Wednesday, August 14, 2019

To Sonia Sra

To Sonia Sra:

We worked at the $1 store in 2004.

I haven't heard from you in years.  

I called you on your home phone and the voicemail is someone else's' voice.

Your cell has no voicemail.

Do you get my emails?

You can email me at

Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Ladder: Treana Peake/ "Can my employer keep me from bidding for a job with a client?"

Apr. 9, 2018 The Ladder: Treana Peake: Today I found this article by Brenda Bouw in the Globe and Mail. This is an interview about a woman who does charity work:

Treana Peake, a Vancouver-based fashion designer and philanthropist, is the creative director of the fashion label Obakki and founder of the Obakki Foundation, which focuses on bringing clean water, education, sustainable agriculture and medical care to parts of Africa, in particular, South Sudan, Uganda and Cameroon. 

Since 2009, the foundation has provided 900 water wells and supported more than 12 schools. Ms. Peake is married to Ryan Peake, of the band Nickelback, with whom she has two children. 

I was born in Ontario, but the majority of my life was spent living in rural Alberta, in a town called Hanna. That’s also where I met my husband.

For most of my childhood, it was just my mom and me. My father passed away when I was quite young. I was an only child. Our family struggled quite a bit. We spent some time living with my grandparents in a one-bedroom house. It was a humble upbringing. We had no running water. My grandfather and I would go to the well to bring water back to the family.

As a child, I don’t remember noticing or thinking anything of it. I just remember being in a family where I was surrounded by love.

I think my philanthropic side came from something that happened while I was growing up: 

Every year, around Christmas a white envelope of money would slide under the door to help our family get through the year. We never knew who it was. There was no return address. 

To this day, I haven’t found out who it was. Part of me wants that person to know and understand the power of their super kind actions. On the other hand, I know that’s not why they did it – for recognition or praise. They did it because they cared.

Throughout my life, I’ve thought less about the money and more about the motivation: this beautiful act of kindness done quietly. It shaped my views on what giving really means. It started me on the path I’m on today.

I started fundraising at a very young age. I ran garage sales and other fundraising events. My husband grew up in the same town and started a band. I would organize concerts and we would give that money to charity. 

It was a very inclusive rural town where everyone helped each other. It built me up and made me feel I could really do anything.

My first real philanthropic trip was to Romania when I was 18 years old. I met a Canadian military captain who said he was putting together a group of people to go and help with issues around overflowing hospital and orphanages.

 I was instantly hooked by the work we were doing. Africa was next, and I’ve been doing philanthropic work ever since.

I launched Obakki, the fashion label in 2009. Obakki is a made-up word. I think people thought fashion came first. I didn’t. I have been doing philanthropy my entire life. 

As the fashion brand began to grow, I realized it could be a great platform for me to showcase the philanthropic side of what I’m doing. I also recognized that fashion can have a very large platform, similar to what musicians and actors have. 

The fashion sales cover the administration costs of the Obakki Foundation so that 100 per cent of the donations can go exactly where we want them to go. In terms of our programs, we are working in South Sudan, Uganda and Cameroon.

I have always been a creative person and business-minded. Fashion has allowed that outlet. I love putting together the photo shoots and collections and seeing clothing come to life through stories. I have a small team of about 20 people that work on the fashion side here in my studio in Vancouver. 

The challenge is to push the envelope and come up with creative campaigns to keep peoples’ attention. My focus now is trying to further weave the fashion into the foundation.

In Bidi Bidi, the world’s largest refugee camp in Uganda, I met a group of women who helped me design a scarf – 100 per cent of the net proceeds of which go back to them. 

They’re using their own two hands to create change for themselves. I’m looking for more opportunities like that. There are some beautiful stories I can try to weave into creative products. People want to buy things that do something good in the world.

I look to hire people with a common vision, who are innovative, collaborative and who want to make a change in the world. I think there’s a misconception with non-profits that they’re not modern or creative thinkers. We are absolutely that. 

Yes, our programs in the field are grassroots but, on this side, we are a forward-thinking, open-minded and modern company. We have to be. It’s getting harder to fundraise and we need to come up with creative ways to present issues to people and inspire them to be part of it.

I have been told many times that what I’m envisioning won’t work. I’ve never been that person. I’m not afraid to try different things. If this inspires me, moves me and makes me feel really engaged, then I believe it will allow others to feel that way.

The best advice I’ve been given is simple: To do what’s in my own heart; build my own model instead of what other people are doing and trust that I know what I’m doing. My advice? 

