President & CEO, Hickman Automotive Group
(St. John’s, N.L.)
““A good leader has the creativity and ability to create future leaders.”
A fine balance “Good leaders are passionate about the work they do, communicating a positive attitude and commitment to employees,” says Hickman. To be effective they must be willing to step in and perform the role themselves, yet have the confidence to inspire and empower their employees to get the task done. “That is a fine balance. But when it works the result is the creation of a cooperative atmosphere and a group approach to successful problem solving.
Make room to grow Good employees make mistakes and great leaders allow them to, says Hickman. “Mistakes are not failures. They are valuable lessons we learn from, that ultimately allow us to understand a better way of doing things.” He believes that people who avoid calculated risks in the work environment may also be avoiding career-defining accomplishments.
Regional President, Atlantic Canada, RBC
““I like to win… that helps me prioritize, focus and stay on the top of my game.”
Business acumen Howard invested a significant part of his career in acquiring knowledge and an in-depth understanding of the banking industry. “A deep business acumen is necessary to boost the performance of your teams and to instill confidence in employees and clients.”
Hard work, customers first Those principles were the foundation of his immigrant father’s successful carpet business. “Appreciation for these principles rubbed off on me,” says Howard. He recalls how colleagues thought it odd that he used vacation weeks to study for his investment designation, and that he worked full-time while studying for his MBA from York. Through it all, his focus on customers earned him the bank’s highest sales awards. “It was exactly what my dad would have done if he’d been in my shoes—it’s a focus I carry with me today.”
CEO, Vigilant Management
“Strength comes from being honest and open with people, admitting your flaws, and working hard to improve yourself, every day.”
Rock the boat “The construction industry has been doing business the same way since its inception,” says Hussey. The additional, independent project control provided to project proponents by Vigilant is shaking up that model, according to Hussey. “Disrupting an industry model is challenging, but our results and the satisfaction of our clients speaks volumes.”
Risky business “People’s tolerance for failure is a product of their upbringing and their character. It has little to do with how smart you are, how hard you work, or how good your ideas. It is all about being able to risk it all, day in and day out, in pursuit of some purpose that is so important to you that you would rather have nothing than not try to make it a reality. Unless you accept risk and failure as a daily fact of life, you aren’t cut out to be an entrepreneur,” he says.
President, Mrs. Dunster’s (1996) Inc.
“Honesty is the most important quality a leader can have. People can tell if you’re being honest and they value it.”
Raising the dough In the first year, after the panic of losing 15 per cent of their bakery business within 24 hours of acquiring the company (a significant customer switched to another company), the Hyslops created 40 new jobs, increased sales 20 per cent, absorbed the cost of a new management team, and took operating profits to a five-year high. “Success gave us the confidence to make a second acquisition, Snair’s Bakery, the following year. It continues to fuel growth,” he says.
Anticipating challenges One-third of Mrs. Dunster’s business is in the U.S. so they are impacted by the value of the U.S. dollar and trade barriers. “We may look at U.S. acquisitions to guard against those risks,” says Hyslop. “The rate of growth is a risk as we manage customer expectations. We’ll continue mitigating this risk by investing in systems and processes that facilitate profitable growth and effective management,” he says.
President, Supplement King Canada
“Knowing what to say and when to say it can empower and motivate the people around you to achieve beyond expectations.”
Positivity positively King says he’s been dealt a great hand. “I have my health, a loving family, and supportive colleagues who are all truly invested in our success. With this support, any obstacle can be overcome. If I’d accepted ‘No,’ as an answer, or allowed fear to cloud ambition, my business would never have grown from a tiny mall kiosk to where we are today.”
Letting go King’s most significant milestone of the past 14 months was selling his three original corporate-owned Supplement King retail stores in greater Halifax. “They were my ‘babies,’ physical evidence of what I’d built. They were profitable. But, after some soul searching, I admitted I couldn’t give them the attention they deserved,” says King. “My decision to sell was best for Halifax area customers and staff. I am focused on growing the national franchising business.”