Friday, March 7, 2014

MEC elections 2014

I purchased my first piece of specialized equipment from MEC many years ago, before going backpacking in Europe. It was a backpack I could not find anywhere else, a backpack I still have and find useful. And ever since, I voted in their elections. This year I thought it would not hurt to write about this particular experience.

This is not the first time I write on this blog about co-op or MEC, that happened about four years ago. By simply purchasing something from MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op), you become a member and get to vote in elections for the board. And since a Co-Op benefits from reduced taxes, their prices tend to be lower than the competition’s, while their selection is greater.

This year, elections take place until March 27, noon PT. This year, for the first time, the board recommends some candidates based on 3 criteria: retail sector, supply chain, and information technology.

To start, I opened each candidate’s page and went quickly through their resume. Comparing by Skills, I got 7 names.



Inspiring others to lead active outdoor lifestyles is important to me. I have practiced that every day as an executive leader for the past seventeen years.

  • As a sitting director our members have invested in me; I am geared upto continue to serve.
  • As Vancity’s Senior Vice President Operations, I am accountable forInformation Technology, Human Resources, Facilities and Environmental Management. Seven years at Vancity, the largestretail/business financial cooperative in English Canada, has taught me about creating profitable growth and social/environmental impact.
  • As Chief Operating Officer at Vancouver Coastal Health for five years I provided leadership to 3500 employees promoting healthy communities.
  • Solid governance through membership and committee leadership on seven previous non-profit, foundation and cooperative Boards, as well as current governance on the MEC Board.
  • Being a physiotherapist (University of Toronto) with a Master in Health Administration (University of Ottawa) complements my experience.



With 10 years of board experience, an Engineering degree, an MBA and ICD.D along with my senior management experience, I have the skills to effectively serve on the MEC Board.

My collaborative inter-personal skills will make me an effective team member in dealing with the complex issues facing the MEC Board. As a critical thinker, I ask the tough questions and will provide leadership.

My senior level executive experience in information technology provided the impetus and background to write a book, The IT Chauffeur, directed to senior executives outlining what management needs to know about information technology to make IT more effective in their organizations.

My outdoor passion, whether skiing to the North Pole or hiking in the Arctic, augments my leadership skills in information technology, finance and governance. I love MEC for providing the best products and service to MEC members while demonstrating its commitment to environmental sustainability.



I am a Chartered Accountant who has been in the retail consumer products sector for over 25 years. My current responsibilities include all financial aspects of the business as well as IT functions, including point of sale, inventory merchandise management and back end systems. As part of senior leadership teams have helped with strategic and operating decisions to facilitate growth and deal with competition.

I have previous board experience with Make A Wish Foundation of Canada and have held leadership roles in both medium and large complex organizations

I am an avid skier and recently started road biking, having ridden in the Ride for Cancer from Vancouver to Seattle and most recently on a road bike tour of Portugal.



Ideal fit: 33 years Marketing, Sales, and Technology leadership. Brand Management and Executive Leadership at P&G & Cadbury. Global Strategy at Motorola, launched renowned StarTAC phone. Global Executive with PMC-Sierra; SVP Marketing at Intrawest. Global experience in enterprise data analytics. Now Franchisee of IJL Canada, 5 time winner of Consumers Choice Award. Leading edge skills in Innovation, IT, Demand Planning, Cost Management and Customer Experience.

Board experience: BC Tech Industry Association; VanCity's Citizens Bank; second term on Coast Capital Savings Board. 2010 graduate of Institute of Corporate Directors Program. B. Commerce U of T; 6 Sigma Motorola University; and ICD.D from Rotman.

But most important… I'm an outdoor enthusiast. Hiking the Cabot Trail; skiing the Mountains of BC and Alberta; paddling the calm waters of Muskoka; navigating the west coast in my sea-kayak; cycling the Pacific Coast. This is my life. MEC is my Brand. I'd be honoured to represent you.



Yoga. Trail running. Marveling at the clouds of dirt and pine needles that surround my children. Exploring these passions, I represent MEC members with young families who connect and slow down by hiking, cycling, and geocaching together.

By day, I am a strategy consultant focusing on how digital technology creates new opportunities in retail, media and other sectors serving Canadian families. I am also passionate about governance and serve on three boards of directors:

  • Meridian Credit Union, Ontario's largest credit union
  • CAA Niagara, one of 9 clubs that comprise the Canadian Automobile Association
  • Carson-Dellosa Publishing, a children's educational publisher

In what feels like a past life, I earned an MBA from The Wharton School and a Bachelor of Mathematics from the University of Waterloo. I also hold the Chartered Director and Chartered Financial Analyst designations.



