Meet five women who are making a difference in Atlantic Canada. Members of the unofficial sisterhood of Atlantic Canada’s top female executives, they are as diverse as they are dynamic. Yet they share a number of qualities common to successful businesswomen. They are gogetters, risk-takers and trailblazers. They ignored their naysayers, knocked down barriers, turned adversities into advantages and juggled the competing demands of home and work to keep their businesses going and growing. For the enterprising women profiled on the following pages, the saying, “do what you love and the money will come,” definitely holds true.
Marina Atwell President, Velocity Entertainment Inc. | Halifax, NS
A STAR IS BORN
Though her job is to shine the spotlight on others, it’s Marina Atwell who has taken center stage. Last year, she received the Entrepreneur/Innovator Award from the Canadian Progress Club-Halifax Cornwallis at itsWomen of Excellence Awards. This year, she is nominated for an RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur Award (the Bell Trailblazer Award). Described as a mentor, visionary and leader, Atwell meets the national award’s definition of a “true trendsetter”.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!
Atwell, a marketing and communications specialist with an extensive background in corporate project management, founded Velocity seven years ago. The native Nova Scotian says she was often told she should be running her own business, to which she always responded: “Marketing what?” She received the answer when she volunteered her services to help a charitable organization hold a fundraiser. Atwell shared her expertise in branding, sponsorship development and media relations, resulting in an event that lived up to its name: “A Night to Remember”.
HOOKED ON A FEELING
Atwell says a woman should always trust her intuition. “Whenever provided with an opportunity, always ask yourself: ‘Who has the most to gain and who has the most to lose from it’. I believe listening to your gut and asking yourself this question will help enable you to make good business decisions.”
BEHIND THE SCENES
When Atwell needs to get away from it all, she loves to camp. “Yes, in a tent,” she adds, “and near the ocean and beach, of course. I like how camping the traditional way takes you away from the hectic pace of everyday life and forces you to enjoy life’s greatest gifts – nature and conversation….” She also enjoys motorcycling, mountain biking and dog sitting for friends.
Atwell describes herself as having a passion to help ‘the little guy’. “This makes me work twice as hard to be in a position to be able to make a difference.” It also explains her active community involvement and management of the career of local singer/songwriter Mike Trask who is nominated for his own Music Nova Scotia Award this year. “That feeds my soul – helping someone who works so hard and is so talented.”
Nicola MacNaughton Owner, Occupational Concepts Ltd. | Moncton, NB
2009 has been a year of celebration for the owner of Occupational Concepts Limited. On September 1, she marked the 10th anniversary of her business and in July she received the New Brunswick Association of CBDC’s Woman Entrepreneur of the Year award.
FATE AND FAITH
Occupational Concepts is the realization of a long-held dream for MacNaughton. Her training and work as an occupational therapist were stepping stones to the place she is today – owner of the largest privately-owned rehabilitation clinic in Atlantic Canada, comprised of a 9,000 sq. ft. clinic employing 15 health care professionals and two maintenance and administrative staff.MacNaughton has the classic characteristics of a successful businessperson: risk taker, visionary and the ability to recognize the need for help and accept that help. She is also determined. “‘No, you can not do that’ is not an option,” she says.
ESPRIT DE CORPS
To promote a positive work environment, MacNaughton regularly organizes team building excursions such as a limousine-driven shopping trip to Halifax, a visit to the race tracks in Charlottetown and, most recently, a salmon fishing adventure on New Brunswick’s Miramichi River. “I am in the service delivery business and while the business itself is system dependant, the systems are only as good as the people you have to deliver them.”