Faces of #OKGNtech
Accelerate Okanagan - 11:12 am - People in Business

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 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 Justin. Justin Goodhew is the founder and CEO of Trellis. When he’s not helping charities increase their bottom lines, you’ll find him up in the mountains snowboarding, mountain biking or hiking with his amazing life partner and two dogs.

Where do you work in the Okanagan?

I’m the founder and CEO of Trellis. We help charities raise money through ticketing, virtual events, donations, silent auctions and live auctions—anything you can think of to drive more money into a charity’s bank account. We want to give people who are trying to solve these systemic issues in our communities more resources.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I love problem-solving. That’s what gets me excited to go to work in the morning. Whenever you solve a problem, there’s always a taller, more difficult one waiting to be addressed. Running a startup mostly sucks. It’s really hard, demoralizing and stressful. But when you see clients raising money every day through the platform and what they do, it makes solving those business problems worthwhile.

How did you get into entrepreneurship?

Turns out I’m not very employable. In my fifth year of university I applied to 35 jobs and didn’t get a single interview. Then I got fired from my volunteer job. I met my first co-founder at a startup weekend and was grinding for a year starting a company. I spent three months in the Plug and Play incubator—crashed, burned and failed in every way possible. I learned a ton from that experience.

Have you always had an interest in supporting charities?

I never consciously thought of myself as someone who was charitable or philanthropic until I started Trellis. As I looked into the problem we were trying to solve with Trellis, I recognized how charities are working in outdated systems with lots of problems. I wanted to help them move into social enterprising and sustainability. I needed to do something with a tangible impact.

What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?

You just need to start. Like with every problem I try to tackle, figure out where you want to go and then break down the first three or four steps towards that goal. Solve those first few steps and then figure out the next ones you need to address. With time, family or financial restrictions, just talk to the people that are important in your life, find out what limitations there are and never cross them.

How were you first introduced to the OKGNtech community?

It was pretty easy to get connected in the community. I moved into CoLab and met Shane Austin, and then I went to Startup Drinks and met a bunch of other people. I also signed up for a bunch of newsletters from all these community groups and attended a lot of events. I didn’t know anyone, so it was a great way to meet new friends, too.

Where are you when you’re not at work and when you’re not online?

I’m originally from Ontario, a place where there are no mountains. Living in the Okanagan now, I just love being up in the mountains. I’m usually snowboarding in the winter or mountain biking in summer—trail and downhill. Anything that gets me outside.

What’s the best piece of advice you like to share?

Winston Churchill said, “Success is moving from failure to failure without any lack of enthusiasm.” If you Google me, there’s an article with the headline: “Failure is an Option” and it’s just the best. As rudimentary as it is, embrace failure and don’t do it twice. I keep f–king up, but I also keep moving forward without any lack of enthusiasm. The only thing you can control in this startup world is how you react to failure.

Always live in the now
Contributed - Nov 25, 2020 - People in Business

Photo: Contributed

My mother passed in 2003. She was declining for a few years and knew it. Although she would not describe herself as spiritual, she had a strong belief in God, a religious upbringing, and a zest for life, learning and teaching her whole life. She was dedicated to serving others and spent most of her life, teaching, nursing and helping others in many ways. As she got closer to her own transition she began to question spiritual aspects of a life after death versus traditional religious teachings.

She had spent most of her life, as I did, actively denying her very different connection to the other side. My younger sister was also on her own a spiritual journey of discovery. I had told them both about two different near-death experiences I had, angel occurrences and messages sent in dreamtime. Together we spent many hours talking with each other, and her, about it. In the last years of her life she was curious and perhaps a little anxious. We even shared one miraculous angelic intervention. That’s a story for another day.

She asked how I would know her if she came by to visit from heaven. I said you should give us each a sign. Choose it now so I will know it is you. She told me she would send me butterflies. My sister would see angelic symbols. I loved yellow, and most specifically Golden Tip Angel Wings, and she loved monarchs and white cabbage moths, which are common in B.C. and Canada. We agreed that any of those showed up and hung around, or landed on or very close to me and stayed for a bit, it would be her sending me a message.

