Business ‘as usual’ in Brampton is starting to look very unusual.
A New Brampton is rising as we go through demographic, gender and cultural changes. Business today is multi-generational, multi-cultural and without borders. Workplaces are being redefined plus new economic sectors and market segments are growing fast. Brampton needs a new generation of leaders and Brampton Board of Trade has started its quest.
Today’s Brampton Board of Trade understands we are at a unique point in time as three demographic generations are competing for their place in the workforce. The next 20 years will see a battle between Generations X and Y as they compete with Baby Boomers for existing jobs, while a large segment of the younger generations totally bypass the current business models to pave new roads to their riches. Today’s BBOT understands that Brampton’s business landscape is changing fast and needs to open its doors to new, accelerating business leaders.
The necessary traits of a good leader should be celebrated. “That’s where the Business Excellence Awards (BEAs) came about,” begins Todd Letts, CEO for Brampton Board of Trade. “Let’s not look at business success by sectors, but let’s look at the human qualities that will lift this community – Teamwork, Leadership, Communication, Spirit of Innovation, International Ambassador, Community Impact, Mentoring – and Business Person of the Year who encompasses most or all of these traits. It’s the personal qualities we want to celebrate and honour as a community.”
It is this sense of community building that dictates the BEAs new format. Other than the Business Person of the Year, which is decided in January, no one knows who the winners are until the envelopes are opened on Award night. For the first time, Brampton’s business community will come together for a night of celebration, not knowing who they are celebrating. To help keep the evening light and fun, BBOT brought in comedienne Christina Walkinshaw to assist Todd with hosting responsibilities.
Awards usually end a successful year, but these awards are being marked as a beginning. “It’s spring time,” Todd says with his trademark boyish grin. “What a better time for rebirth and rejuvenation, bringing people together and inspiring them on what we can achieve.” Todd hails from Waterloo, a community of barn builders, and has an innate awareness of neighbours helping neighbours. “We’re here to celebrate and encourage people who are doing very well in their own business, in their own industry, to now look outside of their sectors and join with others on how we can lift this community.”
Lifting Brampton is definitely in the playing cards for Jaipaul Massey-Singh, Chair of Brampton Board of Trade. It was a sense of accountability, more than community, that drove him to be part of the Board in the first place, and to change the way BBOT did its sector-based awards. “Introducing the BEAs isn’t necessarily revolutionary, but more evolution based, as there are a lot of exciting changes starting to happen in our community overall. Barriers are being removed, and differences are narrowing down, and that’s why I have been pushing for it.” The youngest BBOT Chair at age 40, Jaipaul, along with Todd at 49, are bringing a refreshing Generation X mentality which will help bridge the trans-generation gaps. Jaipaul has been an active member for several years, serving not only on various BBOT committees, but as moderator for both provincial and municipal political debates in 2014. He looks forward to a possible triple play in this year’s federal elections.
“Every business in Brampton, for the first time, has an opportunity to be recognized. It is their time to shine their attributes in the hope that, whether sole proprietor, or a large organization in business for decades, or brand new, there is something they are doing to be successful that they feel they could be recognized and want to be recognized for.” This is the most exciting part for Jaipaul, how the business community has gravitated to the BEAs. “We received 30 nominations; that’s a sign that something clicked. People feel there is something in these Awards for them.” BBOT has never before experienced this level of excited engagement by their membership. The nomination presentations submitted and the level of work put into the applications are in themselves a reward for Jaipaul and what he cherishes most. “For the first time, Brampton businesses want to be recognized, and they deserve to be recognized. Next year, I can see us receiving 60 applications and growing the BEAs to more than just seven categories.”
There’s an air of optimism and excitement, and Jaipaul feels it every day. “We are seeing a lot of new members at each event, more than previous years. We have our loyal supportive core, but we’re seeing many potential and new members increase with each event. It makes me excited to be an ambassador for Brampton’s business community.”
Over the years, the Board of Trade seemed a little distant; an elite ‘old boys club’ based on a strong Brampton history. “The last few years have been interesting for BBOT,” reflects Todd. “Though there have been many new members, and a lot of people were doing a lot of good things, we weren’t doing a good enough job of communicating that; we’re fixing that.”
With broader diversity of business and people in Brampton, the BEAs reflect the change that is happening in business today. That is why Todd is excited that Bob Peacock, President of Almag Aluminum, is the first BEA Business Person of the Year. “Bob is a very humble, very successful leader in this community. His influence is immense but he’s understated in his persona. Start thinking about that; how better can we articulate everything that he has to bring. More importantly, how better can we inspire other people to have the excellent qualities of successful business people of today. The Business Excellence Awards now allow us to set these examples for tomorrow’s Brampton.