Realtors here to stay
Bill Hubbard - 11:31 am - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

I read two articles in the last week each stating the opposite. One was titled, “The days of a Realtor are numbered,” while the other was, “Don’t expect real estate agents to disappear anytime soon.”

I always find it funny how people make blind statements and really have no evidence, credibility or competence in the area on which they are commenting. Whoever claims the vocation of a Realtor is going to go away in the near future has obviously never been licensed or at least has not been licensed for long. There is incredible value brought to the table by a Realtor, but this is not the reason why their vocation is not going to go away.

All Realtors out there know that if you put a buyer and seller together directly to try and negotiate a deal on the most important purchase either one of them will ever make, in almost all cases it will not end well. One of the reasons we have a job is that many times perfectly rational, down-to-earth people become incredibly irrational when they are plagued by the fear of making a mistake in the biggest purchase they will ever make.

Technology may duplicate some of the services that a Realtor provides. However, technology will never replace a couple of calm, unbiased and rational people whose job is to put a fair deal together for the two parties that have hired them.

Bill Hubbard is a real estate broker and the owner and broker of a four-office real estate firm in the Okanagan-Shuswap. He has been in real estate for 28 years and has been an owner and broker in Vernon for 20 years. At almost 60 years old he is just as passionate about real estate as the day he started.

Faces of #OKGNtech
Accelerate Okanagan - Jul 13 - Columnists

Photo: Accelerate Okanagan

A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable, and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.

Our community is strong and growing with record speed, and maintaining connections through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic. We’ve got a plan.

Introducing “The Faces of #OKGNtech,” a showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth and more excitement. Follow along on the blog and on Instagram at @OKGNtech to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.

Meet Steven. Steven Morrison is a lawyer at Farris Law and is on the board of directors for The United Way. When Steven isn’t all suited up, you will most likely find him in his gym gear. He’s involved with both Okanagan College basketball, UBCO Heat alumni, and on Wednesday mornings you’ll find him downtown running The November Project. We recently caught up with Steven to learn more about his role at Farris law and what he loves about OKGNtech.

What’s your favourite thing about your role at Farris?

“The best part about my role at Farris is that I get to feel like I am part of all of the teams. I am not just one company. Working with startups that are just getting rolling into the next phases of their business is so exciting. They all have so much passion in what they do, helping them see that through and be a part of it. It’s amazing.”#Threecheersforus

What’s something most people wouldn’t know about you? 

“I was the heaviest baby ever born in Prince George at 11 pounds 3 ounces … like you could sit me up! My mom told me that apparently when the nurse came in, she was like, ‘So where is the newborn?’ and my mom was like, ‘This is him.’ She responded, ‘Oh I thought that was his older brother!’ ”

[Editor’s note: Round of applause for mama Morrison]

When did you get involved with The November Project? 

“I originally started going to The November Project when I was in law school out in Edmonton. Then when I moved back here, I was playing basketball with Roz Huber at the university. Roz was the co-leader at that time and was looking for somebody who was the right fit. When she asked me to help her out, I had to think about it because I don’t half-ass anything. It’s now been a year of running the project with Roz, and I haven’t looked back.” #JustShowUp #FreeFitness #NoExcuses

[Editor’s Note: The November Project started in Boston and is now in eight countries. There are 49 tribes across the world. It all started in the month of November when a group of friends decided to use an Excel spreadsheet to keep accountable and motivated for working out.]

What is your favourite thing about running The November Project? 

“The best part about running The November Project is the people. They are the reason I am willing to spend my Tuesday nights staying up late organizing workout plans and then waking up early on Wednesday. It gives everyone a place where they can let go of whatever their other careers are and goof off and have fun and just be with one another. We’ve heard that people who move to the city are recommended to come out because it is a great place to meet people. It’s 50 to 60 automatic friends.” #JustShowUp #FreeFitness #NoExcuses

[Editor’s note: November Project is hosted every Wednesday morning at 6:30 am. You will find the crew next to the sails on the end of Bernard.]

When were you introduced to OKGNtech?

