Faces of #OKGNTech
Accelerate Okanagan - May 21 - Columnists

Image: 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. 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 (@OKGNtech). It’s 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 @okgntech) to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.

Meet Lexi. Lexi Keen recently left the Accelerate Okanagan team to tackle coding boot camp at Light House Labs. Lexi loves to learn, lives for outside time, and can’t get enough of her full-bodied cat Lenard. We recently caught up with Lexi to learn more about her passion for coding and what she loves about #OKGNtech.

What’s your favourite thing about coding? 

“I’ve been wanting to learn how to code for a while now. Last year my sister got engaged and I wanted to build her a really nice website for her wedding. I really enjoy working with someone to create their vision. That definitely solidified my dream of wanting to go to coding school…and look at me now! I’m starting coding boot camp in less than a month!” #Followyourdreams

“Growing up, I was always really interested in computers. I used to play around on formatting templates on Nexopia…when that was still a thing. I might be dating myself with that one. At the time I didn’t really think much of it but I guess that was my intro to coding 101” #90skid #Bringbacknextopia

When did you realize you wanted to go to business school? 

“My experience working at Club Penguin made me realize that I had a passion for business. It also made me realized that in order to move up in a company I needed to go back to school. So I asked around and I got a lot of feedback that the Okanagan College had a great business program. I’m so glad I chose to get my Business Degree from the College.”

What’s the best piece of advice you can share us? 

“If you’re unhappy or you’re stuck or if something isn’t working, do not to be afraid to change. I’ve tried a few different careers so far and I haven’t found one that fits. Luckily I’m in a position where I can change my mind and go back to school and try something new. You shouldn’t let that hold you back”

What do you love about #OKGNtech?

“The tech industry here is really unique. There are always people offering to lend a hand and everyone feels comfortable to ask for help. There will always be someone who is willing to put their own project on hold in order to help someone else. The community here is very collaborative. That has to be my favourite thing about #OKGNtech”

What’s one word you would use to describe yourself and why? 

 “Nerd! I am a total nerd at heart. I am seriously interested in everything. It is such a struggle. I have to tell myself ‘No Lexi! One thing at a time. One-thing-at -a-time.’” #alltheskills

What’s something you want people to know about you? 

“Relationships are really important to me. A few people that I am not even that close with have spilt their life story to me and then realized what they are doing and have been like ‘wow you are so easy to talk to’ and I love that. I want all people to think of me as easy to talk to and open.”

What was your favourite thing about working at Accelerate Okanagan?

“My favourite thing about my position at Accelerate Okanagan was really the people. I loved showing new people the amazing space and explaining Accelerate Okanagan’s mission.”

Top 40: Amy Rauscher
Okanagan Edge Staff - May 18 - Columnists

Image: Contributed

This year, Okanagan Edge and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce have partnered to showcase some of the Okanagan’s most exciting entrepreneurs, through the Top 40 Under 40 program.

Sponsored by BDO, the Top 40 Under 40 recognizes innovative young professionals in our community and showcases their accomplishments.

Okanagan Edge will feature a new honouree each week, so check back often.

This week we recognize Amy Rauscher, of MOGA.

Image: Contributed

In 2015, as an isolated new mom, Amy Rauscher created MOGA Moms as a “non-judgemental space for moms to connect and establish community.”

Rauscher has a Bachelor of Commerce and a Masters in Business Administration and worked full-time in geriatric health care. But she had seen a need in the community and wanted to fill it, anyway.

MOGA offers what Rauscher calls a holistic approach to health through things like Mom and baby yoga, educational events, stroller run club, doula services, and others.

The program started as “by donation only,” and MOGA was the first ever corporate donor to Mamas for Mamas. Today, MOGA has its own location and continues to maintain its roots of community, collaboration and empowerment.

In 2016, MOGA was a finalist in the City of Kelowna Civic Awards for the Corporate Community of the Year Award. MOGA was also nominated and acknowledged for the Best Community Impact and Best Concept award with Small Business BC.

“I am extremely proud that I have been able to grow the MOGA brand and community with my (now) three-year-old son completely involved,”  Rauscher says. “My son, Landon, tells people he works at MOGA and he will often do a yoga pose or ‘race’ in the middle of the sidewalk. He will grow up understanding the importance of hard work, determination, community and helping others.”

Rauscher says she strives to be a leader in the community and advocate for women’s empowerment. She volunteers on the executive team at Mamas for Mamas and also volunteers in a marketing function on a special project for Mamas TV.

