Posts Tagged ‘International Visitor Leadership Program’

We’re heading west to San Fran & Napa

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013
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In Denver, as well as San Francisco, we had several opportunities to meet Canadians who had decided to work south of the 49th parallel. An interesting conversation was particularly had when we met Marcy Grossman – Canadian Consul General in Denver (centre left in black & white) who during her career, has been posted in various Canadian consulates throughout the US. During our meeting, we learned about how these consulates are an instrumental resource referring and assisting Canadian businesses to create business relationships with American companies. “We can help vet and find appropriate American businesses in the various regions to work with,” Marcy explains. “$1.9 billion of trade crosses the Canada-US border.  And over 8 millions jobs in the US rely on trade with Canada”. Marcy highlighted that in Colorado there are 100+ Canadian and internationally owned business including Suncor, EnCana, Great West Life, Molsons Coors, Agrium & Enerplus.

Each consulate has a list of priority industry sectors.  In Denver, Marcy explained that they are:

  • North America Energy Security (pipeline, tar sands, etc)
  • Border Security
  • Agriculture and Trade Policies
  • Trade issues affecting competition

You can see the Rolex flipping in Marcy’s head as we explained the nature of our businesses. Without a beat, Marcy offered to make introductions, send useful documents and provide connections to firms that she and her team has existing relationships. What an incredible resource.  Marcy was ready to help in every way.

We then peeled back the Canadian flag (figuratively) and turned the tables to ask Marcy about personal experiences about being a Canadian businesswoman working in the US. Afterall, for the past 2 weeks we have been exposed to all of the resources and initiatives that the American government has geared towards growing women entrepreneurs in their country. Finally we had the opportunity to talk with another Canadian businesswoman & were curious of her perspective from a Canadian point of view. Let’s just say, we could have spent hours more with Marcy. I look forward to our paths crossing again.

Always a place at the dinner table…

Each city we visited, the 6 of us had the opportunity to meet an even further extension of people and to experience non-business setting. We all remarked about the unexpected kindness and generosity of the people in each city who opened their own homes for us and welcomed us for dinner and great conversations. All done completely voluntarily through their affiliation with the US Institute of International Education program office their respective city.

Not only did we enjoy this personal connection, I was inspired and in return, I will look into doing the same for international visitors to Ottawa. Thank you to whose who set a spot for me at your table – Anar & Todd in San Jose (Anar is seated 2nd from left & Todd is in back row), Roy & Laurie (in Denver), Marty (in Kansas City) and Katrina (in Austin)….and their friends who joined us at the table too. While the food on the table was good, it was the people in the chairs that were most memorable.

Go west young ladies, go west!

While Denver was fascinating and held many more opportunities and ventures to experience, San Francisco awaits! After nearly a week in Denver, we re-packed our luggage one last time and headed west to enter into another time zone and to see the western most coast.

I have visited to San Francisco several times for both fun as well as for wine related work. It is such a dynamic city, I was looking forward to see what San Francisco Institute of International Education had arranged for us. Their itinerary covered a lot of freeways and certainly did not leave much free time to explore this fantastic city. We’ll be back!

During our entire trip we have been trying to land dinner in Chinatown. We promised ourselves (and Amina as it was her birthday) that when we arrive in San Fran, it was the first thing we’d do. True to that plan, I asked the concierge at Park 55 Hotel not for his recommendations, rather for the Chinese restaurant he goes to. “The Capital on Clay Street has the best food and has the best chicken wings – hands down!” I was surprised by this comment, yet claims of San Francisco’s best wings was proudly plastered on the front door and the cover of the menu. And so…when in Rome, do as the Romans do…we ordered a plate of these mysterious wines along with an array of interesting Chinese dishes. Every mouthful was loaded with fresh ingredients, fish and spices. Delish!

Lending a hand to grow a business

The meetings in San Fran & the Bay area were different from the other cities. We were invited into businesses focused on kick starting small businesses, primarily for immigrants.

We met with Opportunity Fund (located in Silicon Valley) to learn how they help small ‘Ma and Pa’ businesses in the Bay area from dry cleaners to taxi cab drivers with microlending. With their regional, they are providing loans mainly to Hispanics – 55% are women, and 42% are under 35 years old. “We are the first stop BEFORE they go to the bank for a loan”, explained Devin McAlpine.

From there, we met with Joanne Gan at Kiva to learn about the impact of ‘crowd funding’ – individuals like you and me offering a minimum of $25 to an emerging business in a different corner of the world. They are currently lending $400 million by means of 800,000 lenders (aka you & me) around the world supporting budding entrepreneurs with uber low interest rates. “We are a website that provides connections to people with money to people who are looking for ways to make money” explained Joanne. And wandering around their open space office, Kiva demonstrated a novel workspace format that those of us from the east would coin as ‘very west coast’. Lots of photos were taken to remind us that a cube farm does not nurture a successful business.