“When I was articling out in Calgary, a few people had mentioned that the technology industry in the Okanagan was growing. I hadn’t realized the magnitude of it until I started working at Farris. Once you get into it the industry here you get really into it.” #Itsallherenow

What do you love about the Okanagan?

“I grew up in both Vancouver and Kelowna. So I have lived here in the Okanagan for many periods of time throughout my whole life. My favourite part is all the different things you can do. We have everything to do in the summer and everything to do in the winter. It’s an absolute playground.”

What do you love about OKGNtech?

“Everyone in the OKGNtech industry has so much passion. We have a lot of young people, and even older people who have decided to leave their careers and come into tech, and they are just so passionate about their ideas. It truly takes guts.”

Who inspires you? 

“My older brother inspires me all the time. Growing up he always talked about being a professional basketball player. I would joke saying ‘I’ll be your agent someday!” He’s now playing on a professional basketball team overseas. I have always looked up to him for that.”

[Editor’s note: Steven’s brother is 6-foot-11 … so he LITERALLY looks up to him]

Biz 1on1: Eamonn Glavey
Visland Media - Jul 10 - Columnists

Produced by Kelowna’s Visland MediaBiz 1on1 is an interview series that explores the lives of some of the most interesting business people in North America.

Host Randy Lennon sits down with CEOs and founders of a diverse selection of businesses, talking with them about their vision, passion, and experiences building and running their company.

The show covers a wide array of stories and although Lennon interviews business leaders from across the continent he puts a particular focus on people from the Okanagan Valley.

Originally broadcast on national television, Biz 1on1 has found a new home on Okanagan Edge, adapted for an online audience.

This week, Lennon sits down with Eamonn Glavey of the Canadian Home Improvement Credit Corporation.

Faces of #OKGNtech
Accelerate Okanagan - Jul 05 - Columnists

Image: Contributed

A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable, and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.

Our community is strong and growing with record speed, and maintaining a connection through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic. We’ve got a plan.

Introducing “The Faces of #OKGNtech,” a showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth and more excitement. Follow along on the blog and on Instagram at @OKGNtech to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.

Meet Sarah. Sarah Bauer is the lead content developer and project manager for Navigator Multimedia. When Sarah isn’t busy at work you can find her at the dog park with her mini-Dachshund Deeter, in a fishing boat or at a local bookstore. We recently caught up with Sarah to learn more about her love for #OKGNtech and her role at Navigator Multimedia.

What is your role at Navigator Multimedia? 

“My role was really challenging in the beginning, because I was wearing a lot of different hats and that meant a lot of pivoting. Now that I have been working in this role for four years, I really thrive on that and enjoy the problem-solving aspect.” #Production #Scheduling #Coordinating #Timeline #Budget #Content #Strategy #Communication #Repeat

Who inspires you? 

“Honestly, I am inspired by anyone who owns a small business. The amount of mental labour you take on in that role … the amount of responsibility and pressure … I don’t care if you own a taco truck or something larger. Anyone who owns a small business is taking on such a large risk. I just really admire the gumption. Inherently small business owners want to be challenged and I think that’s really inspiring.”

When did you get into tech?

“So my dad started Navigator Multimedia in 1993, and he was a one-man show in our basement. In those early basement years, my dad was around a lot and was always showing us what he was working on. He really instilled an interest in computers in me and my brother. We always had like the nicest computers and we were always playing on the Barbie designer software and 3D movie maker.”

[Editor’s note: If you grew up in the 90s’ and didn’t play 3D movie maker, what were you even doing?!]

Where did the name Navigator Multimedia come from? 

“My dad has always liked early explorers like Magellan—guys who have travelled the world with rudimentary instruments and explored new lands. So at the time when he started Navigator Multimedia, the internet was like totally pioneer territory and no one knew what to do with it yet, and that’s ultimately how it got its name Navigator Multimedia.”

When were you first introduced to #OKGNtech?

“I guess I’ve been kind of born and bred into the tech community here. I have a deep respect for local tech companies that have been able to adapt, grow and change with the industry. There are companies here alongside us that were there in the early days. I really think that there are a lot of talented people here. People don’t quit easily in Kelowna.” #cantstopwontstop

What’s something most people don’t know about you? 

