Lessons in leadership

What’s the biggest challenge facing your organization and what are you doing about it?

Bert HickmanBert Hickman, Hickman Automotive Group
To continue to grow our business and take advantage of the great economic boom we are seeing here in Newfoundland and Labrador. We have recently hired a COO to help build a secondto- none customer experience at all of our nine automotive dealerships. As well, to build an employee working environment that breeds pride and customer enthusiasm thus resulting in revenue growth. We are also building strength in our existing people by implementing training paths to ensure we are ready to take advantage of any merger/ acquisitions that may arise.

Paul FarrahPaul Farrah, Partner Seafood Inc.
Controlling our growth – saying ‘no thanks’ to some attractive opportunities is never easy. On the other hand, we cannot take on new opportunities if we are short staffed or don’t have the proper financing lined up. These things are my main focus and help me make educated decisions.

Gordon LaingGordon Laing, Southwest Properties
Managing the many opportunities we have in front of us – planning the staff required, finding the right people who can integrate into our organization and who meet both performance and value standards – are challenges. In addition to the large Motherhouse development we’re working on, we have an apartment nearing completion and a hotel about to start construction. In the planning stages we have two large apartment developments, a hotel acquisition and renovation, along with our annual repair and maintenance program on the existing portfolio. Premiere Executive Suites and Bishop’s Cellar continue with double digit annual growth. We are constantly on the lookout for new talent – every networking meeting becomes a potential recruitment opportunity. We also have a close relationship with a firm that is regularly looking for talent to strengthen our company. These are great challenges to have, and we are thankful that our challenges are related to growth.

Carolyn BoothCarolyn Booth, BMO Bank of Montreal
With a significant number of employees in the retirement corridor, and many of our youth leaving Atlantic Canada, I spend a substantial amount of time on talent management and succession planning. My team and I work with many of the universities and community colleges across the region to source new hires. This past year we reinstated an intern program that allows us to begin training future employees and introducing them to the BMO culture while they are still in school. Monthly, I spend time one on one with many of our staff, discussing their career moves and building relationships with them. I am a firm believer that people don’t leave a company, they leave a leader and I am pleased to say we lost very few people over the course of 2013.

Gregory RobertsGregory Roberts, Mary Browns Inc./ P.I. Enterprises
The biggest challenge and opportunity facing me is leading one of the world’s largest chicken quick service brands and making sure international expansion is successful. This means that we never take our eye off the ball in Canada, and carefully evaluate each and every potential territory or region diligently in order to make sure we are successful. While my drive and passion would like to see me open in multiple countries simultaneously, I have to be careful with the allocation of key resources (financial, local talent to assist with international training) to ensure success. It will be slow and steady versus overly ambitious, rushed and a failure. That word is not in my vocabulary.

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