Shawn Cable has always been a team player.
The former Calgary Roughneck professional lacrosse player describes himself as always having had, “and entrepreneurial type spirit.” But he admits, “I’d be lying if I told you ten years ago that I’d be the owner of a mattress recycling business.”
His company Re-Matt began in 2014. Cable describes it as, “a mattress recycling business intent on eliminating all disposal of mattresses in city landfills across Alberta.” The idea came from a field trip his Mount Royal University Continuing Education Supply Chain Management course took to a Sears factory. “At the time, I was working in Oil and gas,” he explains, “but like many people, I didn’t know how secure my future was.” So, he pitched the idea of mattress recycling to, “a group of buddies I met for breakfasts to bring new ideas to the table so we could all work for ourselves one day.” The group approved.
Cable did some research and found out that there was no one else in this environmental and much needed niche market. “People are paying to take mattresses to the landfill already,” he gleaned, “the landfill is charging a $20 minimum. We charge $15. So, you’re saving money and keeping it green.”
Business seems to be good. In May 2016, Cable touts that, “we had our best month to date. Over 3000 mattresses.” That’s 3000 mattresses that won’t clutter Alberta landfills! Instead, Re-Matt recycles up to 95% of the materials from them. Mattresses are broken down into their original components like fabric, steel and wood. “We find places for materials to go that have a better end use.”
Existing businesses are looking for his service. He has signed partnership contracts with the likes of mattress retailers like The Brick, Sleep Country and Sears who are all trying to service their customers with a greener solution. Cable and his team just signed an agreement with Fort McMurray to bring their used mattresses down to his Calgary warehouse.
From an early analysis, “The biggest obstacle is transportation,” he says, “It can be costly.” This is merely a pothole on the road to success for Cable who summarizes the landfill landscape, “Landfills don’t like mattresses. They don’t bury well. They take up space. Now that there’s a solution, everyone’s trying to find a budget to do it (recycle).”
Speaking to his experience with Supply Chain Management at MRU, he reports, “It helped tremendously. It’s a logistics-based business. There was a lot of valuable information that I learned from the program.”
The secret to Re-Matt’s early success is something that he doesn’t lose a lot of sleep over. “It’s a little bit of craziness mixed in with doing your homework…and putting your money where your mouth is.”
Spoken like a true innovator.
“Good content marketing is about cultivating brand loyalty.” says Jenelle Peterson, Director of Business Development & Marketing at Mount Royal University’s Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension.
In MRU Continuing Education’s new Content Marketing Strategy course, which Peterson will be teaching from June 22-Jul 6, 2016, students will learn, “how social media, SEO and content marketing work together to create a prolific online strategy.”
“Content marketing is such a buzz word,” she explains, noting the success of companies like Lululemon Athletica and Calgary-based WestJet Airlines in providing some unique and successful marketing content. But the benefits of content media on a brand are seemingly becoming more universal, “it’s not just for marketers.”
“We’re starting to see people from a broader spectrum of industries taking marketing courses so they have a deeper understanding of how it benefits their company or organization.” Suggesting that it’s not just about ‘getting the sale’, content marketing is becoming more and more about building a relationship with clients, prospective clients and the community at large. “It can be an awesome tool for entrepreneurs, mid-career marketers who want to get an edge on where this industry is moving and for any business leader to have a good understanding of how content cultivates brand loyalty.”
Peterson is focusing on key elements including, “how you curate that content, what kind of content you create, who you share it with and how you’ll share it.” Using a mixture of case studies and success stories intertwined with working through strategies for organizations her students represent, the course promises to help, “build a content marketing toolkit.”
Celebrating her first year at MRU, she’s championing content initiatives from some of her MRU Continuing Education colleagues. One noteworthy example is the recent launch of MRU Think Talks. This is a video content offering that showcases MRU Continuing Education instructors, innovators and community members as they present on their areas of expertise. “It’s providing quality content that is useful to our multiple audiences,” she notes, “and since it’s all going online, it’s a way for MRU innovation to start building relationships with a global market.” It’s ideas like these that she will be sharing with students.
Describing her day-to-day prescription for content marketing success, Peterson claims, “It takes a team. It’s important for all of us to engage our subject matter experts for their expertise and assistance in bringing relevant and valuable content to our diverse audiences. It’s those relationships within our organization that allow us to build trust and loyalty in the marketplace.”
To register or learn more… click here.