Leaving the cheque book behind, we then moved away from lending funds to lending space in a commercial kitchen with our visit to La Cocina. This is an incubator kitchen primarily for immigrants to create unique foods from their homeland in a certified FDA kitchen with the goal to grow into a new business venture. Complete with all of the industrial kitchen equipment you can imagine, professional development courses and business coaching as well as a dedicated team focused on creating opportunities (farmers markets, catering, festivals) their culinary creations to sell. We were all impressed us with the commitment to create both the push and pull to help build a community of new businesses, or as renown business author & blogger Seth Godin would call it – a tribe.

We were interested midst of other communities at work when we visited the beautiful campus of Standford University. ‘It is so invigorating to be amongst young people learning’, Fiona mentioned as she looked around the campus & outdoor patio. Known as one of the most expensive universities in the US, I could not help myself from imagining what some of these young 20 somethings aspire to do once they graduated.

Do you know the way to San Jose?

Throughout my high tech career, rarely did a day go by when Silicon Valley goes unmentioned at the watercooler. In previous trips, I had driven past San Jose, but never stopped. This time, we arrived at our meeting earlier than planned, so we walked around the streets of San Jose and soaked up some California rays.

This Silicon Valley mecca that creates vibrant minds, innovative technologies and millionaires overnight was surprisingly dull and run down. Certainly there were corporate towers and campuses with familiar logos, but the main street lacked energy while the retail & restaurants were stagnate. Strange. The downtown core seemed to be somewhat ghost town, while surrounded by highrise corporate empires with logos of household names.

An afternoon in Napa with meetings of a different pace

Other flipside, in my wine career, Napa is the iconic mecca and I was thrilled that our last afternoon was dedicated to visiting the boutique wineries of Ceja Vineyards and St Supery Winery. Both businesses have a woman at helm. These two wineries are making an impression both locally as well as internationally with their wines. While for the past weeks, our meetings have been in boardrooms with death-by-Powerpoint slidedecks (ok, not that bad – it is just an expression!), I was excited to show the other ladies what a meeting in my wine world involved: sampling wines with the winery owner, talking about vintages, rambling through vineyards and visiting cellars.

Our tour was organized by Napa’s newest business (owned by 3 women no less!) – Verve Napa Valley Tours. First stop: Family run Ceja Vineyards where owner Amelia Ceja was holding down the fort at the tasting bar while juggling other buying clients. In contrast, our meeting at St Supery was in a private room overlooking 2200 oak barrels aging something amazing. Each meeting provided an educational & personalized tasting peppered with stories about the history of the business,  commercial growth along with mentions of the significant buildings on the estate …and whatever else came to mind over a glass of wine!

In keeping with our mantra to ‘go local’ at each city, I succumbed (yes, me of all people!) and the others too purchased some of our favorite Napa wines. These wines had connection to our tour and will be savoured & shared with those back home to remind us of our brief visit to experience first hand how California wine industry grows.

What? It’s done!?!?

Just like the day we started, we boarded our bus & conversations about our experience kept us entertained all the way back to San Fran. The only difference from before, was that was the end of our scheduled itinerary. Our last appointment. Our last day. Weird…our IVLP trip was done.

3 weeks and 5 cities with 6 phenomenal women had come to a close. It felt odd. The day that followed felt even more empty, as we departed at different times to back to our home city. Fiona left a day early as she was already booked for a vacation with her son in Mexico. Amina switched to an airport hotel to catch her 5am flight (which she did not make in the end). I set my alarm for 4:30am to surprise & see Nancy, Jennifer & Stephanie off, then went back to bed before getting ready for my flight at 10am.

Waiting for me in the lobby was Johnsy (middle row with black hat) – our US State Department representative – who was with us every step of the way – literally.  Johnsy made sure that we were always on schedule and stayed together. Thank you Johnsy for making sure that the trip went as smoothly as it did. I knew that you did so much more behind the scenes than you let on. Coincidentally, that once she was no longer watching over us, flights were delayed or missed & bags were lost. We all mentioned in email threads afterwards ‘where was Johnsy when we needed her?’

The best part of going away…is coming home

This saying is true of any holiday or time away from family for business travel. This trip was different though. While we arrived as strangers with a simple common thread of being Canadian, the experience that the US Embassy in Canada and the US State Department offered us by hand selecting the six of us to be part of their IVLP delegation focused on Women Entrepreneurs & Trade provided me personal growth, education that I probably haven’t realized its fullest impact yet, along with countless connections (not to mention a brick of business cards), and a greater appreciation for the importance of women being involved in growing the economy by starting their own businesses or breaking the glass ceiling – in any industry.

No post-trip report was required to be filed back to the US Embassy, rather I wrote this blog & tweeted as a way to give you a glimpse of my daily experiences as a proud women entrepreneur from Canada on the IVLP. Within days of my return, an email found its way into my inbox announcing that I was now an IVLP alumni and that there were still more connections and resources available in the months and years to come. The whirlwind trip may be done, yet the rest is only beginning.

In fact, last week, I had a quick voicemail from Amina saying that she was coming to Ottawa for a meeting the following day. I was excited to see her again! Picking her up at the station, we feverishly caught up all within 15 minutes while I drove her to her meeting. Little small talk was made and it was great to see her in her element….and later in the day, I found her ‘Afrique Expansion’ brochure left in the back seat of my car. She is definitely a businesswoman who never stops!

