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The student has become a teacher in Shuswap Launch-a-Preneur.
The Salmon Arm-based business competition has helped propel Laureen Shannon, a fourth-year Business student at Okanagan College, on a business development trajectory fuelled by community connections.
"I love this program. Once you’re in a launch, you’re in it for life,” Shannon explains. "We always follow up how they are doing, cross-promoting their business."
She began her studies in Office Administration, which capped off with a six-week practicum working with the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society (SAEDS) on a variety of projects. One of the biggest projects included Shuswap Launch-a-Preneur — a Dragon’s Den-style business development competition, featuring a series of workshops that support participants in developing the building blocks of their businesses.
When Shannon returned to pursue her Bachelor of Business Administration, she joined Okanagan College Enactus — a student organization committed to offering community outreach projects.
"It allowed me to get to know students that had the same thought about giving back and making a difference in your community,” she says. “You are fostering a network that is creating positive change. It’s action oriented, they don’t just talk about change.”
Being part of the non-profit allowed Shannon to stay involved with Launch-a-Preneur, which is driven by three partner organizations: Okanagan College Enactus, SAEDS and Community Futures Shuswap. The program features a series of six workshops that cover the essential components for a business plan. In addition to the workshops, entrepreneurs are matched with business mentors specializing in fields that would benefit the new idea. For example, someone needing information on financials or accounting are partnered with local volunteers from BDO or Grant Thornton. The participants also have access to a pool of mentors ranging in expertise.
Since the program inception, 81 mentors from local businesses have provided countless hours of one-on-one training. Forty-four businesses have been involved, creating 78 full-time and 15 part-time jobs in the Shuswap.
"That mentorship begins a long-term relationship. They become customers, become partners, they’ll still work together in years to come,” Shannon adds.
Given the program runs every two years, Shannon and the Enactus team supported an accelerated weekend program last year that introduced participants to business plan fundamentals, with the option to join Launch-a-Preneur in 2019. This year, Shannon is a project coordinator for SAEDS, supporting sponsorship requests and facilitating sessions on her own.
“Over the last several years, our organization has had the opportunity to work with a variety of Okanagan College students on different community projects. We continue to be impressed by both the knowledge and passion to create change that OC students bring. We have been very fortunate to work with Laureen Shannon in different capacities, first as an Enactus volunteer and most recently as project coordinator for Season 5 of Launch-a-Preneur. The subject expertise, energy and unwavering commitment she brings to this program will provide ongoing benefit to our local entrepreneurs,” says Lana Fitt, SAEDS Economic Development Manager.
“Laureen is in a critical role this year, which is fantastic,” says Andrew Klingel, the Business professor who serves as an Enactus coach, alongside Terry Kosowick. “Community projects such as Launch-a-Preneur allow students to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to the real world. They see what they are learning is relevant to their careers. They practice these skills, tools and techniques, which really builds their confidence. I’ve seen Laureen grow tremendously over the years, which is really rewarding to see."
Shannon takes her business development path in stride.
"For me, the benefit of taking part is being able to apply what I’ve learned in school, working with the entrepreneurs, and learning from them. Creating a relationship and connection with the participants helps grow my network,” she says.
The group is now prepping for Season 5 Final Night, where participants compete for thousands of dollars in prizes like seed capital, business consulting hours, website development packages, accounting and legal fees — all designed to assist with Shuswap startups. Teams present a short pitch to a panel of judges that include angel investors and successful entrepreneurs in the region. Prizes are awarded for green initiative, public choice and the judges’ top three selections.
“Launch-a-Preneur showcases the entrepreneurial spirit of the Shuswap,” says Joan Ragsdale, Regional Dean of Shuswap-Revelstoke. “It is a great opportunity for the College and students to work closely with community partners and businesses to strengthen our region.”
Shannon wants to continue on with Launch-a-Preneur, having already witnessed the value that Okanagan College alumni bring to working with students and community members.
