCA of Greater Toronto.
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Investing in People Melanie Laflamme of the YMCA of Greater Toronto builds strong communities by helping create healthy workplaces and positive career tracks by Stephanie Vozza Ever since she was a child, Melanie Laflamme has wanted to help people. But sometimes she’s had to blaze her own path to do it. While in high school, she tried to volunteer at a distress centre, answering phones, but she was told that the organization didn’t take teenagers. “I’ve always been the type of person that other people talk to about their problems,” says Laflamme. “And I believed teens needed to talk to other teens.” Not allowing an age policy to stop her, she started her own 24-hour drug crisis centre, which she named Youth Helping Youth. A few years later, having graduated from York University in Toronto and poised to start her professional career, it seemed only natural that Laflamme would help more people by going into social work. And she did— but she found a new path in the process. advantagemagazine.ca
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The YMCA’s Newcomer Centre provides community information and resources to families and individuals new to the area.
“It’s part of my belief system that individuals spend time at work to get meaning out of what they do. I focus on HR practices and policies that create workplaces that bring out best in people.” —Melanie Laflamme, Senior VP of Human Resources & Organizational Development
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“At the time, human resources was a newly evolved field,” she says. “I found that I could help more people by creating great workplaces. It was a unique opportunity to bring out the potential that was inside people.” Laflamme has spent her 34-year career in the HR department of organizations. She says she chose the nonprofit sector so she could align her values with the organization’s values. Over the course of her career, she has been instrumental in developing the HR programs for such entities as the Ontario Government, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the Ontario Arts Council, and Canada’s National Ballet School. In 2001, she was hired to be HR manager of the YMCA of Greater Toronto, a charity dedicated to increasing the health and wellness of individuals in the community by offering help and services in employment skills; fitness, sports, and aquatics; education; newcomer programs; youth outreach and intervention; international programs; child care; and camps. Today, as senior vice president of human resources and organizational development, Laflamme is responsible for the HR function and strategy for a staff of nearly 4,100 who serve members at more than advantagemagazine.ca
Investing in People
300 program sites. She also oversees the organization’s career-planning services, accessibility implementation, and leadership institute, and focuses on a commitment to diversity and social inclusion (minority staff members comprise 44 percent of the organization). “It’s part of my belief system that individuals spend time at work to get meaning out of what they do,” says Laflamme. “I focus on HR practices and policies that create workplaces that bring out best in people.” Through its 10-year strategic plan called Strong Start, Great Future, the YMCA is working to ensure that its communities are home to the healthiest children, teens, and young adults. Ultimately, strong, healthy children create strong, healthy communities. Because of this outreach, Laflamme says the relationships the YMCA fosters with employees are often long-term. “Many started as students in our programs or as volunteers,” she says. “We’re fortunate that we’re able to attract people who want to give back and make a difference in society. Because of that, we really want to ensure that our HR approach is in line with our overall vision of creating healthy communities for children, teens, and young adults. We must mirror that in our HR strategy with a healthy workplace. And so we give back to employees.” Under Laflamme’s watch, the YMCA of Greater Toronto has introduced a variety of benefits and policies that support employees through various life cycles. For example, unemployment insurance is topped up to 80 percent for maternity and parental leave for 26 weeks. Critical illness insurance is offered with a $10,000 payout for expenses. Employees are eligible to receive counselling during challenging times, including legal help. Staff members who are adopting a child receive a package that can help support them. Sick leave is offered for six months. And a benefits package is offered to part-time employees, as well. “We make staff a priority, even during the recession,” says Laflamme. “That’s because they are key in the services we provide to those using our programs. We can’t do what we do without the dedication and commitment of our staff. And we care about their health and well-being.” As a result, turnover has continued to decrease over the past 10 years. The average turnover rate for nonprofits in Canada is 17 percent. When Laflamme joined the YMCA in 2001, turnover there was at 16 percent; in 2012, the rate was 5.88. And 36 percent of advantagemagazine.ca
Planning for the Future A Look at the YMCA of Greater Toronto’s Career Planning and Development initiative ability testing, vocational and perThe YMCA of Greater Toronto helps sonality assessments, and private people create healthy lives. It’s best counselling, individuals can receive known for its fitness programs, but guidance and support for pursing the organization takes a holistic aptheir ambitions. proach to health—biological, psy The program also assists organichological, social, and spiritual—and zations with preemployment testing, offers programs that cover all of succession-planning outplacement these areas. One of those is its Career Planning services during layoffs or terminations, and employee coaching and and Development service, which was development. one of the first of its kind in Toronto. Laflamme says the YMCA’s apThrough comprehensive assessproach recognizes that work is not ments and one-on-one meetings, the simply an economic transaction. program provides testing and career development solutions for individuals “The nature of employment determines the quality of individuas well as organizations. High school or college graduates— als’ lives and their health,” she says. “Work is a key social determinant of as well as those looking to make a career change, facing a life change, or health, and the YMCA has a responreentering the workforce—can all find sibility to contribute to the health of communities through healthy assistance in reaching personal and workplace practices.” professional goals. With aptitude and
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Résumé Roundup The work and experiences of Melanie Laflamme
Earns Social Service Worker diploma
Earns bachelor’s degree in psychology from York University
Works for Centre for Addiction and Mental Health as compensation analyst
Works for Ontario Government as HR advisor
Works for Ontario Arts Council as HR manager
Works for Canada’s National Ballet School as HR manager
Joins YMCA of Greater Toronto as HR manager
Named vice president of human resources at the YMCA of Greater Toronto
Named Top Human Resources Leader by the Toronto Human Resources Professional Association
Earns master’s degree in human resources from York University
Named senior vice president of human resources and organizational development at the YMCA of Greater Toronto
Finalist for a Human Resources Summit Award for Employment Branding by the Human Resources Professional Association of Ontario 78
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“We are often a first employer. We help young people adapt to their first job through supportive practices. It’s also how we work with youth. We try to look at strengths and not deficits.” —Melanie Laflamme, Senior VP of Human Resources & Organizational Development
employees have more than 10 years of service. Under her leadership, the YMCA of Greater Toronto has become one of the most recognized and acclaimed in Canada. Awards include: Top Employer in the Greater Toronto Area in four consecutive years in a row; Top Employer in Canada for Young People in 2010; Canada’s Best Diversity Employers in 2012; and Canada’s Greenest Employers in 2011 and 2012. Additionally, in November 2010, Laflamme received the Top HR Leader Award as part of the Toronto Business Excellence Awards from the Toronto Human Resources Professional Association. And in January 2012, she was one of three finalists for the HR Summit Award with the Human Resources Professional Association of Ontario for Employment Branding. But those accolades didn’t come easy. Her role is not without its share of hurdles and obstacles. Laflamme says her biggest challenge from an HR point of view is striving for balance. “We’re an organization focused on increasing the health of our community,” she says. “There are so many needs in the community. For us, that translates to creating more programs and services to meet the needs. We’re very fortunate to have dedicated and engaged employees who contribute 120 percent of their heart and soul in their work. As an HR practitioner, I worry about that. We have a responsibility to make sure that we’re creating healthy workplace balance. Some private-sector organizations struggle to get employees engaged … We have engaged employees. We struggle with ensuring their emotional energy isn’t overextended.” One of the ways Laflamme says the YMCA does this is by coaching supervisors on how to deal with staff. She says guidelines, tools, and resources are available that build on philosophy and practices used with YMCA members. One of those would be taking a strength-based approach, especially since 44 percent of employees are under the age of 28.
“We are often a first employer,” she says. “We help young people adapt to their first job through supportive practices. It’s also how we work with youth. We try to look at strengths and not deficits. Some young employees can make poor decisions. Instead of approaching it from a discipline approach, we look at it from a learning point of view. We take the same principles we use with our clients and use them with our staff. The YMCA of Greater Toronto focuses on being a charity and employer of choice. “This will enable us to do more for the community,” Laflamme says. “There are many charities out there doing good work. It is our goal that, when people and organizations are making donating decisions, we are at the top of their minds. It’s also important for us to be an employer of choice. We want people to consciously decide to work for the YMCA because their values and interests in making a difference in society are aligned with what we aim to achieve.” “We really believe that people search for meaning in their work,” she says. “We aim to create a work environment that honours the human spirit to achieve and celebrate together and where mission and purpose drive our work. We are in the process of applying the same concepts and understandings of what contributes to individual health to creating a healthy organization and a great workplace.” _a
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Standard Life PLC is a leading long-term savings and investment company headquartered in Scotland. In Canada, Standard Life has been doing business for almost 180 years and provides longterm savings, investment, and insurance solutions to more than 1.4 million customers. We are proud to provide a pension plan to all Canadian YMCA Associations since 1999 and help their employees learn how to get more out of life by saving and investing for the future through their retirement fund.
You want your employees to be healthy, wealthy and wise. So do we. We offer information, education and tools to help them. Group Savings and Retirement Eastern Region
Brigitte Gascon 1 877 4999555 ext. 7086
Christine van Staden 1 800 8275747 ext. 3305
Western Region Ken Kukkonen 1 800 6631784 ext. 6
Learn more standardlife.ca
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How Mark Spencer manages IT for more than 14,000 employees Goldcorp’s director of IT operations explains how he and his team of 10 effectively oversee the international company’s tech needs By Julie Schaeffer
Hire the right employees and manage them appropriately “You have to start by hiring the right people,” says Spencer, who looks for staff with a broad range of skills and who can work in a small team. The Goldcorp IT department has taken six months to fill some positions as a result of its desire to find the right candidate and get buy-in from key stakeholders within the company, resulting in an extensive interview process. Spencer also notes that it’s important to give employees key directives and a way to measure results. “Actionable feedback earlier rather than later is key,” he says.
Align IT with the needs of the business “Once quality staff is in place, it’s important to understand the overall strategic objectives of the business, then work with business stakeholders to determine how IT will align with those objectives,” Spencer explains. “We keep stakeholders apprised as our efforts unfold to provide the systems we all believe are necessary to support the business, and we’re always receptive to change.”
Decide what gets managed where “Our job involves striking balance between the need for autonomy at the mine sites and the corporate mandate,” says Spencer, who notes that traditional IT staff at mine sites typically manage local systems, such as file and print servers and mine-site-specific applications such as computer-aided drawing systems, and provide break-fix services. Key enterprise IT services—from e-mail to data backup and recovery—are handled through the corporate IT department.
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MEET MARK spencer “In an organization like Goldcorp, the ability to execute really depends on having quality people and effective partnerships with service providers,” says Mark Spencer, director of IT operations. “It has to be a symbiotic relationship.” That’s no surprise. Vancouver-based Goldcorp Inc. is one of the world’s fastest-growing gold producers, with operations and development projects located throughout the Americas. With mines in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Argentina, and Chile—and a solid pipeline of projects—Goldcorp employs more than 14,000 people worldwide, all of whom need functional IT services.
Keep key functions internal
Manage the vendor relationship
“Security is a good example of something we’re more inclined to insource,” says Spencer. As an example, he points to the company’s decision to bring the administration of security for its SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system in-house. SAP is the primary ERP system for Goldcorp, and a determination was made that the administration of user security settings was too important to outsource.
“It’s important to address any legal and contractual issues before you start doing business, so when you begin working together, you’re only managing the relationship,” Spencer says. “One of the bigger challenges we’ve had is delivering complicated IT systems that require several vendors to collaborate. We’ve found that what works best is to be very clear what part of the system each vendor will be responsible for, but also create a collaborative environment whereby, when problems arise, we can get the vendors working on a team. Part of the challenge is learning to detect potential problems and head them off at the pass.”
Outsource other functions “If something is done by corporate, it is almost certainly going to be outsourced, because the size of our team is extremely small,” Spencer says. As an example, much of the development and maintenance of Goldcorp’s ERP systems, critical infrastructure (such as e-mail and intranet), and data centers (backup and disaster recovery) are all outsourced. “We have always utilized this model at the corporate level,” says Spencer, adding that most of these functions are outside the company’s skill set. “Building data centres is not our core business, and we don’t believe we can do it as well as a professional data-centre provider.”
Visit mine sites IT might not seem like a travel-heavy job, but Spencer and his staff travel 30 percent of the time, predominantly to mine sites. “Each year, someone from corporate IT is required to visit every major site that consumes IT,” he says. “We talk to users and assess the way IT services are being delivered against the corporate standard.”
Choose the right vendors “It’s important to put the time and effort into a thorough vendor-selection process,” Spencer says. He evaluates vendors partly on their physical location, and many have a strong presence in countries where Goldcorp has operations. He also looks for companies that are the best providers in their niche, have a proven track record, and impeccable references. “We’re very clear in the selection process to articulate what’s important to us, and we look at incumbents based on their ability to deliver on those requirements,” he says.
A message from Sierra systems
Sierra Systems and Goldcorp have enjoyed a highly productive relationship over the past several years. We are proud to be part of your operational success and look forward to continuing to provide you with seamless IT operations and outsourcing services. Our mutual commitment to excellent customer service and high delivery standards have allowed us to build a long-term and trusting relationship.
jJaann/ /fFeebb/ /mMaarr22013 013
The grass is greener on our side of the fence. When you store your data in a Bell data centre, youâ€™re not only choosing secure, energy-efficient data management. Youâ€™re choosing a greener future. So green in fact, that our sustainable green building and development practices were recently awarded the 2012 Green Enterprise IT Award for Facility Design Innovation by the Uptime Institute. Rely on Bell: Itâ€™s the secure, responsible choice. Visit bell.ca/datacentre
data centres just got better 82
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cause & effect
CAUSE: To bring balance to patients through improving their quality of life and overall health by alleviating symptoms, correcting imbalances, and minimizing disease risk factors.
EFFECT: Optimal health for patients through increasing physical activity, modifying diets to include nutrient-dense foods, and reducing or eliminating the need for medications to address health problems.
What if someone told you they could turn around your health— not just treat your diabetes or high blood pressure, but cure it? Balance Medical Center can. By Dr. Rishi Verma | As told to Julie Edwards
Photo: Kari Heese
y practice, Balance Medical Center, is founded on a unique idea that is relatively new to Canada—assess the body as a whole, discover the deficiencies, and then individualize a treatment plan based on the root cause of the problems. This approach, which is known as integrative medicine, is, at its core, a fundamentally different approach than traditional symptom-based Western medicine. The other difference in our approach from a traditional medical practice is how our appointments are structured—we give patients time. Appointments are 30 minutes long, and patients pay an annual fee, which is surprisingly lower than you would think, for unlimited appointments. Our clinic staff is comprised of two medical doctors, a holistic nutritionist, and two naturopaths. After working as a family practitioner for 10 years, I decided to open an integrativemedicine practice because I found myself becoming more and more disappointed with what medical school taught me. I felt the pharmaceutical companies had taken over medicine and, rather than looking at the cause of our illnesses and what we were putting in our bodies, the approach became: “Here’s a pill to treat this.”
An advocate for healthy living, Dr. Rishi Verma believes he can help people achieve optimal health. His beliefs are so strong that he progressed from the practice of traditional medicine and founded Vancouver-based Balance Medical Center, a physician-run clinic that focuses on integrative and functional medicine. Balance Medical Center offers an individualized approach for each patient, addressing the root of their health concerns rather than reactively prescribing treatments. Dr. Verma’s passion for his practice has had a profound impact on patients.