I imagine that this will be the way it is between the 6 of us now on. A friendly phone call to say hello, a tweet about an interesting tidbit or a group email to share the latest family or work news. I know that while we are spread across the country we will be inseparable.  We will always be there for each other. What a cool feeling to have of a group of women I had a hard time keeping track of their names less than a month ago.

Efforts to make plans to get together or arrange a quick rendez-vous when our travels brings us to our home cities of Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg or Prince George. Whatever may be the reason that our paths cross again, one thing is for certain, I have wonderful friends and business advisors who I can reach out to at anytime.

A million thanks!

Thank you to those at the US Embassy and US State Department who nominated and selected me to be part of the International Visitor Leadership Program featuring Women Entrepreneurs and Trade. I am truly grateful for the opportunities that you have created for me and look forward to those that are still to come.

With a glass of California wine in hand, I raise a glass to all of the people involved in making our trip memorable.  Cheers to you!
-Debbie

OK….so what is our combined shoe & luggage count now?

Total number of checked luggage: 12 pieces – increased now to include a case of wine from Napa – guess who that belongs to? 
Total number of shoes & boots between the 6 of us: 42 pairs total
Weight of each piece of luggage: well, we all ‘hovered’ at the airlines’ maximum 50lb mark per suitcase

Quotable quote & bloopers

Let’s just say that there are many inside jokes, stories and expressions that “will stay on the road”.

Continue to follow us on Twitter:

While we are not tweeting about our trip, we invite you continue to follow us on Twitter as we will be talking about #IVLP and the trip for a long time to come!
• @savvydebbie (me)
• @Halifax_Gateway (Nancy Phillips)
• @JenniferBrandle (Jennifer Brandle)
• @PillPak (Fiona Webster Mourant)
• @amigerba (Amina Gerba)
…while Stephanie had all of the latest tech gadgets in her purse, she never really got ‘onto’ Twitter…we’re still working on her!

 

What our fortunes say…

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You Can’t Be What You Can’t See

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013
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Did you see me at the hockey game in Denver where Edmonton Oilers had a shut out on Stanley Cup winning Colorado Avalanche? I was the one with a red maple leaf painted on my face, a Canadian flag held high, getting tackled by a group of dedicated Avalanche fans. Perhaps you didn’t catch that game and maybe I’m overindulging in my description of the evening, but it certainly was a thrill to be in Denver enjoying our Canadian national past time. (Proud Canadian gals in photo on left from front to back: Amina, Debbie, Fiona, Jennifer, Stephanie & Nancy)

It is my final week, of the three-week International Visitor Leadership Program, as a guest of the U.S. Department of State, with only days remaining in Denver before heading to San Francisco for the final stop. Washington, D.C.; Kansas City, Missouri; Austin, Texas, and now Denver: my experiences in these cities have taught me priceless lessons about Women in Business and the spirit of entrepreneurship. The inspiration I’ve received to dream big, lead boldly, and speak proudly will certainly affect my personal resolve and future contributions to Prince George and northern B.C.

Denver is known for many things: the mile high city existing 5,280 feet above sea-level, the world-class skiing in the nearby southern Rocky Mountains, and the wild blue mustang sculpture with glowing eyes greeting passengers at the Denver airport. Ironically, none of the things I knew about Denver have made much of an impression on me. Rather, I’ve spent the past three days here being inspired by women in business and by a civic-minded entrepreneurial city that has written its own story. But March 8, International Women’s Day, was a difficult paradox for me.

As guests of honour, our travelling group of six Canadian women attended the Denver World Affairs presentation of The Gender Agenda Gaining Momentum with guest speaker Deedee Corradini (in centre of photo), former mayor of Salt Lake City and president of the board of directors of the International Women’s Forum. I felt torn and conflicted as Corradini implored women to consider running for elected office. She spoke passionately of the need to increase the number of women in government, in decision-making positions as she was as the first and only female mayor of Salt Lake City. Then, fast forward to later in the day as I watched part of the movie Game Change in my hotel room, documenting the political life of Sarah Palin. While on one hand I believe women should consider politics as a career option, I wonder how attractive a political career is for anyone with a desire to make a difference.

And finally, part of our Denver program was to attend the Women + Film VOICES Film Festival in order to view the movie GIRL RISING, a new feature film about the power of education to change a girl and the world. This movie demonstrates that there is so much work to be done in helping women contribute fully and equally within all parts of life, work and community. These goals are supported by a strong business case too. Various studies, including those by the Reibey Institute, McKinsey & Co., and others, demonstrate a direct, positive relationship between the percentage of women on corporate boards and the company’s fiscal performance. Whether women choose to go directly into business or into politics, it is absolutely necessary for men and women alike to work towards achieving gender balance in every arena of life, it just makes sense at every level.

We are certainly making headway in women’s corporate and political representation in Prince George. With examples including women holding high ranking positions as mayor, newspaper publisher, minister of justice and attorney general of British Columbia, president and CEO of Northern Health, and CEO of Northern Development Initiatives Trust, as well as hundreds of business owners and managers, Prince George is no garden of shrinking violets. Our future is bright, but brighter still with the contributions and sacrifices of so many strong women.