“Launch has given me a lot of openings for my future and what I want to do when I graduate. I’ll either want to run these programs all the time or be in it,” she laughs. "These people are starting up businesses, and they’re going to hire Okanagan College students."
Launch-a-Preneur’s final night is scheduled for March 14 at the Salmar Theatre. Tickets are $20, and can be purchased online: http://launch-a-preneur.ca/. Proceeds support the Launch-a-Preneur program.
More health-care beds opening up is good news for patients and for those seeking careers in caring.
An intake of Okanagan College’s Health Care Assistant program is scheduled for May at the Salmon Arm campus, giving students in the Shuswap direct access to training for one of the most in-demand positions in the province.
The intake couldn’t come at a better time for operators of Mount Ida Mews in Salmon Arm, which just hosted the grand opening for Phase 2 of its 60-bed expansion project.
"We are very proud to partner with Interior Health to provide quality senior care to the residents of Salmon Arm. The expansion of Mount Ida Mews will create 48 new jobs for nurses, health care assistants and hospitality workers in the community. We look forward to continuing to nurture our partnership with the community of Salmon Arm and thank everyone who was involved in bringing this project to life," says Melanie Reinhardt, President of Vantage Living which operates Mount Ida Mews.
According to WorkBC, health care assistants have been identified as a priority occupation for the B.C. Ministry of Health. Average employment growth rates in this field are forecast at 13 per cent to 2022, with no sign of slowing. This demand is anticipated to increase even more after the Government of B.C. announced funding to increase staffing levels in residential care homes for seniors, which aims to fund more than 900 health care assistants by 2021.
“The need for health care assistants within the Interior Health region is growing. There are many employment opportunities for individuals who have this training,” says Interior Health’s Shalan Hundal, Health Care Assistant Recruitment and Marketing Project Lead. “Graduates of the HCA program can join our teams at Interior Health and choose to work in a team environment in long-term care or they can choose to work one-on-one with clients in home support. It is a great career choice for those who like making a positive impact on the lives of others.”
The intensive program runs for 26 weeks (six-months)
starting in May, and will feature four months of classroom instruction and two months of hands-on practicum for students to learn within the health-care environment.
In addition to being in demand, students can also expect to find a career that’s highly rewarding, notes Lisa Kraft, Associate Dean of Science Technology and Health for Okanagan College.
“Health care assistants find their work extremely rewarding. Graduates often tell us how much they appreciate the opportunity to have a significant impact on the quality of life for people in their care,” explains Kraft. “This profession also supports individuals and their families, as living wages are provided right out of school and a variety of shifts are offered, making it easy for people to find work that best fits their lives.”
An information night for people to learn more about the Health Care Assistant program and field will be held on Thursday, March 14 at 7 p.m. at the Salmon Arm campus, 2552 10th Ave. NE. Students will meet program staff who can discuss the program and outline education financing options, admission requirements and supports for returning students. Information on Work BC funding eligibility will also be available.
Applications can be submitted online. For information, call 250-832-2126, ext. 8259 or visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/hca.
“Seeing the Enactus OC students work so hard on their community projects and corresponding presentations was so motivating and to see their hard work rewarded with such success is so encouraging. As students we are able to use this experience to learn from industry professionals and develop skills to benefit our community. This opportunity wouldn't be possible without the experience from our alumni and support we get from our community partners, faculty advisers and Okanagan College, they provide an extraordinary footing for our team to depend on and grow from,” said Enactus OC Co-President Jamie Park.
First – James Dessert (Okanagan College, Kelowna, B.C.)
Bridge weighed 799.61 grams
Bridge held 137.94 kg
Second – Justin Dessert (Charles Bloom Secondary, Lumby, B.C.)