In 2014, she also founded and facilitate a local single mom group in Kelowna.

“I am always available for any mom in need of support in our community,” she says.

Change-up at Black Hills
Trevor Nichols - May 17 - Biz Releases

“Image: Facebook

The head winemaker at Black Hills Estate Winery is stepping back from his position.

Graham Pierce, who has worked as the winery’s top winemaker for a decade, is stepping down from the role to pursue other projects.

However, Black Hills says Piece will remain involved in its winemaking program as a “part-time consulting winemaker.” As a consultant, Piece will weigh in on “key strategic decisions and practices,” including grape picking and fermentation decisions, barrel selections, blending, and stylistic directions.

The new role gives Pierce space to pursue “a long-time dream” to create a sparkling wine, as well as other projects, while still working with the Black Hills team.

Black Hills says it is now searching for a new winemaker, who the winery says will also work closely with Pierce.

“We are very excited that Pierce will now have the time and freedom to pursue the side projects that are so important to him. Many of us at Black Hills will be rushing to become Pierce’s first customer when he makes his sparkling wine release in the future,” says Black Hills director Glenn Fawcett.

“The search for the new winemaker at Black Hills has now commenced and we are confident we will attract a world-class candidate that will be thrilled to work directly with Pierce and the rest of our winery team,” Fawcett added.

Fawcett said Black Hills expects Pierce to step down as head winemaker in early July.

“It has been an amazing 10 years working with the exceptional team at Black Hills,” Pierce said in a news release. “The dedication and talent from every team member has allowed us to craft the wine that we proudly stand behind. I look forward to working with the new winemaker and the rest of the team as we continue our continual quality evolution of our wine.

Biz 1on1: Geolyn Mantei
Visland Media - May 15 - 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 Okanagan Valley.

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

This week, Randy Lennon sits down with Geolyn Mantei, the entrepreneur behind MODA partners and Muddy Stilettos.

Image: Visland Media

New Prospera pitchman
Okanagan Edge Staff - May 14 - Biz Releases

Image: Contributed

Terry Armstrong is the new director of sales operations in Kelowna for GLS Holdings, the company that operates Prospera Place.

According to a news release, Armstrong’s new role will see him responsible for sales at Prospera Place “and entities throughout GSL Holdings.” He’ll also be tasked with providing “leadership to the teams at Prospera Place and Capital News Centre.”

“Terry has established himself as a business leader within Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley,” Graham Lee, the president and CEO of GSL Holdings says. “We feel he will be an integral part of the development and growth of Prospera Place and throughout GSL Holdings over the coming years.”

Armstrong is a member of the 2020 Kelowna Rockets Memorial Cup Bid Committee. He also sits on several boards of directors for organizations including the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation, the Telus Community Board, and the Central Okanagan Food Bank.

“I have been extremely fortunate to be able to work and live in the Okanagan Valley for over 36 years,” Armstrong said. “GSL Holdings is a dynamic and diverse company, and joining their team while continuing to work with the Kelowna business community is a tremendously exciting opportunity.”

Armstrong’s career has spanned 28 years with the Kelowna Daily Courier, including the previous nine years as the group publisher, vice president.

He will begin his tenure with GSL Holdings on June 1.

Chef AK takes over at TIME
Trevor Nichols - May 09 - Biz Releases

Image: Contributed

Alexander Keith Campbell has taken over as chef at Penticton’s TIME winery.

Chef AK will oversee the small plate program at TIME’s downtown Penticton location, as well as the culinary program at Evolve Cellars.

Both brands are operated by Encore Vineyards Ltd., and Campbell will collaborate with Harry McWatters and Christa-Lee McWatters to develop pairings on both winery menus.

“TIME Winery could profoundly change the food scene in Penticton. I’m excited to work with the team because there is a unified vision and a heritage of quality and dedication that I want to be a part of,” Campbell says.

A graduate of Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown, the Nova Scotia boy has led culinary teams in places such as the Naramata Heritage Inn and Spa, Truffle Pigs Bistro and Lodge, and the Heather Mountain Lodge Resort.

Prior to joining TIME Winery, he was assistant director of culinary operations for Vintage Hospitality.

“My culinary approach is simple. I cook food that is big on flavour, bold, and fun,” Campbell says. “However, the most important is that no matter what I prepare, the experience that I deliver for guests will be one that I want to receive.”

TIME is located in the former PenMar Theatre Complex in downtown Penticton. The winery’s cellars have been open since last summer, and the restaurant and tasting room are in their final stages.

