How has your experience in inventory management helped you to advise business clients?
My exposure to business and inventory management spans many decades. I grew up in a family-owned corner store in St. Boniface and remember the days when I would accompany my dad on Saturday mornings to Western Grocers to purchase the coming week’s product requirements. A quick scan of the shelves allowed us to complete our “shopping list” and off we would go to replenish our inventories. Price setting for canned goods consisted of taking the cost per dozen and dividing by 10, giving us our margin on the last two cans. A lot of our inventory replenishment was controlled by our suppliers (dairy products, bakery goods, soft drinks and snack foods), much as it is today.
I spent 19 years with the Hudson’s Bay Company. My career evolved over the years from Merchandise Management responsibilities to spearheading the development of Merchandise Information Systems for The Bay across Canada. This multi-year project took the company from a completely manual, in-store monthly replenishment system to a fully automated system that allowed The Bay to centralize these operations in the Toronto head office. After this, I spent nine years as CEO in the manufacturing/food processing sectors where I had hands-on exposure to raw materials, work in-process and finished goods inventory management and controls.
One of my great motivators when joining the WECM team was that I knew I could bring my experience to the table and could contribute to developing tools to assist the small business owner in understanding, structuring and managing their business for success.
How and why did you develop My Gold Mine?
When I started as a business advisor at WECM more than five years ago, I saw an opportunity to enhance the financial planning tools so that they were more in alignment with the entrepreneur’s needs. To this end, my colleagues and I overhauled many of the tools as part of My Gold Mine.
In Spring of 2011, our management team successfully applied for funding under the Status of Women’s Blueprint Projects initiative. This two (2) year funding program allowed us to develop and successfully launch the My Gold Mine Program complete with comprehensive financial planning templates for product-based and service businesses.
What is one thing you have learned about women entrepreneurs since working at the Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba?
Many business women tend to sell themselves short. They do not give themselves credit for their knowledge, capabilities and talents. This often holds them back as they take the humble approach to running their business, often overanalyzing situations and letting “analysis paralysis” set in. To date, 28 women business owners have participated in our My Gold Mine program and all of them were very satisfied with the program, particularly with the confidence boost it gave them by becoming more financially literate, as well as having acquired the tools with which to drive the growth of their business.
Who has been your most influential mentor?
There have been many over the years and I cannot pinpoint any one individual but have found that your best sounding boards are clients. Observe their behavior patterns, seek their feedback, structure your business to their needs and provide the right product/service, in the right quantity/quality, at the right place/price at the right time.
What is it like to be the only male in a team of 13 people?
I am very comfortable in this environment. I have four sisters and four brothers, so early in life I was exposed to many personality traits and sensitivities of both genders. My early experience in retailing, an industry in which women had more access to supervisory and management roles in an era where most did not, gave me an appreciation for women entrepreneurs and how dedicated and hardworking they were in order to succeed in a male dominated society. We have an excellent team of professionals at WECM. Everyone here is dedicated not to themselves but to providing our clients with the best possible services and outcomes. Great environment to work in!
What question should we ask our next Staff Spotlight?
What has been the most satisfying experience for you at the Women’s Enterprise Centre?