Bridge weighed 916.14 grams
Bridge held 128.55 kg
Third – Stefan Trajkov, Luiz Fernandez and Shafat Ismail (Red River College, Winnipeg, M.B)
Bridge weighed 999.36 grams
Bridge held 114.99 kg
Fourth – Joshua Greencorn and Riley Jackson (Anchor Academy, homeschool)
Bridge weighed 564.85 grams
Bridge held 12.01 kg
First – Tyson Kamstra, Joel deHoog and Eli Jansen (King’s Christian School)
Second – Sienna Collins, Maddy Darlington, Caroline Bernath and Taylor Blenkin (Okanagan Mission Secondary)
Third – Juliette Schilling, Maya Ufimzeff and Arashjot Hehar (George Elliot Secondary)
Fourth – Tori Hansen and Alivia Grey-Goodman (Springvalley Middle School)
Team Building Secondary
First – Sarah Congdon, Rudi Fink and Tyler Blumethal (King’s Christian School)
Second – Haley Partridge, Clayton Reay (King’s Christian School)
Third – Tyson Kamstra, Joel deHoog, Eli Jansen (King’s Christian School)
Team Building Post-Secondary
First – Clayton Uhlig and Keyvan Khadem (Okanagan College)
Second – Nita Joubert, Adam Thomson, Stefan Queen and Brendan Horsfield (Okanagan College)
Across Canada, there are hundreds of tree planters who have reason to be thankful for Okanagan College and the research of one of its therapy assistant program professors, Darrel Skinner.
And while the tree-planters might not know – and may not even care about such things – today (Feb. 26) is B.C. Colleges Day, proclaimed by the provincial government and celebrated in Victoria at the Legislature.
Where does tree-planting intersect with provincial proclamations? At the point where Colleges contribute to the economic, cultural and social fabric of this province and country.
Darrell’s story is a great example of how Okanagan Colleges and the other Colleges of Canada contribute in ways that might go generally unrecognized.
In summer 2017, Darrell – aware of the many injuries (especially tendonitis) suffered by tree planters - undertook research (funded by Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, one of the three major research granting councils in this country) that looked at what could be done to prevent or treat those injuries.
The outcomes were positive, although tree-planting business owners have used much more enthusiastic descriptors: “revolutionized injury management” and “game-changing” are two of the phrases that we’ve heard.
To put Darrell’s applied research in a nutshell, the taping techniques he developed, with a partner firm in Houston, British Columbia, and a tree planting company in Smithers, have reduced initial injuries among planters, shortened the recovery time of those who are injured, and have yielded increased income for planters, and improved productivity for businesses.
The initial research grant was $23,000.
Darrell is surprised by how far and fast the research outcomes have pervaded the industry and how quickly firms across Canada have picked up on the techniques. One of Canada’s largest treeplanting firms made the taping mandatory for first- and second-year treeplanters.
Darrell’s story is not unique.
The record of the School of Business, its professors and students contributing to significant community projects extends throughout the Okanagan and Shuswap valleys. Witness the recent Economic Scorecard developed for Kelowna – Dr. Heather Banham, a retired OC Dean of Business, and Dr. Lynn Sparling, the current chair of OC’s Business Administration department, were engines helping drive development of that tool.
Whether it is in teaching budgeting and financial literacy to thousands of elementary students or helping launch entrepreneurial efforts in the Shuswap, the records of achievement and accomplishment are pervasive.
The same is true of our Trades and Apprenticeship department, whether it is OC’s leading-edge Women in Trades program, support for building social housing, helping companies such as KF Aerospace meet their need for skilled workers, or engaging in research projects that demonstrate the value of the latest green building techniques and materials.
Cultural contributions abound, whether it is nationally-recognized novels written by our English professors or plays produced by the College’s Red Dot Players.
The list goes on and on, and changes from year to year. It is a continuum of contributions that dates to 1963 when the federal and provincial governments established OC’s predecessor, the British Columbia Vocational School.
Okanagan College is bigger than ever today, serving more local students with more programs and bringing more people from outside our region to our campuses and centres to learn and contribute to our economy and culture.
Our staff and our students are engaged in building our communities in ways that are impossible to track but are worth noting when they come to our attention.
Ask the treeplanters and their employers.
And take a minute today to celebrate B.C. Colleges Day.
