Meet One of Our Newest Members

by Admin 16. July 2014 11:34

We are pleased to introduce one of our newest members, Gary Gervais, president of Heartland International English School

What does your company do?

We do English language training for international students here on a visitor or study permit. We recruit them to come to Winnipeg. In Manitoba, international education has a $230-million economic impact, but many people don’t know anything about the industry.

What company or business person most inspires you?

Within my industry, I’d say a company out of Australia, Navitas, which is a good 15-20 years ahead of Canada – they’re more savvy and cutting edge. In Australia, the international education industry is a $16-billion industry annually compared to $8 billion in Canada – it’s Australia’s largest export service industry. However, last year, the Canadian government came out and said they want to double the number of international students by 2022.

How did you get the idea for your business or why did you choose to go into this business?

I had been teaching English in Japan. When I came back to Winnipeg, I started the language school. It’s fascinating dealing with cultures from all over the world. Most of the students are in their 20s, starting their careers, and they see English as a big part of their career advancement – they’re highly motivated.

Since I opened in 1999, I have had students from 73 different countries. Last year alone, I had students from 34 countries.

What’s the most difficult part of your job?

It depends on which day, which hour. But I’d have to say the biggest challenge is the issue of visas. A few years ago, the federal government announced at 4 p.m., that effective at midnight the same day, Mexicans had to have visas. It gutted the market for us. After June 1 this year, students can no longer enter Canada through a language co-op program. That represented about 20 per cent of our business, but we saw it coming and made adjustments. It’s definitely a forever shifting landscape, which is a challenge.

What’s the most important issue facing business today?

In my world, it’s again visas. However, there are always issues if you want to grow and finance your business. Unlike other businesses, we have no worker shortages.

Why did you join The Chamber?

To raise the visibility of my industry and to network. 100 per cent of my business is selling overseas, so locally people don’t know about Heartland. When I go to lobby government, nobody knows about the industry, so I want to change that.

 

 

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Meet One of Our Newest Members

by Chamber Staff 14. July 2014 08:34

We are pleased to introduce one of our newest members, Susie Parker, owner of Sparker Strategy Group.

What does your company do?

We do social media, marketing and public relations.

What company or business person most inspires you?

Arlene Dickenson – I admire her because she has a successful communications company and did what she did as a single mom with four kids.

How did you get the idea for your business or why did you choose to go into this business?

Ever since Facebook and even before with LinkedIn, I’ve been involved with social media … helping my Mom-preneur friends. When I was on mat leave, the company I was working for was bought out, so I decided to start my own agency because no one was providing professional help. It was the perfect time to enter the marketplace … that was three years ago this week.

What’s the most difficult part of your job?

Social media changes so fast, it’s hard to stay on top of the various platforms and new networks and to maintain my knowledge base for clients.

What’s the most important issue facing business today?

Being digitally intelligent – managing your online real estate.

Why did you join The Chamber?

To network and to learn more about business locally. For a social media firm, it makes sense to be social.

 

 

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Summer issue of pegBiz

by Admin 5. June 2014 05:53
 
Hot off the press! Have you seen the latest edition of 'pegBIZ magazine? A collaboration of the Winnipeg Free Press, The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce and the Asper School of Business, 'pegBIZ explores a common goal - to ensure Winnipeg is a great place to live and work. Click here to read the latest edition including stories on start-ups, leadership and innovation.

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Meet Our Chamber Staff - Erin Stagg

by Chamber Staff 12. May 2014 05:45

What do you do at The Chamber?

I look after memberships. I sell new memberships, assist with retention and work with current members to help them develop relationships.

When did you start at The Chamber?

The first time was when I was 18 and was doing my work practicum. They put me in a backroom with a bunch of boxes … it was exciting. I got to stay on, filling in for the front receptionist, who went on maternity leave. When she didn’t come back, there was an opportunity for me to become a marketing assistant, working with members. I did that for three years, then went back to school, taking Business Administration at Red River College.

The second time was shortly after I graduated and was working retail. Karen Weiss called me, saying they needed someone to do accounting and administration. I came back to The Chamber and when a sales position opened up, they asked me if I’d try it. I did. I left several years later to work at a college.

The third time was after I discovered I missed the business side of my career, so I came back in a membership role again. I also got to plan trips to China.

What’s the best part of working at The Chamber?

The people – my colleagues and the members. I love meeting people, learning about their work and about new business concepts, such as the young entrepreneur who started Winnipeg Trolley. I also like helping members connect with people whom they might not be able to meet on their own.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

That I love curling and to dance … that I’m a mom - people can’t seem to picture that.

What do you love most about Winnipeg?

The friendliness of the people and how giving people are here … it’s very community oriented. Because I’m from a small town, I didn’t think it would be like that. Although it’s a city, I like how it’s smaller.

