“Client-centred leadership is where it’s at for me. I’ve always loved to lead people and manage all the many aspects of running a smooth organization. It wasn’t until I started running a food bank (17 years ago now!) that I realized that work has so much more meaning when it revolves around the clients. I mean, that’s the reason we are here—to serve our clients. So let’s do it and do it well!”
Meet Gregory. Gregory has grown his career vertically into various leadership positions within both the private business and non-profit sectors. He is currently Executive Director of a non-profit, charitable organization that provides food and nutritional education for community members in Surrey, BC.
Gregory graduated from BCIT with a Diploma of Technology in Business Administration, with the goal to work into a management position in a large organization. Gregory was always interested in health and wellness and was very attracted to the opportunities that the food industry offered. He had several job offers but he chose the lowest paying position at a grocery chain because it offered the greatest opportunity to move into management and develop his leadership skills. He was promoted to store manager within a year and remained there for two additional years.
At that point, Gregory felt his career was stagnating. There was little opportunity for any more career growth within the organization so Gregory decided to try his hand at self-employment in personal fitness. After a few years of self-employment, he sold his business. Gregory found that he focused a lot of his time in marketing and sales, and not enough time helping clients become healthy. He decided to go back to the grocery field and accepted a role as Assistant Manager with a large grocery chain.
Gregory spent ten years at the grocery chain. He used his interpersonal communication, leadership, strategic planning and organizational budgeting skills to grow into a Vice President position where he oversaw operations in BC. He left that position because he no longer believed in the mission of the organization and fundamentally disagreed with the way senior management demonstrated little care towards their employees. Gregory realized that in order to truly be successful and happy in a career, he must believe in and be passionate about the services he was providing to customers.
Gregory spent some time reflecting on his next career move and examined his values, interests and skills. He heard that a food bank in Surrey needed to generate funds to survive. Gregory accepted the challenge of generating $200,000 in funding in order to re-establish the organization. Gregory took on the task because of his drive and his vision to create an organization that helped community members with immediate needs while they also learned about sustainable food sources and good nutrition.
Gregory has been the Executive Director of the organization for over seventeen years. His role offers him great variety. He leads the creation of the organization’s strategic plan with a senior management team comprised of operations, marketing, IT, and education. Part of Gregory’s success is that he has managed to balance his skill in detailed data analysis with his vision of the “big picture”, ensuring that the organization stays true to its mission of helping people and serving clients. Furthermore, Gregory believes that his integrity, willingness to admit mistakes and fix them, and approachability, allows him to be a role model for his team, which has won numerous community service awards.
It was Gregory’s intention at the beginning of his career to grow into a management role and he did so at a very young age. His confidence, outgoing personality and eagerness to take on new challenges enabled him to grow his skills and experience, and to advance his career vertically. He laterally moved into self-employment and then moved back into management in the food industry where his ladder continued vertically through promotions. Gregory moved laterally as he accepted his current senior position as Executive Director for a local non-profit organization.
Gregory’s career in the non-profit sector has taught him many things; most importantly, it is the understanding that at a core level, an organization exists because of its clients and the services must revolve around them, not the other way around.