- Jim Hamilton
President, Okanagan College
When it comes to green, Okanagan College is better than gold.
Okanagan College can now boast of having two of the 14 LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) Platinum-certified buildings in all of Canada’s post-secondary sector. The College learned this week that its new trades building in Kelowna has been certified by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC). It is the second for OC – the first was the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence at the College’s Penticton campus.
LEED Platinum certification is the highest standard awarded in the rating system which measures green building. The system is in use in more than 160 countries. In order to achieve platinum a building must measure up across an array of factors, from the incorporation of sustainable building materials to water and energy efficiency to human-factor behaviours like recycling programs housed within a building.
“You don’t have to look hard to find advances in sustainability across all the trades, from automotive to welding, so in expanding and re-invigorating our Kelowna trades training facilities, we set out to provide our students and employees with a world-class learning environment that would celebrate them, their chosen career paths and the future of the trades,” notes Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Our institution has a reputation as a leader in sustainable building. We are proud of being able to raise the bar in sustainability and wouldn’t have been able to create spaces such as this without the help of forward-thinking builders like PCL (PCL Constructors Westcoast Ltd.), our industry partners, and the incredible community support and donations that made the project possible.”
The provincial government contributed $28 million toward the $35 million, 10,000-square-metre Trades Complex project which involved new construction and extensive upgrades to existing facilities. The new building accounts for about 5,200 square metres of the overall project.
Feedback from the building’s most important critics – students and staff – has also been glowing.
“Students and staff have truly embraced the new building as their home from the moment it opened,” says Steve Moores, the College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship. “I think it’s safe to say that the sustainability factor has contributed to their sense of pride in the space.”
Moores has also witnessed how the building’s design has inspired industry and other post-secondary institutions.
“We’ve had feedback from many people who have taken tours and asked about how we were able to incorporate certain technologies and sustainability features, and what it meant for the training environment. One of the other benefits of the building is that has already proved itself as a wonderful model for others in terms of what can be achieved.”
Students at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus are helping Fido stay warm in the winter weather with a donation of insulated doghouses to the local SCPA.
Five large breed dogs adopted from the Vernon SPCA in the coming days will have the option of receiving one of the doghouses, ensuring they have a warm welcome in their new homes. The doghouses were built and insulated as a part of the hands-on training students are gaining in the Residential Insulator program.
The program, which piloted last year and is now in its second cohort, provides students with specialized training in the increasingly technical building science surrounding residential insulation. Five teams of students each built and insulated a doghouse as a part of their training.
“We were looking for an alternate project for our program and loved the idea of building and insulating doghouses that would be comfortable for dogs as they are adopted into their new homes,” says instructor Luke Egely. “The students had a chance to bring their creativity to their projects and contribute to the community.”
An SPCA staff member and one of their adoptable dogs, Hawkin, were on-site at the College recently to check out the completed doghouses and meet the students who built them.
“We are very excited to be able to offer extra care items to people who are adopting a dog. It’s a great incentive for anyone who might not already own all of the supplies they need to provide shelter for an outdoor dog,” says Chelsea Taylor, branch manager of the Vernon and District SPCA.
The booming insulation industry, coupled with consumer interest in reducing environmental impact, has created a significant need for skilled workers. Okanagan College, in conjunction with the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, Work BC, and local industry leaders, developed the 25-week program to help meet industry demand and prepare skilled workers.
The program provides tuition-free training for eligible applicants with funding from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. The program is geared toward helping students develop practical skills and provides safety certifications in the first 15 weeks of classroom instruction. Beginning in mid-April, the current cohort of students will spend 10 weeks in work placements with local employers, providing valuable work-related experience.
“After the pilot program last year, we have added more content to further develop the curriculum,” says Egely. “We’ve created a program that gives students a solid foundation in most of the applications seen in residential insulating and covers a broad range of topics to build the knowledge these students need.”
Anyone interested in adopting an animal can visit the SPCA website for a current listing of animals in care, see photos and read more about them.
