2018 Business Leader of the Year Finalists

2018 Business Leader of the Year Finalists

< Back to Articles | Topics: Positive business environment | This is a guest post from Grant Thornton LLP
(Member since 1969) | Published: January 1, 2018

This is a guest post from Grant Thornton LLP
(Member since 1969)

Sponsored by:


What would you say is your biggest accomplishment to date as a business leader?
Being part of a company that has helped to employ nearly 4,000 Atlantic Canadians is my greatest accomplishment to date. My partner, Greg White, and I feel very blessed to have been able to build and continue to grow a successful business, which helps put good Haligonians to work each and every day. Whether it’s helping someone in transition, a newly landed Canadian, an apprentice, student, young professional or recent grad, we feel very proud to have been able to help several thousand people find work in our community. We are proudly local and wear this stamp as a badge of honour. In less than four years we have opened three offices across three cities, in two provinces in Atlantic Canada — with a fourth location expected in a new market in early 2018.

If you weren’t in this line of work what would you be doing?
I truly believe that I’m now doing what I was destined to do. My mother always said to me that my ambition and energy would either get me in a lot of trouble or make me successful. To date it has done a bit of both. But in all seriousness, I think if I wasn’t doing what I’m currently doing, I’d be involved in emergency services. I’ve always felt compelled to help people and for a short period of time was even an auxiliary member of the RCMP. I come from a hardworking, blue collar, Italian-immigrant family and it was constantly drilled into my head that you need to put in a hard day’s work to earn an honest day’s pay. My sister and I make up a very small handful of members in my family who have a post-secondary education. It was important to my parents that we take the skills we obtained from our education and apply them in the real world but at the same time never forgetting our roots and understanding that hard work pays off, whether you’re a blue collar worker, white collar worker or business owner.


What leadership advice would you give an up and comer?
Believe in your mission and go for it. Whatever type of business you operate, it’s important to remember your sole purpose. I believe it’s what guides our business decisions, it’s what motivates our development and most importantly it’s what strengthens community development. You do not need to be a certain age, have a specific type of education or wealth — we can all be leaders. Leadership is within each of us, and is having a vision and putting it into action.

Why did you choose Halifax?
Halifax is our community and where we first want to create positive change. Halifax is huge on supporting local — we eat local, shop local and we feel it’s important that we also support local. That’s not to say we won’t support outside of our region, however our campaigns and projects will take place in HRM as we work to help build and strengthen our mental health community. We are an online social network, so we will also have reach across the world.

What’s your favourite part about Halifax?
Halifax is a beautiful and unique city. It’s a city of innovation and creativity, which makes it the best environment to start a new business. From our experience, people have been open and receptive to the creation of our organization and very encouraging. We have a diverse population which can strengthen our community and increase more access to a variety of supports and services.


What’s the best business advice you’ve ever been given?
Do what you love. If you love what you do, your passion will be infectious to anyone you meet, be it employees, clients, or stakeholders. Producing results is imperative and will gain you the credibility needed, but it will be the passion that will capture the loyalty and commitment from those you wish to lead.

What steps does Halifax need to get to the next level?
As a city we need to celebrate success in our region. There are so many amazing businesses and industries being started and operated by our neighbours and fellow Haligonians and there needs to be a mind shift by government and citizens to understand that these entrepreneurs need to be supported and encouraged.

If you weren’t in this line of business what would you be doing?
I would be a stay-at-home dad. I love children (mainly mine) and I would love to be able to spend more time with them.

What’s your favourite part about Halifax?
I love the big city feel with the small town safety. To be able to have the amazing restaurants, shops and entertainment like we live in a big city, but enjoy the safety we have here is truly a hidden benefit that we should all recognize and be thankful for.


What’s the best business advice you’ve ever been given?
My father has been my biggest inspiration as a mentor. He has instilled a number of values in me that I reflect on every single day. He taught me that things are worth doing the hard way because it’s the right way. There’s always going to be opportunities to cut corners, but we won’t take the easy way out because we will never sacrifice quality.

What leadership advice would you give an up-and-comer?
It would be to work alongside your employees and do the same jobs that they’re doing. It’s important that you never lose sight and think you’re too important for even the smallest task. When my staff members see me doing dishes or jumping out front to serve customers, it helps them get an insight into the passion and pride I have for my restaurants. I hope it instils the same values in them.

Why did you choose Halifax?
My parents chose Halifax when they immigrated here in the 1960s. I was born in Halifax and I can’t imagine being anywhere else. The support from the community has been overwhelming and I’m really proud of what my family and I have been able to accomplish here in Nova Scotia.


What leadership advice would you give an up-and-comer?
Mistakes will always be made, just don’t make them twice. Business leadership is a life-long learning process — your success is measured in education and research, which ultimately prepares you to take smart and calculated risks. Use that burning desire to know your market better than anyone. By becoming a product or service expert in your area of business, you build intellectual capital that leads to higher profitability and brand awareness.

What steps does Halifax need to get to the next level?
Strong political leadership, which I’m happy to acknowledge, exists today through the work of Mayor Savage and CAO Jacques Dubé. Competitive tax rates, red tape reduction, inclusive workplaces, respect for all ethnicities and genders and stronger mentorship from current business leaders. Halifax is the business heart of Atlantic Canada and being on top means we have to adhere to our growth plan, but also adjust to new and emerging industry trends.

What’s something new that’s happening at your organization?
The events industry is always changing, so at Glow we strive to be ahead of the curve. If we’re not finding efficiencies within the company, we are using our collective creativity to bring new ideas to clients. Glow recently opened a 35,000 square-foot complex that houses a stunning showroom, bustling event retail store, thousands of decor and lighting props for weddings, corporate events and fundraisers, and more games and inflatables than any store east of Montreal. Our goal is to truly be a one-stop event destination shop.

< Back to Articles | Topics: Positive business environment

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