 

 

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Meet Our Chamber Staff - Yanik Ottenbreit

by Chamber Staff 5. May 2014 05:54

 

What do you do at The Chamber?

I am special events co-ordinator, which in itself is a “special” position because I’m shared between The Chamber and the World Trade Centre Winnipeg. I am currently working on Centrallia Manitoba and various other tasks as they come.

When did you start at The Chamber?

Jan. 13, 2014. 

What’s the best part of working at The Chamber?

Learning how the city actually works … the importance of The Chamber having been here for 140 years ... creating partnerships and connecting with people. Another favourite part of the job is being able to listen to inspirational people.

What’s your education and work background?

I worked for five years as manager of Jardins St. Leon Gardens, plus I’ve had various sales jobs. I attended the University of St. Boniface and have a Business Administration diploma. I’m constantly educating myself through written articles, TED talks and documentaries.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

That I can do various yoga poses that have shown me I can reach my full potential. Because of yoga, I know that if I set my mind on certain things, I can accomplish them. I need to transfer that mentality to my professional career. It may seem hard now, but I know the goal is obtainable.

What do you love most about Winnipeg?

Having proximity access to family and friends, entertainment and especially the four seasons. I lived in Ecuador and six months of rain is really miserable.

 

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Chamber Supports Local Kayaker's Dreams of Gold

by Chamber Staff 28. April 2014 10:44

Back in 2006, The Chamber met local kayaker Dave Anderson. We helped raise funds through the Manitoba Podium Program, so Dave could train full-time in the hope of qualifying for Canada’s National Team and the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Over the years, we’ve continued to support Dave’s efforts, including his participation last September in the World Championships, where he placed 21st in men’s doubles.

Since the World Championships, Dave has been training for the coming season. Over the winter, he found a better way to balance work, training and life. His winter training consisted of weight lifting, running and swimming. There wasn't much skiing due to the extreme cold, so it was extra running for him!  

In March, he traveled to Lake Conroe, Texas, to help coach the Manitoba provincial canoe/kayak team, as well as do his own training. By trading shifts, he arranged for time off work as a paramedic. He was in Texas for four weeks and kayaked a total of 730 kilometres! The training was productive, but it was a little disheartening to come back to ice on the river. However, it didn't last long and he’s now out on the fast-moving river.

His goal this year is to race at the World Championships in Oklahoma City in September. But first he must qualify this August in Winnipeg. His biggest problem is the lack of marathon races held in Canada. There are a few sprint races, but that’s it.

If he can find a sponsor, Dave would like to race at the only World Cup marathon race this year in Slovenia. It takes place in June. Going to this race would allow him to compete, evaluate how his training is going and adjust accordingly. Most of his competitors will have had at least six races under their belts to his one. That makes a huge difference in preparing for the world championships.

Anyone who might consider sponsoring Dave can contact him at dave_anderson@live.com.

 

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National Volunteer Week - Thank You to Our Volunteers

by Chamber Staff 8. April 2014 07:16


National Volunteer Week (April 6-12, 2014) is a time to recognize, celebrate and thank Canada’s 13.3-million volunteers. Volunteers strengthen our communities and make our country vibrant.

At The Chamber, volunteers are our lifeblood, whether our Ambassadors, board of directors, committee members or just those who support what we do and step up to the plate. A BIG thank you!!!

As it is National Volunteer Week, there is also an opportunity to give some thought to nominating a local business, not-for-profit or individual for the Prime Minister's Volunteer Awards.



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Meet One of Our Newest Members

by Chamber Staff 4. April 2014 08:31

We are pleased to introduce one of our newest members, Stephen Wilson, executive director, Graffiti Art Programming Inc.

What does your organization do?

We’re a community youth art centre. We like to use art in a way that is kind of new – our approach is copied around the world. We’re using art as a tool to assist young people with many of the issues they face. We use art to support a young person’s education. The scientific evidence is clear that if you enroll a child in theatre, music, art and dance, that they score 18 percentage points higher in subjects like math, science and English than those who have not had the same opportunity of taking art classes. When we look at the neighbourhoods where we offer our services, the high school graduation rate is below 50 per cent compared to 87 per cent for the rest of the city. That’s why we do what we do. We also do many, many other things. I’d like to highlight the fact we use young artists to do custom, commercial painting jobs. We are for hire.

What company or business person most inspires you?

I can easily say that would be Bob Silver – No.1 because he’s using his experience as a highly successful businessman to support the efforts of agencies such as ours. He really is quite influential in guiding the city and province as a whole.

How did you get the idea for your business or why did you choose to go into this business?