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By The Numbers
Average minutes of an office visit vs. eight minutes in a traditional physician’s office
7 Photo: Kari Heese
Average number of years it takes for a proven research concept to become mainstream in medicine; these ideas are implemented years sooner at Balance Medical Center
“After working as a family practitioner for 10 years, I decided to open an integrative medicine practice because I found myself becoming more and more disappointed with what medical school taught me.” —Dr. Rishi Verma, Medical Director
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A keen learner, I decided to take a year off, and took this time to investigate new styles of medicine. As part of this process, I began going to conferences, attending webinars, and reading journals, and I found there was so much science outside the medical system that focused on treating the disease rather than blocking the symptoms. Much of this science centres on the physiology of medicine—how the body works and how to make it work better. As a result of what I learned, I decided to train in integrative medicine, culminating in a fellowship in antiaging and regenerative medicine. While our practice treats patients with advanced diagnoses, Balance Medical Center also serves those who want to stay healthy as well as become healthy. Our greatest accomplishment so far is the number of lives we have improved already. When I was practicing conventional medicine, I was always frustrated when I was unable to help someone get better. Now I am astounded at how little changes can make such an enormous impact on individual health. One of the greatest success stories from the practice is a former football player in his late 40s who came in at 290 pounds with full-blown diabetes, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol, and who was taking seven different medications. After working with him for two years, he had lost 90 pounds,
Average number of medications patients come into practice taking; usually leave taking none or one
Number of patients currently being treated at Balance Medical Center
had normal blood pressure and blood sugar, and was off every medication. I also worked with a very stressed female real-estate agent who was “wired and tired”—very stressed out with no energy. Her assessment showed a hormone deficiency, so I prescribed bioidentical hormones—a simple treatment—and a month later, she was at ease and rested. Of course, we can prescribe traditional medications if needed, but medication should be viewed as a short-term solution, not a long-term treatment. Instead, we look at the other nutrients and prescribe supplements as needed to address deficiencies. My current passion is the concept of whole-body detoxification. My research has found a huge amount of science behind it. Basically, toxicity blocks good health and is created by what we put in our bodies, and it affects everything from the liver and kidneys to the cells at a molecular-cell level. While the practice is growing, we want to keep it manageable so we can always make sure our patients get the time they need. For us, long-term growth is less about numbers and more about growing our reputation. We want to be known as the place where people can go and truly get better. I also am a better person because I live my cause—I eat better, exercise, and take personal time. This practice has given me my life back, as well. _a advantagemagazine.ca
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cause & effect
Cause: To provide lodging to families in need. Many have no home, low incomes, a number of children, and only minimal access to education.
Effect: New homes built every year for the homeless, helping them to break out of the cycle of poverty and, in turn, help neighbours who may be struggling in similar circumstances.
In the name of paying it forward, Boardwalk Real Estate has made it a mission to help the less fortunate: each year, employees travel to Mexico to build homes for the homeless. By William Wong | As told to Seth Putnam
oardwalk is an opened-ended investment trust that owns and operates about 225 multifamily resident properties. In 2002, I was finishing up with a condo conversion company, and I thought it was time for a change of scenery. I joined when the company was maturing, and it’s been an exciting and rewarding 10 years. A large part of the emphasis is on making sure our associates can develop a healthy work-life balance. You hear that at a lot of companies, but it’s not always something you can see. But here it starts at the top, with our CEO. When I joined, we both had young kids, and what attracted me to Boardwalk was the fact that family always comes first. That idea of balance extends far beyond our employees. We’re not just renting apartments; we’re providing homes. It’s not just a place to hang your hat. Since 2008, we’ve done a lot of projects to help the homeless. We want to build a better community, and that means treating families and individuals as human beings. And that idea pays huge dividends because we think we’re helping others, but we’re really helping ourselves by making the world a better place. One of our major initiatives is Homes of Hope, a trip to Tijuana to build homes. It began when our CEO, Sam Kolias, started 86
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It would be easy for a rental-apartment owner the size of Boardwalk Real Estate Investment Trust to sit back and rake in the dollars. As one of Canada’s largest providers of apartment leases, the Calgary-based company has carved out a sizeable market niche, but at the core of the business, there’s more than four walls and a roof covering tenants’ heads. William Wong, Boardwalk Reak Estate’s CFO (pictured above, at centre) helps run a successful operation helmed by engaged citizens who have determined to make a better life for their neighbours.
By The Numbers
Years involved with Homes of Hope
the program as a private project with his family. Eventually it expanded to Boardwalk associates and their families, too. Now, we build nine houses there a year, over the course of three trips, with the help of about 60 associates per trip. It’s a character-building experience. I just took my two 15-year-old boys on a trip in June, and we built a 10’ x 20’ house—very small. I didn’t even have to prod them; they worked hard alongside the Boardwalk associates and were constantly looking for more ways to help. We took care of the framing, painting, and drywall—and by the time we were finished, a family in need had a place to live. For any parent, there’s the question of how to keep your kids grounded. We take so much for granted. And you really have to get out of your normal, comfortable existence. I watched my boys from afar, and the ownership they took of this project was inspiring. Every time we go, it’s a reminder of how amazingly fortunate we are in Canada, and you can’t help but want to share yourself and your resources. The husband and wife we helped had five children, and there were some disabilities involved: one of the children can’t speak or hear. For the past 11 months, they had been living in a borrowed trailer. Before that, they’d been living in a makeshift shelter with a dirt floor. The father makes $80 per week as a farmhand. advantagemagazine.ca
9 Homes built per year
Trips per year
Boardwalk associates per trip
The mom cleans house for $60 per week. They’ve been together for 17 years. But despite these challenges, they have an immense devotion to their family. The wonderful thing about this program is that it’s not a handout; it’s a hand up. There’s a monthly land payment, so there’s responsibility that goes along with it. And these families can be proud because they’re working very hard to improve their circumstances. At the heart of our company is the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you would like to be treated. The Tijuana program is just a by-product of the culture we try to foster back in Canada with our own associates and customers. Many companies have long, meandering mission statements, but for us it’s simple: We’re all trying to make the best life we can. If we can create even a small impact, then we’ve done our job as human beings. _a
“The wonderful thing about this program is that it’s not a handout; it’s a hand up.” —William Wong, CFO
A message from STIKEMAN ELLIOTT
Stikeman Elliott is proud to be part of the Boardwalk Rental Communities team as it continues to provide its residents with quality rental communities. Congratulations to William Wong, whose expert guidance and commitment to social responsibility have been key aspects of Boardwalk’s success. For more information on Stikeman Elliott, please visit stikeman.com. advantage
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cause & effect
Cause: LIFT Philanthropy Partners works with not-for-profit organizations that have a direct and positive effect on the health and productivity of Canadians by delivering social impact in the areas of literacy, skills development, sports, and physical activity.
Effect: LIFT connects organizations that are affecting change with the people and resources that can bring them to life. As a result, not-for-profit organizations have the opportunity to become more effective in supporting Canadians to lead healthier, more productive, and prosperous lives.
Why would LIFT Philanthropy Partners abandon a hugely popular program with initiatives that affected change throughout British Columbia? To transition into something even more impactful, naturally.
was an entrepreneur in the 1980s, working extensively in Asia when I became involved in not-for-profit boards. After obtaining my master’s degree from MIT and consulting with private companies and public agencies for more than 20 years, I was drawn to not-for-profit work. I saw the value in what these organizations bring to the table and how they can contribute to local communities. Some might assume it would be a difficult transition to make, going from business to not-for-profit work, but I tie a great deal of my old work into what I do now. I use my former business practices and networks and blend the two together pretty seamlessly. LIFT Philanthropy Partners is the evolution of 2010 Legacies Now, not a transformation. A lot of thought was put into the transition; it was something that was discussed for a year and half while 2010 Legacies Now was still operating. What we learned as 2010 Legacies Now—the practices we adopted, the connections and networks we made—those things gave us the skills and expertise we now use to help us operate as a venture philanthropy organization. As 2010 Legacies Now, we developed and supported more than 12,500 community programs that engaged more than two million people across British Columbia. It’s
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We can all agree that the for-profit world and the nonprofit world are just that— two different worlds. But Bruce Dewar has expertly married his 20 years of business experience with his position as CEO of LIFT Philanthropy Partners, a Vancouver-based not-for-profit that works with other not-for-profits to make them more sustainable and effective. His business savvy was also instrumental in the seamless transition the organization has made from its previous life as 2010 Legacies Now, a not-for-profit created in 2000 that proved to be an integral component of Vancouver’s bid for the 2010 Winter Games. Legacies Now was truly revolutionary, and its new incarnation is proving to be just as groundbreaking, because Dewar and his team of 13 are using a venture philanthropy approach that is changing the way businesses, governments, and individuals invest and engage in social change. The end goal, of course, is to help other organizations create significant social impact within their respective communities.
Photo: David Martin
By Bruce Dewar | As told to Tina Vasquez
Photo: Vincent L. Chan
By The Numbers LIFT Philanthropy Partners evolved from 2010 Legacies Now, a not-for-profit organization that leveraged the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games to create social legacies in communities throughout British Columbia. These legacies included:
People participating in new sport and physical activity programs
Students participating in daily, healthy classroom activities
Communities and neighbourhoods improving literacy and education through effective programs and resources
Families learning about early childhood development and literacy
100 Communities improving accessibility for people with disabilities, including inclusive employment and recreation opportunities
Alexander Holburn is proud to support LIFT Philanthropy Partners. We congratulate them on the successes achieved through their novel venture philanthropy approach and on their status as social innovators. We look forward to a continued successful partnership. Alexander Holburn is a leading, full-service Vancouver law ﬁrm. With 75+ lawyers operating across 22 practice areas, we can advise on the most complex legal matters affecting your business. For more information on Alexander Holburn’s services and to see how we can help you, connect with our Corporate / Commercial lawyers: Bob W. Pa Pakrul ru 604.484.1720 20 email@example.com
difficult to let go of a project that was so successful, but it’s like sending your child off to university. You know they’re going to do amazingly wonderful and impactful things, but it’s still a little sad to see them go. That’s how it felt when we were closing the chapter on 2010 Legacies Now. I’ve been in the not-for-profit sector for nine years and I’ve learned a lot. I have an understanding of how not-for-profits work, and I understand how the business side of things operates. This combination allows us to be more creative in how we find solutions. It enables LIFT to engage stakeholders in a meaningful way because we understand the bigger picture; we understand that organizations have financial obligations and community responsibilities. LIFT’s approach is all about how organizations can make a bigger impact. We work with each organization on a strategic plan to increase their accountability and increase their capacity to grow their social impact. We also focus on metrics because now, more than ever, investors want to know where funds are going and how they’re being used. We provide not-for-profits with the expertise they need to be sustainable and more effective. _a advantagemagazine.ca
Loren D. Mallett 604.484.1750 firstname.lastname@example.org
2700 - 700 West Georgia Street Vancouver BC | Canada V7Y 1B8 T: 604.484.1700 | F: 604.484.9700 www.ahbl.ca advantage
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cause & effect
Cause: Turning away from the current health-care system, which is one of disease management, not disease prevention; offering alternatives to traditional, more expensive healthcare protocols; giving more options to patients with a chronic disease; and changing the old way of thinking about health care.
Effect: Preventative health-care measures such as lab tests, diagnostic tools, and treatment of cause rather than treating symptoms; cost-effective treatment of patients; a fully integrated team approach covers all aspects of a patient’s care; and an alternative approach to change the mind-set of the public.
To get someone healthy doesn’t have to be a choice between an alternative and traditional medicine experience. See how the Nielsen Clinic integrates both approaches to achieve health and vitality. By Dr. Vijay Nielsen | As told to Kristina Anderson
n homeopathic medicine, we seek to use the body’s own immune system to fight disease and achieve balance in the body. We are after the root cause versus treating symptoms. In our clinic, my wife and I are responsible for the homeopathic medicine. On the integrative side, we have a medical doctor, registered psychologist, chiropractor, acupuncture, physiotherapist, dietitian, massage therapist, craniosacral specialist, and family coach on staff. I think that one of the greatest frustrations people have in terms of their health care is that they feel they don’t have a choice between traditional medicine and alternative—that they have to use either one or the other. Here they can have both. The goal for us and our colleagues in both spectrums of medicine is to restore health, which improves patients’ quality of life and promotes vitality and wellness. The client is relieved to find that in our clinic everyone involved in their care is on the same page. We’re all working together to keep them on track to best recover and restore their health. I think that the reason for the healthcare system breakdown is due to the fact that it is designed on a model of disease management instead of on one of disease prevention. In contrast, our clinic empowers clients, giving them options. It’s a change in the mind-set of people. Most patients start feeling better, and once 90
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The Nielsen Homeopathic and Integrative Clinic, based in Calgary, has developed an integrative, preventative approach to health care, treating all aspects of a patient’s well-being in a single, complete package, one that encompasses mind, body, and spirit. Without forcing clients to choose between so-called Western medicine and homeopathic protocols, the Nielsen Clinic delivers the best of both worlds, thanks to Dr. Vijay Nielsen, DMS, HD, who runs the clinic with his wife, Dr. Kerissa Nielsen, DMS, HD.
By The Numbers
Number of clinics
Percentage of referrals by word of mouth
Percentage of clients from the US
INTEGRATIVE HEALTH PERSONALIZED CARE THERAPIES WE OFFER
Number of patients served annually
they have regained their health, they check in with us once or twice a year. They can come to us and see us for alternative care such as chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage, while also having an option to consult a medical doctor, if that is needed. While most patients say they prefer this sort of integrative approach, big change takes time, patience, and education to change the mind-set of health and wellness. Although patients do pay out of pocket for our services, we believe that alternative/complementary medicine plays a greater role in improving healthcare than once thought. Why? Because we are getting patients better at a reduced cost and reducing the dependency on traditional medications. I think the Canadian model of public health care will undergo huge transition in the next decade. Insurance companies don’t make money on sick people with the cost of medications, procedures, etc. I believe preventive medicine makes financial sense for everyone concerned. As an example, when we treat you for a migraine in a complementary medicine setting, you may also receive an evaluation for back pain and other symptoms. Then our chiropractor, acupuncture, and nutritionist can provide a team approach in helping lower cholesterol, address depression, avoiding multiplication of medications, and getting proper counseling about supplements. We’ve had really good success with multiple-sclerosis (MS) patients. MS can be very costly to manage. The injectables are highly expensive, with treatment costs reaching $16,000–25,000 yearly. We have a young MS patient who came to see us; her numbness and tingling was reduced, she gained strength in her legs, and her flare-ups were reduced after the first month with us. Her strength is back to where it was before the diagnosis and is currently symptom-free. She is back to her normal self, physically and emotionally. Much of our focus is on preventative medicine. For example, we offer breast thermography imaging, which helps determine your breast health. We look at family history and perform lab tests, all of which are important in determining your risk for chronic disease. We haven’t done much for advertising for our clinics. We have grown strictly by word of mouth. What differentiates us is that we offer a complete platform of health-care practitioners. When clients leave our clinic with their health restored, we know we’ve succeeded in changing the mind-set from reactive to proactive, which is how you get to preventative. We feel privileged that people have entrusted us to be a part of their health journey, and look forward in continuing to provide the best of both worlds: complementary and traditional medicine. _a advantagemagazine.ca
Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine
Functional Medicine (Medical Doctor)
(Reg. Nutritionist) (Ph.D)
“At Nielsen Clinic our purpose remains constant: to prevent disease, heal, educate and empower our clients.”
Dr’s. Vijay & Kerissa Nielsen 104, 1851 Sirocco Drive SW Calgary, Alberta T3H 4R5 Canada Tel: (403) 265.9730 Email: email@example.com
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cause & effect
Cause: To provides free research data on Canadian charities; to tell their stories more widely and effectively; to empower donors to carry out due diligence prior to contributing; and for charities to explain how their funds are spent and how successfully they’re meeting their mandates.
Effect: Donors can tailor their contributions to those organizations most in line with their vision; stronger relationships are formed between charities and donors; and donors understand how to donate money most effectively.