Ernest Barbaric recognizes trends and changes. “In Calgary,” he explains, “We haven’t had marketing conferences. It’s nice to have a grass roots initiative like SocialWest.” Being connected with Calgary social media guru Mike Morrison of @MikesBloggity has put Barbaric once again in the speaker’s spotlight for the sold-out event.
Founder of the Social Media for Business certificate program at Mount Royal University Continuing Education, Barbaric notices that there’s a change of behaviour happening (literally) under our noses. People are constantly connected to their digital devices. His presentation, “Trends that are defining digital marketing in 2016 and beyond” on June 16th at 11am sets out to identify and explain this shift and how it affects the way businesses and individuals communicate.
“This connectivity is changing our priorities,” Barbaric suggests. “If you have a phone and it’s not connected to wifi, there’s a sense of loneliness even in areas where there are other people.” Recognizing how most have adopted this perpetual dependency on digital technology, he offers, “People would rather have someone steal their wallet instead of their phone.”
This not only changes the way people speak to people, but also drastically affects how businesses and other organizations or brands speak to people, which is why his SocialWest audience is there. “There’s a movement towards social becoming a media buying platform.” he says, “There’s more focus on paid (advertising) and a big rise in automation.” This affects the role-responsibility of a traditional marketing team for any organization. “As things progress, it changes what marketing teams do to maintain these systems.”
If a marketing team were Aretha Franklin’s band, you would have a standard line-up of drums, bass, guitar and keyboards with Aretha wailing the message to your audience. Now, with new tools and audience expectations, Barbaric explains that social media is like adding, “a triple-necked guitar with a keyboard on it that plays itself,” and ups the ante, “with a DJ who samples Aretha Franklin – and 50 other artists – and adds a light show.”
There are some for whom digital media is the bright light in an economic downturn in this city. Barbaric concurs, “Business who can sell their services online have global access regardless of where you’re from. Locally,” he touts, “there is still money, but it becomes a more competitive environment.” Survival is for those who can evolve. He identifies, “those who are squeezed out are people relying on the status quo.”
Those leaving his SocialWest presentation will glean, “a sense of what they need to do to prepare for the future.” According to Barbaric, the future has much potential and we’re not too far behind to catch up. “There’s a lag… between American and Canadian markets, between different generations and between big and small businesses.” But to those willing to make the changes, he estimates that there’s “a decent amount of runway.”
Connect with Ernest at SocialWest.
Connect with others who are growing their digital brands too.
And remember, you’re not alone… if you’re connected to the internet.
- by JLove
When Process Ecology Inc. needed corporate training for their employees; they came to MRU Continuing Education.
Process Ecology is a process engineering and emissions management company. “Basically,” HR Administrator Lindsay Baker describes, “we work with a variety of different companies to deal with benzene emissions.” Having designed and maintained their own measurement software (FlareAdvisor helps measure flaring, venting and greenhouse gas emissions for upstream oil and gas companies), it’s clear they’re a good judge of streamlined best practices and measurable results.
With a total of nine employees in their company, four of whom went through the training, any cost savings was a welcome option. Baker says, “we wanted some upscaling and upgrading of some essential skills needed in our workplace. Some employees have come to Canada having finished their studies and some need a refresher with their English skills.”
She decided to apply for the Canada-Alberta Job Grant to fund some customized language upgrading, presentation courses and resume-writing training, skills that needed to be honed to submit biographies and resumes to conferences and other presentation opportunities.
An MRU alumnus, Baker claimed the choice to go with MRU was easy. She was at the helm of the application process and was quick to sing its praises, “the needs assessment done by the MRU staff outlined the weaknesses and strengths of our systems.” Of the training itself, she says, “everyone here enjoyed the teaching methods. They worked their skills effectively and were able to apply the training immediately.”
The trainees’ reaction was similar. “It was very beneficial for the employees,” Baker says, “it’s made them more confident in themselves and in a presentation setting.”
The best part about the quality MRU training through the Canada-Alberta Job Grant to Baker was that, “Two thirds of all of our training costs were paid (by the grant)!” With these savings on exemplary courses, Process Ecology is already looking into further training through MRU Continuing Education.
Her reason is simple, “By making sure they feel comfortable, it makes them more confident in what they’re presenting, and in the company.
Lindsay has these three tips for anyone thinking of applying for the Canada-Alberta Job Grant.