Don’t be afraid to take the first step.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

"Can my employer keep me from bidding for a job with a client?": Today I found this article in the Globe and Mail:

I am working in an actuarial consulting firm operating in Pakistan. There is an opening with one of our clients that I worked for, and I asked my boss to refer me. He is very kind and supportive, and after discussing my future plans, said he needed to converse with another person at the same level to get his views. 

After some time, he said they thought it would set a precedent, and seem too easy for others to switch to the client side. Is there any practice internationally to bind a person from not going to clients for a job? Because I would like to approach my boss again about this opportunity.

The first answer

Julie Labrie

President, BlueSky Personnel Solutions, Toronto.

If your current employment contract does not limit you from approaching one of the company’s clients for a job, then there is technically nothing stopping you from doing so.

 That is the easy black-and-white answer. In a world with many shades of grey however, there are a few additional points to deliberate.

You are right to gently approach your boss again. With the support of your current employer, no one will question the ethics of your job application to their client. If that client approached you directly and asked you to apply, that would be fine, too. 

In an alternate scenario, however, if a potential employer heard that you went against your boss’s will to apply for that job, he or she would likely frown upon that, wondering if you might do the same thing to them in the future. 

If your boss still says no, and you don’t want to risk things by applying for the job any way, then let this client opportunity pass.

One final thought: when you approach your boss again, have a genuine and transparent conversation with him. Be as open and honest as possible. Share how important this client opportunity is to you personally. 

Sometimes we underestimate the power of authenticity. If you can help him empathize with your situation, hopefully you can change his mind.

The second answer

Doug Ewen

Certified Human Resources Executive, Midland, Ont.

Managing current employers when looking for a new job can be a delicate exercise.

Given that the client job is a publicly posted position, you should feel free to apply. There are no legal or ethical issues when pursuing open positions with clients, especially in the absence of a non-complete clause. 

The ethical (and possibly legal) issues arise if you steal or use proprietary information to gain an advantage for your new employer.

Although the support of your current employer would be desirable, it is not necessary. It is important to realize that nobody is going to look after your career better than you will. 

You need to be pro-active in planning and pursuing your future. Good managers and good companies will not hold you back.

If you decide to apply for the client opening, I would suggest that you respectfully approach your boss once again and explain your decision. 

Remind him of how this fits well with your future plans and how you would really appreciate his support. Although he may not refer you, your hope is that he would be supportive if contacted. Good luck!

"How to future- proof our youth for the changing world of work"/ "Canada needs a skills overhaul to address disruption"

Aug. 31, 2018 "How to future- proof our youth for the changing world of work": Today I found this article by Jonathan Lister in the Globe and Mail:

Vice-president, sales solutions and Canada country manager, LinkedIn Canada.

The rapid pace of technological change is transforming the way we work, with powerful new tools and technologies such as artificial intelligence and automation dramatically changing the skills required to be successful. In fact, some studies estimate as much as 50 per cent of Canadian jobs will be disrupted by automation in the next 10 years.

This technological change makes it difficult for schools, governments and business leaders to prepare today’s youth for the jobs of tomorrow. So, what can we be doing to help the next generation future-proof their careers?

Use data to better anticipate (and train for) future in-demand skills

According to a 2018 Royal Bank of Canada research paper, Humans Wanted – How Canadian youth can thrive in the age of disruption, there are two types of skills employees need the most: digital literacy and soft skills. 

Digital literacy doesn’t necessarily mean all employees need to learn how to code. Rather, it’s the ability to use technology effectively and learn how to use new tools quickly, adapting to changes that will inevitably occur. 

We’ve also found in our 2018 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report that training for soft skills such as leadership, communication and collaboration is the No. 1 priority for talent-development teams.

For subscribers: How to find your first job, then keep it and flourish

Through a recent collaboration with eCampusOntario and Ontario’s provincial government, more than one million postsecondary students in Ontario now have access to’s online courses to train and equip them with the digital and soft skills they need to find success in our changing economy.

Share insights to close opportunity gaps

In 2011, three times as many youth were employed in occupations at high risk of being disrupted by automation than in low-risk occupations, according to the Brookfield Institute’s Future-proof: Preparing young Canadians for the future of work report. 

The report also showed that a startlingly low 34 per cent of employers feel that youth are actually adequately prepared for the workforce.

One of the best ways to prepare young professionals is by sharing insights that can help them better navigate their career paths. Enter LinkedIn’s Economic Graph – a digital map of the global economy that provides unique and valuable insights into workforce trends. 