 

This post was written by Jennifer Brandle-McCall (in photo left).  Jennifer is the CEO of the Prince George Chamber of Commerce and one of the dynamic women selected to participate in the IVLP tour across the US. Jennifer wrote this article for her weekly business column “Business in the Black” that appeared in the Prince George Citizen newspaper on March 14th, 2013. Jennifer also has a blog about her experience & discoveries while ‘on tour’. Her blog can be found at: http://ow.ly/jd81d

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Keep Austin Weird

Posted by Debbie

Friday, March 8th, 2013
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Our third city to visit during our International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) tour crisscrossing the US was Austin, Texas. None of us have been before so we were learning about the city together. With temperatures ranging 70-90 F, we were excited to shed our winter coats from Kansas and trade them in for sundresses and flip flops. Good thing too that we packed some as Monday turned out to be a record breaking 88F – the hottest day of the year – and it was only March 4th!

After inaugurating our arrival on Sunday afternoon with a meal of Tex Mex and margaritas at Iron Cactus Restaurant & Grill, we settled in for 4 days of meetings with friendly hospitality and southern drawl that Texans are well known for. Austin is the capital of the state and as we were reminded me several times is the little blue oasis ‘blue’ (aka liberal) in the large sea of ‘red’ (meaning the rest of the state of Texas is republican). Everyone we met reminded us that Austin was different than the rest of Texas…to the point that the phrase was coined Keep Austin Weird and they are constantly reminding you with bump stickers & T-shirts.

Weird or wonderful?

As I observed, there were many similarities between Austin & Ottawa (where I was born, raised & have chosen to establish my business). Both are cities with a small town feel. It is easy to know at least one other person when you walk into a networking function. Architecture is a mix of historic and modern buildings. Both government and high tech companies are the main employers. The cities have calendars full of festivals – the annual uber hip South by SouthWest (SXSW) had their kick off as when we departed. Rivers run through both cities & there are mazes of pathways for cyclists, walking & runners. Both have about 1 million residents, steady housing market, moderate cost of living and suburbs are expanding. And it is super easy to get around downtown walking, on a bike or with public transportation.

As our meetings came to a close, I often posed the question to our host – what makes Austin weird? Their responses were varied, but all had a common thread – Austin does things differently that people coming to the city might consider weird. To me, I think these reason are more wonderful than weird.

Here are a few of the things that Austin-ites think make their city weird:

• they collaborate rather than compete
• people smile or greet with a friendly ‘hello’ on the street
• they support local & independent businesses rather than chains & franchises
• business is sealed with a handshake rather than a signed contract
• people actually meet in person to collaborate & help each other to get things done
• only city where hippies and rednecks get along
• Austin is recognized is a creative city (interesting to note that Austin ranks 4th for registered patents)
• it is not who you know, but what you know
• everyone is in a band
• artists are everywhere
• people leave work behind them and go do something that they enjoy like hiking, biking, running or kayaking (we’d call that work-life balance)
• Small business are prolific in every industry

To me, I questioned whether these attributes were really weird or were they refreshing?

Our itinerary was dizzying with meetings of varying business associations, chambers of commerce, as well as officials from the Governor’s office, Department of Commerce and City of Austin. All reminded us of how Austin has grown from 250,000 to 1.4 million people in the past 30 years and their city is appealing to businesses primarily in California to relocate because of Austin’s moderate cost of living and access to a highly educated work force.

Small city with big name businesses…

Case in point, Google, Apple and Facebook want ‘in’. Dell was founded in Round Rock (burb of Austin). and IBM has large operations here and Whole Foods started in a small shopping mall and now has the world’s largest organic supermarket with their headquarters towering over the store located near downtown (while at Whole Foods, several of us picked up the book – Conscious Capitalism by Whole Food’s Founder & CEO John Mackey as it was highly recommended during our meeting with Trace High – CEO of The Banks Group Inc). During our meeting with 1st VP Texas Women In Business, she proudly stated that the top Fiat car dealership is in Austin and is owned by a woman. And being in Texas, of course these are countless oil, gas and petroleum companies located here too.

At our meeting with the Round Rock Chamber of Commerce were quick to point out that over 50% of start up businesses in their area are run by women. They shone the spotlight on Light Bohrd (a light accessory born out of a mother who had a son who would skateboard into the dark hours of the night). They started in the family’s garage and now house a manufacturing facility in Round Rock. Body Arts Forms business of nose rings, piercing and other body art accessories grew so fast that they built a unique technology that enabled quicker tracking of inventory by lighting the drawer in the warehouse where the small product was located. They now commercialize this technology for other businesses that have vast inventories of parts and small items.

Many of these start-ups were assisted by federal or state funding or are connected in some way to the numerous entrepreneurial networks – BiG Austin (BiG = Business Investment Growth), Texas Women in Business, Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Texas or even Rotary Club International. There are numerous conferences in town that support Austin’s ‘weird’ characteristic of sharing knowledge and resources (one that I was particularly interested in is Rise Global where 100s of seminars across the city attract engineers, techies and entrepreneurs to exchange & learn about technologies. And the conference is free of charge to anyone. ‘Rise’ as it is known has expanded from Austin (takes place this May) to include New York City too. And for an ongoing support, there are several incubators across the city like EGBI who offer training, coaching, certification and office space for new businesses. There is a great infrastructure of resources here…does that really make Austin weird?