- Read the 30 page document online. Everything you need to know is there. MRU Continuing Education makes it easy for you.
- Make sure you have EVERYTHING. Go through the document’s requests with a ‘fine toothed comb’.
- Choose a course or series of courses with a certification. In Lindsay’s case, preferably one that is industry and governmentally recognized.
How do we subtract and get the same results?
Let’s face it, corporate culture is a little rough right now in our hometown. People are being laid-off, downsized, ‘released from their employer’ or whatever today’s politically correct term for ‘fired’ is. Organizations in several sectors are now challenged to fill the void left by these people, re-allocate resources to maintain and change their operating procedures to move forward. How can they achieve the same results when so many of their resources have been subtracted?
“With the current economic climate, organizations need to be more productive, nimble and efficient than ever.” Says Joanne Leskow, Corporate Trainer at Mount Royal University Continuing Education. “All business outcomes are a direct result of the investment and calibre of people inside the business.”
So, if we can’t add more people, we can add value to the people that remain. “MRU Corporate Training programs reinforce good habits while exploring best practice and challenging learners to think differently.” Leskow explains.
From this place, leaders emerge. Leaders are those we turn to in this climate to provide a vision. That vision for most is merely an educated guess. MRU wants to provide the ‘educated’ part of that equation. “Leveraging a legacy of excellence,” Leskow confirms, “MRU’s Corporate Training has equipped Western Canadian businesses (and others around the globe) to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.”
For the corporate culture, it’s bigger picture multiplication. “Corporate Training provides team members an opportunity to come together from business units and geographic regions to better understand each other and personal contributions to their team/unit and business as a whole.” Leskow continues. “It’s essential that emerging and experienced leaders take the time to step away and evaluate their own performance, build strengths and plan future courses of action. MRU Corporate Training allows them to do that, and more,” she advises.
A key factor in this climate is being able to do exponentially more with less. “One of the essential elements of retention is providing people with opportunities to learn and grow professionally. The MRU Corporate Training courses provide a wide variety of courses to grow, challenge their thinking and habits while learning best practices.”
Success is equal to the vision provided by leaders and the work put behind that vision. “A combination of practical and technical knowledge helps to shape leaders and problem solvers who tackle issues and projects in fast-paced environments.” Leskow instructs. The leaders she teaches will be empowered to face anything as she promises to give the guidance they need to, “equip their people and business to not only meet, but to exceed the demands of the ever-changing business environment.”
So do more with less. Just add education and summit together.
- by JLove
“There’s nothing better to remind you of how difficult it is to learn another language than to be placed in the same situation,” says Kathy Dawson, Program Administrator in Teacher Education for MRU’s Languages Institute. She lists a few of the challenges one must overcome, “struggling to communicate, watching yourself make mistakes, not being able to find the right word and struggling with your dictionary.”
These are certainly a traveler’s communication woes, but they’re happening more and more in the university classroom. Kathy recently returned from teaching a ten-day course at the Universidad del Pacífico in Lima, Perú. The course is called Teaching Content in English. It’s part of the Languages Institute’s Faculty Development Program, which is gaining international recognition.
Kathy explains the challenge of the group of 13 professors who, while normally fulfilling the teaching role, must become students. “They know their subject matter inside out,” she attests. “They have been challenged by globalization and their administration to now turn it all into English.”
“The course is very experiential.” Kathy notes, while acknowledging that many of these professionals haven’t taught in English. “There’s some trepidation about whether or not they can do it.” For those who have taught in English, the course has additional benefits, “There is a lot of modeling about how to incorporate active learning in a way that supports second language learners.” In either case, she discovered that, “If they’re nervous at the beginning, they’re much more confident by the end of the ten days.”
For the Universidad del Pacífico, a top economics and business administration university in Latin America, this hands-on approach works well. In an additional language, all of the participants welcome the chance to become learners again.
With this initiative’s continued success, the offering of their local courses in English might create an opportunity for more Mount Royal students to study in Perú. “We’re so privileged as English speakers.” Kathy identifies, “We get lazy. We are able to travel around the world and not have to speak another language. The onus has been pushed on others to learn English.” Not one to shy away from learning, Kathy admits, “This reminds me that I shouldn’t feel more privileged.” She says, “I should pick up my Spanish books again.”
To that end, Kathy has already arranged for some Spanish classes for her next trip south.