I loved drums and drumming my whole life. My junior and high school sorrow was not being allowed to play the drums in the school band. Back then, it wasn’t considered a suitable instrument for a girl. I told her dad always came to me with the sound of bells or chimes, which he loved. If she needed it to be a sound, make it drums. She laughed a lot at that.

I was blessed to be with her and my sister when she passed. She loved Hawaii and island music, especially the chanting and drums. We played her out with that music. When our brother arrived to sit with her awhile, and my sister went to take care of the paperwork, I wandered out onto the nearby patio. As I was looking out over the valley below, a huge white butterfly appeared from nowhere and circled above and around me. Lower and lower it came until it landed softly on my knee. We sat there together until I heard my brother behind me say, ‘Well, that will be mom. I guess she made it.’ At that, the butterfly flew up and circled above us all for a minute and then disappeared high up into the air.

Many months later I was reminded of the connection to my mother’s heart, butterflies and drums, as we spread her ashes in her beloved Hawaii. She appeared to all of us in so many ways with so many signs. I believe she was thanking us for bring her back to her heart home, the place she loved most on earth.

One of the principles I learned from my own experiences with death was that we are always here now. Now is where we live. Since her transition, she comes often as butterfly or a drum song. In 2009 I made and painted a drum in her honour and wrote this poem/song in her memory. As you read it, connect to the spirit in your heart, the soul of you here, now and always. Sadly, some of our drums were stolen, including my precious sacred mother heart drum. I hope whomever took them is blessed with the joy I had in creating and playing it.

Sacred Mother Heart Drum Song of NOW

(Note: Think of NOW as a beat of a drum and a reminder to be here now with your heart beat.)

Let your heart be still, NOW, Listen, hear her sweet song, NOW! Breathe from her heart, NOW! Soar NOW, Sing NOW
Dance, NOW, Dance
The song of the Sacred, NOW! Heartbeat of Life, NOW! Sacred Mother Heart Drum NOW!
Butterflies whirl, as the Mother dances, The sea sounds her sirens call, NOW! To the shores of our hearts, NOW! Once so far apart reunited NOW,
Mysterious NOW, Magical, NOW,
Our mythical stars shining, NOW! Swirling NOW, angels whirling NOW, Our universe turning, NOW!
The drum sings softly NOW, Loudly, NOW, far, far, away NOW! Our songs overlap, NOW Over and over, NOW, Moving closer and closer NOW
NOW, here, NOW there, everywhere NOW! Butterflies whirl, so softly they sparkle As once they were, NOW, are NOW, And ever shall be, NOW!
Sacred Mother Heart still hears NOW! She breathes, NOW!
The drum beats her heart, NOW Sacred heart songs, from the soul, NOW!
Sung from heart to heart NOW! Dear heart is as it ever was NOW! Ever shall be, NOW!

Donna Fairhurst is the owner of Soul Full Solutions in Penticton.

This column was submitted as part of BWB Wednesdays.

Griffiths new AO board chair
Accelerate Okanagan - Nov 20, 2020 - People in Business

Image: Contributed

Corie Griffiths is the director of economic development and bylaw services for the Regional District of the Central Okanagan. Recently, Griffiths was elected as the new board chair of Accelerate Okanagan.

In addition to Accelerate Okanagan, Griffiths serves in an executive capacity on the Economic Development Association of Canada, which is a national board, and the Local Government Management Association of British Columbia, a provincial board.

While she wears many hats, when it comes to Accelerate Okanagan and supporting #OKGNtech, Griffiths is all in. To introduce you, we sat down with her to learn more about her experiences, her new role and what makes her excited about the Okanagan’s tech community.

What made you want to become the chair of Accelerate Okanagan?

We have board members who are practising in corporate securities, specializing in HR, academic research, venture capital, digital advertising and animation. We even have a molecular biologist! The level of knowledge, creativity, technical expertise and experience far exceeds any of my capacities. I am very excited to work alongside these board members. I’ve seen Accelerate Okanagan grow in its profile, reach and impact in the region, and I’ve seen the board’s governance grow as well. That’s why I’m very honoured to serve as chair.