Looking over my notes, web sites I jotted down that were of interest:

IBuyAustin.org
Texas Wide Open for Business.org
Women Impacting the Nation (WIN)
Tech Ranch Austin

Nothing weird about Austin’s food & wine scene…

We enjoyed fantastic Tex Mex meals where ever we went (and great margaritas too!). Iron Catcus had fine Tex Mex cuisine and a fun patio. At Krave Wine Bar in Round Rock I had my first taste of Texas wine – McPherson Viognier and Becker Vineyards Chardonnay. Both wines were crisp & dry and true to their grape variety characteristics with a distinctive mineral finish. Curious to learn about other wines from Texas, I stopped in at Twin Liquors (a highly successful wine retail chain in Austin run by a woman no less!) and found over 15 other wines on the store shelves made with typical grape varieties including Sangiovese (Italian style red), Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Gris, Riesling. Next time I visit Texas, I will keep on exploring their wines.

We took a break from Tex Mex one evening and had an incredible meal at Wink Restaurant. Highly recommended by several people, this restaurant and wine bar was hidden in a shopping mall across from Whole Foods. With their farm to table approach of using as many locally grown ingredients in their menu and friendly staff along with a variety of Texas wines on the list, made for an enjoyable evening. We even considered going back for a second meal. Take it from me, if you are ever in Austin – this is a ‘must do’ restaurant.

Is Austin really so weird?

Throughout our visit in Austin, there were a few comments said that I think sum up the business culture in Austin:
‘You can start a business if you support a community’ – Claudia Conner, Outreach Director of BiGAustin
‘In Austin, there has always been an ability to do business on a handshake’ – Catherine Crago, President Diversity Interactive

Our trip continues with 5 days in Denver, Colorado…

Follow us on Twitter!

For in the moment tweets about our tour, follow our group on #IVLP and

  • @savvydebbie (Debbie Trenholm) – middle
  • @Halifax_Gateway (Nancy Phillips) – 2nd on left
  • @JenniferBrandle (Jennifer Brandle) – far right
  • @PillPak (Fiona Webster Mourant) – far left
  • @amigerba (Amina Gerba) – 2nd on right

Oh…and by the way, after our cowboy boot shopping, we counted that the combined total of  the 6 of us, is 38 pairs of shoes and boots…for 21 days! Only women readers will understand 🙂

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The Whirlwind of Washington

Posted by Debbie

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013
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This week has been a whirlwind…and it began with the start of a 3 week tour across the United States.  First stop: Washington DC where I was immersed in all aspects – political, culture, site seeing, music…and wine & food too!  The last time I visited this city, was in grade 8 – a while ago!  Memories of that school trip were few but impressionable including the inclusion of sign language in Lincoln’s hands at the infamous memorial & somberness of the hourly changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider at Arlington Cemetery.

This time, my trip to Washington DC is far different.  I was nominated and selected by the U.S. Embassy in Canada to be one of six Canadian women to participate in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) focusing on Women in Trade and Entrepreneurship.  This is a huge honour as over 30 Canadian women were nominated and I was one of six who were hand selected to be part of IVLP tour & to be involved in the post-tour benefits of being part of the worldwide alumni.

During our 3 week tour, we are stopping in at Washington DC, Kansas City MO, Austin TX, Denver CO and San Francisco CA. Our days are fully packed of meetings with American women business owners who are recognized as innovative and outstanding in their fields.  In addition, we are learning from the feds about the resources & programs initiated by the US that are available to women entrepreneurs. This as a phenomenal opportunity to soak it all up, have my mind open to all kinds of ideas & have great discussions with the other 5 women in the group along with those who we meet along the way. Already on Day 3, my mind is buzzing!

3 weeks, 5 cities, 6 women & 8 suitcases….

As if we had known each other for years before, I instantly felt a strong bond within the 6 of us.  Since Saturday when most of us arrived in DC, there have been lots of laughs along with many questions about each other’s business. I know that I am amongst a dynamic group of women who I will call friends for a long time to come.  Joining me are:

Jennifer Brandle-McCall – CEO, Prince George Chamber of Commerce (British Columbia)

Stephanie Jecrois – President, Young Haitian Chamber of Commerce (Montreal, Quebec)

Amina Gerba – President & Founder, Afrique Expansion (Montreal, Quebec)

Nancy Phillips – Director of Investment and Trade, Greater Halifax Partnership (Nova Scotia)

Fiona Webster Mourant – President & Co-owner, Manrex Ltd.

 

What is the trip all about?

Since 1940 when it began, the IVLP has given hundred of thousands of emerging leaders – including thousands of Canadians – the opportunity to experience first-hand American culture and business society on a personal level. As explained by our hosts in the pre-trip briefings and in our first meeting in Washington, the IVLP recognizes Canadians who are emerging leaders and invite them to participate in the delegation to observe U.S. institutions and culture, and meet with professional counterparts to explore issues of common interest.  Some twenty Canadians travel each year under this program on different themed trips.