“I recently auditioned at the Actor’s Studio for their open casting call for the 2019 season, and I didn’t get anything. When I was in high school I did a lot of theatre. I was the theatre nerd. I did all the plays. But then I got into university and I didn’t do theatre for 12 years, and I rock up to this audition like ‘The star has arrived! Finally the answer to their prayers!’ But like I hadn’t done an audition for so long, so of course, I didn’t get a callback. But I’m just like happy with myself for trying. It was a definite kick in the butt.”

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? 

“I am paraphrasing when I say this but I actually had a therapist tell me once ‘When you are skiing you shouldn’t focus on trees. In life, you shouldn’t focus on the dangers. If you focus on danger, you’ll run right into it.’ I think about that all the time.”

[Editor’s note: Shoutout to Dr Eva Helpard!]

What word would you use to describe yourself and why? 

“Varied. I am constantly in flux. I am always turning through different ideas or interfacing with different people and getting curious about things that seem off brand. I surprise myself all the time, and I hope it never stops.”

Biz 1on1: Kirk Shaw, part 2
Visland Media - Jul 03 - Columnists

Produced by Kelowna’s Visland MediaBiz 1on1 is an interview series that explores the lives of some of the most interesting business people in North America.

Host Randy Lennon sits down with CEOs and founders of a diverse selection of businesses, talking with them about their vision, passion, and experiences building and running their company.

The show covers a wide array of stories and although Lennon interviews business leaders from across the continent he puts a particular focus on people from the Okanagan Valley.

Originally broadcast on national television, Biz 1on1 has found a new home on Okanagan Edge, adapted for an online audience.

This week, Lennon sits down for a second segment with Kirk Shaw, the CEO of Wonderfilm Media Inc.

Image: Visland Media

Faces of #OKGNtech
Accelerate Okanagan - Jun 29 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.

Our community is strong and growing with record speed, and maintaining connections through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic. We’ve got a plan.

Introducing “The Faces of #OKGNtech,” a showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth and more excitement. Follow along on the blog and on Instagram at @OKGNtech to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.

Meet Kevin. Kevin Lavigne has been working at Reid and Associates Financial Solutions for many years but has recently become the owner. When Kevin isn’t taking care of business you can find him driving his daughters to swim, soccer, Brownies … we could go on #dadoftheyear. We recently caught up with Kevin to learn more about his role at Reid and Associates as well as his love for the Okanagan.

What do you enjoy about your role? 

“My job allows me to meet so many different people. I really enjoy connecting people and making sure that everyone succeeds. What excites me the most is an introduction that I have made that leads to something bigger.”

“Everybody always says: Do what you love, and the money will come. I never believed it until I was in this role. I absolutely love numbers and going through all that stuff, but it’s totally true. If you’re not happy, do something different.” #PREACH

“It’s so rewarding to see people do what they want to do and achieve their goals because of something we helped them organize years ago. It’s pretty cool to see these clients with the proper savings to spoil their kids or getting to do all the travelling because of what we set up.”

Can you speak to mentorship?

“I always try my best to be efficient in life. I am a big believer in mentorship and bouncing ideas off of different people. A team is so much better than one. If something has worked well for someone else why not learn about it so you get to your goal quicker.” #Teamworkmakesthedreamwork

What’s something people don’t know about you? 

“I think a lot of people see me in my work role and think I am a serious guy, but what people don’t know is that I throw some pretty freaking awesome parties” [Editor’s note: Canada Day at Kevin’s place?]

What do you love about the Okanagan? 

 “Kelowna has knocked the city right out of me. I was the stereotypical Ontarian, where all I did was work and I needed brand new everything. Coming out here I was a bit arrogant thinking I was going to work myself to the top, but the west changed my life completely and I can finally say I am a local. I’ve been in Kelowna for 10 years now!” #Workhardplayharder #westcoastbestcoast

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? 

“When I was the social director for the Kelowna JC’s, I was having a hard time deciding what events to organized and somebody said to me, “Just organize what you like, and the people will come,” and it’s so true! I have continued to do that in my day-to-day life and my business life.” #Youdoyou

[Editor’s note: Kevin started a hiking group for families with young children that grew from sending a few texts to friends on Saturday morning up to 113 families in a Facebook group. He also created an event called The Great Canadian Bacon Chase—a marathon with unlimited bacon].