What are some traits you think great leaders possess?

I think great leaders should have a healthy risk tolerance and quiet confidence. Their egos should be in check. They should be willing to stick their neck out for calculated decisions. They should think very strategically and understand how to implement that strategy. However, the most important trait is being able to share power and support those around you. I know that I feel most fulfilled as a leader when I see those around me grow.

What are some of the changes that you have seen in the Okanagan tech sector over the years?

Ten or 15 years ago, which was some of the first exposure I had to Accelerate Okanagan, the Okanagan’s tech scene did not have much of a profile. Now there is a significant amount of momentum around the Okanagan as one of British Columbia’s leading tech hubs. As a country, we’re dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic while positioning businesses for a transformative change in how industries operate, what their needs are, and how the economy will be impacted moving forward. The Okanagan is well positioned as a region to address these challenges because of organizations like Accelerate Okanagan, CoLab, [email protected] and Valhalla Angels, who are supporting businesses through this time.

What makes you excited about the future of Okanagan tech?

I’m really optimistic about the increased profile of the Okanagan as a tech hub in Canada and throughout North America. I believe it has the opportunity to be viewed as an entry point into the North American markets. Accelerate Okanagan provides such breadth and depth in their support to the entrepreneurial community, but locally we don’t really hear enough about what they’re doing. The organization has done a lot to foster economic growth and new businesses in the region.

What can we do as a community to support entrepreneurs who are trying to scale a business?

We as a community can work more collaboratively to address some of the talent needs in the tech community, whether that be changing skills or improving entrance into the market. There’s also an opportunity to increase access to, and the amount of, venture capital for companies that are scaling in the region. Entrepreneurs and businesses have been looking for those opportunities for some time.

What is one thing people can do to help you?

Reach out to me individually, to the board or to Accelerate Okanagan’s team. Connect with us and learn more about the programs and services being offered, and participate within the community.

Summerland names new CAO
Okanagan Edge Staff - Nov 19, 2020 - People in Business

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The District of Summerland has named Graham Statt as its new chief administrative officer.

Statt comes to the Okanagan from Alberta, where he has served in government roles for the last 20 years. His most recent position was as incident commander for Alberta’s Emergency Operations Centre in its fight against COVID-19.

“One of council’s most important responsibilities is to select a suitable CAO for our community,” Summerland Mayor Toni Boot said in a press release, “and we believe that Graham will make an excellent addition to Summerland.

“We look forward to working with Graham and are confident he has the leadership and skills to continue advancing Summerland and achieving council’s strategic priorities.”

Statt has worked for Alberta’s Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Tourism, Parks and Recreation, and the Ministry of International, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Relations.

He holds a bachelor of arts degree in anthropology as well as a master’s degree in anthropology with interdisciplinary focus in the Faculty of Law, focusing on aboriginal law.

“My wife and I are looking forward to moving to Summerland,” Statt said. “I am excited to work with staff and council, and to use my knowledge and leadership skills to accomplish great things together.”

His first day on the job will be Jan. 4.

Douglas business leader of year
Okanagan Edge Staff - Nov 19, 2020 - People in Business

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Laurel Douglas has been named Kelowna’s business leader of the year.

The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce names the award winner each year in advance of its Business Excellence Awards, which will be held virtually next week. The winner is determined by an independent judging panel.

Douglas is a longtime non-profit and community leader who has supported many businesses and community organizations, and has served as a mentor and resource for many individuals over the years. She is currently the CEO of the Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust after serving in the same role for the Women’s Enterprise Centre.

She has lived in the Okanagan since 1997 and was the founding executive director of what is now known as Accelerate Okanagan.

“Laurel, through her long-standing support of the community, has enriched our city and our region,” Kelowna chamber president Jeffrey Robinson said in a press release. “She has championed entrepreneurs and provided valuable community leadership in the economic development and post-secondary sectors.

“She continues to leave a legacy of strategic thinking, impact and collaboration in the positions she has held. In her new role at SIDIT, we are confident that her steady hand and clear-headed planning will create great outcomes for this important regional economic development organization.”

