Lessons in leadership

Describe the most difficult professional challenge you’ve faced in the past year, the possible ramifications and your response.

Greg HemmingsGreg Hemmings, Hemmings House Pictures Ltd.
It has always been hard to develop creative original content at the same time as running the day to day of my client-based work. I have now created a team to support the commercial work and I am now almost fully able to focus on creative development of our own projects.

Sean FitzGeraldSean FitzGerald,Vocational Rehabilitation Assessments Inc.
I had to learn the ins and outs of South Africa’s personal injury and legal process so I could determine a client’s future loss of earnings as a result of injuries sustained from a motor vehicle accident while there on vacation. Disappointing the lawyers and doctors in Ontario who had recommended me could have negatively impacted our future as a firm of leading experts. I became a student again and learned what I needed, even hiring an expert in South Africa to be my advisor. The court awarded the second-highest personal injury pay out in South African history.

Jack KellyJack Kelly, Bulk Carriers (P.E.I.) Ltd.
Succession planning is a constant challenge of mine. The company has been built on my values and sometimes the difficult part of letting go is wondering whether the foundation is solid for the family preparing to take over this business. We have engaged a consultant to complete an operational review and evaluate all aspects of our business. The challenge for my management team is to continue to hold each other accountable for the execution of our business plan and for me to be there to support the team and provide feedback when necessary. Starting a business is hard, but finding the best way to transition and move the business on to others is equally as difficult.

Scott MacEachernScott MacEachern, STARK International Inc.
I owned a company with my brother; he and I are different in our way of thinking. Not that one is right and the other wrong, just different visions. I made him an offer and he took it personally, feeling that I was trying to get away from him. Long story short, lawyers made everything worse, to the point we were not talking, business was suffering making things very difficult for family and employees. Eventually my uncle got involved and got us communicating; we hired two business valuators and made a fair agreement. I’m amazed at how things got out of hand and how the legal system can cost vast amounts of time and money. In the end, fair communication is the best solution.

Barry KyleBarry Kyle, Industrial Rubber Company Ltd.
Establishing a 50/50 partnership with a German company here in Canada. In doing so, one does not know how the business with two different cultures, styles/ personalities will evolve. Good to say it has been rewarding and eye-opening both for myself and the employees.

Dr. Travis McDonoughDr. Travis McDonough, Kinduct Technologies
Our most difficult decision/challenge this year has been to decide whether or not to take in some outside funding and subsequently dilute shareholding or to continue to grow organically and hold on to all the company’s equity. We decided to raise 10 shares and take in a multimillion- dollar financial infusion from one of Canada’s wealthiest billionaires. For us this has been the best of both worlds. We have only had to have minimal dilution and we now have the financial runway to accelerate our growth. And we have a business mentor who can help us with major and fundamental business decisions.

John RoweJohn Rowe, Island Abbey Food Science
Managing rapid growth across multiple businesses – I am partnered in several businesses and lead these teams as CEO. The only way I have been able to successfully manage this hockey stick has been by surrounding myself with talented people who: a) have the same drive and enthusiasm as I do, and b) have the necessary experience. The results: double head count and revenue in 2013 over 2012.

Ian SmithIan Smith Clearwater, Seafoods Limited Partnership
The most difficult challenge has been to inspire, lead and align our company to achieve the fourth consecutive year of growth and profitability. Key results were: we met or exceeded all of our key business/financial objectives; we were recognized as a top employer in Atlantic Canada; we were named International Business of the Year by the Halifax Chamber of Commerce; and we were recognized as one of the top 10 companies in all of Canada for “Passion Capital”.

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