20 years ago I joined the Army as an infantry officer and served Canada throughout the world, from peacekeeping to combat operations in Afghanistan. I now run a successful professional services firm as a Chartered Accountant. My experience is varied and diverse, specifically I would provide the Board:

  • Leadership and courage to enter the unknown, take well thought out risk to reach another generation of Canadians. That is, maintain MEC's relevance in a continually changing world.
  • Professional and technical expertise in accounting and tax.
  • As a current board member, continuity in strategic level oversight.
  • The ability to manage and lead diversity of thought and opinion to form a common united vision.
  • Common sense.
  • The belief that smart business decisions are not only good for the bottom line, but good for the environment, staff and society as a whole.

But most importantly, passion to engage Canadians in living active outdoor lives.


With 20 years of rich yet broad experience, I possess each of the 12 competencies that your board seeks. While strong in financial acumen and risk management, I also have strengths in governance and leadership.

  • Financial Acumen: A trained Chartered Accountant
  • Risk Management: A member of the Strategic Risk Council of the Conference Board of Canada and a Corporate Risk Officer; well versed in Enterprise Risk Management (which looks company-wide at risk/reward relationships between customers, products, pricing, communication, sourcing, etc with a view to maximizing benefits)
  • Governance and Leadership: Report to two public company board committees; initiate and enable public company policies representing valuable experience in well founded governance principles
  • Additional experiences leading the US SOX certification program at a multi-national retailer demonstrate experience in
    • IT,
    • Business continuity planning, and
    • Supply chain management

which are all sought competencies that are leverageable for MEC.

I’m a slightly annoyed by gimmicks in the photos. Every single candidate is an outdoor enthusiast; those who use caps or ski goggles are not more so than the others, they just come across to me as more opportunistic. I wanted to give Bird, the only one not recommended above, a chance, but I find her list of accomplishments unimpressive. So I’m also leaving out Gallo and Mills (I like Mills’s engineering background, but it seems as if he’s there to promote his book). I’m left with 4: Pekeles, Howie, Brownridge and Patton. But why don’t I ask them each a question and see how they answer?

I shortlisted the candidates I would vote for to 4: (..). If you were to choose only 2 as your colleagues (of the 3 names above), who would you recommend and why?

By the time I voted (next day, after a few hours), only Ellen Pekeles replied, at 8 am:

Thanks so much for your potential support (..). :) Unfortunately ‎I am not allowed to campaign for or against other candidates. However, there are 4 spots this year so you can vote for all 4. 3-3 year terms and 1-1 year term. Aren't you glad u asked? 

Have a great day.

Tamara Patton responded at 9:57, and also posted her answer (generalized) on her blog:

Election rules prevent me from speaking about my fellow candidates specifically. I can, however, reflect on what I would value in a fellow director in general terms :

  1. A commitment to listening, dialogue and empathy
  2. Experience with and commitment to co-operative principles
  3. A love of the outdoors
  4. A unique voice, skill or attribute to offer to the board

This year there was also a Special Resolution before the members:

The resolution establishes an official agent to receive GST/HST credit notes on members' behalf. If approved, this resolution will save your Co-op money and paper.

In short, by this bureaucratic trick, a “Special Agent” will collect these notes so that they are no longer mailed to members.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) requires MEC to issue members credit notes to inform them of the GST/HST portion of their patronage return, and Revenu Qu├ębec requires the same for QST.

MEC currently issues credit notes directly to members by email or letter mail, depending on each member's preferred mode of communication. The process is costly, time consuming, and it uses a lot of paper. Moreover, most members do not need to do anything with their credit note, and the credit note itself has no monetary value. In short, credit notes are only provided for information purposes.

In consultation with the CRA, MEC has determined that appointing an agent to receive credit notes on members' behalf would be acceptable. The new process would save MEC the cost of mailing tens of thousands of credit notes, and it would reduce paper use.

At the same time, any member who wishes to receive a copy of their credit note - including members who are GST/HST or QST registrants - would still be able to receive a copy of their credit note at no cost.

I supported this resolution.Mah-MEC-2014-vote

Sources / More info: Wikipedia, mec, compare, ICD

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