You’re passionate about a cause and have money to donate. But is that charity really the right one for you? That’s where Dexterity Consulting comes in. By Gena Rotstein | As told to Julie Knudson
quit my job in 2008 to do this full-time, and now Dexterity Consulting and our sister software company, Place2Give, are the eHarmony of the charitable sector. We profile the way donors give, and we profile the way that charities implement their programs. Based on how those two intersect, we find the best matches. To do this, we work through the financial services and legal sectors to connect one-on-one with high-net-worth and ultra-highnet-worth individuals, helping them set up their charitable giving strategies. We also have an online platform that’s free for anybody in Canada, where they can profile their giving habits and research charities. We’re working to expand that into the States, so American donors can do the same thing. It used to be that charities would find donors and solicit them, and donors would give because they had been asked. It was very much relationship based, which is exactly how it should be, except there wasn’t a lot of due diligence done when some of these transactions were occurring. And that’s because we haven’t taught donors to do due diligence. I flipped the transaction on its head and said, “Why are we empowering the charities to disclose instead of empowering the donors to ask?” In the first year, our technology was available at Place2Give; potential donors researched 20,000 charities. Now that we’ve moved the technology out of beta, I anticipate we’ll see around the same number of charities researched, but we’ll probably see the number of transactions increase exponentially. 92
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Identifying charitable organizations that share your vision can sometimes be a challenge, and knowing your donations are truly moving the cause forward is even more difficult. Not all organizations have the resources to track down and woo contributors, so how do the two sides find each other? Dexterity Consulting has taken on the role of matchmaker, bringing donors and charities together in philanthropic bliss. Gena Rotstein, CEO, tells us how it works—and how it’s working.
With over 40 years of experience Hamilton + Partners has brought together the right Team of professionals and built a solid network of partners to augment our expertise.
By The Numbers
Number of financial services firms Dexterity works with in Canada
Number of charities in the Place2Give database
Average number of donors conducting charity searches in a month
Critical financial decisions, whether retirement, succession or legacy focused, require thoughtful analysis. Our processes are rigorous and deliver results. From creating security for future generations to imparting a significant contribution to your community we can work together to determine
Right now, when a donor goes online and types in “international relief,” those organizations that can afford search-engine-optimization marketing come to the top of the Google search. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best ones doing international relief. So what we’re exploring is how to get the effectiveness story included in the search criteria, and that’s exactly what we’re trying to do with our technology. We’re saying to donors, “Let’s find the right fit. If you’re a donor who’s interested in education and scholarship funds, let’s find you a really good university that provides the scholarship opportunities you want to finance.” Looking solely at the financial statements of an organization, you don’t really know if charities are spending money effectively and actually pushing the needle on poverty reduction, for example, if that’s what their mandate is. You don’t know if they’re actually getting homeless people off the street, or if they’re educating more kids. All you know is how much they’re spending on poverty, homelessness, and education. Our consulting practice is the next piece in all of this. It facilitates those one-on-one conversations with the organizations and external experts to find out how much it actually costs to do something like solve poverty. Because once we know the cost of the issue, then we can determine whether or not they’re being effective in pushing the needle on that issue. But most donors have never asked those questions, because they’re really complex. I think we’re just starting to see what the net effect is, because all of this stuff is so new. In the United States, philanthropic advising services have only been around for retail investors and the average donor for about 10 years. And in Canada, it’s only been in the last five or six years that there has been a formal philanthropic advising community. In Canada, most boutique wealth-management firms and large-scale financial-services firms, like Bank of Montréal and ScotiaBank, offer their private wealth clients in-house philanthropic advising and consulting. It’s different from institution to institution, so in some cases it just means these individuals are saying whether or not their clients should set up a charitable trust or private foundation. In other cases, they’re actually going out and researching charities on behalf of their clients. It’s still a fledgling sector. _a advantagemagazine.ca
your wealth philosophy and turn your estate into a legacy.
Teena DiGirolamo (403) 232-4593 firstname.lastname@example.org
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cause & effect
Cause: To demonstrate that value is created through investment in community and society.
Effect: Thanks to tools and data to support and enhance decision-making processes, community investment partners are more confident in the value of their work, and more able to demonstrate the value of their work, while cultivating an increased awareness of community investment as a valuable corporate activity.
SiMPACT is trying to pull off the impossible: convincing communities that corporations have their interests at heart, while getting businesses to understand that a heart can be good for the bottom line.
hen I worked in government, I became fascinated by how often business, government, and society sat down to discuss an issue that they all had in common, but how hard it was to get that discussion going and to make progress. My perception was that there weren’t enough people in the sectors that understood the other sectors’ languages, operating constraints, and decision-making procedures, and I wanted to be the kind of professional that could facilitate those conversations. Community investment is in its very early stages of being understood as a profession, as a business unit, and as an opportunity for a company to create value. In the UK in the mid-’90s, when the CSR agenda blew onto the horizon incorporating sustainability and human rights, CEOs around the world went: “Oh my goodness, we have been investing in the community for the last history of our company and all of the money that we’ve put into the community is not helping me deal with all of these new issues.” So the priority around community investment became significantly diminished. While some companies are ahead of the curve, most are only beginning to see the potential of community investment as a strategic tool.
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Stephanie Robertson, president of SiMPACT Strategy Group, founded her company in 2004. Having helped companies in the UK such as Shell, Vodafone, and Friends Provident better think through their CSR and community investment programs, Robertson wanted to bring her experience to bear in Canada. To this end, SiMPACT, which has eight people and offices in Calgary and Toronto, works with organizations to understand, value, maximize, and better communicate their social impact. Robertson also founded LBG (London Benchmarking Group) Canada in 2005, to provide a methodology for community investment professionals to better assess the value of their work for both their businesses and the communities they work with. To date, 43 companies are members of the LBG Canada initiative.
Photo: Toby Solak
By Stephanie Robertson | As told to Chris Allsop
By The Numbers
LBG Canada companies in 2012
Percent of CI budgets will increase in 2012
Percent of companies operating in the US and internationally
Corporate investment audited
I don’t believe there are a bunch of people in business actively trying to harm people or the planet, but I do believe that we need more business people that understand and consider the impact on people and the planet in the course of their daily work. While studying for my MBA at the London Business School, I became very interested in the whole capacity building and skill side of the corporate social responsibility, community investment, and social-impact agendas; that’s really where my work and interest has focused since 1999. Many companies say if I’m not going to make any money, then I’m not going to do this. And we try and flip it around: actually, you can create value for a business in many different ways by engaging in community issues. You can engage your employees, complete research, test your products, and talk to government differently. What we’re trying to do is support the community investment professional to help them structure their decision-making and the evidence of the results that flow from their decisions. From there, they can speak to value in the community and therefore link value in the community to value in their business. This is a very big part of what LBG Canada is all about. A couple of years ago, Petro Canada was going through the process of nationalizing all of its community investment programs. Petro Canada in Calgary has had this program called the Teddy Bear Toss for 15 years. When the advantagemagazine.ca
“You can create value for a business in many different ways by engaging in community issues. You can engage your employees, complete research, test your products, and talk to government differently.” —Stephanie Robertson, President
first goal is scored in the last hockey game before Christmas, teddy bears are thrown onto the ice, collected, and distributed to children in need across the city. The situation was that there is someone in somewhere like San Francisco trying to negotiate with someone in New York about why this Calgary Teddy Bear Toss should be saved rather than be put on the chopping block. Petro Canada Calgary used LBG Canada tools to lay out the objectives, metrics, and the value from the business perspective; also there was a huge employee engagement that was not well understood in the negotiations. After this program was clearly presented in one page, the head of the retail business—who was the key decision maker and
key hurdle—came back and asked them how do we make this a national program. What companies in the UK realized—and I think Canadian companies are realizing today—is that community investment involves a third party: the community. In 2007, when I returned to the UK, it was clear to me that British companies were looking at community investment as a flagship or a beacon with which to attract people to their corporate culture, so when they produced information about their environmental or social performance, it wouldn’t be to a sceptical audience. Instead, that audience is interested in your community investment programs—they believe that you are doing what you say you’re doing. _a advantage
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How RONA is keeping its franchises intact A five-step succession plan for maintaining market share
By Stephanie Vozza
elling hardware and home-improvement products, RONA has built great success over the years. The company is the top retailer in its industry and currently controls two-thirds of the market, with corporate and franchise stores across Canada. Four years ago, however, the company faced a dilemma: Some franchise owners— many with rural locations—were looking to retire but didn’t have an exit strategy. Instead of closing stores, executives at the corporate headquarters opened their toolboxes and got to work, creating a plan to help owners find successors and keep their equity. “A significant chunk of our business is distributing products to independent dealers and owners,” says Christian Proulx, senior vice president of people and culture. “It’s how our company started 72 years ago. It’s the soul of our business. When we saw our core of dealer owners getting older, we became concerned about what would be next. We decided to put together an initiative, take the pulse of youth and see if there were people interested in taking over.” Proulx says finding ambitious potential owners wasn’t difficult, but most lacked the funding to purchase a franchise. RONA executives talked to their bankers and created a $100 million succession fund, to help new owners get started. And then they set about creating a five-step succession plan.
Prescreen A lot of candidates raise their hands to buy business, but RONA is looking for qualified candidates—well-rounded individuals with entrepreneurial spirit. The first step is prescreening. Candidates must possess a number of important characteristics, says Francois Hardy, vice president of dealer network development. “We developed a competency model, looking at things like background, desires, an ability to manage a store and personnel, and relationship-building skills,” he says. “We assess these strengths before we look at their financial history.” “We also look at their view on risk,” says Proulx. “Corporate managers score very differently on their feeling about risk than an entrepreneur. If you can’t deal with risk, you will sleep very badly.”
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MEET RONA RONA is the largest Canadian distributor and retailer of hardware and home renovation and gardening products. The corporation operates a network of nearly 1,000 corporate, franchise, and affiliate stores under several banners, and a network of 17 hardware and construction materials distribution centres, which are flexible and perfectly adapted to the diverse needs of its clientele. Last year, the company had revenue of $4.7 billion.
Train RONA has created a training and mentorship program to prepare screened candidates. Each potential owner enters an incubation process, where they spend time with another owner to get a feel for what it will be like running store. Candidates also spend time at RONA’s headquarters in Boucherville, Québec, where they receive personal development and business education training. Courses at schools and universities round out the candidate’s knowledge.
Match Once candidates are trained, they are matched with potential opportunities. Store size, expertise, location, and money are all considerations, as is chemistry. “The seller must fall in love with the buyer,” says Hardy. “The sellers have owned and operated the business for 30 years. They must be sure it is in good hands for the next 30 years.”
“It’s always special to see a young man or woman pass through our process and become a successful entrepreneur.” —Christian Proulx, Senior VP of People & Culture
Sell Next, RONA helps with the transaction. Drawing upon its financial, accounting, and legal groups, support is available for the buyer and the seller. “We help the owners who built the company pass the torch,” says Hardy. “We offer a five-page checklist of elements to take into account. Everything from assessing assets to legal structure to finances.”
A message from great-west life
Support Finally, RONA offers new owners continued support, helping them with issues such as hiring, merchandising, marketing, and accounting. Proulx says the company’s team of experts is available to help its dealers. “We look at financials once a year, meet with teams each month and help them make the right decisions,” he says. “We follow our investment into the future and help them grow a successful business. The uniqueness of this program is that we literally pull from our corporate expertise to assist our franchisees. No other company does this.”
RONA is doing it right by committing to the well-being of its employees. RONA provides savings plans and educational resources from Great-West Life to help its employees reach their retirement goals. With this dedication to employees, RONA will attract and retain the right people. Great-West Life congratulates RONA on its success. Great-West Life has partnered with RONA for almost 10 years to deliver group retirement services that meet the needs of its unique group. A message from sun life financial
Sun Life Financial has been providing group benefits for RONA since 1994. To us, it’s not just ‘business’—we’ve built so much more than that over the past 18 years! RONA is incredibly invested in its people, and we work together to provide the best solutions to meet their group benefits needs. For us, the connection, respect, and understanding we share are something really special, and we look forward to continuing this relationship for many years to come!
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We believe in the rewards of employee health It is why we provide health benefits coverage to more than 3 million Canadian employees and their families, that’s 1 in 6 Canadians. And when illness or injury take employees off work we’re here to help, supporting employees during their return to work.
Your Group Is Like No Other. So Are Our Group Retirement Services.
We help employees stay healthy, with leading workplace wellness solutions that have brought health programs, fitness, nutrition and lifestyle changes to over 150,000 employees through some of Canada’s largest employers. And we make it easy with innovations such as web claims and a mobile app with instant processing. It all starts with our belief in the rewards of employee health and the ability to make it happen with innovative programs. Ask your Sun Life group benefits representative about how we can help your organization realize the rewards of healthier employees.
Retirement solutions that never stop working
Great-West Life, the key design and “Retirement solutions that never stop working” are trademarks of The Great-West Life Assurance Company.
Western region Dan Carpick 204-926-8331
Central region John Stevenson 416-359-3304
Eastern region Anthony Cardone 514-350-4664
Life’s brighter under the sun
GROUP BENEFITS | GROUP RETIREMENT SERVICES | INDIVIDUAL INSURANCE AND INVESTMENTS © Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, 2012.
Solutions Answers to some of the most pressing problems facing the corporate world
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Partner David Keith holds a meeting 100 advantage ja n / f e b / m a r 2013 in Ideacaâ€™s Calgary branch.
getting the numbers right When an accounting firm’s software solution isn’t quite right, it turns to Ideaca by julie knudson
hen an existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation wasn’t meeting the needs of accounting firm Soberman LLP, Ideaca was chosen as the technology consulting partner that could steer the Microsoft Dynamics AX project back onto the path to success. “The solution wasn’t meeting expectations,” says Ryan Vande Velde, business development manager at Ideaca. Soberman’s growth had been significant, but some of its systems were outdated, while others were “running on an unstable, heavily customized platform,” Vande Velde explains. The situation was becoming more cumbersome with every new customization, which made any change—whether they were aimed to improve efficiency or designed to leverage helpful innovations—very difficult to implement. The scenario that resulted was one that made it difficult for Soberman to gather important information in a timely manner, conduct in-depth data analyses, or develop meaningful budget forecasts. As Ideaca reviewed the challenges ahead, it knew that formulating just the right course would be critical for success. Instead of making assumptions about the client’s needs or available resources— assumptions that could ultimately exacerbate Soberman’s existing concerns—Ideaca conducted a thorough re-evaluation before presenting its recommendations for proceeding. “We came in and scoped the project from scratch,” “Soberman is now Vande Velde explains. This also allowed the company to able to operate discuss the client’s expectations early in the process, a step its business more it knew would be crucial to ensuring long-term satisfacefficiently. They’re tion. also better prepared Examining the status quo and finding a better way for future growth.” forward is an ability developed and honed through experi—Ryan Vande Velde ence, something Ideaca has in spades. “We work with financial-services and other professional-service firms a lot,” Vande Velde says. The team targets the oil-and-gas industry, along with a range of other verticals, giving it a wide perspective when it comes to finding just the right solution. “In addition to ERP, we also have expertise in
solution An ERP implementation that’s scaled to fit
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A team gathering in Ideaca’s boardroom.
