The first of two panel conversations was focused on leadership in the context of community. Moderated by Chuck Davidson, President and CEO of the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce, the panelists were Connie Walker, President and CEO of the United Way of Winnipeg, Jessica Dumas, Chair of the Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce, and Mark Jones, Partner at Olafson & Jones, CPAs.
“One thing I don’t think anyone should underestimate is the value the private-sector perspective can bring to social issues,” Walker said. “It challenges us to think about how we can play a role across sectors to work in very new ways.”
The United Ways holds a leadership breakfast series where they ask CEOs of top companies to identify up-and-coming leaders. They recruit those leaders to take part on various committees to get involved in the community.
While it’s valuable for business leaders to bring their perspective to social issues, Jones said it’s equally important that companies give a chance to those who come to positions of leadership along non-traditional paths.
“They often bring unique and valuable perspectives,” Jones said. “Somebody who’s had to struggle a little to get there, I think there’s great life lessons and value from having to make their own path.”
Dumas said it’s very important to work outside your comfort zone.
“Broaden your experience,” Dumas said. “The best way to learn is to jump in. Be open to learning and action.”
Mahon is involved as a board member with CancerCare Manitoba Foundation and the Misericordia Health Centre Corporation, and he is a member of the United Way Resource Development Standing Committee.
The other panel conversation called What does it take to be a business leader in today’s world? was moderated by Dave Angus, President and CEO of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. The panel featured business leaders from three different generations: Daniel Blair, CEO and founder of Exchange District custom web applications and service company BIT Space Development, Ash Modha, President and CEO of Mondetta Clothing Company, and Tom Pundyk, President and CEO of National Leasing.
One of the hot topics of the panel chat involved how leaders can best engage millennials.
“Millennials require a lot of praise and a lot of appreciation for the work they’re doing,” said Blair, who counts himself in that demographic. “Because we work on smaller iterations and everything is a small victory, everybody feels engaged and like they’re achieving something.”
“It’s not just about profitability for millennials,” Modha said. “It’s not just about a salary. They want to see a company that’s socially compliant.”
All panel participants also keyed in on the importance of open communication.
“The whole idea is that you still have to operate like a smaller company and let people be involved,” Pundyk said. “Everyone is involved in our strategic planning process so they know exactly where we’re going.”