Convenience Industry Council of Canada (CICC)
How did you get into this industry?
I met my colleague, Anne Kothawala, CICC President & CEO, via another organization. We had worked together on other events together. When the opportunity came up to work closely with her in the industry she speaks so highly of, I jumped on it.
Favourite thing about your job?
I love connecting with members, learning their stories, and connecting them with other members. I do this over calls, emails, and through our membership e-blasts and e-bulletins, but my favourite way to connect people is via the events I produce. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing members enjoy themselves, connecting, and sharing an experience that I made happen. Spotting smiling handshakes over cocktails, overhearing plans to keep in touch, witnessing enthusiastic applause after a speaker steps off the stage, and revelling in the smooth sailing of a cruise-ship magnitude of an event – these make all the hard work and poring over the finest details worthwhile.
Finding ways to support our members during COVID-19 and finding solutions to connect members and foster relationship-building from the safety of our home offices. After almost two decades of producing in-person events and programs, pivoting to virtual events was daunting but so satisfying.
Best advice received?
“Remember…it’s just a conversation.” I remind myself of this when I’m about to have what I anticipate as a difficult dialogue. This advice lifts the tension and opens the ears.
Continuing to grow my career and stage high-quality events and programs while living on three different continents. I was the Director of Events for The American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, China, where I led a large team of talented Chinese nationals to produce more than 150 events for Americans living and working in China. At the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, I ran the week-long kick-off event for 700 incoming MBA students and continued to implement sustainable practices for business school events throughout my time in Ann Arbor. In Australia, I collaborated with academic colleagues to produce events for industry and government.
What are you most proud of during the last year?
If I had to describe my 2021 self, it would be flexible, nimble, conjuring. CICC is a small yet incredibly hard-working team. Even in the smoothest of years, we all wear many hats. With the launch of many new initiatives last year, I donned a few more. I’m most proud of our 160 strong in-person event at the end of November, which came together in about six weeks – as soon as Ontario gave the green light for larger indoor events. The event evolved into a one-day mini version of our keystone National Convenience Industry Summit. The day included the trade exchange, awards ceremony recognizing innovation (Convenience Innovation Awards) and the tireless work of store staff (Frontline Heroes Awards), and a much-missed cocktail reception. Pulling this kind of event in that short amount of time took some conjuring. A magician isn’t without tools: two decades of experience to be able to be nimble and amazing colleagues to make it all come together.
What excites you most about the future of this channel?
Consumer behaviour, in any industry, fascinates me. What factors influence changes in shoppers’ preferences and habits; how these evolved choices and habits influence retailers and manufacturers, and, to close the loop, what can retailers and manufacturers do to influence consumers. Beyond post-pandemic shifts, I’m excited to see how the channel embraces sustainability and multiculturalism in product offerings.
People don’t often think of grace in business, but I think it is a virtue and it’s how I define myself as a leader. Beyond conducting myself with calmness and confidence in the hairiest of situations, I also demonstrate graceful leadership by believing that I and my talented colleagues know what needs to be done and how to do it. I’m honoured to be recognized alongside fellow Star Women in Convenience.