business intelligence, custom development, customer relationship management, portals and collaboration, and cloud solutions,” Vande Velde says. “We’re full service.” Ideaca used its experience to identify not only Soberman’s needs, but also the existing resources and issues, such as business processes, organizational schemes, and technology infrastructure, among others, that had the potential to affect the project’s outcome. Once the Ideaca team had looked at Soberman’s situation with fresh eyes, it was time to outline what should happen next. “We recommended a road map that would get them where they wanted to be,” Vande Velde says. Soberman agreed the plan was solid, and gave Ideaca the go-ahead to proceed. But jumping in with both feet wasn’t the right approach. “We started by limiting the focus to time entry and billing,” Vande Velde explains. These areas were chosen as the launch pad, since Ideaca’s experience told them they would offer Soberman the highest early return on their investment of time, money, and effort. 102
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The Dynamics AX solution implemented by Ideaca allowed Soberman to realize a number of benefits, from the ability to better monitor profitability to improved reporting of revenue and expenses. “Soberman is now able to operate its business more efficiently,” Vande Velde says. “They’re also better prepared for future growth.” In addition, Soberman has derived measurable time-savings from the automation of time entry and related reporting. By following this pattern of putting carefully selected, fully functional solutions in place, Ideaca enables clients to reap greater rewards and better realize their strategic and operational goals. With an approach that focuses on key business benefits, Ideaca is able to help clients maximize their efficiencies and ensure project success. In the case of Soberman, access to information is faster and profitability is improved. They were also able to turn around a poorly performing technology solution into a critical component of a highly functional infrastructure. “The results were significant enough to
Ideaca By the Numbers 254 employees 6 offices $45 million in annual revenue 400 average annual projects $150,000 average project cost restore the client’s faith in the Dynamics AX solution,” Vande Velde says. Ideaca’s expertise was instrumental in putting the project back on track. “We are a Microsoft Canada and a Microsoft USA partner, and we implement a variety of their solutions,” Vande Velde says. It’s the same tremendous knowledge base it offers to every client, on every project. _a advantagemagazine.ca
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Proud Partners with Marie-Hélène Savard and LOEM
Photo: Michel Gingras
solution Keeping staff happy while enhancing customer service
Founder and president Marie-Helene Savard started LOEM Consultation with just one employee: herself.
satisfaction guaranteed LOEM Consultation has found treating employees to bonus workplace benefits provides a big customer-service payoff by erin brereton
ontact-centre service provider LOEM Consultation Inc.’s business model is built on satisfying client needs—a process, according to founder and president Marie-Helene Savard, that starts with employee satisfaction. When Québec-based LOEM opened its doors in 2007, Savard had only one employee to please—herself— and one product to sell: contact-centre consulting assistance. Today, the company, which began also selling workforce management and quality management systems from software company Calabrio in 2008, provides contact-centre services to the retail, banking, government, insurance, and auto industries in Canada, the United States, and Europe. 104
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“Staff is the key to success. LOEM is a service company; when your customers are happy, everybody is happy.” —Marie-Helene Savard
LOEM now also sells CallCopy and offers a variety of other services related to implementing call-centre products, including deployment help, one of LOEM’s most popular offerings; project-management assistance, to help run call centres; training on call-centre software and systems; and technical and functional support. In the past five years, LOEM’s staff has also grown to 10—and almost all employees have remained with the company since being hired. Savard is currently in the process of hiring two additional workers. “Staff is the key to success,” she says. “LOEM is a service company; when your advantagemagazine.ca
customers are happy, everybody is happy.” To make sure employees feel valued, LOEM provides comfortable work spaces in its spacious, 3,300-square-foot office, which has expanded since the company first opened with a 1,200-square-foot space; by 2013, LOEM plans to have 4,000 square feet. Complimentary coffee and breakfast are also offered every morning. Workplace perks are nice, but Savard knows free bagels will only go so far. To encourage employee performance and retention, LOEM also tries to offer in-house advancement opportunities and foster a fun work atmosphere. Additional programs, such as bringing in a personal trainer once a week to offer a mind-body health break, have also helped boost employee satisfaction—which, in turn, helps LOEM’s staff supply comprehensive, cheerful customer service. Clients often approach the company with specific challenges, such as maximizing a call centre’s call flow or standardizing the information that is communicated to customers. However, LOEM also can offer advice on setting up a customer-service call centre or other operational aspects based on its experience working with the insurance and retail industries, as well as other clients on more than 30 contact-centre consulting jobs in the past three years alone. “Whether it’s for a comprehensive consultation, reviewing operational strategy, improving the use of systems and software for advanced courses, or to be guided through the process of purchasing software for workforce or quality management, our expertise gives customers the best solution to their business objectives,” Savard says. If the task involves LOEM-assisted project management help or implementing products from another company and training a client’s staff to use them, LOEM works to deliver a streamlined, hassle-free client experience. “When I decided to sell workforce- and quality-management systems, every partnership we signed, we made sure my employees were certified and that the customer only had one point of contact,” Savard says. To determine a client’s needs, Savard first holds a quick meeting to discuss the advantagemagazine.ca
DOs and DON’Ts LOEM founder and president Marie-Helene Savard offers advice for operating and growing a business
DO • Always listen to our employees; they are your key to success. • Keep employees informed, and they will always follow you. • Listen to your customers. • Always keep client relationships strong. • Put each staff member in the correct role. Since the beginning, I’ve worked to make sure my employees are at the right place. DON’T • Just dream of doing something; do it. • Change if you have success—stay who you are. • Sell just for the sake of selling. Sell if you think that you can meet your customer’s needs (if you want to keep the customer).
issue, then performs a two-day audit on-site and suggests potential solutions, paired with an estimation of what ROI the organization can expect. LOEM’s cheerful staff then helps execute the plan, walking customers through all the necessary implementation steps and following up with technical and functional support for different languages, time zones, and applications. “We can do everything when a company is looking for contact-centre expertise,” Savard says. “We stay with the client from the beginning to the end.” Even LOEM’s marketing plan was created with customers in mind. According to Savard, contact centres often reach out to LOEM because they’re familiar with it or have been referred by someone else. However, the company also attends two trade shows annually, and Savard publicizes
the company through more than three call-centre practice-based speaking engagements a year and by writing quarterly journal articles. Yet, Savard says, her journal articles are composed to provide clients with best-practice business advice—not just to promote LOEM’s work. “[I don’t write the articles] to market my company—but as a consultant who wants to help customers get ROI,” she says. Given LOEM’s growth—revenue increased by 14 percent in 2011 alone—it seems the company’s dedication to customer service and maintaining employee enthusiasm is paying off. “Our employees know that customers are the reason we are where we are now,” Savard says. “The employees do a great job, so we have a good time—and a good environment.” _a advantage
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solution Simplifying HR practices for companies across the board
Kathy Tuitt, president and CEO, originally trained as a chartered accountant before launching HRWARE.
H.R. made easy How HRWARE’s software solutions help manage employees for companies of all sizes by kristina anderson
s advertising legend Fairfax Cone of Foote Cone & Belding once said, “The inventory goes down the elevator every night.” To whit: a company’s most valuable assets are its employees. That’s exactly the philosophy embraced by HRWARE, a Brampton, Ontario-based company that creates and operates what it calls “human capital management” software solutions for small to midsize companies. “Our systems provide for the entire life cycle of the employee—from hire to termination,” says Kathy Tuitt, president and CEO of HRWARE. “Our systems cover everything you need to manage employees, from job posting, recruitment, interviewing, payroll and benefits, training, absences, performance reviews, and compensation planning.” 106
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“It’s so important to have good people work for you, treat them well, value them, and reward them.” –Kathy Tuitt
Tuitt, who founded the company in 1994 with two partners, says that the software is designed to address the oftencomplicated and complex needs of humanresource management and is designed and implemented as a “best practices” solution for companies across all industries. It can manage pay scales and benefits in such complex industries as health care or energy and mining, in which multiple unions, agreements, and various rates of pay are present. “For example, a staff nurse might work one shift at one rate of pay and then pull a night shift that requires different qualifications or skills at another rate of pay,” Tuitt says. “That’s where it could start getting really complicated for the customer.” They can also coordinate a number of benefits plans, allowing the employee to enroll and choose their plan online. “Many companies offer a selection of carriers,” says Tuitt. “They might have a couple for health and dental and a different carrier for life advantagemagazine.ca
insurance, so we allow them to unify across plans. It’s a huge time saver for our customers.” But benefits and payroll are only part of the picture. HRWARE’s detailed analytics and HR reports, as Tuitt states succinctly, “provide the proper data to the proper people at the proper time.” The tools allow executives and managers to retain, reward, and motivate employees to achieve their business objectives. Recruitment is a costly endeavour. So if an executive can receive timely, accessible data to understand why his or her turnover rate is so high, for example, the information can allow them to be proactive rather than reactive, saving tons of time and money over the long run. “Talent management is also key,” Tuitt says. “I think any company can appreciate the need to properly compensate and reward its top performers.” She explains that by using HRWARE’s software, executives can access and review this data instantly. They can even put succession plans in place so that people with specialized training or skills can be recruited and replaced before they retire. And although most clients buy the standard package, Tuitt says it can be customized to meet specific needs after a detailed requirement analysis is performed. Clients receive their services in one of three ways: as a licensed, on-site solution; a SAAS (software as a service), which provides service for a monthly fee; or as a hosted, licensed solution (also known as working in the cloud.) Tuitt says that because the data is highly confidential, HRWARE must maintain the strictest levels of security. After years working in the industry, Tuitt, who originally trained as a chartered accountant, along with her partner’s husband, Alfred Tuitt (VP of marketing), and Tony Couto (CIO), decided they would strike out on their own, founding the company after much research. Today, they employ about 25 people and target customers that have between 500 and 5,000 employees. Historically focusing on Canada but with customer installations all over the world, HRWARE offers the local advantage. Tuitt says that clients appreciate their Canadian presence and the familiarity with the local markets, industries, and legislation. Almost ready for launch is its new employee management solution called Aperio HR, designed to be scalable for any-size organizations. “We really enjoy what we do,” Tuitt says. “I think the secret to our success is that we have good people who go the extra mile.” advantagemagazine.ca
Valuing their own employees, of course, comes naturally to HRWARE, which treats the entire company to a weekend at Niagara Falls if they meet their goals. “We work hard and yet we’re just like a family here,” says Tuitt. “I think it shows.” _a
HRWARE By the Numbers
175,000 Number of employees managed in its systems
8 Countries where the software is used
Years in business
Number of employees
Number of times the company has won the Microsoft Great Plains HR/Payroll Partner of the Year Award
At Allain, Isabella & McLean LLP, our clients receive more than the mere reporting of numbers. In addition to providing exceptional service in accounting, tax preparation and financial planning, our licensed public accountants bring understanding, commitment, and expertise to our clients’ financial and operational decision-making. Every member of our team is committed to ensuring that our clients receive exceptional service with our personal touch.
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Magna International is one of the most diversified automotive suppliers in the world, designing, developing, and manufacturing automotive systems on a global scale.
solution Cleaning up unwanted and unnecessary data
Mike Biancaniello, senior manager of records and information management.
from piles to essential files Magna implements order with a newer, better framework for data storage within the automotive industry by erin brereton
ike Biancaniello, BASc, P.Eng, Magna International Inc.’s senior manager of records and information management, works in the legal department, putting years of knowledge and experience in IT and engineering to use in driving the implementation of a comprehensive new records and information policy facilitated by new software. Like many organizations, Magna International, a leading global automotive supplier, has amassed a significant amount of data over time—including email messages, business records, and other electronic documents—and more data accumulates daily in everincreasing quantities. Due to the crucial importance of being able to retrieve documents and other information when needed, this growth cannot continue unchecked.
“If you eliminate waste and clutter, and make information better organized and easier to find for those who are authorized to access it—that’s where companies can gain efficiencies.” –Mike Biancaniello
“This is about making sure people have what they need to do their jobs, when they need it,” Biancaniello says. “It is particularly important for large, multinational organizations for which legal and regulatory actions are a part of life. Sifting through mountains of irrelevant information is very time consuming and costly.” Filing documents more efficiently can help companies protect themselves and lower overall risk, according to Biancaniello. “If legal compliance weren’t an issue, the old philosophy of just going and buying more storage space might have continued, but that would still be inefficient,” he says. “There are studies that suggest people spend close to eight hours a week searching for information,” Biancaniello says. “If you eliminate waste and clutter, and make information better organized and easier to find for those who are authorized to access it—that’s where companies can gain efficiencies. You hear people complaining that they are drowning in information but, at the same time, unnecessarily saving multiple versions— and even duplicate copies—of documents. If we want people to change that behaviour, we have to make sure they can find the official copy easily. We are also particularly asking people to make decisions and categorize information according to its importance to the company. Anything uncategorized will be treated as transient and automatically deleted after a certain period of time.” In a continuing effort to increase efficiencies and remain an industry leader, advantage
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Magna engineers and assembles complete vehicles, primarily for original equipment manufacturers of cars and light trucks on five continents.
Magna therefore revised its comprehensive records- and information-management policy. However, implementing a new records-management strategy for a company of 115,000 employees using several different, competing application platforms wasn’t an easy task. According to Biancaniello, it took years of groundwork, like any other successful endeavour, starting from a foundation of a workable records retention schedule tailored to the organization’s needs and then identifying a logical method of rolling it out and putting it into practice. “We combined the expertise of our manufacturing operations’ embedded physical records programs, our IT organization’s skill in providing cost-effective information platforms, and our legal department’s knowledge of our compliance requirements,” Biancaniello says. Changing employees’ perceptions has proved to be a particularly challenging aspect of the project. “Right now, in many areas, there’s a ‘save everything because I might need it someday’ mentality,” Biancaniello says. “We’re trying to get everyone to save only what’s important, and help them understand that it’s okay to get rid of the rest as soon as it is no longer needed.” 110
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Due to the size of the organization, Magna recognized that any implementation would need to be done on an incremental basis in logical stages. “We figured we need to make significant changes in the organization in how information is perceived and dealt with, so let’s start with an application that everyone uses: e-mail,” Biancaniello says. The new system involves what Biancaniello calls a modified three-zone approach that will initially be applied prospectively to new, incoming e-mails. Going back and dealing with old e-mails will be postponed until after users become comfortable with the system. “We didn’t want to create a panic with this initiative,” he says. Users are given one area to keep information they feel is important, another where business records are kept for a predetermined time period, and an area for e-mail of little or no business value that’s deleted by the user or automatically after a short time. Employees decide which messages stay and which ones go. “The employee is the expert in his or her field and knows best what to save for company records and what could or should be deleted,” Biancaniello says.
The company hopes to make significant progress over the next five years, but Biancaniello cautions that this initiative will never be fully completed. “It’s a continuous improvement project,” he says. “We need to constantly find ways to make things better.” _a
Making it Work To implement its new records- and information-management policy, Magna International had to get employees to understand its importance. To stress the benefits and to encourage managers to buy into the plan, legal department representatives met with the presidents of the operating groups to garner operational support, and Magna CEO Don Walker spearheaded discussions with employees about the new policy’s importance. “Changing people’s attitudes and behaviour is never easy,” says senior manager of records and information management Mike Biancaniello. “Really, what’s making this work is having legal, IT, and executive management all working together.” advantagemagazine.ca
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solution Automated technology keeps trucks filled and freight moving
Cofounder and president Greg Adourian (left) and cofounder and vice president Loarn Metzen.