What do you love about #OKGNtech? 

“The tech community and the independent financial community are actually very similar in that everyone just helps each other. I haven’t seen that in any other industry. We are all competitors, but we are working together for the better.”

Biz 1on1: Kirk Shaw
Visland Media - Jun 26 - Columnists

Produced by Kelowna’s Visland MediaBiz 1on1 is an interview series that explores the lives of some of the most interesting business people in North America.

Host Randy Lennon sits down with CEOs and founders of a diverse selection of businesses, talking with them about their vision, passion, and experiences building and running their company.

The show covers a wide array of stories and although Lennon interviews business leaders from across the continent he puts a particular focus on people from the Okanagan Valley.

Originally broadcast on national television, Biz 1on1 has found a new home on Okanagan Edge, adapted for an online audience.

This week, Lennon sits down with Kirk Shaw, the CEO of Wonderfilm Media Inc.

Image: Visland Media

Faces of #OKGNtech
Kirk Penton - Jun 22 - Columnists

A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.

Our community is strong and growing with record speed, and maintaining connection through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic. We’ve got a plan.

Introducing “The Faces of #OKGNtech,” a showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth and more excitement. Follow along on the blog and on Instagram at @OKGNtech to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.

Meet Susan. Susan Johal is the office manager at Kimmit Wrzesniewski Law. When Susan isn’t keeping the office running, you can find her in her garden or playing golf. We recently caught up with Susan to learn more about her role at Kimmit Wrzesniewski and what she loves about the Okanagan.

[Editor’s Note: Susan is up early so she can squeeze in a round of golf BEFORE WORK #Powermoves #Foresho]

What do you enjoy about your role at Kimmit Wrzesniewski?

“I’ve been working at Kimmitt Wrzesniewski for 29 years, and it has been wonderful since the first day I walked in. What I enjoy most about my role is the people.

“Working at a law firm gives me the opportunity to follow along with people’s lives. I’ve watched young couples come in after they’ve bought their first home, and then years later they come back to open up their own businesses. It’s really neat to be able to see the different paths that people take.”

What do you love about the Okanagan?

“My family came to Kelowna in 1906, which makes me fifth generation. My family was actually one of the first Indo-Canadian families that came to the Okanagan, which is pretty cool. I feel really lucky to call this place home.

“One thing about this community is that it has always been good to me, and because of that I like to give back. When volunteering I don’t like to pick a certain group; I really try to give a little bit to everybody if I can. I get lots of calls from people who need a helping hand, and I always say ‘Yeah, not a problem!’ #givefirst #susanforpresident

“After I graduated from Rutland Secondary, I went to Okanagan College. That’s right, I’m straight out of Rutland—and proud of it #StraightoutofRutland

What do you love about #OKGNtech?

“When I graduated from high school almost everybody left Kelowna because they wanted to see the big city, and then once we had our 20-year grad reunion they had almost all come back. I think that really speaks to the industry that is growing here.

“One thing I love about tech is that you can live wherever you want and still work anywhere in the world.”

Who inspires you?

“I’m really inspired by Oprah. She once said, ‘Be thankful for what you have. You’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never ever have enough.’ ”

Ms. Opportunity
Denise Mullen and Kristine St-Laurent - Jun 20 - Columnists

Image: Contributed

Continuing our series in honour of International Women’s Day, Okanagan Edge presents the latest in a series of blogs examining British Columbian women’s role in the workplace.

Penned by authors at the Business Council of B.C., the six-part series explores issues such as the gender pay gap; women’s labour force participation; the link between education, child care, and missed opportunities; and women’s entrepreneurship and self-employment.

In their previous column, authors Denise Mullen and Kristine St-Laurent explored why more women work in part-time positions, and what that means for gender equality in the workplace. This week, they take a look at the link between education, child care, and missed opportunity.

Part 4: Ms. Opportunity

Image: Statistics Canada

The tale of women and education is a good news story in B.C.

