In 2005, Leadership Vancouver Island, (LVI) was formed to generate capacity for leadership, learning, and service on Vancouver Island. Over 250 leaders have graduated through LVI’s programs — 22 of which were sponsored employees of 49th Parallel Grocer.
Don Florence, director of store operations for 49th graduated from LVI eight years ago. He said that the program helped hone his leadership skills, specifically in public speaking.
“[Public speaking] is something I have to do a fair bit in my job,” Florence said. “It helped with that for sure —just getting out there, and doing it — not worrying about the negatives, and trying to look for good outcomes.”
LVI is overseen by the Leadership Society of Vancouver Island, and facilitated by certified professional coaches, university, business, and community leaders. Facilitators come from a variety of fields, and often work for free or little cost.
LVI is a group based program. Each group is responsible for taking on a project that will benefit their chosen community. The emphasis of the program is on making that community impact.
The groups are free to decide what they do. Carrie Lynn Campbell — who was sponsored by 49th — and her group at LVI dedicated their project to setting up the Ladysmith skate park. Byron Neubauer — also sponsored by 49th — worked to set up an organization called Acknowledging Leaders of Tomorrow to recognize outstanding youth in Cowichan.
“The impact of doing a community event, or working inside your community is one of the main thrusts of Leadership Vancouver Island. Each of the groups do something to make their community a better place.
Florence said that if he could go through LVI all over again, he would.
“There were a lot of positives that were pulled out of it. We pick a person every year, and we tell them what it’s like. I encourage them to do it because I think you grow as a person when you go through it,” Florence said.
At 49th, employees are chosen for the program based on multiple factors. For Florence, the most important factor is that the person benefits from going through LVI. 49th covers the cost of sending their employees through the program.
“Our most important resource at the store is our staff. They’re ultimately the reason we’re going to be successful now, and in the future, so we want them to be the best people they can be,” Florence said.