Full of freight 123Loadboard.com uses innovative Internet tools and fresh ideas to keep trucks filled and rolling by ashley t. kjos
deas and inspiration can come in myriad forms. In the case of 123Loadboard.com, a leading freight-matching website, inspiration came from observation. In 2004, Loarn Metzen pulled into a truck stop on his way to Toronto and overheard a number of truck drivers complaining about the current state of affairs within their industry—frustrations over logistics and waiting around for brokers to call and let them know where to pick up their next load. Around this time, the capabilities and implications of the Internet were growing quickly, and Metzen knew there must be a better way. “I thought, ‘Instead of waiting for loads, members of the trucking industry should be able to locate available shipments using the Internet and automated systems that allow them to be proactive,’” says Metzen, vice
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“It’s not easy being a trucker. Any kind of efficiency that is introduced to their business and their lives is a great help to them, and that’s where we come in.” –Loarn Metzen
president and cofounder of the company. After partnering with IT expert Greg Adourian and looking at the current market place for such a product, the duo saw that there were competitors, but they knew they could deliver something better. Since that time, 123Loadboard has grown in size and capability to become one of the leading websites of its kind in North America, with a focus on usability, customer service, and the continued development of new, state-of-theart tools, all while keeping their costs lower than the competition. A truck rolling without a load has been an ongoing and wasteful issue for the trucking industry since its beginning, and brokers and advantagemagazine.ca
freight-matching services have made attempts to mitigate the problem over the years. With the advent of new technologies like the Internet and, more recently, smartphones and tablets, 123Loadboard is on the leading edge of a revolution in freight matching that is helping the industry overcome the challenge of empty trucks and unnecessarily adding to the industry’s carbon footprint, also improving productivity and profitability. For 123Loadboard, 2008 was a turning point. “We didn’t feel the effects when the economy began to fall off; we saw growth,” Metzen says. “A lot of people who lost their jobs sought out the trucking industry for employment, and it forced us to offer a multitude of new tools, free of cost. We launched our website with a revamped brand. Since that point, our major competitors have followed us as opposed to us following them. It’s something we’re very proud of.” Another source of pride, and also marketability, is the low costs and member fees at 123Loadboard. “The key to keeping prices down is to have a very lean infrastructure, in regards to both staff and technology,” says Adourian, president and cofounder of the company. “We work very hard to keep our IT structure solid while at the same time very simple to maintain.” The result is a service with lower prices than that of any similar site you can find on the Internet. At the core of the business is customer service and innovation. 123Loadboard.com allows members of the trucking industry to set up their own search parameters, and the website’s load alerting tool will send out an e-mail notification to members when there’s a direct match. These alerts can be received without having to sign in. The site’s sophisticated tools take into account factors such as credit, compliance issues, routing, and trailer type. Usability and service have always been a hallmark of the company as well. “In the early roots of the load-board industry, professional truck drivers weren’t accustomed to using freight-matching websites,” says AJ Sansoye, operations manager at 123Loadboard. “We developed help tutorials, videos, and live online advantagemagazine.ca
chats to improve and quicken the learning curve.” 123Loadboard is a young company, and it puts effort into maintaining a youthful mind-set and an energetic personality. This mentality can be seen by the company’s savvy use of search engines, like Google, and social-media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. “We are able to get many additional leads that require minimal effort on our part to approach, and no marketing dollars,” Metzen says. Another instance of the company’s lively and spirited mentality is its focus on physical fitness. The company organizes physical activities for the employees every hour, including push-ups, sit-ups, and cardio, when
possible. Employees are also training for the Tough Mudder Competition in August, an intense run and obstacle-course event popular among members of the Armed Forces. Looking forward, the company wants to grow and maintain its leadership role in a business that focuses on a vital industry and helps to improve the lives of the people who make that industry run. “It’s not easy being a trucker: it’s hard enough to make a living, there are a lot of expenses, and it’s a demanding job that can take a toll on their families,” Adourian explains. “With all that, any kind of efficiency that is introduced to their business and their lives is a great help to them, and that’s where we come in.” _a
123Loadboard.com By the Numbers
175,000 Total registered companies on 123Loadboard.com since 2004
Total number of truckloads posted in 2011
100,000 Loads posted daily
Page results on Google
Total number of truckloads posted in 2008
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solution A successful asset strategy propels growth
Lorraine Moore, director of asset management and strategy, played a key role in several of TransCanada’s vital acquisitions.
a winning formula By carefully managing assets geared toward growth, Lorraine Moore is helping to build a bright future for energy giant TransCanada by mark pechenik
n striking the right balance between long-term growth and short-term profitability, Lorraine Moore contributes to a sustainable future for Canadian energy infrastructure giant TransCanada. Soon after joining TransCanada in 2007, Moore witnessed dramatic changes within the energy industry. Availability of shale gas, increasing regulatory pressures, and stakeholder scrutiny are altering the industry. At the same time, TransCanada’s expertise in project management and operations has propelled it into the top ranks of energy providers, furthering company expansion into oil and renewable energies. TransCanada’s portfolio includes natural gas, hydro, nuclear, wind, and solar, generating 10,900 megawatts of power annually. With this success is emphasis on effectively managing assets—a responsibility in Moore’s current role as director of asset management and strategy. “A primary goal is to develop and refresh our operational strategic plan for the next 5–10 years,” she says. “By doing 114
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“TransCanada is well prepared and has a solid track record of having weathered earlier financial crises with integrity.” –Lorraine Moore
this, we enable TransCanada to provide the required marketplace services while anticipating and responding to industry changes.” Key to this strategic manifesto is asset governance. In short, Moore strives to help TransCanada’s leaders make the right decisions in meeting opportunities and challenges. She assists TransCanada’s corporate leaders in responsibly capitalizing on increasing energy demand, so—in addition to building new assets—they are also utilizing strategic partnerships and/or making acquisitions. She cites a recent partnership with Shell and its LNG Canada partners to build and operate a potential natural-gas line from the Dawson Creek area to a proposed liquefaction plant near Canada’s West Coast. She also played a key role in the acquisition of ANR Pipelines and the purchase of the advantagemagazine.ca
Digital Signage Advertising at Fort McMurray Airport.
Ravenswood gas-fired plant in New York. “Each enabled us to expand our capabilities in order to better serve our markets,” Moore says. They also helped manifest a stronger presence in new markets, such as TransCanada’s 2011 construction of an Arizona peak power facility. Moore is also directing resources toward less traditional projects. In particular, preservation of TransCanada’s institutional memory. “Recently, I was fortunate to speak with a plant employee nearing retirement,” Moore says. “With his departure, we would be losing some 50 years of life experience in the field.” This facility also contained written logbooks dating back to the 1930s, detailing important engineering specifications. “We’ve estimated that, based on demographics, we could lose as much as 30 percent of our staff over the next three to five years—and that loss of knowledge is something we can’t easily afford,” Moore says. In response, Moore has had conversations with a high-end tech provider, exploring how other organizations and industries have pre-
served precious data. This effort could include video interviews with veteran technicians and engineers, electronic scanning of paper records, and similar initiatives to retain formal and informal information. “We can learn much from a plant employee’s actions, which, using his own judgment and experience, effectively dealt with those once-in-a-century situations—something not typically found in a training manual,” says Moore. As to the future, TransCanada is well equipped to deal with other types of storms. “Like other large organizations, we’re keeping a sharp eye on world conditions,” Moore says. “The economic crisis in Europe, or a slowing in China’s economy, for example, could affect many around the globe, impacting borrowing costs to construction plans.” But, as Moore notes, “TransCanada is well prepared and has a solid track record of having weathered earlier financial crises with integrity. We are strong enough to withstand global uncertainties and move forward on plans for continued growth.” _a
The link to your Business
Snow White Productions and ABdsAdvertising are proud Business Associates of A.P.E.-Maintenance.
Congrats, Melanie, on being featured in Advantage Magazine!
The Road Ahead “TransCanada is on a growth path to continually pursue opportunities while maintaining safe, highquality, and efficient operations. Many North Americans rely on us in their day-to-day lives. TransCanada employees are engaged and committed to meeting these needs.” —Lorraine Moore advantagemagazine.ca
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solution Ensuring quality service by keeping in constant contact with customers
A.P.E. Maintenance has withstood the economic downturn, thanks to the prowess of founders Melanie (above) and Lloyd Antoine.
keeping it steady Strategic growth and patience have laid the groundwork for A.P.E. Maintenance’s success, even in tough times by annie monjar
hen husband-and-wife business partners Melanie and Lloyd Antoine launched A.P.E. Maintenance Ltd. in 2008, they immediately met with less-thanwelcoming market conditions. The economy, which was tanking all over the country, was pummelling commerce in rural areas like Fort McMurray, Alberta, where the two had lived for 15 years and were trying to put down business roots. Even though they only operated A.P.E. Maintenance on a part-time basis, Melanie remembers how tough it was to stay positive. Lloyd already worked in the millwright field, and the two wanted to bring the service to their region, where they saw a clear need for such services. “As a new start-up business, we couldn’t land anything in terms of contracts,” she says. “We rode it out for the next two years, and as easy as most people said it
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“A.P.E. Maintenance does not reject any type of feedback, whether it be good or bad. We take all the feedback that we receive and turn it into a positive, to improve our services or systems for our clients.” –Melanie Antoine
was going to be, it wasn’t. The most difficult time we had was getting clients to believe in us and give us that first opportunity to prove ourselves within the industrial sector.” As a Millwright service, A.P.E. supplies industrial mechanical work for their clients— equipment maintenance, repair, scheduled shutdowns, and pump alignments, all performed on-site. The company’s specialty, Melanie says, is pump maintenance for tailing pumps and SADG systems, which are frequently used in the industrial sector. After two years of patience, A.P.E. finally landed its first contract with ConocoPhillips Canada. “When we did get that first client to give us a first chance, we were determined not to let them down,” Melanie recalls. “Small companies such as ourselves need that first commitment from clients, that first chance to prove themselves. It’s the most important part of starting a successful business—and if you can maintain that quality in your business, you can succeed.” The company’s partnership with ConocoPhillips Canada, which it had advantagemagazine.ca
100% Aboriginal Owned
Community Commitment Growing up as an aboriginal woman in northern Alberta, Melanie Antoine has always wanted to stay connected to that community. So when she founded A.P.E. Maintenance in 2008, joining the North-Eastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association was a natural next step. She knew firsthand the benefits that the NAABA had for its members, and the difference it made in the aboriginal business community. Soon, she became active, eventually becoming the association’s director, and chairing committees like the Industry and Development Committee, which works to promote and strengthen the business relationships between the NAABA’s various members.
Millwright Service: - Pumps - Alignments - Mechanical Seals - On-Site Field Maintenance - Piping and Valves - Pneumatics & Tool Repair - Assortment of Lube Skids Slurry/Water Pumps Expediting Service: - Light/Medium Transport
waited so long for, proved to be a crucial launching pad for A.P.E. What had started as a part-time service, made up of just the Antoines, grew quickly to a stable company that now employs between five and eight full-time employees. Over the next three years, the company would like to be employing 15 full-time employees. Melanie credits A.P.E.’s success and loyal client base with its ability to seek solutions on a constant schedule, monitoring its own quality with obsessive diligence. It checks in with its clients regularly to make sure operations are still running smoothly, and to see what can be done to improve service. “We monitor our quality by constantly staying in contact with our clients to give them a chance to provide feedback, which in turn improves us as a whole,” Melanie explains. “A.P.E. Maintenance does not reject any type of feedback, whether it be good or bad. We take all the feedback we receive and turn it into a positive, to improve our services and systems for the clients.” advantagemagazine.ca
When A.P.E. found, for instance, that the time it took for third parties to transport A.P.E’s equipment to clients was holding up its service speed, it developed an entirely new expediting branch as a compliment to its millwright work. The freight service enabled the company to take on more projects in the winter months, clearing the way for cargo trips to Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, where both Melanie and Lloyd grew up. Their ability to develop creative solutions for smoother business functions keeps the Antoines confident that A.P.E. can reach its five-year goals. In addition to obtaining more employees, they’d like to take on aboriginal apprenticeships in the region, further bolstering their commitment to the aboriginal community. They’d also like to obtain ISO certification, and build a shop to base their work out of. Diligence, Melanie says, will continue to be A.P.E.’s key business strategy. “We plan to attain these goals through hard work and consistency, and continue to prove that we are capable of maintaining quality workmanship.” _a
- Various size trailers and knuckle boom available. - Ice Road Insured - Cargo Insured - Hot Shot Service
Serving the Regional Municipality of Fort McMurray, Alberta
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Founder and president Daniela Hassman’s focus on personal attention helps set SmartPoint apart.
know thy market SmartPoint Research gives clients insight into what customers really want by julie knudson
hen a company needs to know what its target audience thinks—what consumers are willing to pay for products or services, which packaging entices buyers, or even which name most resonates with customers—it’s time to contact the experts at SmartPoint Research Inc. Its team knows how to develop marketingresearch studies and find the perfect participants for focus groups. The company, explains founder and president Daniela Hassman, solves problems for two types of clients. “One set is marketing-research companies, and the other is what we call end clients—those who are selling products or services to consumers and businesses,” she says. When supporting marketing-research companies, Hassman says her team functions mainly as an extension of its clients’ existing capabilities. “They commission us for individual portions of studies,” she says. Because these companies have internal resources that are already geared toward specific aspects of the marketing-research process, the services provided by Hassman typically revolve around recruiting 118
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“One client, a beverage company, increased their sales by two million dollars, and the only change they made was to optimize their pricing as per the study we did for them.” –Daniela Hassman
Photo: Jennifer Hardt
Marketing research with a personal touch
marketing-research participants from Vancouver and other cities. “Our marketing-research clients usually design their own screeners and that kind of thing,” Hassman says. End clients, on the other hand, are usually looking for a wider range of services. “One of the things we do, for example, is conduct pricing studies,” Hassman says. “That’s where clients just don’t know what the optimum price is for their product.” To determine what type of person would be most helpful in a given focus group, Hassman’s team sits down with the client to find out exactly what information they’re looking for. Once the client’s research objectives have been clearly outlined, SmartPoint Research designs the research study and determines whether it will be a quantitative or qualitative study, depending on the research objectives. For focus groups (qualitative), a screener is developed to identify suitable study participants. For quantitative research, respondent specifications are outlined. Finding the right people—and enough of them—is crucial to gathering good data. “For a quantitative study, it needs to be an adequate sample size that’s statistically significant for that particular target market,” Hassman explains. Questionnaires are then advantagemagazine.ca
DOs and DON’Ts Daniela Hassman’s tips for successful focus-group recruitment
DO • Design screeners to be simple and short, with inclusive and exclusive criteria. This allows you to find appropriate participants. • Offer incentives appropriate to the market. Figure about $65–100 per two-hour focus group, with professionals earning a little bit more. • Keep looking until you find enough quality participants. Reducing criteria or participant numbers will result in an ineffective study. DON’T • Ask for referrals. People in the focus group shouldn’t know each other; otherwise it ruins the dynamics of the group. • Look for people who don’t exist. Impossible searches are counterproductive. Instead of searching for the “ideal” person, keep criteria realistic.
developed, which will capture feedback from the study participants. These questionnaires can be loaded into one of several flavours of online survey software used by Hassman’s team, or incorporated into a discussion guide and asked by an experienced moderator, such as Hassman, in face-to-face focus group sessions. The data from these completed surveys and focus groups are highly valuable, but only if they can be translated into understandable pieces of information. “After the participants answer the survey, our analysis team then cleans up the data,” Hassman says. From there, SmartPoint Research produces detailed reports that include graphs and key findings for the client. Hassman gives an example of the benefits of a well-managed study. “One client, a beverage company, increased their sales by two million dollars,” she says, “and the only change they made was to optimize their pricing as per the study we did for them.” Studies can focus on one or more issues, such as pricing, packaging, or branding. Wondering what to name your new gizmo? “We can conduct focus groups to find out exactly what advantagemagazine.ca
name would be most appealing to a product’s target market,” Hassman says. One past project focused on the Vancouver real-estate market, which has recently softened. Several real-estate development companies worked with SmartPoint Research to determine what today’s buyers want. “The market is unpredictable right now, so they wanted to find out what their target market is looking for, what type of branding and design elements would resonate with them, and which price points would be optimal,” Hassman explains. Whether a client needs qualitative studies, which often leverage focus groups, or quantitative research, where online surveys are popular, SmartPoint Research is able to craft the right solution through experienced and attention to detail. “Instead of using call centres, our coordinators handle recruiting study participants, as well as liaising with clients,” Hassman says. It isn’t how most other research companies do it, but Hassman says a focus on personal attention sets SmartPoint Research apart. “It’s how we minimize errors and improve the value of the results for our clients.” _a
SmartPoint Research provides high quality marketing research services. Via the use of qualitative and quantitative primary research techniques, we help clients optimize pricing, packaging and branding.