To get a feel of the lay of the land – of Washington that is – we were invited to come early to Washington for a private tour of the city.  We were definitely in for a treat as our guide – Jeannie Fogle – is a highly recognized historian and has authored many historic guide books of the city.  A woman entrepreneur herself, she started – A Tour de Force – and I would highly recommend for anyone to call on Jeannie when you are next in Washington.  She definitely knows her city!   During the unseasonably warm Sunday, we wound our way through the historical sites by stopping in at the White House (of course!),  Capitol Hill, The Mall, monuments galore – Grant, Lincoln, Jefferson, the new Martin Luther King and the impressive black wall paying tribute to those who fought in the Vietnam War.  Jeannie had fantastic stories to share.  Eager to learn more, I spent the afternoon wandering through Smithsonian museums including the National Portrait Gallery, Space and Aviation Museum, National Art Gallery and finished this whirlwind day enjoying an after hours chamber music once the National Art Gallery had closed.

Let’s get down to work!

Our meeting itinerary for Monday & Tuesday was built to provide us familiarity of the inner workings of the US federal government at all levels, the who’s who to contact for resources to grow our businesses in the US and to leverage resources of existing programs.  We stepped outside of government office buildings to meet with Professor Clyde Wilcox of Georgetown University & learn about federalism and the various levels of government.  Then were whisked off to meet Dr George Solomon from the Centre for Entrepreneurial Excellence at George Washington University.  Every last minute – including a to die for lunch at Vidalia Restaurant was organized by the Institute of International Education and the Department of State.

After the full day and with our heads exploding with information, the 6 of us celebrated ‘day one done’ with a fantastic meal at The Source – Wolfgang Puck.

Tuesday started with high security meetings with a large group of people involved in Canada-US relations and global womens’ programs at the US Department of State followed by a meeting and lunch in the US House of Representatives.  Here, the hallways were chaotic with anyone who came to meet or lobby various government officials. And on the TV screens  in every office were abuzz about the Dow Jones plummeting 200 points and the wild winter storm in the Midwest – especially Kansas City – our next stop!

Before I left Washington, I went to one of the hippest wine bars in town – Proof.  This night was all about sampling great wines with my long time friend Mark Chandler from Lodi.  I thought I would be seeing Mark at the end of the tour when we visit Napa, however as luck had it, he had just started working for Wine America as their new CEO only 2 weeks ago…and was in Washington the same week I was visiting.

Next stop…a 4 day visit to America’s heartland (and Dorothy’s home) – Kansas City.

Follow us on Twitter!

For in the moment tweets about our tour, follow our group on #IVLP and

  • @savvydebbie (Debbie Trenholm)
  • @Halifax_Gateway (Nancy Phillips)
  • @JenniferBrandle (Jennifer Brandle)
  • @PillPak (Fiona Webster Mourant)
  • @amigerba (Amina Gerba)

 

 

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NEWS: Debbie selected to participate in Women in Trade & Entrepreneurship IVLP

Posted by Debbie

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013
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Re-posted from the Embassy of the United States Ottawa 

Six business women from across Canada are visiting Washington, D.C. and several other U.S. cities this week as participants in an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) focusing on Women in Trade and Entrepreneurship. The visit began on February 24 and concludes on March 15. The program is organized by the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa and sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

Our guests were personally invited by U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson, for whom innovation and entrepreneurship are key themes.

“Innovation has been the engine of economic growth for millennia. It is our hope for a better tomorrow. It allows us to learn faster, reach farther, work better, dream bigger, and live longer,” said Ambassador Jacobson. “In order to pass a strong North America into the hands of future generations, we need to seize the opportunity to innovate, create, and discover. Programs like this one provide leaders with the tools to do just that.”

The program participants are CEOs, presidents, and founders of Chambers of Commerce, consulting firms and other companies that facilitate global trade. During the program, they will examine entrepreneurial efforts initiated by women in the U.S. and the factors that influenced their success. Participants in this program are:

  • Ms. Jennifer Dawn Brandle-McCall of Vancouver, CEO of the Prince George Chamber of Commerce
  • Ms. Stephanie Jecrois of Montreal, President of the Young Haitian Chamber of Commerce
  • Ms. Amina Gerba of Montreal, President and Founder of Afrique Expansion
  • Ms. Nancy Phillips of Halifax, Director of Investment and Trade at the Greater Halifax Partnership
  • Ms. Deborah Trenholm of Ottawa, President and Founder of Savvy Company Inc.
  • and Mrs. Fiona Webster Mourant of Winnipeg, President and Co-Owner of Manrex Ltd.

The IVLP enables Canadians who are emerging leaders in their professional field to observe first-hand U.S. institutions and culture, and to meet with professional counterparts to explore issues of common interest. Some forty Canadians travel each year under this program on three-week study tours as guests of the U.S. government. Their visits better inform their views of the United States, link them with American colleagues, and influence public opinion or policy in Canada for mutual benefit. Founded in 1940, the IVLP has given hundreds of thousands of emerging leaders — including hundreds of Canadians — the opportunity to observe and interact with American culture and society on a personal level. For more information, please visit eca.state.gov/ivlp.

More information on the program will be available on the U.S. Embassy website following the participants’ return to Canada.