Douglas will receive the honour at the 33rd annual Business Excellence Awards, which will be held online from 5 to 6:30 p.m. next Thursday night.

“I’m honoured to be named business leader of the year, in recognition of the work I’ve done in this region over the last 23 years, helping develop the Okanagan tech sector, supporting women entrepreneurs throughout BC, and now helping the Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust enter its next chapter,” Douglas said.

“When I arrived in Kelowna, I wanted to use my background in business to help entrepreneurs access capital, knowledge and markets, and to help create the conditions to encourage economic development in our region.

“I’ve had the privilege of working with wonderful team members and volunteer board members over the years, who are all committed to making a difference, and are working very hard during this difficult time to support business and community resilience and recovery.”

White earns national honour
Okanagan Edge Staff - Nov 16, 2020 - People in Business

Photo: Facebook

An Okanagan mortgage broker has been recognized nationally for her work in the industry.

Deb White has been included among the “2020 Women of Influence” by Canadian Mortgage Professional magazine. There were hundreds of nominations, and White was one of 71 honoured from across the country.

“I am blessed to be on a list with such amazing women in the industry,” White wrote in a Facebook post. “Thank you Canadian Mortgage Professional magazine, and thank you to those who nominated me.

“Every day I am reminded what an amazing industry I am in, and I love my career.”

White is the award-winning owner of DLC White House Mortgages, whose head office in is Vernon and has a location in Kelowna.

Faces of #OKGNtech
Accelerate Okanagan - Nov 12, 2020 - People in Business

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 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 Michael. Michael Macaulay is a partner at Lawson Lundell LLP and the ultimate community connector. When he’s not helping entrepreneurs advance their business, you’ll find Macaulay with his family—hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter.

Where do you work in the Okanagan?

I’m a partner at Lawson Lundell, a full-service business law firm with a long history in Vancouver. Our office in Kelowna’s Innovation Centre is our youngest and smallest location and focuses on servicing the technology sector and working with clients in the innovation space.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

One of the things that I enjoy the most is helping to guide founders and early-stage companies—not just through corporate structure and legal documents, but trying to help them think about how their structure works and evolves with their business. I like working with them in getting the right foundation for their practices, their approach to governance, their approach to risk management, and making connections and introductions.

What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?

There’s a little bit of luck, but there’s also a lot of intentionality. You need to put yourself in a position where you have the right skills, so when there is an opportunity you’re able to take advantage of it. You need to build out your network and get to know the right people so you’re creating those opportunities. Lastly, you need to take action and not be afraid to make a bold move. There are no certainties in anything, but through some combination of luck and action you can position yourself to have the career you’re looking for.

How were you first introduced to the OKGNtech community?

I was introduced to Accelerate Okanagan through a sponsorship opportunity. I’ve always had an interest in tech, so I was the obvious candidate for that engagement. During my first connection with the tech community, Andrew Greer, who was the community manager at the time, picked me up at the airport and he had put together such a fantastic day—a lunch and learn with a bunch of exciting companies, break-out one-on-ones with those companies, and then startup drinks in the evening. I was left with the impression that the Okanagan had this vibrancy about it.

What do you enjoy about the OKGNtech community?

If you’re building a startup, it’s hard to find a better place than in the Okanagan right now. It is easier for early-stage companies to raise their initial round of funding. Angel investors are active, and people don’t just invest with the bottom line in mind; they want to invest in order to build the tech community. You’ve got investors who are wanting to come in earlier than they might in a bigger centre because they see something in the founder. They want it to happen for them and for the community. It’s a huge thing to give people that chance.

What are some ways you give back to the OKGNtech community?

I facilitate connections between people outside the Okanagan who are looking to reach in. I often get calls or emails from folks that are thinking about relocating to the Okanagan. Being able to be an ambassador to the region—explaining why it’s a great place for them to move their business or talents—is something I really enjoy. More of those since COVID started. A lot of Canadian ex-pats looking to come home, and Kelowna is very high on their list.

Do you think there is anything missing from the community here?