Our custom marketing research capabilities include: Focus Groups Online Surveys Creative Assessments Usage and Attitude Studies
To ﬁnd out more about our services visit our website: smartpointresearch.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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solution A one-stop shop for network management, security, data storage, and more
From left: Shaun Sturby, technical services manager; Bording Ostergaard, managing partner; Blair Zingle, CEO; and Scott Young, COO.
one-stop shop Optrics Engineering marries diverse staff expertise with supreme client care for the ultimate in computer networking services by christopher cussat
ptrics Engineering became a highly diversified, network-specific, software- and hardware-solutions specialist as a result of a highly diversified history of company evolution. The firm initially started as FundSoft Information Systems, providing investors with Canadian mutual-fund data and MetaStock Technical Analysis software (which continues today as an Optrics business subunit). During that time, former president and CEO Bording Ostergaard and his strong, technically fluent staff were able to advise and assist clients with any technical problems they were experiencing from their computers or networks. Clients also started asking to buy software through FundSoft, as well as for help getting their businesses online. After an ongoing and continually expanding series of similar requests, Optrics was born.
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“We’re committed to our customers and always answer the phone with a live person—our goal is to create satisfied customers and not just sales.” –Scott Young
Today, Optrics is very much an online business with clients throughout North America. “When the phone rings, you never know who it’s going to be—it could be a school down the street, a Fortune 500 company in the US, or a purchaser sitting on an aircraft carrier in the middle of the South Pacific!” says Scott Young, COO and partner. Ultimately, the company helps clients solve networking problems—whether they involve monitoring, security, or storage. “We also own and operate CudaMail, which is a popular spam-filtering service geared towards small and medium-sized organizations,” Young adds. As far as advantages, Young believes that the company’s web-savvy and online presence are just a few of its many competitive keys. “We’re easy to find online, and we have a suite of solution-specific sites, such as CudaMail.com, NetworkStorageSolutions. com, FirewallShop.com, and Load BalancerSolutions.com.” He also notes that Optrics has a well-seasoned in-house advantagemagazine.ca
DOs and DON’Ts Optrics’s insight into the engineering industry
DO • Listen to your clients, and find the right solution the first time. • Keep learning about the IT industry because it is constantly changing. • Meet with clients and partners face-to-face whenever pos sible. It will make for a stronger relationship in the long run. DON’T
power to control your network
• Promise overnight shipping to a Canadian client when shipping something up from the US—you never know what will happen with customs. •
Let your clients flounder on their own when evaluating a new solution. Giving them an initial walk-through and answering any questions they might have may make the difference between a happy client and a successful evaluation—or not.
staff that has 20-plus years of networking experience. “They can efficiently understand our clients’ problems by using online meeting tools, such as GoToMeeting, and recommend an appropriate and cost-effective solution,” he explains. “Of course, we also do go on-site for local clients.” In addition, Young says that Optrics is a licensed engineering firm, so clients know that it is held to a higher professional code of ethics. “This also makes us an easy and reliable company to work with,” he adds. Young goes on to explain how specializing in network-specific software and hardware, as well as network management and monitoring, security, and data storage, can provide solutions for his company’s industry. “Much of what we sell is complimentary, so whether it is professional services or turnkey solutions, we can definitely help clients with whatever problem they’re trying to solve,” he says, adding that Optrics also has excellent relationships with its vendor partners and other organizations in the advantagemagazine.ca
industry. “So if we can’t help you, we can certainly find someone who can. We like to view ourselves as a one-stop shop.” Optrics’s short-term goal is to grow its sales team, as well as its products and services offerings, so that the firm can leverage its long-term growth through the $10 million annual sales mark. But Young explains that Optrics’s biggest challenge for the future is finding strong salespeople, especially those with experience selling IT solutions. Like many small businesses, Optrics has experienced its fair share of trials and tribulations, but Young says the key to his company’s longevity and success is all about how clients are treated and the people who work there. “We’re committed to our customers and always answer the phone with a live person—our goal is to create satisfied customers and not just sales,” he says. “It boils down to having a solid team of people with a variety of experience and expertise (as well as personalities) that always help keep the ship upright and moving forward.” _a
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Photos: Matthew Sims
Providing unparalleled connectivity to millions
Chris Piche, CEO of Eyeball, got his start by developing a video-chat app.
the connectors Eyeball Networks connects millions of subscribers with patented technologies
or better of for worse, technology affords us the benefit of living in a world of instant gratification: You want it now? There’s an app for that. But before those possibilities become realities, it takes a team of engineers, device manufacturers, and developers to not only create the technology to meet the ever-changing needs of the customer, but to be one step ahead of the game and predict those needs, says Chris Piche, CEO of West Vancouver-based Eyeball Networks Inc., a software company that builds VoIP, video chat and IP messaging software for infrastructure applications. The company sells solutions to service providers such as telecommunications and cable companies, device manufacturers, and application developers, who, in turn, provide services to the consumer and enterprise markets. Originally, Piche developed a video-chat application before being courted by large global communication companies for the technology behind his app. The companies were impressed with how well the app handled
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“The value proposition is now ‘any’— any network, any device, anywhere, anyone, anytime. But this value proposition comes with baggage, because all that freedom needs to be connected. That’s Eyeball.” –Chris Piche
by megy karydes
connectivity and with the quality of the calls once connected. Piche quickly turned gears, realizing he was in the solutions business, patented some of those unique technologies and wrapped a line of products around them. Those three core technologies form the foundation for its entire product line for which Eyeball Networks is known today: AnyFirewall Technology, which guarantees connectivity; AnyBandwidth Technology, which guarantees carrier-grade call quality; and AntiSPIT Technology, which protects users against VoIP spam. “The value proposition is now ‘any’—any network, any device, anywhere, anyone, anytime,” Piche says. “But this value proposition comes with baggage, because all that freedom needs to be connected. That’s Eyeball.” Historically, VoIP and video messaging and telephony services struggled with connecadvantagemagazine.ca
tivity and call quality. “VoIP has made its way into the backbone networks, saving telecommunications companies millions in backhaul costs,” Piche explains. “It’s now making its way into the business PBX [Private Branch Exchange] market as a viable option. And services like BlackBerry Messenger, Skype, and FaceTime are bringing it to the masses one smartphone at a time.” “Many of our clients are large communication companies that have launched valuable services and products to the market that have improved how we communicate, such as new mobile devices, cloud-storage applications, or new business collaboration tools,” says Matt Simms, vice president of marketing. “But before those great products were released, there were significant development challenges they had to overcome that Eyeball’s products and teams helped solve for them.” One challenge Eyeball’s clients face is assuring business users they’ll get the same 100 percent connectivity they’re used to with their old telephone service. Once connected, the users need the company to maintain call quality over a host of network environments, from the office to Starbucks to the back of a cab. Additionally, these new services must be integrated into their own devices or applications, so it interoperates and provides a seamless experience. “We quickly establish ourselves with new customers as their go-to resource in our area of expertise,” Piche says. “Within minutes of being introduced into a new opportunity, we’ve typically uncovered or shed light on critical technical considerations that an average prospective customer has not even considered. It’s the classic ‘not knowing what you don’t know’ conundrum. Well, Eyeball knows what you don’t know.” Mobile is the focus right now. “Everything we do is customer-driven, and these days our customers are all about the transition from PC-centric computing to mobile-centric computing,” Piche says. “Business everywhere is going mobile, and with that transition comes a host of connectivity-related challenges that we need to create solutions for.” In an ever-evolving industry that thrives on finding ways to do things better and faster, Eyeball Networks is sure to keep its eye on the ball. _a advantagemagazine.ca
EYEBALL NETWORKS By the Numbers
20,000,000+ Number of end users
Years in business
Number of offices worldwide
Number of global licensees
Number of patented technologies advantage
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solution Slimming down Canada, one patient at a time
Before Slimband, Lisa Borg worked in the real-estate, film, and hospitality industries.
shaping up Toronto-based Slimband uses proven weight-loss tactics and success stories to help clients reach an ideal weight by lisa ryan
hortly after the ATF Health Group hired Lisa Borg as its head of marketing, she determined that one of its companies, the Toronto Laparoscopic Band Centre (TLBC), needed an overhaul. Though the organization had been performing laparoscopic weight-loss surgery for years and was quite renowned in its field, there still existed a sort of stigma associated with turning to surgical treatments as a weight-loss option. Borg sought to educate society on the severity of the obesity epidemic facing North America, in addition to demonstrating the importance of surgical options as a long-term solution to successful weight loss. Utilizing her marketing savvy and business smarts, she succeeded. “Obesity is a disease, yet many people think that overweight individuals are lazy or have no willpower,” 124
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“Follow your convictions, but test often and measure your results. Believe there’s always room for improvement, and never stop learning.” –Lisa Borg
Borg says. “Family, friends, and their doctors tell them to diet and exercise, even though it is proven that this is not always successful. Through education, we hope to help people make an informed decision about the treatment of obesity and, at the same time, remove some of the misconceptions surrounding weight-loss surgery.” A native of England, Borg’s marketing career took her all across the globe—working in real estate, the film industry, and five-star hotels in India, Europe, and Dubai. After meeting her Canadian husband more than a decade ago, she settled in Toronto and joined the ATF Group in 2008. “What attracted me most to joining the company was the fact that advantagemagazine.ca
they were doing something that was making a real change in people’s lives,” Borg explains. “As a marketer, you’re often promoting a product or service that only solves a problem or adds value. Through the clinic, I could actually see my work having a direct effect on not only extending our patients’ lives but also making them healthier and happier—that is extremely gratifying to me.” When she first joined the group, it primarily marketed directly to the medical community rather than the consumer. Borg felt that the clinic wasn’t reaching as many patients as possible in that approach, so she decided to rework its entire marketing plan, starting from scratch with a fresh approach. “We transformed our marketing strategy, from the brand name to content, messaging, imagery, and everything in between,” she says. “We then created a campaign that focused on our actual patients sharing their success stories.” By focusing on sharing personal stories of patients’ weight-loss journeys, Borg was able to touch prospective clients in a more emotional way. The nationwide marketing program included print, web, outdoor, and TV advertising, and showed the consumer that they, too, can reach their long-term weight-loss goals through the Slimband Clinic. Clients saw that not only would they achieve weight-loss results, but they would also have a five-year follow-up plan with counseling, continued medical treatment, and support groups—touches that demonstrated the clinic’s dedication to its clients’ wellbeing. “The clinic has seen year-over-year double-digit growth since we launched this initiative,” Borg says. “Furthermore, in the first year we managed this without increasing our marketing budget from that of the previous year!” The marketing initiative has also seen Slimband become more socially acceptable, with many clients now sharing their Slimband weight-loss journeys on YouTube and Facebook. “This has obviously led to a greater awareness of the Slimband brand and generated interest in the procedure,” she adds. Slimband has also seen substantial growth in its medical practice; with new clientele interested in the procedure, the clinic has expanded from its single location in the Yorkville neighbourhood of Toronto to becoming a national company with offices across Canada. “We’d like to continue on our path of growth,” Borg says. “Education will always play a key role in our success, and we feel that user-generated content within social networks will be a driving force in this direction. Helping our clients become successful in losing their excess weight and keeping it off will encourage them to share their success with others and in doing so, help us achieve this goal.” For any other marketers hoping to achieve similar results with their brand, Borg recommends taking a similar approach, and not being afraid to push the envelope. “Be bold!” she says. “Follow your convictions, but test often and measure your results. Believe there’s always room for improvement, and never stop learning.” _a advantagemagazine.ca
Stephanie M. lost 115 pounds with the help of Slimband. Here, she is on location at a Slimband commercial shoot.
Meet the Company: Slimband Slimband is a revolutionary weight-loss clinic headquartered in Toronto, with branches throughout Canada. The company specializes in reversible laparoscopic weight-loss surgery, with a comprehensive five-year follow-up support program that includes band adjustments, nutrition counseling, online community support, and more. Thus far, it has helped more than 5,500 patients realize their weight-loss dreams.
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Achieve and maintain a healthier weight with Slimband Andy W.
Lost 70 lbs! **
Start weight 257 lbs “I used to hate smiling, and it was no fun being an anchorman at 257 pounds. Now that I’ve lost 70 pounds, my confidence is back! I love smiling and being on camera again.”
When it comes to IT services, knowing your business is our business.
Andy W. - Toronto, ON Actual Slimband® Patient
Slimband® Gets Results!
The Slimband® is a fully reversible 30-minute procedure that’s clinically proven* as an effective way to lose weight and keep it off for good.
Visit us at Slimband.com or call us at 1.800.700.7373 to learn more.
Discover all that Dell™ Services can do for the success of your business. To find out more, visit dell.com/ca/dellservices.
Health Canada License No. 80743
*Gastric banding results in an average of 58% excess weight loss within the first three years and patients continue to maintain their weight loss even up to seven years later. (Niville E et al. A mid-term Experience with the Cousin Bioring - Adjustable Gastric Band. Obes Surg 2011; May 5. [EPub]) IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: The Slimband® Adjustable Gastric Band is used in obese patients for significant long-term weight loss. All surgery presents risks. For more information, visit www.Slimband.com
**Results may vary.
solutions A smoother ride for the commercial aviation industry
Mike Yeo, vice president of technology, has helped usher aviation technology into the 21st century.
