NEW GLASGOW – A young entrepreneur in Nova Scotia’s Pictou County isn’t the first person to hear the phrase “listen to your elders” but she is the first in the Province to see the benefit of it through a business person to business person mentorship pilot program that is already helping her enterprise succeed.
Teri-Lynn Dempsey was selected to be the test subject for the Mentoring Plus Strategy pilot that paired her with Valerie Ryan, a semi-retired businesswoman who has nearly 3 decades of leadership experience with the Empire Group of companies. Dempsey jumped at the chance to benefit from Ryan’s knowledge because as an entrepreneur she had new challenges including time management, coping with stress, and understanding how to be an effective employer. Ryan agreed to become Dempsey’s mentor because she says throughout her career she had mentors who helped her develop specific skills and overall business acumen.
Dempsey and Ryan shared their experience recently with a forum of young entrepreneurs and seniors with extensive business experience in New Glasgow; The forum was hosted by the Mentoring Plus Strategy through the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce and gave four young entrepreneurs the chance to pick the brains of four experienced business people on topics such as human resource management, business expansion, marketing and attracting great employees. Jeanette Hermanson of the Green Thumb was one of those entrepreneurs and she said the forum seemed to identify that business owners across various sectors seem to have a lot in common, especially issues like how to manage staff and attract the right employee for your business. “If I took something out of today, it is that we are not alone,” said Hermanson.
Dempsey runs an IT company and while she has impeccable knowledge of technology, she’d never been a boss before, so during her first sit-down with Ryan they mostly discussed best practices in interacting with your employees. “Val’s been so great; I can’t even believe it. It was beneficial literally the second we were in the room together.” Ryan’s most valuable advice related to communication and Dempsey now has a sticky note on her computer monitor that says “Have You Connected Today?” that prompts her to make sure she’s talking to her employees. Dempsey says taking the time to check in with her staff members has made a huge difference. “That was brilliant,” said Dempsey. She also credits Ryan for helping her develop better proposals and to make connections that will help her submit tenders for large IT contracts. “When someone else believes in you, you believe in yourself more. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to fix something that is plaguing you when you have the right resources behind you and the right person in your corner.” Ryan finds mentoring Dempsey rewarding and said, “I am happy to give back, to give them a leg up, to boost their confidence, to help them build their business; I find that meaningful.”
Hermanson told the group of young entrepreneurs at the Mentoring forum that experience has made her braver. “I can appreciate where you all are.” The other mentors, Glenn Williams, Dan Currie, and Valerie Ryan agreed, letting the young entrepreneurs know they aren’t alone, their issues are common, and that the majority of problems can be overcome by keeping the lines of communication with employees open.
“The Chamber’s relationship with the business community has been a key to launching the program,” said Chamber Executive Director Jack Kyte. “We love the simplicity of the process; Just connect the right people and they will run with it. We need to be creative in helping our businesses as they rebound from the pandemic”
The mentorship forum was part of the business to business pilot taking place in Pictou County through the Mentorship Plus Strategy, but the Strategy will also work on mentorship between experienced elders and inexperienced youth in other sectors including business, agriculture, policing, health, and tourism. The Mentoring Plus Strategy is in its first year of a four-year pilot in Nova Scotia. Dalhousie University is the backbone organization with three partnering municipalities in the towns of Kentville, New Glasgow and Truro. The project is aiming to engage retired people and increase the social inclusion of seniors using more than 3- million dollars from Ottawa through the New Horizons for Seniors Program, also providing great benefits to young people with the spin-off benefit of community development.
The forum provided mentorship to four young businesspeople including Dempsey, Tyler MacLean (Crossroads Country Market), Chelsea Wilson (True Line Design) and Vicki Thompson (MacGibbons Contracting). Another forum is being planned for the near future to continue the exchange of knowledge through Mentoring Plus.
The forum is being planned by New Glasgow’s Mentoring Plus Coordinator Geralyn MacDonald.
Mentoring Plus Strategy,
Dalhousie University College of Continuing Education,
Pictou County Chamber of Commerce,
Stellarton-based entrepreneur Teri-Lynn Dempsey is the first business person in nova scotia to benefit from a new mentoring plus strategy being piloted in Pictou county. The strategy connects retirees with young people who can learn from their experience. Valerie Ryan says she was mentored throughout her nearly 3 decades of working with the empire group of Companies and now she is returning the favour by mentoring Dempsey who runs the company DataGuide Technology. Dempsey says Ryan's advice helped her immediately; she says she was surprised at how easy it is to fix something that Is plaguing you when you have the right person in your corner. Dempsey was one of four young entrepreneurs who took part in a mentorship forum last Week in New Glasgow. It is one example of how elder knowledge is being harnessed through the mentorship plus strategy. This is the first of a four-year pilot program being supported with over 3 million dollars from Ottawa Through the new horizons for seniors program to increase social inclusion of seniors in New Glasgow, Truro and Kentville. All participants found the forum valuable and another is being planned by Geralyn MacDonald here in New Glasgow.