Okanagan College business students are boasting bronze after capturing third place from a field of 30 student teams at the Scotiabank Canadian Case Challenge.
The competition, held at Vanier College in Montreal, melds business strategy, marketing and management into one of the most challenging collegiate competitions in the country. The first day, all 30 teams are sequestered in isolation as they wait to be given the business case. Once given the details, students have 3.5 hours to analyze the information given, put together recommendations and build a presentation to deliver to a panel of industry leaders.
“It’s a major competition, the judges are incredible and the entire experience is extremely intense,” explains Blair Baldwin, Okanagan School of Business professor who coached the team alongside Mark Ziebarth.
The students' first case was from a coffee company based on Prince Edward Island that was seeking recommendations that would grow their company, with a specific marketing budget in mind.
Nathan Ziebart, a third-year marketing student on the team, explained the team’s recommendation to expand wholesale distribution to similar clients in other regions was a challenge.
"Coming up with three good alternatives was quite difficult. The analysis was pretty straightforward, but because of the limited budget and being a business-to-business case, there were limited options that we could present,” Ziebart explains.
“In a competition like this we really get to apply all of the skills and knowledge that we learn in class and bring it out it to be tested. It adds a new level to the learning,” said Cooper Simson, a finance student also on the team.
Their approach worked, as the team found out Saturday night that they would advance to the final round on Sunday. That case featured a Calgary-based alternative fitness business specializing in parkour ninja warrior-style training, seeking expansion opportunities that would see them grow market share.
The team suggested changes to their business model to allow memberships and hourly rates for specific drop-in times, in addition to holding an accessible competition tailored to families, youth and non-competitors.
Once the finals were over, Baldwin recalls multiple people praising the OSB contingent’s performance.
“Our team put on a very creative presentation to the judges. So many students, presenters, coaches came up and shook their hands saying, ‘Okanagan School of Business keeps raising the bar,’” he says.
"What stood out for me was the countless hours — over 40 hours in training for five weeks — prior to going to Montreal. Their dedication to learning and representing the Okanagan School of Business was admirable. They knew they were entering a tough competition and wanted to compete at a high level."
"It's opportunities like this that really exemplify why the Okanagan School of Business is such a great place to study, getting to challenge ourselves and hone our abilities,” said Nico Dirksen, who is specializing in accounting.
A harrowing 90 minutes after they presented, the judges announced the winners, and Okanagan College took home the bronze.
“Podium finishes at a case competition of this calibre cannot be achieved without a great deal of preparation and work. I congratulate the students and the faculty for the incredible effort they put in and for representing the College so well,” says Bill Gillett, Dean of the Okanagan School of Business.
Okanagan College’s Bachelor of Business Administration degree program has received high marks from the international organization overseeing the investment management profession.
The CFA Society Okanagan hosted a special reception event at Manteo Resort recently, where CFA Institute’s CEO Paul Smith recognized the College’s School of Business for its finance specialty programming.
“Okanagan College’s Business program has a long history of producing investment management leaders in the region, many of whom have gone on to achieve their CFA designation. University affiliate status is a strong signal to students and employers of the quality of the curriculum,” says Smith. “We welcome Okanagan College as the newest university affiliate, which is our third in British Columbia.”
The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) credential is recognized internationally as the standard of certification for investment professionals, and the institute has more than 158,000 members worldwide who promote the highest standards of education, ethics, and professional excellence in the investment profession.
Okanagan College is one of 31 institutions in Canada that are affiliates of the CFA Institute. In addition to added prestige for the School of Business, the new affiliation also brings another benefit for students: scholarships.
Starting this year, up to nine scholarships will be provided to College students who pursue the CFA exams as part of the affiliation, to be administered by the Okanagan School of Business.
“Demonstrating knowledge and skills to prospective employers is valuable for new graduates, and the CFA designation can give those pursuing careers in the financial management industry an edge,” says William Gillett, Dean of the Okanagan School of Business. “With Okanagan College now part of the CFA affiliate program, our finance students are getting a head-start in the investment management profession.”