Seneca College recently used LinkedIn’s Toronto data on hiring and skills to design short-term, skills-based training to prepare unemployed and underemployed youth for jobs in the tech sector.

These insights can also be used to guide employee reskilling or relocation, employer searches for hidden talent pools, curriculum choices in educational institutions and workforce development and policy, ultimately creating opportunities for the youth facing barriers in our region.

Hit refresh on professional networking

While today’s youth may be social-media savvy, they may not be leveraging online platforms as a way to network professionally. As employers are increasingly looking online to find and vet their candidates, young professionals who aren’t building and maintaining their online résumés are missing out on vital connections. This online presence is no longer just a nice-to-have in today’s job market; it’s a need-to-have.

And that’s why LinkedIn Canada worked with CivicAction in support of their annual YouthConnect conference this summer. This event helps educate Canada’s youth on the most in-demand skills in today’s jobs market and also provides direct access to a curated skills curriculum on LinkedIn Learning that enables them to acquire those skills. 

Additionally, attendees will learn how to develop their online profiles, search for jobs and build their networks.

There are already too many young people – more than 800,000 in Canada – who are disconnected from employment opportunities and every professional and leader has a role to play in helping to close this divide.

 The work being done by organizations such as CivicAction is helping to put the right pieces in place to pave a better path for Canada’s young people and to make this kind of sea change. Getting this right will be a defining issue of our time.

How to future proof ? Learn - get all the education you possibly can - the fundamentals won't change, but their application relevance will. Deal with reality by yourself without all the social engineering blather. Nobody likes to hire snowflakes. Be responsible for yourself, take the initiative and work hard. Enter the trade stream - such jobs are the least likely to be replaced by AI, automation, robots.

'..makes it difficult for schools, ..'what can we be doing to help the next generation..' In schools one aspect is necessary. Students that do not perform need to be told! If they deserve low mark, then they heed to get that. This way they may learn that life is a tough world.

Sept. 5, 2018 "Canada needs a skills overhaul to address disruption": Today I found this article by Ayman Antoun  in the Globe and Mail

Ayman Antoun is president, IBM Canada

Industries from manufacturing to agriculture are being reshaped by data science and cloud computing, creating new jobs and changing existing ones. A recent skills report by Royal Bank of Canada found that, in the next decade, about 25 per cent of Canadian jobs will be disrupted by changes and advancements in technology, and more than half will require a skills overhaul. 

We’re already seeing the impact of this shift with a quarter or more of the current tech-related jobs difficult to fill. To prepare our work force for the future, we need new approaches to education, training and recruiting.

The rise of new-collar jobs

This is just the latest iteration in the natural evolution of how we work. With the advent of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and blockchain, the role of the individual worker has begun to shift again, creating what have become the “new-collar” jobs.

 While these positions are highly technical, many of them do not require a four-year postsecondary degree.

New-collar competencies can be achieved through modern vocational training – competency-based programs that measure learning rather than time spent in an educational setting – that includes innovative curriculums such as coding camps, 21st-century apprenticeships and professional certification programs.

Preparing the next generation

At IBM, we have launched Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH), which provides an alternative method for youth to receive the training they require. It’s a six-year educational program that combines a relevant, career-focused traditional curriculum with necessary competencies from community colleges, mentoring and real-world job experience. 

We have seen the value that this type of program delivers in the United States, with graduation rates four times the U.S. national average for all students. We are excited to be launching P-TECH in Canada this year.

This need to prepare Canadian youth for future jobs is reinforced by RBC Economics calculations that suggest that by investing in youth and increasing their productivity to the Group of Seven average, there could be a $40-billion lift in the Canadian economy.

Partnering for success

New-collar work could lead to thousands of jobs in Canada, provided large-scale training initiatives using public-private partnerships are established to close the competency gap. 

These partnerships will better connect young people and current workers to the education and training they require to obtain meaningful employment or to move forward in their careers.

We believe that public-private partnerships are one of the most powerful forces for change, enabling stronger outcomes when government, public educational institutions, non-profits and industry combine their expertise and experience to solve deeply entrenched education challenges. 

This model has proved successful with Ontario’s Smart Computing for Innovation program (SOSCIP) that brings together government, university and IBM funding and expertise. It has launched more than 80 research projects, engaging and creating more than 40 small businesses and enhancing the skills of more than 300 students and postdoctoral fellows.

Empowering today’s work force

We also need to prepare and empower current workers for these changing environments with new or updated competencies. It is vital for all organizations to cultivate a culture of continual learning to retain existing workers through contemporary career development opportunities – training, professional development, new artificial-intelligence-based learning platforms that serve up targeted education – to allow for these workers to evolve along with their organizations.