The winery hasn’t officially announced an opening date for the restaurant, but Campbell says the menu will consist of dishes like chickpea frites with charred onion salt, basil and garlic yogurt sauce; or a short rib hush puppy with roast corn batter and a spicy tomato jam; or a selection of “breads and boards” that feature cheeses, breads, charcuterie and antipasti.

Biz 1on1: Peter-Paul Van Hoeken
Visland Media - May 08 - 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 Okanagan Valley.

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

This week, Randy Lennon sits down with Peter-Paul Van Hoeken, the founder of founded FrontFundr.

Image: Visland Media

Top 40: Gagn Sekhon
Okanagan Edge Staff - May 04 - Columnists

Image: Contributed

This year, Okanagan Edge and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce have partnered to showcase some of the Okanagan’s most exciting entrepreneurs, through the Top 40 Under 40 program.

Sponsored by BDO, the Top 40 Under 40 recognizes innovative young professionals in our community and showcases their accomplishments.

Okanagan Edge will feature a new honouree each week, so check back often.

This week we recognize Gagn Sekhon, of WorkBC.

Image: Contributed

Gagn Sekhon works as the employment services manager at the local WorkBC office, providing employment services to a “wide spectrum” of individuals.

The office’s main goal is to help people return to work that is “consistent and sustainable” for them, and give them the services they need to do that all under one roof. Sekhon oversees those services.

She is also a leader in the community. Representing a service provider of a government program, she’s marketed WorkBC to employers, community agencies, local colleges and universities, not-for-profit agencies, and more.

She’s also volunteered as a Roots of Empathy Program Instructor since 2012. Roots of Empathy is a worldwide program directed at working with students in elementary age classes to promote empathy and pro-social behavior—as well as develop emotional competence and attitudes through weekly instructional sessions.

Sekhon graduated from UBC in Vancouver in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree. She says she’s hoping to one day go back to school, “but right now I like work too much.”

“The hands-on learning and development have built my knowledge and confidence more than I could’ve imagined,” she says.

She also considers herself an entrepreneur, because she works “on a daily basis to manage and organize my place of business, as I’m trusted to do by this enterprise.”

“Working in management and overseeing over 2000 clients and 50 employees at a time has taught me the foundations of business that I can build on in my future.”

Carr top choice for mayor
Jon Manchester - May 04 - BC Biz

Image: The Canadian Press

Adriane Carr is the leading choice to replace Gregor Robertson as mayor of Vancouver.

A Research Co. poll shows the Green Party councillor has extended her lead among prospective candidates for the city’s top job. Robertson is not seeking re-election on Oct. 20.

The poll finds 35 per cent of Vancouverites think Carr would be a “good choice” for mayor, an increase of nine per cent since April.

Carr sits 16 points ahead of Vision Vancouver Coun. Raymond Louie, in second place with 19 per cent.

Independent Jean Swanson polled at 17 per cent, while NPA Coun. Hector Bremner and NDP MP Kennedy Stewart were the choice of 11 and 10 per cent, respectively.

Vancouver park board commissioner John Coupar of the NPA polled nine per cent, and urban geographer Colleen Hardwick eight per cent.

Simon Fraser University professor Shauna Sylvester and activist Morgane Oger each were the choice of seven per cent of those polled.

The most divisive issue appears to be whether the NPA should take control of council. Thirty-three per cent said yes, 33 per cent responded no, and 34 per cent aren’t sure.

​Housing remains the top issue among 42 per cent of Vancouverites, and the cost of living in the city came in second at 36 per cent.

Local named real estate boss
Colton Davies - May 03 - Biz Releases

Image: BC Real Estate Association
Penticton realtor James Palanio has been elected as head of the BCREA for 2018-19.

Penticton realtor James Palanio has been elected as president of the B.C. Real Estate Association for 2018-19, the association announced on Wednesday.

Palanio is an associate broker with Royal Lepage Locations West realty, and has been a licensed realtor since 2002. For six years, he’s been a director for the BCREA and a member of the South Okanagan Real Estate Board.

On being named BCREA president, Palanio said he’s very pleased to be in the role.

“This has been a period of significant change in our profession. We will be employing a collaborative and cohesive approach to enhance realtors’ ability to continue to serve the best interests of their clients,” he said.

The BCREA also elected three officers of the association, six directors and two public directors.

Among the new board of directors is Anthony Bastiaanssen, a realtor with REMAX Kelowna – Westside.

The association consists of about 23,000 licensed realtors in B.C.

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