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Building business plans and lifelong friendships

Based in Business participant Charles Bamlett shares a business lesson and a laugh with Danielle Seward, co-project manager, SIFE.


By Jennifer Kelly

When 13 ex-Canadian Forces members arrived for SIFE Memorial's week-long Based in Business program, they came expecting to build a business plan.

What they didn't expect was to build an experience that will last a lifetime.
The program, which is in partnership with the Department of National Defence, gives medically-discharged Canadian Forces members training and mentorship as they develop business plans.

Facilitated by Faculty of Business Administration professors and members of SIFE, participants learn topics in entrepreneurship, accounting, marketing, finance and more. In addition to the Faculty of Business Administration and the Gardiner Centre, several local businesses offer time, resources and expertise.
Lynn Morrissey, assistant professor, Faculty of Business Administration and SIFE faculty advisor, said the commitment and energy of the group was obvious.
"In every session, the group demonstrated an eagerness to learn, discuss and engage. It was contagious."

In the evening mentorship part of the program, SIFE volunteers helped participants research and write their business plans. That's in between all the fun.

One evening, the mentoring session had to involve a classic Newfoundland kitchen party first.

In one SIFE led session, the group was spilt into two and had to face off in a friendly game of family feud to test their knowledge on greening a business.

What followed was laughter and animated discussion; it seemed like the participants had known each other for years, not just a week.

There was also a special synergy between the group and SIFE.

"We have learned just as much from them as they have from us," said Danielle Seward, co-project manager and SIFE vice-president.

The bond between SIFE and the participants was truly the hallmark of this year's program.

Participant Robert Tremblay, who owns a coffee supply business, said he was pleasantly surprised by how much he's learned from SIFE.

"They are so focused and passionate about business and in turn, it's helped me become so."

Steve Hebert, who owns an emergency management consulting firm, said he was "astounded" by SIFE and that the team's energy "empowered" the entire group.

In fact, Mr. Hebert was so impacted by SIFE that he plans to cheer the team on in Malaysia, where they will be competing for the world cup in the fall.

Participants graduated on July 30 at a ceremony held in the Faculty of Business Administration Atrium. Before calling each name, SIFE presenters recited a special quality about each graduate, and with the warmth of old friends, embraced each of them as they accepted their diploma.

"These connections will last us a lifetime," said class valedictorian Rick Kennedy. "Thanks to SIFE, we leave feeling like winners and ready to embark on a new journey."

It won't be just the participants that leave the program feeling empowered. "I will never forget this week," declared SIFE co-project manager Shane Skinner. "It's been the best seven days of my life."