Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Business Casual in Winnipeg

Katie and I had the opportunity to leave Iqaluit and most of our responsibilities behind for a four day stay in Winnipeg, Manitoba. This was my first visit to Manitoba and quite an impressive one at that.

I'm sitting now at the desk in our hotel room in Ottawa, our flight was meant to leave just after nine but was cancelled after the anticipation of bad weather in Iqaluit. We checked back into the hotel and ended up in the same room.

This is really the first free time that I've had to stop and think about the last week. Day five away from our stores and our team. We stayed in the oldest hotel in Winnipeg, built in 1911 by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, their tag line being, "your castle away from home." Although the room are slightly dated, the lobbies and common areas are exquisite with their historic charm and elegance.

Our visit was centered around the fact that as a team, Tim Hortons Iqaluit won a presidents award from the Company. We attended a beautiful award ceremony on Thursday night at The Manitoba Club, which is the oldest private club in Western Canada, founded in July of 1874. Throughout history the club was gentleman's only and only within the last decade or so, have women been allowed to enter the building, even now, entrance is only permitted when accompanied and signed in by a member. We were lucky to be among the small amount of women who have had the opportunity to tour the prestigious club.

The awards were wonderful. Our friend Mike, who works at head office in Operations, introduced us with a speech. We shared the table with the President and CEO of our Company and had the chance to meet some very important people to the success of NWC. We were honored to be in the company of everyone who surrounded us.

We got to take part in a regional meeting and hear about business aspects that we don't usually touch at the store level. The trip has been a learning experience for us.

On Saturday night the company held a 25th anniversary dinner that was attended by over a thousand people who have a hand on the running of our Company. The night was MC'd by Peter Mansbridge, who we had our picture taken with and who promised to come and visit us when he lands in Iqaluit later this year. Peter shared the stories of his connection to the North, including his beginnings as an anchor man. He got his start as a young man, working in the airport in Churchill Manitoba as a baggage handler. Peter was asked to make a flight announcement and after hearing his voice, he was recruited by a radio executive who happened to be in the airport.

We saw drum dancers, not of Inuit heritage but aboriginal, who were mesmerizing. We listened to an aboriginal prayer and watched the lighting of a kudlik. After an elegant dinner we watched Susan Aglukark perform. The last time I watched her was when she came to Iqaluit to help us open Tim Hortons. We had the opportunity to meet her again, have a photo op and talk about a prospective literacy program in Iqaluit, which one of our managers, Matt, has been trying to push into existence. Susan may be making yet another partnership with us in Iqaluit, she is a wonderful supporter of Inuit youth and education. I have had the chance to hear her speak briefly and she is always very passionate about the projects she engages in. We flew back to Toronto on the same plane with her and her band, who are also fantastic people.

We never did have a great opportunity for shopping, other than quick trips to pick up pieces of business wear, which we don't own much of in the North. Last night we took a trip to Walmart and today we may do a little bit more shopping, keeping in mind, the lack of luggage space remaining. We packed in a lot of freebies that we picked up along our journey and at a trade show that we attended. Katie's luggage was seven pounds over weight... we had to dump seven pounds of free beef jerky on the lady at the check in counter.

This month, as well as the next few months will be very exciting for me. I have some travel plans, which I am keeping under the rug until I set off for the next adventure.