Media wishing to speak with the participants when they return can contact the Embassy press office at youngjm1@state.gov  One of our participants, Deborah Trenholm, will be blogging occasionally during the trip; anyone interested in hearing about her experience as it happens can follow her on Twitter at @savvydebbie or follow her blog at savvycompany.ca.

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Savvy Company in the News….

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013
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The team of Savvy Sommeliers are often called on by the media to be included in TV segments, featured in columns & blogs or interviewed on radio.  Here is a quick list of where you would recently seen and heard Savvy Company in the news.

In 2014

Debbie on CTV News at Noon

Wine & Cheese or should it be Beer & Cheese?  Debbie takes CTV News at Noon host Leanne Cusack on a delicious discovery of Ontario wines AND craft beers that pairs well with locally made artisan cheeses. Watch the 2 part segment >>

The Urbanite headlines ‘Craft beer-of-the-month-club puts beer in your mailbox’. Food & Drink columnist Natasha Marar interviews Debbie about Savvy Company’s newest venture – Savvy Hip Hops. Read the article>>

 

daytimeDebbie joined the airwaves to co-host with Derick Fage on Daytime Ottawa on Rogers TV.  Debbie & Derick have been in front of camera countless times before so it was undoubtedly be a fun show! Watch the host chat

 

Metro Ottawa News does a spread about the launch of our Savvy Hip Hops Craft Beer of the Month Club. Thanks to the Metroland team for always promoting local businesses! Read the article

The Ottawa Citizen showcased our  Savvy Selections wine of the month club as one of the ‘go to sources’ where you can buy wines that you have enjoyed at a restaurant.  Read the article>>

 

In 2013

Debbie continues to be called on as a guest contributor to Canada.com Weekly Wine Chat each Thursday at 2pm.  Join her along with other wine industry expert panelists chiming in from coast to coast.  Read the online chat

Vanessa is the ‘Grande Fromage’. French TV station Ruby TV went shopping for artisan cheese with our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa – toute en francais!   Watch the segment  Bravo Vanessa!

Debbie was nominated and selected by the Embassy of the United States in Canada to be one of six Canadian women to participate in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) focusing on Women in Trade and Entrepreneurship.  She blogged along the way:  3 week, 5 cities, 6 women & 8 suitcases

 

 

In 2012

CBC Radio’s Fresh Air featured our Savvy Selections wine of the month club as one of the top gift ideas for those hard-to-buy-for people on your shopping list.  Listen to the segment.

Renowned wine writer Konrad Ejbich features our Savvy Selections wine of the month club in his ‘Gift for Geeks and Normal People too!’ blog for last minute wine gift ideas.

Savvy Company’s Outstanding in their Fields taste & buy events is one of Where Ottawa  Magazine’s Best Bets Weekend Roundup…alongside with Bruce Springsteen concert!

CBC Radio Ottawa Morning Karla Hilton states that Vanessa has the COOLest job as Cheese Sommelier.  Listen to  interview with Vanessa about local artisan cheese.

Blogger 2nd Ferment declares to its readers, “forget about the stock market & invest in Future wines from Lailey Vineyards”.  Great comments about a special taste & buy event hosted by Savvy Company.

Shari Goodman from Whisk: a food blog shares her food & wine discoveries at Ottawa’s first annual Winterlude Winemaker’s Brunch.

The Yummy Mummy Club was in Ottawa to take in Winterlude festivities.  While they were in town, Savvy Sommeliers Vanessa & Derek hosted a Blind Wine & Cheese tasting for them at the Lord Elgin Hotel.  Twitter was all a buzz during this fun evening.  See & read all about it!

Debbie & Vanessa were called in to host the Savvy Wine & Craft Beer Bar along with a Savvy Artisan Cheese Bar to give guests a taste of Ottawa for the Ottawa Tourism & Roots Canada media launch of  ‘Let’s Go Outside’ contest.  Media was all abuzz with photos, videos, blogs & Tweets including:

CBC Radio All in a Day called on Debbie to offer sparkling wine tips to usher in 2012. While on air, she explained how to WOW your New Year’s eve guests by sabering a bottle of bubbly!

In 2011
A BIG media day! On Thursday December 22,  Debbie appeared on CTV Morning Live Ottawa with 12 Savvy Gift Ideas.  Then on the CTV Ottawa News at 6, anchor Michael O’Byrne featues Savvy Selections wine of the month club as one of the hottest new gifts.  The phones continue to ring off the hook!

Wine Out Loud blogger Holy Bruns, highlights our Savvy Sommelier Julie’s blog about Cava wine.

Vanessa joins CBC Radio In Town & Out  host Michael Bhardwaj with her list of cheese-y gifts for everyone on your shopping list!

Ottawa Start highlights Debbie‘s involvement as co-host & auctioneer at Music & Beyond’s Holiday Wine Auction fundraiser

MoneySense Magazine calls on Debbie to provide Sommelier insider’s tips & tricks for feature article: A brilliant wine, everytime that appears in September/October issue.  Read article online

Ottawa Sun published a special Lifestyle Magazine where journalist Simon Forsyth interviewed Debbie for her insight & impressions on the winery owners who are pioneering a new wine region in Ottawa & surrounding areas.  Read article online

Sit.Sip.Savour. blogger Éva Nagy shares her delicious experience at the Great Canadian Cheese Discovery where Savvy Cheese Sommelier Vanessa showcased artisan cheeses from British Columbia, Nova Scotia & Prince Edward Island.