Taking flight Navtech finds success through excellent customer service and by juggling the latest in aviation technology by christopher t. freeburn
uilding a company from the ground up and becoming one of the world’s leading providers of flight-operations software is Navtech’s story. Headquartered in Waterloo, Ontario, the company was founded by a husband-and-wife team back in the 1980s to create software for the airline industry. Today, Navtech provides solutions to airlines around the globe with five major product lines: flight planning, crew planning, navigation data, aeronautical charts, and aircraft performance. The company’s customers range in size from small regional carriers to large international airlines, including attracting well-recognized names like Air Canada, Cathay Pacific Airways, and Delta Air Lines. “As a company, we are starting to focus more on mid- to largesized airlines, to continue growing our business,” says
“We’ve always had great products, but everybody loved our customer service, and that’s what got us in the door.” –Mike Yeo
Mike Yeo, vice president of technology at Navtech. Regulations vary greatly on a regional basis. “The actual implementation of safety standards is different in each region,” Yeo says. In Europe, for example, the aviationcharts production processes must be certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), meaning that not only are the chart components compliant, but the company’s process for creating the charts must adhere to EASA standards. Australia, on the other hand, has different compliance standards. “Does that mean we have to change our product? Not necessarily,” Yeo says. “But it may mean that we need to add extra diligence steps to our process in creating the charts for Australia to make sure we comply with Australian regulations.” Working across so many global regions, Navtech attracts and retains customers by providing outstanding customer service. “The only way we can stay competitive is to be flexible and listen to our customers,” Yeo says. That has been true since Yeo started at advantage
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A look at Navtech’s 24/7 operations and technical-support area.
is moving fast, we are often constrained by the company almost 15 years ago. “We’ve comparatively older designs.” always had great products, but everybody A good example of a new technology loved our customer service, and that’s what got us in the door,” he recalls. “We have made gaining rapid acceptance in the aviation industry is Apple’s iPad. “Pilots have wanted huge investments between then and now to to have something like the iPad for years,” grow our products and make them industry Yeo says. “They want to have charts in an leaders,” he adds. easy-to-access digital format that they can Developing new products is often search.” done in consultation with its customers. “A Traditional paper charts come in thick number of customers have come to us with binders that have to be flipped through to unique ideas, looking for someone to work find the correct chart for the right region with them to translate those ideas into or airport. In response, Navtech developed real products,” Yeo explains. In order to understand its customers, Navtech visits their Navtech iCharts, giving access to a 60,000page chart library through the iPad for quick facilities and observes their daily operations. access. “You have these game changers, like “Nine times out of 10, our airline partners the iPad, that everyone wants to embrace, but have great ideas that we can leverage into at the same time you have the development products, not only for them, but for other staff working on other systems that are customers as well,” he adds. Airplane design and development moves dated,” he says. By working with its partners, developing at a slower and uneven pace compared to new technology, and providing comprehensive other technologies. “Think of the computer customer service, Navtech continues to build on your desk,” Yeo says. “How old is it? its reputation as leader in aviation solutions. Two, three years at most?” The systems in a “It’s a very small industry in terms of the commercial airplane may be five years old number of players,” Yeo notes, which makes by the time it actually flies. “That presents a good word of mouth crucial. _a unique challenge, because while technology 128
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Making it Work “A regional carrier came to us and needed a new load planning system,” says, Mike Yeo, VP of technology at Navtech. At first, it sounded similar to the company’s existing products. “Once we started reviewing their requirements, however, we saw they wanted a new system that could automatically prepare all their paperwork for them.” Navtech worked with the carrier for a long time to develop the new system, which Yeo describes as ‘automation by exception.’ The system automates background tasks like calculating fuel and cargo loading, running autonomously until it detects an anomaly and alerts someone. “It allows them to handle a huge number of flights with just a few people,” Yeo says. advantagemagazine.ca
solutions Shaping the future for an emerging workforce
Lynn Parent-Garvey is renewing Hydro Ottawa’s workforce at every level.
leading the charge Utilizing her expertise in labour relations, Lyne Parent-Garvey is effectively preparing Hydro Ottawa’s workforce for future challenges by mark pechenik
oon after joining Hydro Ottawa in 2006, Lyne Parent-Garvey faced her first test as chief HR officer. “I was asked to lead the negotiations of a collective agreement with the union,” she recalls. In essence, she was being called upon to avoid labour conflict, such as a companywide strike that took place in 2004. “We wanted to negotiate in a manner that would maintain positive management union relations,” she explains. “A successful collective agreement balances what the union wants with what the businesses needs to achieve.” In finding this ideal middle ground, she reached an agreement between union and management while preserving and strengthening relations.
“There is strong pride here—people sincerely care about their quality of work. They want to do their best for our customers and for the community.” –Lynn Parent-Garvey
Soon after earning her master’s degree in industrial relations from Queens University, Parent-Garvey launched her career in labour relations in municipal government. Successive positions as a high-level HR administrator within the public and notfor-profit sectors enabled her to fine-tune skills in employee recruitment, training, development, benefits and compensation, and health and safety. Then came the call from Hydro Ottawa’s previous CEO, six years ago, to assume a leadership position with the company. “As it turns out, it has been a great fit both for myself and Hydro Ottawa,” Parent-Garvey says. Hydro Ottawa is one of Ontario’s major distributors of electricity, a generator of green power, and a provider of energy conservation and management services. It delivers safe, reliable electricity to more than 300,000 residential and business customers in the city of Ottawa and the village of Casselman, Ontario. advantage
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Along with HR protocols, Parent-Garvey also manages Hydro Ottawa’s health, safety, and environmental portfolio. Among the key attributes of her job, Parent-Garvey points to Hydro Ottawa’s workforce size. “I was used to being part of much larger organizations ranging from 4,000 to 10,000 employees,” she says. “Meanwhile, Hydro Ottawa has a staff of 625. Consequently, we have a much tighter, closeknit working culture here.” Indeed, Parent-Garvey acknowledges that “at Hydro Ottawa, we’re like family.” As an example, she points to many employees who have spent their entire careers with the utility company. “There is strong pride here— people sincerely care about their quality of work,” she says. “They want to do their best for our customers and for the community.” It’s an environment that has advanced Parent-Garvey’s own goals for the company. “Whenever we launch programs related to talent management—such as workforce
planning or training and development initiatives—we can measure our effectiveness almost instantaneously,” she says. Such manageability has allowed ParentGarvey to deal effectively with a major Hydro Ottawa staffing concern: compensating for the loss of an aging workforce. “Within the next 10 years, some 7,200 years of vital experience will exit the company with the departure of retiring workers,” she says. “We have to be proactive to manage this type of loss.” In response, Parent-Garvey has launched an ambitious initiative to “renew [the] workforce at all levels.” Much of this effort is being dedicated to the training and promotion of staff throughout the entire company. “We’re preparing apprentices to become journeypersons and journeypersons to become supervisors,” she says. In addition, employees nearing retirement are serving as mentors to younger workers, effectively imparting their life experience within the company to the next generation of leaders.
Human Resources: Quick Tips • Align or develop people strategies and programs consistent with the strategy or vision of the company; stop doing things that don’t contribute to the end state. • Invest in your employees—they are your greatest asset. • Conduct regular workforce planning exercises. Make sure that your company has the right resources, at the right time, in the right place. • Make employee safety everyone’s business, and integrate with a performance management system • Recognize and reward good performance; manage poor performance. • Ask employees for feedback, then take action on what they’ve said. • Communicate, communicate, communicate. Everyone needs to know where the company is going, to ensure they play their part. 130
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As to what she would still like to achieve with Hydro Ottawa, Parent-Garvey continues to focus on strengthening existing methods, as well as developing new innovations, to enhance what she calls employee engagement. “In this way, we can move our company from a good company to a great one,” she says. “Whether it is through training, performance rewards, or recognition, we constantly seek ways for our employees to be fully engaged with Hydro Ottawa,” Parent-Garvey says. “To me, there is nothing quite as satisfying as an employee who realizes their full potential.” _a
A message from edmond harnden llp
Emond Harnden LLP is thrilled to congratulate Lyne Parent-Garvey on her recognition by Advantage. Lyne is a seasoned decisionmaker who understands the importance of good working relationships. Lyne balances the requirement for human-resources strategies that support organizational growth and effectiveness, together with the importance of a department that promotes employee engagement through the provision of services that employees rely upon and trust. Congratulations, Lyne! A message from metrics@work
Metrics@Work extends its congratulations to Lyne Parent-Garvey on this well-earned recognition. Lyne has shown outstanding leadership in her roles at Hydro Ottawa, and we have had the pleasure of working closely with her, surveying and consulting under her direction since 2008. Hydro Ottawa has clearly benefited from strong, people-focused leadership, as it has among the highest engagement outcome scores in our database. We look forward to working with Lyne and her team as they continue their journey of better people management. If you would like to know how to better engage your people, e-mail us at email@example.com.
Building Productive, Engaged Workforces Metrics@Work conducts survey research and consults on the leading edge of organizational health, culture and employee engagement.
Founded in 1987, Emond Harnden has grown
Since 1999, we have worked with over 200 organizations, from 50 employees to over 50,000.
to become Eastern Ontario's largest law firm devoted exclusively to advising management on labour relations and employment matters. Our goal is to help employers and human resource
decisions that enhance productivity, increase efficiency and reduce workplace disputes.
Employee Engagement Model Measuring Key Outcomes and Predictors 360 Degree Leadership Surveys Bullying or Diversity Surveys Multi-language surveys and reports
Celebrating 25 years of providing labour and employment support to management.
Your International Law Firm As a leading business law and litigation firm, you can count on us for a breadth of pratice covering virtually every area of the law. Fasken Martineau brings multi-jurisdictional teams of lawyers to help you respond to your unique challenges, no matter where in the world you may be located.
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Founder Antoinette King has appeared on Monster.caâ€™s list of best bosses in Canada.
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solution Finding the perfect match for both company and employee
enhancing human capital How Options Consulting Solutions’ recruitment strategies offer the best of both worlds, for job seeker and employer alike by matt isaia
hen most companies hear the word “capital,” they think of funds, assets, and financial gain. The capitalistic approach can help companies find solutions that yield the most profit, but it can also force them to lose sight of those individuals who help run it. As organizations begin to see numbers instead of faces, the value of employees becomes merely external. This paradigm has always existed in the corporate world, and it becomes a challenge for both employer and employee to find a symbiotic formula that results in financial gain as well as individual success. For more than 20 years, Options Consulting Solutions (OCS) has been operating in Toronto as a full-service consulting firm. To OCS, the word “capital” has a different meaning—one that focuses on attributes such as social skills and personal talents rather than funds or assets. It’s a niche agency that values human capital and recognizes the contributions and potential of prospective individuals. OCS strives for the perfect match between company and candidate through an intensive, six-step recruitment process in order to present people with career opportunities while also yielding the best results for companies. Working at OCS is a little like working in a classroom with your favourite teacher; it’s an open, reactive
“I encourage and empower my staff to solve day-to-day problems on their own so they can get used to solving problems.” –Antoinette King
environment where employees work together and learn from one another. Antoinette King, the company’s founder, plays the part of teacher, coaching employees to fit within the office culture while continuously educating them on the company’s philosophy. “I encourage and empower my staff to solve day-to-day problems on their own so they can get used to solving problems,” King says. As her employees work diligently to serve clients, King works with them, sharing her wisdom and perspectives, and offering work incentives such as team trips and in-house contests, while, ultimately, motivating them to be the best they can be. Offering a personalized approach to their business, OCS consultants are expected to consider their own interests and hobbies when taking on clients. In other words, individual consultants serve clients who work within the industries that he or she finds most interesting. “[By] encouraging personal interest and continuing education, we embrace the company philosophy of being the best we can be, not only as individuals, but as an advantage
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OCS maintains an open, reactive work environment where employees can work together and learn from one another.
entire organization,” King says. She believes that much of her company’s success lies in the hard work and dedication of her staff. In 2005, King was voted one of Canada’s best bosses on Monster.ca’s list of Canadian bosses. She is grateful for this honour and remains humbled by it even to this day.
OCS does not simply preach certain ideologies to clients; it embraces them by operating under pretenses that build and enhance human capital. Amanda Plummer works as a consultant’s assistant and is the social-media administrator at OCS. Her experience serves as an example of how the
5 Quick Tips for Recruitment • Check your social-media activities. Make sure to look professional, and filter out any damaging content on the web. • Make sure your résumé is clear, concise, and, above all, factual. • Always present yourself in a positive light. Be willing to go that extra mile for potential employers • Networking is essential. This is the era of networking, so take advantage of it. • Always believe in yourself; believe that you are the best-possible candidate for the job. 134
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company operates internally to support the talents, skills, and abilities of each employee. Under the guidance of King, Plummer has expanded her role as social-media administrator, taking Facebook and Twitter courses in order to learn and implement ways to better market the company on a socialmedia platform. By investing in Amanda and giving her the opportunity to grow and learn, OCS fills its own human-capital needs so it can better serve and provide solutions to its clients. Options Consulting Solutions differentiates itself from other recruitment firms by enhancing the human-capital needs of each candidate and company. All consultants must live by one golden rule: candidates will not be submitted to a company unless he or she meets 90 percent of the company’s criteria. A customized and totally unique recruitment process allows OCS to work under such a strenuous rule. It touts a hire rate/placement ratio of 81 percent. This impressive statistic can only be achieved by operating within a business model that aims to integrate human capital holistically, in order to best meet the needs and demands of clients. _a advantagemagazine.ca
We are proud to be partnered with OPTIONS CONSULTING SOLUTIONS providing their employee benefits program for over 17 years!
Dominion Group Benefits Limited.
IN BASEBALL, THEY CALL IT A GRAND SLAM. IN HOCKEY, THEY CALL IT A HAT TRICK. IN BASKETBALL, THEY CALL IT A THREE-PEAT.
WE CALL IT THE VERMILION WAY. Innovative, spirited and entrepreneurial, our talented people have helped make Vermilion Energy one of the Top 25 Best Workplaces in Canada for a third year in a row. vermilionenergy.com
Best Workplaces 2012 Canada
How Vermilion Energy builds community within the company Five ways Mona Jasinski creates camaraderie, adds value, and boosts the bottom line By Christopher T. Freeburn
Be flexible “There is no one human-resources strategy that fits every organization,” Jasinski says. Most importantly, HR policies must take into consideration the many types of people who comprise the workforce. “People are very diverse in terms of their interests and motivation,” Jasinski explains. Understanding their needs and adapting the company’s policies to meet them is paramount. “It’s a multifaceted approach where we determine what the key interests of our employees are and develop interesting programs that meet those interests,” she says.
Engage the local community Vermilion focuses on investing in community organizations to combat poverty and homelessness. “We believe we have a responsibility to give back,” Jasinski says. In 2008, the company partnered with the Calgary YWCA to create the Vermilion Energy Skills Training Centre, a trade school that helps women and their families escape poverty by learning the skills to find employment. Vermilion invested $4 million to launch the centre, which has successfully trained more than 200 graduates who are now employed, boosting the local community. Working with an external employee survey firm, Vermilion found that its employees cited that sort of community investment among the top reasons they worked for Vermilion. It was a source of pride employees had in the company. In addition to a Day of Caring, where Vermilion encourages its employees to spend the day working at selected charitable organizations, the company supports a child-care centre in Drayton Valley, Alberta. Most of the company’s charitable partnerships are suggested by the employees themselves. “It’s not about simply writing a check,” Jasinski says. “It’s about the energy and effort that our people can bring to make a difference in their communities.”
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MEET mona jasinski An Alberta native, Jasinski has spent most of her career at oil-and-gas companies. A certified HR professional since 2002, she earned her MBA from the University of Calgary. Formerly HR manager for North American OnShore Production at Royal Dutch Shell and, previous to this, TransCanada Pipelines, Jasinski joined Vermilion Energy Inc. in 2009 as vice president, people, and was promoted to executive vice president, people, in 2011. As an executive at Vermilion, Mona Jasinski is tasked with enhancing the company’s greatest asset: its employees. With operations spread across Canada, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Australia, managing employee development in the technologically fast-paced and highly competitive energy business requires both diligence and vision. “Organizations can become much more effective and productive, but only if you truly pay attention to what the environment is like for the people working there,” Jasinski says. To that end, she works to create a sense of community among Vermilion’s employees. “We spend a lot of time focusing on what kind of culture we want to create and how that culture adds value to our business,” she says.
Vermilion’s Canadian production is located in Alberta and includes a dominant position in a key Cardium play in the basin.
Plan in advance “You can’t predict everything,” Jasinski says, “but we push out our strategic planning process to encompass approximately a 10-year period.” The planning process takes into account what the business will look like and how the industry will develop during
that period. “Getting an idea of where the company wants to be in 10 years lets us figure out what we need to do to get there,” Jasinski says. That level of planning allows HR to anticipate how the workforce will change and how the company needs to adapt to manage that change.
Recognize employee commitment
Find the right people
Employees at Vermilion can look forward to a number of company events designed to foster a sense of family among its workforce, including an annual employee retreat. “In Canada, we take the employees and their families up to a beautiful mountain resort for the weekend,” Jasinski explains. During the retreat, the company offers a variety of recreational events and even provides babysitting services and children’s activities for families with very young children. “We purposely bring families to that event,” Jasinski explains. “We want to thank families for the commitment they show us.” The annual retreat, she adds, is always a huge success. “We believe these events build strong relationships among the staff, and that enhances our ability to do business.”
