'I think students should pursue their passion when deciding what to study. What excites you? When do you feel most inspired?'
Q: What is your education and background?
A: I have a Bachelor of Commerce and a Master's of Business Administration from Queen’s University.
Q: What is your area of interest?
A: Prior to joining Okanagan College, I consulted for major corporations such as Telus, TD and General Motors — but my true passion is entrepreneurship. I have been involved with many new ventures as an operator, investor and advisor. For example, I joined a software start up that grew from $0 in sales to over $100 million per year in just 4 years and went public on the Toronto Stock Exchange. I also developed and launched a line of consumer products that is now sold at over 10,000 retail locations across North America, including Home Depot, Lowe’s and Canadian Tire. On the non-profit side, I co-founded the Framework Foundation (www.timeraiser.ca), that has raised nearly 150,000 volunteer hours and invested over $1 million in local artists. I am able to share these experiences with my students, and as a mentor with Accelerate Okanagan. In my role as mentor, I have the opportunity to work with and learn from entrepreneurs from Kelowna to Salmon Arm and bring this back to the classroom. At the moment, I am particularly interested in and passionate about using the power of entrepreneurship to address social issues.
Q: Why did you choose to work at Okanagan College?
A: In 2009, I saw an ad in the paper for an Entrepreneurship course at OC. I thought it would be a great opportunity to share what I have learned, so I applied, and I was offered a night class in Salmon Arm. At the time, I had no plans to teach full-time, but I quickly discovered a new passion, and I have been teaching at OC ever since.
Q: What do you like most about the work you do?
A: My favourite part of teaching is watching students grow and develop in the program. I love bumping into our grads in the community and hearing how their time at OC has contributed to their careers and personal lives. This certainly sounds like transforming lives and communities to me!
Q: Favourite teaching experience?
A: My favourite part of teaching is working through hands-on, interactive activities with students. This could be a case study, a field trip to a local company, or an Enactus project. At the moment, I am spending a lot of time with the Enactus team on a project called Fruit Snaps, that rescues unwanted apples and turns them into a healthy snack for schools and food banks. Not only does this project support our community, but students are learning how to build and run a social enterprise. This includes everything from creating an e-commerce website, fulfilling orders, recruiting people to pick apples, working with community partners, developing new products, managing inventory, setting pricing, etc. Talk about a real life, hands-on learning experience.
Q: What advice do you have for new students?
A: One of my mentors likes to say, “If you are going to do something, make the most out of it.” This is great advice in so many different contexts. If you are going to school, decide what you want to get from the experience and make the most of it. Don’t be passive. Take an active role in your education. Take different classes to identify what inspires you. Participate in extra-curricular activities. Meet new people. Try different summer jobs.
Q: Why do you think people should study Business?
A: I think students should pursue their passion when deciding what to study. What excites you? When do you feel most inspired? One benefit of a business education, is that it gives you a foundation that you can take in many different directions. I have worked in the financial services, automotive, telecom, technology and consumer product industries, in a wide range of roles from sales to accounting. Yes, even accounting — my students will be shocked. I spent one summer working in the accounting department of an auto parts supplier. I am grateful for the experience, because it helped me figure out what I didn’t want to do for the rest of my life (no offense to my esteemed accounting colleagues). I think this flexibility enables you to pursue your own path and do work that you care about.
Q: If you could go back in time, is there anything you would do differently?
A: Absolutely ... nothing. Just kidding. While I have made a lot of mistakes, I wouldn’t change them because I have learned from them and they have help me develop. Rather than looking back, I prefer to look forward and think about all the exciting things I have yet to do in my life and career. I learned how to make a decent espresso this winter, and went ski touring for the first time, courtesy of an OC colleague, but there are still so many fun adventures on the bucket list.
Q: Where are you the happiest?
A: In the moment.
Okanagan School of Business
The Okanagan School of Business provides a career-oriented and innovative approach to education so that learners of various ages, experience levels, and cultures succeed. Our unique business programs have a strong focus on integrating theory and subject-matter knowledge with practical applications through business competitions, community-based course projects and work experiences.