Women are receiving more post-secondary credentials than ever before, and according to the latest data the share of women with a bachelor’s degree or higher now exceeds that of men (26 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively).

Young women in B.C. between the ages of 25 and 34 are especially highly educated: 42 per cent had a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2016, nearly double the 2006 figure (24 per cent).

In comparison, although in 2006 young men’s post-secondary credentials matched young women’s, a decade later only 31 per cent of men in the same age cohort held a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Women’s achievements in the post-secondary education realm are significant but gender imbalances persist in certain fields of study.

Men continue to outnumber women three-to-one in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, math) and computer science. The inverse is true for women and HEAL fields (health, education, administrative, literacy).

While there is more work to be done to encourage women into computer science and STEM fields, it is encouraging to see that some companies are leading the way by actively seeking and engaging women in STEM.

Microsoft, for example, runs STEM and computer coding outreach programs for girls and women.

While the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields remains a cause for concern the upside is that young graduates with HEAL skills—especially in health—are likely to find work that matches their education and provides higher-than-average salaries.

Health and education skills are in high demand throughout B.C. and these jobs are among the lowest at risk of automation.

The not-so-great news

A few facts to point out before we get to the rub:

Fact #1:  Women’s employment earnings are, on average, still lower than men’s, despite increased educational attainment. The graphic below illustrates this point.

Image: CUPE

Fact #2:  Even though women are attaining higher levels of education than ever before, the nine-percentage-point gender gap in overall labour force participation rates among prime-age workers remains, having declined only slightly since 1990.

This is counterintuitive and somewhat surprising, as typically there is a strong correlation between education and labour force participation.

Canadian women of prime working age are among the most highly educated cohort in the world. Yet they aren’t participating in the labour force to the same degree as their peers in OECD countries with a similar share of highly educated women.

Fact #3: The labour force participation rate for women between 50 and 64 years of age is higher (67 per cent) than the overall average for women (60 per cent)–and it has nearly doubled since 1976.

The rub

Educational attainment rates for women are rising, yet the labour force participation gap vis-à-vis men is the same for prime working age women–who also happen to be in their prime childbearing and child-raising years.

This leads us to conclude that the explanation for the gap may partly lie in policy.

Limited access to paid family leave and lack of available quality childcare may be factors inducing more Canadian women to drop out of the labour force, whereas the expansion of those very benefits in other OECD countries may have helped proportionally more of their international peers stay in.

When women opt out of the labour force, especially highly-educated and skilled women, it results in missed opportunities for families, businesses, and the economy.

This begs the question: what can be done to encourage more women with children to enter and stay in the labour force, thereby leveraging the “motherload” of home-grown, highly qualified talent?

Expanding access to quality child care and early childhood education services would be a good start.

In terms of universal child care, Quebec’s experience suggests the costs are high for taxpayers.  As such, finding ways to expand capacity that are less costly makes sense.

Focusing on ways to support “Ms. Opportunity” (instead of missed opportunity) through the provision of accessible, quality child care can stimulate the economy, increase the size of the workforce at a time when demographic trends will be weighing on the overall labour supply, and provide talented women with more opportunities to choose work.

The Business Council of British Columbia aims to produce timely and exceptional public-policy research and advice on issues to enhance B.C.’s competitiveness and prosperity. As a collaborative, non-partisan organization, the council strives to be a venue where members, policy experts, elected officials, and government decision-makers can address problems and form solutions together. 

Biz 1on1: Will Walczak
Visland Media - Jun 19 - Columnists

Produced by Kelowna’s Visland MediaBiz 1on1 is an interview series that explores the lives of some of the most interesting business people in North America.

Host Randy Lennon sits down with CEOs and founders of a diverse selection of businesses, talking with them about their vision, passion, and experiences building and running their company.

The show covers a wide array of stories and although Lennon interviews business leaders from across the continent he puts a particular focus on people from the Okanagan Valley.

Originally broadcast on national television, Biz 1on1 has found a new home on Okanagan Edge, adapted for an online audience.

This week, Lennon sits down with Will Walczak, the director of Hiilite Web Design and Marketing.

Image: Visland Media

All Columnists Stories