- by JLove
These days, good news stories about employment in Calgary are hard to come by…unless you’re one of the many students or employers who attended this month’s MRU Massage Therapy Career Fair.
With graduation right around the corner, this annual event gives students the opportunity to find out what’s next. With over 30 employers in attendance at this year’s event, many of whom were looking to fill multiple positions, students were happy (and relieved!) to find out that what’s waiting for them on the other side is a new graduate’s dream.
For just one example of where their careers can go, students need only look to former MRU student Karla Bancroft as an example. Karla is the director of talent development for Massage Heights Canada. She says, “I am personally proud to be MRU massage alumni, I have loved working with the school and seeing how the relationship between Massage Heights and Mount Royal has grown. The industry as a whole has evolved and grown immensely and it is very rewarding as both a former student and an employer to see how MRU has played a part in this.”
One of the reasons employers return every year is because they see value in the students’ training. Bancroft says, “Graduates from the MRU massage program have been enormous assets to our company. The quality of education and standards the graduates present in the workplace is very valuable to us as an employer.”
She describes the event, “The MRU job fair is a wonderful opportunity for Massage Heights to showcase the unique opportunity we offer massage therapy students, as well as graduates. We love being a part of this annual event, and really enjoy the enthusiasm and professionalism that the Mount Royal massage therapy students exhibit.”
The Massage Therapy program is pleased to have a valued partner like Massage Heights who offers an annual total of $2,000 for scholarships and bursaries.
Thank you to all employers and associations who attended this year’s event:
Hyatt Regency Calgary
Oasis Wellness Center and Spa
Lasya Healing Centre
Optimum Wellness Centres
Inspired Minds Wellness Centre
Leela Eco Spa
Soma Hammam and Spa
The Centre Spa & Wellness
Sandpearl Mobile Spa
Kinetic Performance Center
Fifth Avenue Club
Massage at the Club
Backstrong Heatlh Group
Southridge Village Chiropracic Centre
Willow Stream Spa, Fairmont Banff Springs
Essence Wellness Clinic
Apex Massage Therapy Ltd.
Urban Roots Wellness Centre
CBI Health Group
Landmark Collaborative Health
Natural Health Practitioners of Canada
Remedial Massage Therapists Association
Massage Therapist Association of Alberta
-submitted by the Massage Therapy Program
Registration information here.
The Employee of the Month has been crowned at the Millrise Shoppers Drug Mart. Her name is Sabrina Falconer and she’s a student in MRU Continuing Education’s Transitional Vocational Program (or TVP) and she is, as her manager described, “a ray of sunshine.”
Pasquale Tumato is the Front Store Manager at the location, further describes the honouree, “She’s got an infectious personality.”
A committee that includes Tumato chooses the Employee of the Month title. “We solicit opinions from the staff,” he says, “whoever possesses the most attributes we’re looking for in that month gets it.” As to why, after a mere five months in this position, Falconer should be granted this title, Tumato explains, “She has an excellent attitude. Her customer service skills and the fact that she’s willing to do anything at any time… with her smile and outgoing personality.”
Along with bragging rights, Tumato mentions that she gets, “the public recognition, and that of the staff. She gets a letter from the association and a gift card as well.”
All of this is exciting for Falconer. She glows, “It made me feel amazing. I work so hard. Trying my hardest and becoming the Employee of the Month is, like… awesome!”
Her position has a variety of roles for her to explore. She notes, “I do stock. Put the order out onto the floor or in the back. Chips… I fill the chips and beverage carts.” All of her responsibilities seem to rely on her sunny disposition since they’re all client facing.
Her favourite part is, “Coming in to see the customers. I’m a big people person.”
The toughest challenge, she admits, “I’m learning cash. How to do the lottery.” This high-demand ticket checking and selling system is something that even Tumato admits to being stumped by. With her character-defining positivity, she adds, “But the best part about life are the challenges and learning.”
This is the first time Tumato has arranged a work placement with MRU’s TVP Program, and it won’t be his last. The experience has been wonderful. We’ve had a couple other programs that didn’t work as well. This one (MRU) has worked really well.”
To give credit where it’s due, “Sabrina is a huge part of the success, but the support she gets is huge.” Tumato states.
She has an equally sunny outlook on her program. “I would recommend it to others who have learning disabilities or to others who are having trouble getting into the workplace. “
Falconer values her association with Shoppers. She’s scheduled to be here until the end of March, but says, “I could extend the contract until I get hired, or might try another work experience (placement).” But for now, she knows, “I’m enjoying it a lot.”