The oil-and-gas exploration industry poses unique challenges for HR experts, Jasinski says. Detecting and exploiting oil-and-gas deposits, which are often buried deep under ground, requires advanced technology, which becomes more sophisticated and complex with each passing year. “We have an ongoing shortage of talented people, and the right people are the source of tremendous advantage for our company,” she notes. “We probably spend more time recruiting than many of our peer organizations.” The company focuses on excellence within the organization and recruiting the best employees industry can offer. “Once you develop a good reputation in your industry, extraordinary people want to work for you,” Jasinski says.
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Norton Rose Canada would like to congratulate our valued client Vermilion Energy and Mona Jasinski on their achievements, including Vermilion being named a Best Workplace in Canada and France by the Great Place to Work Institute for a third year in a row.
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green thumbs A look at a botanicals nursery developed by BDA ecopreneurs.
How is PharmAfrican helping ensure the future vibrancy of the Congo’s rainforests? By utilizing its botanical materials for profitable business and international trade by ashley T. kjos
uccess is born when preparation coincides with opportunity and sometimes a little bit of chance. Such was the case in 2004, when in the first week of January a significant series of events unfolded, paving the way for the pharmaceutical applications of botanical materials. Looking on was Carole Robert, who had the experience, ability, and vision to capitalize on this confluence of forces. Drawing upon a rare combination of work in international trade and familiarity with pharmaceutical terminology from a background in nursing, Robert developed two organizations, the Biotechnology for Sustainability in Africa Foundation (BDA), a nonprofit
dedicated to working with Africans in rural communities, and PharmAfrican, a company that promotes the research and development of products derived from botanical materials found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Robert’s international work began in the early 1990s, when she made a name for herself as a courier and exporter in the former USSR, where she was first exposed to trade being a powerful tool for change. “I was impressed by the speed and ability of trade to move the population forward after over 70 years of communism,” Robert says. Her expertise in the field grew, and she became chairperson of the World Trade Centre in Montréal, a position she held for six years
despite that fact that the original bylaws called for a single-year limit. Robert was attaining her MBA when, in the beginning of 2004, the World Health Organization issued its Good Ethical and Cultural Practices Plan, and the FDA authorized the use of “soup of element” botanicals in the same week, essentially opening the door wide open for the development and commercialization of botanical pharmaceuticals. “I thought this was a major development,” she says. “This was where the medications for tomorrow were going to come from. We have to go back to nature.” After determining the Amazon to be too depleted, Robert set her sights on the rainforests in the Congo and, after a two-month advantage
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the word on green Carole Robert has been a champion for environmental responsibility in business for more than 20 years, especially within exporting and international trade. Recently she shared her two cents on the topic with Advantage.
SUSTAINABLE products: “They are the key to tomorrow’s businesses. Companies that are not taking this seriously are not going to survive.” green EDUCATION: “The environmental emergency around the globe is such a priority. We have to count on the next generation to be better than we were to save what can be saved. The key to this will be the education and the promotion of quality and environmental values.” information transfer: “When we began working with our African colleagues a few years ago, we knew that climate-change adaptation and resilience issues had not been prioritized in their country’s development plan. We were slowly able to expose them to scientific peer reviews about what was going on.” 140
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Sodican A.S. Inc.
“This is where the medications for tomorrow are going to come from. We have to go back to nature.”
—carole robert, founder
exploratory mission that she paid for out of pocket, found the location ripe with potential. She set up the two organizations—BDA and PharmAfrican—to realize the business opportunity. While the two entities are wholly separate with different boards and different missions, one thing they share is Robert’s philosophy on environmental responsibility. She is a firm believer in the triple bottom line, operating a business while providing benefits to economical, environmental, and social issues. “Businesses should deliver return on investment for the shareholder, of course, but also the stakeholder,” she says. Robert also thinks that the line between profitable businesses and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) is beginning to blur. “For a long time, businesses made money, and NGOs satisfied the need for social good,” she explains. “Now, businesses won’t make money if they’re not responsible, and NGOs can’t continue to operate without being profitable. Both are moving towards the centre, and the future belongs to companies that can do both.” At the centre of Robert’s work in Africa is the desire to engage the local population. BDA accomplishes this through its PlantAction Program, a three-phase training program that teaches candidates how to develop a bankable business plan, cultivate and process harvested quality-controlled botanical materials for export, and finally put their know-how into action by starting their own sustainable enterprises in their own rural communities. Upon graduation from the Plant-Action program, the candidates become their own self-sufficient eco-entrepreneurs, or “ecopreneurs.” BDA estimates that each of these new enterprises generates advantagemagazine.ca
approximately 100 jobs for the local population. Local profitability is also vitally important to the success of a sustainable overall business model. Unlike the development that led to the deforestation of the Amazon, botanicals for pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, and cosmeceutical applications use nontimber forest products that actually depend on keeping the trees of the rainforest intact, as opposed to cutting them down. “In order to work from a position of [conservation], you need to show the local population financial gain,” Robert says. “For decades, financial value was measured by the tree; we believe that nontimber forest products have much more value, and they are much more renewable as well.” By involving the population in the process, Carole is illustrating the fact that the financial future of the Congo is tied to the future of its rainforests—and ensuring that both of those futures will be bright. _a
Property Investment Servicing Montreal Quebec
A message from sodican
We at Sodican are a proud supporter of, and would like to congratulate, Carole Robert for all her accomplishments. We wish her much future success with BDA and PharmAfrican. A message from med-script
Med-Script Is a private Canadian firm specializing in pharmaceutical regulatory affairs and support services in research and development. Working alongside our pharma and biotech partners throughout all phases of product development, we help them navigate through the complicated regulatory processes for expedited approvals. Med-Script is a proud partner of PharmAfrican, a leading-edge company with an important mission.
514.933.7843 firstname.lastname@example.org advantage
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At work with Canada’s business leaders
J U LY/A U G U S T/ S E P T E M B E R 2 0 12
O C T/ N O V/ D E C 2 0 12
+ Movies for Grown-ups Piers Handling, CEO of the Toronto International Film Festival, takes us inside a sleek and sophisticated cinema p. 96
What’s the Big Idea?
AT WORK WITH CANADA’S BUSINESS LEADERS
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
For Mercatus Technologies Inc.’s Sylvain Perrier, it’s creating a unique company culture bent on revolutionizing the consumer experience p. 42
+ Law of the Land 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
The Animators VOLUME 2, NO. 9
AT WORK WITH CANADA’S BUSINESS LEADERS
Toon Boom takes its elite cartoon technology from the studio to the classroom p. 14
ROCK-STAR COVERAGE Shephard Ashmore > p. 24
MOBILE MAKERS Xtreme Labs Inc. > p. 52
INSTRUMENTAL INNOVATIONS Yamaha Canada > p. 62
4/13/12 1:26 PM
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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
Not Just Another Lawyer
One-Day Painting The founder and CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? looks to revolutionize the painting industry with his latest venture p. 74
AT WORK WITH CANADA’S BUSINESS LEADERS
Welcome to the “She-Suite”
Helen Fotinos, general counsel at Kia Canada Inc., shows how she is shaping up her company’s mind-set
At Your Service
How Sodexo provides multifaceted solutions to the world’s largest companies p. 80
WINDS OF CHANGE Momentum Credit Union > p. 19
INTERNET COWBOYS Non-Linear Creations > p. 48
A GREENER PROVIDER Just Energy > p. 142
6/28/12 3:07 PM
A SLICE OF SUCCESS Boston Pizza > p. 18
SUSTAINABLE LANDSCAPING Aden Earthworks > p. 129
EXCELLENT EVENTS Spark Inc. > p. 144
1/20/12 11:07 AM
v o l u m e 2 , n o . 7, 2 0 12
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
C o m e se e w hy Advant age i s a must-read for any b u si nes s leader an d i n n ovator, no matter t he i nd u st ry. Vi s i t ad van tagem agazine.ca for you r f re e s u bs cri p ti on .
VOLUME 2, NO. 8
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
Andy Nulman, president of Just For Laughs, brings jokes and good cheer to the masses, making for a standout international business p. 14
+ the jets are back How the business acumen of True North Sports & Entertainment brought the NHL back to Winnipeg p. 60
volume 2, no. 7, 2012
Join the conversation! @AdvantageCANADA
FIGHTING FAMINE World Vision Canada > p. 30 Advantage7_cov.indd 1
advantage january/february 2011
MILK MONEY Avalon Dairy > p. 81
WORKING IN EXTREMES Backside Tours Inc. > p. 102 9/16/11 2:27 PM
How can Aecometric and Jill Anderson be innovative while doing things the same way for decades? By being on today’s cutting edge a long time ago. by ashley T. kjos
nnovation and consistency have been hallmarks of the Aecometric Corporation since it was founded in 1972. It wasn’t long before the company developed its high-intensity burner, which uses less fuel, produces lower emissions, and still out performs its competition after 30 years. Aecometric, which was started by Larry Anderson and is now under the guidance of his wife, current president Jill Anderson, has always been exceptional for its strong commitment to research and development, its problem solving and adaptive approach to serving its clients with custom equipment, and an continuously forward-looking attitude and priority on fuel efficiency and low emissions. The Aecometric Corporation began as primarily a manufacturer of industrial burners under the original name of Conamara. It then started operating under the name Aecometric in 1983, as it became more of an engineering company. The development of the
high-intensity burner, which has become the company’s claim to fame, began by obtaining a patent from Gulf Oil in 1972 and exercising patience. “There are not many burner companies that are true high intensity,” says Jill. “We worked on [the burner] for many years.” With the help of the director of the Ontario Research Foundation, who later came to work at the company full time, Aecometric spent two years of research and development ironing out various issues with the burner, such as vibration, when other manufacturers were quick to rush theirs out to the market. Besides having a superior piece of equipment at its core, diversity has also played a role in Aecometric’s success. The company focused on the peripheral and secondary equipment to facilitate bringing the business into a variety of industries that now include sulfur refining and recovery, air heaters for gypsum wall board, mineral processing, and agricultural applications. The burner itself, however, is how Aecometric truly differentiates itself. The key to the burner is its compact but advantage
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“NOx is such a large issue, and everyone is concerned about the atmosphere, so it’s put us ahead of the game.” —jill anderson, president
intense flame. “Because it’s so intense, we burn off a lot of the exotics in some of the fuels,” Jill says. “We can also burn fuels with low calorific value—fuels that are not going to get very hot. Other burners can’t keep it going; we can.” While most burners operate at 50 million British thermal units (BTUs), the unique flame enables Aecometric’s burner to operate successfully at BTUs as low as one million and as high as 500 million. This offers customers flexibility with fuels. One priority that has long existed within Aecometric and is just getting recognized by those outside the company
in the past few years is a commitment to working on lowering its levels of NOx emissions, the mono-nitrogen oxides produced during combustion. “My husband chose the design, and we’ve been working on NOx emissions since the beginning, always working to make sure they are as low as possible,” Jill says. “Now NOx is such a large issue, and everyone is concerned about the atmosphere, so it’s put us ahead of the game.” Throughout the years, the company took on the personality of its owner. “Larry could take over a room with his enthusiasm,” says Jill. “He was so excited about what he
the word on green Aecometric president Jill Anderson shares her take on some buzzwords surrounding the push towards sustainability.
alternative fuels: “Biofuels are going to be the big thing moving forward. It’s the future. It’s what we need to be looking and trying to develop.” sustainable EDUCATION: “I think it’s similar to the beginning of recycling. We had to pick up our boots and follow the lead of the younger generation. We need to keep the kids in school informed.” tracking efficiencies: “When you’re thinking of going into new area, you have to make sure you remain practical. Things still need to make financial sense. There has to be a balance between theory and what’s practical. But there’s no reason it can’t come together; it just takes some work.” 144
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was doing, and he was a starter—an idea person.” After Larry suffered a stroke in 1996, Jill decided to take over the company as opposed to selling it. In the past decade, Aecometric has been focusing its energy on the research and development of new and alternative biofuels, and the initial tests have the new fuels—whether they be municipal waste, wood dust, or even chicken excrement— working wonderfully with the Aecometric burner. “What needs to be developed is the peripheral equipment—getting the new types of fuel from point A to point B—so that’s what we are currently putting our R&D into,” Jill says. Wherever the future of the industry will be, Aecometric has a wealth of experience being a front-runner and will likely be there to set the pace. _a
A message from keyser mason ball
Aecometric Corporation is a long-time member of Innovator’s Alliance, a group of business leaders committed to innovation and growth. It was through IA that John Ball and Ruben Goulart met Jill Anderson, given Keyser Mason Ball’s involvement in the organization. Jill is a tenacious and committed business leader. Keyser Mason Ball is proud of its association with Jill and Aecometric, and wishes her continued success.
A Law Firm that’s Flexible When you’re trying to shape and stretch your business to adjust to the market, you need a law firm that can bend along with you. Keyser Mason Ball, LLP has the versatility you need to help you and your business get to where it needs to be. In our 30+ year history, we have earned a reputation for bringing adaptable approaches to our clients’ complex legal issues. With over 20 lawyers, offering a full range of legal services and a client-centric approach to business, we help clients succeed in today's marketplace. Your business doesn’t stand still. Your law firm shouldn’t either.
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
Proud partner with Aecometric Corporation
growth, financial stability, and fair settlements of claims.
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For more information, please contact John Ball, Partner T 905.276.0400 • E email@example.com www.kmblaw.com
Experience the mutual difference.
As Ontario-based DemGen’s president and chief growth officer, Gary Evans does what he does best: help businesses grow. DemGen, whose clients range from small start-ups to large multinationals, specializes in supporting business growth by implementing strategies and systems that ensure companies are built to last. Here, Evans has keenly recognized several key steps to ensure a durable, scalable business in a struggling economy.
How to Start a Business in a Down Economy
Eight things to keep in mind when getting off the ground in tough times
Create a Solid Business Model
Get solid on your niche And test-drive it with a few “friendlies” before launching.
Often a business starts with a hunch: at first things go pretty well, and then you realize it’s not as profitable or scalable as you originally thought. The best time to have a map is before you begin your journey.
this is marketing 101 Get really focused on a core market with a very defined need that you satisfy with your product and/or service. Test and measure how to best deliver the right price points, and make sure you can scale.
Source Complementary Team Members to Help You Grow Often, entrepreneurs hire people they like or are like them, when what is needed is some contrast and different thinking. Challenge yourself to partner with people who have unique skill sets to your own.
align, affiliate, joint-venture, and strategicpartner your growth Find complementary organizations that already target and serve your ideal audience and collaborate on how to deliver more value to that audience. Share the proceeds.
be accountable to yourself, team, and clients This is one of the key reasons we have an explosion on the coaching arena—many entrepreneurs are not tracking and measuring what gets done until problems arise. Determine the best way to have your goals and intentions in public view so your team can help support accomplishing them.
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By Gary Evans
Add Value to Your Audience Without Expectation of Return There is a U-turn happening in marketing that says the best way to engage your audience (to educate them to get to know, like, and trust you) is to give away your best stuff up front, for free. Truly qualified leads will appreciate it and want more. They will connect and pay for the rest.
Enjoy the business Make sure it complements your life. Our professions as entrepreneurs in particular integrate into our lives, and when we love what we do, the passion is there, and everyone— clients, team members, ourselves—buys into it. It becomes a natural fuel for a sustainable business. Typically in a start-up, like personal relationships, there is an initial “falling in love/ everything is exciting” phase, followed by decline; it’s very likely the symptoms can be corrected by following the above points.
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