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JA Leadership Breakfast connects today’s business leaders with next generation

Photo: Jason Nicola addresses the audience on behalf of presenting sponsor, Nicola Wealth Management

On November 16, 2016, JA British Columbia (JABC) was pleased to host our third JA Leadership Breakfast. Over 300 guests representing 157 companies attended the early morning event at the Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver which was presented by Nicola Wealth Management.

The topic of this year’s event was Leadership Bench Strength and brought together like-minded executives from various sectors to learn about how organizations can develop talent to build a culture of leadership and build their leadership pipelines.

Jan Bell-Irving delivered opening remarks on how JA is training youth to become leaders through its various programs on business, work readiness and entrepreneurship. Tracey Arnish, Chief People Officer for Coast Capital Savings and JABC Board Member gave the keynote presentation. As a talent management expert, Tracey explored the characteristics of Millennials and Generation Z and their definitions of leadership. The main takeaway was that millennials don’t view leadership in the traditional sense where an individual leads a group, and they aren’t necessarily looking for the same things in the workplace. Instead, millennials are comfortable with an nontraditional career path, don’t place a high importance on job titles and want to do work that makes a difference. In short, they need to have a purpose.  They also place a high value on mentorship and the ability to participate in ongoing learning through leadership programs, volunteer opportunities and stretch assignments.

Following the keynote presentation, a panel representing various industries examined how their respective organizations are approaching leadership development. Representing high technology, Edoardo De Martin, Director of Microsoft Vancouver told the audience that Microsoft in fact doesn’t use technology for everything. They prefer face to face interactions and that forms part of their coaching culture. Technology is fused into most things they do but culture and interpersonal connections are still important.

Kirk Chen, Senior Vice President, Operations – British Columbia for Ledcor Group, a leading construction and contracting company says that the next generation of leadership has been top of mind at Ledcor for the last decade and they know that what got them to where they are today isn’t necessarily what’s going to take their company into the future. He believes that their current leaders are actually learning from the next generation. This is a great way to season them to lead their peers and other colleagues at Ledcor.

Lois Nahirney, President & CEO, dnaPower and SkinDNA talked about diversity and the importance of embracing it in the workplace. Unconscious bias exists and it is important to recognize it and develop strategies around it. She emphasized the importance of work-life balance and that this is a key selling point for young leaders.

Echoing Lois’ comments and rounding out the panel was Darren Gill, a JA Alum and student at the University of British Columbia. He provided the millennial perspective and the audience was very interested in hearing what he had to say in terms of what he’s looking for in an employer. The number one request from Darren was indeed work-life balance. He says that time away from the office to travel or explore other opportunities e.g. sabbaticals and volunteering is very important to Millennials and Gen Z.

Angela Wang, a JA Alum and entrepreneur wrapped up the morning with some thoughts on how JA is creating future leaders and encouraged guests to consider getting involved with JA to help make this possible.

To learn more about how your organization can partner with JA to help shape the future of BC’s workforce, contact Christian Ratcliffe at

JABC would like to sincerely thank Nicola Wealth Management for generously sponsoring the 2016 JA Leadership Breakfast.

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2016 JA Leadership Breakfast