Paul Gray is a ‘glass-half-full’ type of guy.
Despite being diagnosed with Rhabdomyosacroma (a rare form of cancer usually found in children) upon starting his PFT program at MRU Continuing Education, he persevered and graduated the program this last spring.
But that’s not where his journey started.
His first career was as a consulting accountant in the oil and gas industry. “Oil companies employ a huge number of accountants,” he quantifies, “25% of their workforce.” A self-described accounting problem solver, Gray was involved in a start-up company with a friend. “I was the accountant. So, I did everything – all revenue, production, financial statements… you name it.”
He was good with numbers, but his calling came from elsewhere. “My ultimate dream was to get into outdoor pursuits.” Feeling the winds of change, he faced his reality, “I would have stayed in that career if I could do it for three days a week, but they kept hiring younger.” Answering the call, “I registered for the Personal Fitness Trainer Program.”
Both Gray’s process of learning and his road to recovery were elevated by the culture of camaraderie within the program. “The support I received from my fellow students both in the year I started and the year I finished was exceptional.” he admits. “I am so appreciative for this program, the knowledge base, the instructors, the MRU facility and my fellow students that I feel it was one of the best decisions I ever made.”
After chemotherapy, radiation and surgery on his affected leg, Gray’s tumour has been removed and he is three-years cancer free. All the while, he has been forwarding his next career.
As a personal fitness trainer, he is now focused on supporting others’ adventures and fitness goals, while he continues to train and heal. “I had an idea for a business,” Gray declares, “Kachina Fitness, named after the Hopi kachinas which are the spirits that represent all the essences of life.”
Kachina Fitness is focused on helping others plan and train for their adventures. “My target demographic all along was my friends, the aging baby-boomers, who are not getting their regular exercise.”
Gray has a lot of goals and a lot of optimism that he (and his clients) will achieve them. At age 55, and rebuilding his endurance in his leg, he admits, “I feel accomplished for me. My success is just thankfulness and gratitude to be alive and with hopes and dreams of skiing, climbing and hiking across the Grand Canyon again.”
A new career is a new journey and, as Gray reminds us, the saying goes, “every journey starts with a single step.” Paul Gray coaches those making similar transitions to reframe their success. “Life now is – don’t look at what I can’t do – look at what I can do.” Measure it not by what has been lost or taken away, but what you can do with what you have left. “I want to measure my life on how many times I visit the Grand Canyon.”
Start your own adventure here.
Click for MRU Spring/Summer 2016 Calendar
Click for more info on Personal Fitness Training Program
Dawn O’Byrne is like many young women. Her reality wasn’t quite fitting her dream.
“I actually came here (MRU) a few years ago to do Open Studies,” she attests. But, like many, her grades weren’t what she wanted them to be, her focus waivered and her heart wasn’t in it. It seemed she needed time to find herself before she could find her career.
O’Byrne describes her post high school choices, “I really struggled in the past to find a career direction and I felt like my focus at that time was more on my identity.”
She recently enrolled in MRU Continuing Education’s Education Assistant program. “Now,” she says, “I feel like my focus is on where do I see myself career-wise.“
Her story is a familiar one to many of the full-time programs at MRU Continuing Education where a student might not find their stride in traditional education streams. Like O’Byrne, they have to ask themselves if they’d like an office job, or something different.
“I really like helping people,” O’Byrne suggests, “I want to be in a profession that gives back.” Her current practicum placement at Bishop Carroll High School is offering her the opportunity she needs to do just that. And what’s more? She’s succeeding.
“The difference between then and now is that I take my work very seriously.” She glows. “So, I’m more academic now and my grades are wicked!”
As an educator, O’Byrne longs to pass this experience onto others. “The commitment is huge,” she admits, “But having a sense of belonging makes me feel like a stronger individual. I can just be myself.”
That sense of enthusiasm is an enviable one. It’s the sense of pride of one who is actively fulfilling a life-long passion. “Now, when I wake up,” she relays, “I’m not stressed. I can’t wait to get to school… and my practicum.”
“It’s even more fulfilling because this is a career I know I can still be happy doing in twenty years or more.” She smiles, ”I feel like I’m living my dream. I couldn’t be happier.”
Click for Spring/Summer 2016 Calendar
Click for info on MRU’s Education Assistant Program