The job I had before was a dead-end job and I wanted to be involved in social services in some way. I was always a fan of the graffiti style, so I looked at the issue of illegal graffiti and the impact it had on the city and people’s viewpoints. It was an area I could get involved in, working with those young men committing graffiti crimes and focusing on their skills and abilities rather than on crime. Over time, I was able to convince a great number of them that they should be pursuing something in the arts rather than something illegal. If you look around, the amount of illegal graffiti is a fraction of what it was, say in 2002, when there were probably 200-300 graffiti writers. It’s been dramatically reduced.

What’s the most difficult part of your job?

Changing people’s attitudes towards the young people we serve, who live and go to school in the North End. Society loves to use the “at risk” label, but in doing so, when they’re referring to a 14 year old from North Point Douglas, they couldn’t be using a more negative label. When referring to a 14 year old from St. James or Charleswood, we don’t refer to them as at risk, we talk about the world’s their oyster and they have so much potential. Using the at risk label is no good, it sets up a whole expectation geared to failure.

What’s the most important issue facing business today?

A skilled workforce. It doesn’t matter your politics or what side of the fence you live on, if there are no jobs and the business community isn’t supported through proper legislation and oversight … what I’m doing here is a waste of time. We tell these young people there are many opportunities for them … that’s why we have an employment training program to help Aboriginal artists get jobs painting and decorating, jobs that pay $25 per hour, instead of them expecting to go on welfare. They can get a job, be the first in their family to get a mortgage and break the cycle. We build their self-confidence and self-esteem, so they no longer believe that the jobs aren’t for them.

Why did you join The Chamber?

It’s an opportunity for us to learn more about the business community and to develop stronger relationships with the business community. By building relationships, we can engage the business community with the issues faced by the young people we work with. We can create more awareness. A vast majority of business people don’t live in the North End. They might drive up and down Main Street, but they never turn right or left off Main Street. We want people to start learning about these neighbourhoods … turning left and right. In each of these neighbourhoods, there are hard-working people who are trying to make a difference. We need to get rid of the negative stereotypes and the expectation of failure. 

 

 

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Meet Our Chamber Staff - Dave Angus

by Chamber Staff 24. March 2014 09:50

What do you do at The Chamber?

I work with the board of directors through our chair to implement our strategic plan and to oversee all aspects of The Chamber’s operation to ensure that we’re strategically investing our members’ resources.

When did you start at The Chamber?

June 1, 1999

What’s the best part about working at The Chamber?

It’s a magnet for really positive, community-minded people – from the staff and members to the public.

What’s your education and work background?

I have a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Manitoba. I’ve worked in the computer and publishing industries, as well as for a small, family business.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

That the event that had the biggest impact on the way I look at my city is the night I spent on the street with two homeless people as part of a program sponsored by RaY (Resource Assistance for Youth). And that I am technologically backward – if I had a VCR, it would still be flashing 12.

What do you love most about Winnipeg?

Our diversity – we have a mix of different cultures that creates this vibrancy and international feel that is so unique.

 

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Meet One of Our Newest Members

by Chamber Staff 7. March 2014 11:59

We are pleased to introduce one of our newest members, Patty Veert, owner, Selective Professionals' Network.

What does your company do?

Selective Professionals’ Network is a confidential executive search firm that provides opportunities for single, successful, selective professionals to meet. Meeting is key. Selective Professionals’ is not for everyone, but serves like-minded, educated, career-oriented or entrepreneurial men and women, who are not in a current relationship.

What company or business person most inspires you?

Steve Jobs because of his creativity, innovation and drive. He had a vision and passion, which motivated him to persevere through the many challenges he had. Starting in his garage and his products ending up around the world is an amazing story. His creations have been revolutionary to the way the world communicates.   

How did you get the idea for your business or why did you choose to go into this business?

In today’s world, more professionals find themselves unexpectedly single. Be it absorbed in their career or business, never having met the right person, divorce or death of a spouse. By the time one starts a career, many people have coupled up and it is more challenging to meet like-minded people. Opportunities are limited, whether it’s being set up by friends and family, online dating or simply resigning oneself to staying home alone.

I came up with the idea because I wanted to help these people. Just as there is a hidden job market, there is also a hidden pool of single, successful professionals. As my business continues to grow, I have an impressive quality of current clients - proof there is a need in Winnipeg.

At Selective Professionals’ Network, we provide the meeting. The rest is up to our clients.

What’s the most difficult part of your job?

The most difficult part of my job is ensuring that people understand that what we do is very different than any other company in Winnipeg. 

What is the most important issue facing business today? 

Finding true, authentic people, who genuinely want to help others succeed without expecting a benefit in return. Saying what you do and doing what you do are often not the same thing.  It can be difficult “to walk the talk.”

Why did you join The Chamber?

I joined The Chamber as a way to connect with other business owners. It is a great way to be part of our Winnipeg community and also our business community. I admire entrepreneur business owners, especially when they are humble about what they have accomplished. They are often passionate about what they do. They work long hours, don’t give up easily and despite the challenges and risks, remain positive and upbeat.

 

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