What I find really positive about the community here is that people are identifying what’s missing and they’re working to fill those gaps. The gaps I see now are around attracting anchor companies to the region. Even if they’re just small offices, they help with talent attraction. When they locate here, it’s a sign from a large player that it’s a place to believe in. Once you get a few, more will follow.

The best piece of advice you like to share?

Give first. I find that you get out of life what you put into it. If you’re a helper first and do what you can to contribute something, it has a way of coming back to you one way or another. Making those connections, those introductions, giving your time to places where you think you can have an impact, is better for everybody. If more people see each other acting that way, they are more inclined to do the same.

Haddad moves on to Penticton
Chelsea Powrie - Nov 12, 2020 - People in Business

Photo: Contributed

Summerland Council sent chief administrative officer Anthony Haddad off with best wishes Monday as part of his final meeting in the role before heading to a new role in Penticton.

Haddad, who spent just over a year as CAO, is moving to a position as Penticton’s general manager of community services. He had previously been Penticton’s director of development services.

At Monday’s meeting, Summerland’s Mayor Toni Boot recognized Haddad for the “mutual trust and respect” he fostered amongst district staff.

“On a personal note Anthony, thank you for your support and guidance especially during these last few months. While I am sad to see you go I understand your decision and hope we have the opportunity to collaborate on community initiatives, for Summerland and Penticton, in the near future,” Boot added.

Councillors also weighed in, wishing him well.

“Penticton is gaining a lot. We will really miss you, and thank you for your leadership,” Coun. Erin Trainer said.

Haddad echoed the sentiments.

“It’s been a fantastic and challenging year-and-a-bit with the district … I have every confidence in mayor and council leading the community through (upcoming challenges),” Haddad said.

“It’s been a busy year, a fantastic experience, and I really appreciate the opportunity that council and the community have given me.”

Haddad’s official final day as CAO in Summerland was Tuesday.

Workplace racism talk on tap
Okanagan Edge Staff - Nov 10, 2020 - People in Business

Photo: Contributed

UBCO will be bringing the discussion of racism in the workplace to the Okanagan next week.

The school is hosting lawyer, journalist and equity advocate Dr. Hadiya Roderique as part of its Distinguished Speaker Series next Tuesday night. The presentation will be done virtually, and it is free for anyone to watch.

Roderique will provide a discussion on racial inequities in the workplace. Addressing barriers and challenges, she will counter common arguments with informed data and strategies to help move society toward a true meritocracy.

Roderique holds a law degree, master’s degree in criminology and PhD in organizational behaviour and human resources management from the University of Toronto.

In 2018 she was named one of Canadian Lawyers’ 25 Most Influential Lawyers and was recognized with the Rising Star award from the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers.

Fire chief calling it quits
Brendan Kergin - Nov 05, 2020 - People in Business

Photo: Brendan Kergin

After more than three decades of service, Kamloops Fire Rescue chief Mike Adams is preparing for his last shift.

Adams has given notice to the city that he intends for Dec. 18 to be his last day after spending nearly a decade with KFR.

“I think it’s time to go,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about doing it for a while.”

He’s been with KFR since 2011. Before that he spent time in Squamish and in North Vancouver, where he started his career in the late 80s. He says as a young firefighter he thought he’d have a big plan for when he retired. That’s not the case right now.

“I just look forward to hanging out with my kids and spending time with my wife,” he said, adding that he intends to stay in Kamloops.

He is interested in pursuing things outside of the firefighting industry but doesn’t have anything lined up as of now.

As for his time with the fire and rescue service, he says he’s been impressed by those he works with.

“It’s been fantastic, and I’m just very satisfied with what we’ve been able to achieve,” he said.

Adams took over the top spot at KFR after chief Dale McLean retired at the end of 2016; Adams first took the role as acting chief, then was officially hired after the city looked at its options.

This time assistant chief Steve Robinson will fill the role as acting chief.

“I have the utmost confidence in chief Robinson,” Adams said.

Before he goes, Adams wants to thank his staff and community at large.

“A heartfelt thank you to everybody and their support,” he said. “And big thanks to the staff here.”

“I just wish everyone to stay safe and be healthy and be kind and take care of each other.”

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