Find out how JA has influenced the lives of our Achievers and alumni across British Columbia.

BrianPhillips2016_edit_webBrian Phillips

Former Board Chair, Volunteer, Alumnus
JA British Columbia

Vancouver, BC

Participated in JA Company Program, 1968




Junior Achievement impresses me. The Achievers are amazing – their enthusiasm, energy and drive is infectious. The volunteers give up so much of their time and talent. The staff are committed to strive for success in the JA mission. The donors – companies large and small, and individuals – all contribute to the financial well-being of JA to ensure their longevity.

How did you first get involved in Junior Achievement?

My initiation to JA was back in 1968 when I joined the JA Student Company program in Edmonton in Grade 11. A classmate recruited me mid-term to help their floundering company bolster their ranks. Our Company produced cutting boards. We met weekly in the evening with other students across the city at the “JA Center” – they provided office space, a workshop and meeting rooms. We later merged with another company and pooled their resources and students. We ended with a star team of Achievers by cleaning up on the awards, and produced a healthy return for investors, even after the JA income tax was deducted from our earnings!

In my grade 12 year, I joined another Student Company and we produced fabric-covered footstools. We ran an assembly line in the JA center, and sold our products in malls, department store booths and door-to-door. That year we won Best Company, Best Annual Report and I was fortunate to win Best President and Best Achiever.

It was a defining year for me in my quest for deciding what my future studies would be – engineering, architecture? I decided to head into the world of business.

What was one of your favourite memories with JA as a student?

A favourite memory was my selection to represent JA Edmonton at the National Junior Achievers Conference (NAJAC) which was held at the University of Indiana in Bloomington. It was such a wonderful experience for me to attend a massive conference with other Achievers from across the US and Canada that showcased different business cases and presentations. My most indelible memory was the university’s football stadium. For me it was a huge eye-popper, as it dwarfed the Edmonton Eskimo or BC Lions stadiums which at that time I had perceived as huge already.

How were you involved in JA after you graduated from high school?

I enjoyed my many years of involvement with JA, though some were more intense than others. During my undergraduate years, I organized classmates as volunteers to help mentor JA Student Companies. Years later, as President of the Chamber of Commerce in Prince George and running an entrepreneurial business there, I approached JABC to initiate JA programs in the city. My career path led me to Toronto where I delivered JA programs in the classroom. After I returned to BC from Ontario, I contacted JABC to inquire about volunteer opportunities and later ended up joining the JABC Board of Directors.

The next decade was very fulfilling for me. I delivered JA programs in the classroom (my favourite program was Investment Strategies), and took on various Board roles including Chair for two terms. I was awarded the H.E. Miskiman National Leadership Award by JA Canada, and I later joined the JA Canada Board, leaving in 2012.

That’s 34 years of JA involvement from start to finish! Time flies when you enjoy what you’re doing!

Why did you keep coming back to JA all these years?

I enjoy seeing students grow and gain insight into team dynamics and financial decisions while they have so much fun doing it. Their enthusiasm gave me strong motivation for my lengthy involvement.

Working with JA volunteers – in the classroom or in the boardroom – is a bonus for my JA involvement. Volunteers are caring, engaged and committed – they play an integral part of the JA experience for the students.

Working with sponsors – large or small businesses, foundations, governments – is truly rewarding for me. Supporters “get it” and understand how important their investment is in keeping JA alive and vibrant!

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