By emphasizing new-collar skills, organizations can focus on hiring for capability and in-demand know-how, not just credentials, and on offering a greater range of pathways to career development and success for their current employees.

All stakeholders benefit in this new model. Companies gain new, diverse talent, employees develop skills necessary for the new economy and the country bolsters economic growth.

At IBM, we want to attract new graduates who are passionate and driven by opportunities to make a difference in their communities and to produce meaningful work for clients. We are committed to continuing to develop training models that prepare new and existing employees with the skills and knowledge to help influence change, especially digital transformation.

 We feel that by investing in fostering young and current talent, we are creating a platform on which we are better able to have effective contributions to our clients and extend our $12.2-billion economic output across the larger Canadian economy.

Maybe one of the new grads can fix the IBM Phoenix pay mess.

Antoun says '....we need new approaches to education, training and recruitment'.. He is right but it has been this way in IT since the 1960's.The establishment has failed industry and Canada.The problem starts with recruitment. Spend if you will to try and make stars performers out of too small a sample and you will not get value for money.

Canada needs a cultural shift too make its population technology aware/friendly. It is the massive base of elected officials,relatives and teachers which dissuades kids from delving into what goes on inside the technology they are addicted too.P-Tech is good.

 It is a drop in the bucket. There are many ways to give 'hands-on' experience. This is the key training need.I am not a fan of professional certification. It makes it easy for fast-study people to get useless certificates.

Tackle the root cause of Canada's chronic and continual shortage. Change our culture to be one were our communities are technology supportive.

Our education system in Canada is woefully inadequate.

Here is my take on the subject based on empirical evidence.

I work at an E&I (Electrical and Instrumentation) shop that mainly services the energy industry. We wire up all the devices and computers that run the automation systems in energy installations and service them. Some of this is cutting edge in the industry.

We are always looking for new talent. One of my bosses let us know that they would consider allowing students in the local pre trades programs at the high school do work experience in our shop.

My spouse that works at the local high school went to the trades instructor and let him know that he could contact my boss if he needed spots for interested students.

He told my wife that kids were not interested in getting a trade in Electrical or Instrumentation because the 'math' was too difficult.

So either society points students capable of the math involved (which really isn't that difficult) away from the trades, or the school system isn't properly preparing children for the real world.

Just another example of the skills shortages that exist in the industry and the field and why they are in demand..

A classical example of where our education establishment pontificates from its Ivory Tower about " Math " ... whereby even the simplest of mere arithemtic is cloaked in a grandiose ermine fur lined cloak of "Mathematics " ... which upon ultimate and detailed study reveals their entire incompetence and incomprehension on that topic.

So much for my rant. A reality observation:

My electrical contractor buddy who does industrial work occasionally donates his left over boxes, cables, bus bar, old controllers ... to the local college, who gratefully accept what is basically obsolete junk. The reason ? They cannot get money in their budget for modern hardware examples on which to train students !!

In the meantime pronoun biology, bullying, "safe spaces", Discovery Math, ... and similar social engineering make believe reigns, all befogged by the latest Pot business hype - which will alleviate all of our resulting stress in a smoke induced haze of druggie nirvana.
What could possibly go wrong ?

This is nothing but an ad for IBM. I hold a Computer Science degree and I work in the software industry. I do not respect IBM and will not support anything they cook up, like this 'P-Tech'.

 IBM is well known in the industry for project cost overruns, missed project goals, and millions of dollars of wasted money for their unfortunate customers. I can quote many reputable articles but won't bore you.

 In addition, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway recently offloaded all their IBM holdings.

Shame on you, Globe and Mail, for shamelessly endorsing IBM. This is a shameless advertisement, trying to sell unsuspecting young (or older) people on things that are Not in their interest. I am going to contact The Globe and Mail directly about this as well.

The new jobs of the future may not last very long. Many of the people who were gainfully employed in IT in the 80's and 90's did not survive the job cuts of the 2000's. IBM was one of the employers cutting workers, most of them in their 40's and 50's. 

I don't remember hearing about much retraining for these skilled workers, but we can hope that the next generation of skilled workers will fare better.

You can give a 48 year old, former fork lift operator with a high school education all of the re-training you want. He'll never start developing killer apps. 

Jobs of the future need to adapt to innate, individual human potential - not the other way around. People good at working with "things" do not adapt nor enjoy working with information/data. And vice versa.
My opinion: These are some really smart comments on the IBM article.