PRESS RELEASE: A Renaissance in Ottawa’s Little Italy. Preston Street is alive with this year’s celebration of Wine, Food & Art.

Articles written by Debbie & Kathryn appear in the special La Vendemmia edition of Metro Ottawa

Vanessa shares her story about a Friday night date with an Italian…Italian cheese that is! CBC Radio In Town & Out  host Michael Bhardwaj hears about the moving sensation when a wheel of Parmasean cheese is cut.

Debbie appeared on Rogers Daytime TV with tips on buying wines at a Music & Beyond’s upcoming Fine Wine Auction.

Debbie interviewed Canada’s popular Chef Michael Smith when he visited Ottawa to launch his new cookbook – Chef Michael Smith’s Kitchen.  Cooking tips & tricks were shared, while Michael encouraged us all to spend time with family at the kitchen table.

PRESS RELEASE: Preston Street BIA selects Savvy Company as Marketing Partner for annual La Vendemmia harvest festival.  Mark your calendars Sept 22-25 to join us for fun wine & food events.  More…

Vanessa joined CBC Radio’s In Town and Out host Michael Bhardwaj in studio to talk about artisan cheeses, cheesemaking & tasting tips. Listen

Debbie appeared on Rogers Daytime TV with tips on Ontario wines & craft beers to chill & enjoy in the shade during Ottawa’s record breaking heat wave.

Our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa  was on Rogers Daytime TV showcasing delicious Ontario artisan cheese offered tasting tips. Watch video 

Blogger Katy Watts joins our Savvy Cheese Sommelier Vanessa to learn the ‘whey’ about artisan cheeses from BC, Ontario and the Maritime provinces.  Katy reports that she was nervous at first, yet leaves full & with a greater appreciation for what goes into making cheese.

Debbie was on Daytime Ottawa show (Rogers TV) profiling a variety of newly released wines from Niagara-on-the-Lake wineries who will be in Ottawa on June 1st for the 52 New Wines from One Unforgettable Place wine tasting.

We were finalists in the Ottawa Tourism Partnership of the Year Award for our culinary events in partnership with Thyme & Again Creative Catering

Debbie was named Ottawa’s Entrepreneur Businesswoman of the Year Award finalist. With media coverage in the Ottawa Citizen, METRO Ottawa & EMC news

Agritourism Guide blogger Lara Bender showcases two upcoming Savvy Events in http://agritourismguide.ca/2011/05/10/cheese-and-wine-lovers-3-great-events-and-a-giveaway/

Vanessa showcased Ontario artisan cheeses on A Morning Show.  TV host Kurt Stoodley couldn’t stop nibbling on the cheese curds!

Savvy Company is named ‘Top 50 Sommelier & Master of Wine blogs’ as reported by Cindy Cullen, Culinary Arts College.

Launched in March, read weekly columns by Savvy Sommeliers in Metro Ottawa newspaper on Thursdays.  Susan shares wine shopping tips with “If I only had $100, I would buy at Vintages” while Vanessa showcases local artisan cheeses in her “The Curd on the Street” column.

Sit. Sip. Savour. blogger Éva Nagy just received her month Savvy Selections delivery featuring Creekside Estates Wine. http://sit-sip-savour.blogspot.com/2011/03/savvy-company-wine-club-march-selection.html

Debbie graces the pages of the Feb 14th issue of Hello! Canada Magazine featuring the Canadian Celebrity Chef Event that Savvy Company sponsored & were the Sommeliers for this first of its kind sold out event.

Get a taste of the wonderful experience with this YouTube video of the Canadian Celebrity Chef event.  Savvy Company was proud be involved.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZnJElan0W4

Debbie hosts “Wine Shopping with a Sommelier” on A Morning Ottawa.  In the 4 TV segments, she offers tips on navigating through Vintages, picks good value wines and pairs wine with Food & Drink magazine recipes.

Vanessa shares her favorite cheese discovery in Cheeselover.ca Outstanding Cheese Bites of 2010.  Quebec artisan cheese Le Foin d’Odeur “is like licking buttered popcorn from your fingertips!”


Rave reviews from the media …
“Savvy Company’s craft beer tasting was a superlative event” – Ron Eade, Food Editor of the Ottawa Citizen 

“Thank you for hosting last night’s BC wine tasting event. I was particularly struck by the easy interactions between the Savvy Team and the participants (“not stuck up” is the way one person explained your events which is, I think, high praise for you and your team).  Of course, the highlight was the wine and the wonderful intro by the Sommeliers. I’ll be writing my blog tonight.”  – Clare Fowles, FoodiePrints

“The Great Canadian Cheese Discovery is a must do while in Ottawa. The class is a dinner party atmosphere, led by cheese sommelier Vanessa Simmons, who is openly fanatical about artisan cheeses.”Reb Stevenson Travel Writer, Toronto Star

 

 

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