The Communicator sits down for a Q & A with CAAR’s first female board chair, Theresa Bolton of Grasslands Recruitment Specialists.
Q: What does it mean to you to be the first woman to serve as CAAR’s board chair?
A: The idea that I am the first female board chair is an honour. My hope is that I can not only assist in increasing membership and membership value, but also to set an example for young women in the ag industry that this traditionally male-dominated industry is open to change, and now is their time.
Q: What led you to joining the CAAR board?
A: About five years ago, shortly after starting my role as a corporate recruiter with a line company, I wanted to learn more about Canadian retail and the CAAR organization.
I contacted the executive director at the time, which led to a breakfast meeting and, the next thing I knew, a board position came up and the rest is history. I’ve been serving on the board for four years, with the last three on the executive committee. I am very much looking forward to my new role as chair.
There is a great synergy between my experience and the needs of CAAR.
Q: What skills and expertise do you bring to your role as board chair?
A: I bring a non-traditional skill set to the role. When I was first approached by the board about the board chair position, I hesitated because I don’t have a technical background in retail. However, I was reminded that the majority of the board and staff do, and they were looking for a diversified skill set. With my years of experience as a recruiter – and being that CAAR is a member-based organization – there is a great synergy between my experience and the needs of CAAR.
My job as a search consultant is to understand the needs of a client’s business and learn the needs of candidates that I am working with. I know that a member-based organization like CAAR needs to respond to what their members need and want in order to thrive. Being able to respond to the needs of members will ensure growth and success to the CAAR organization – you cannot have one without the other.
Q: How do you see your role as board chair?
A: My role as board chair is to ensure CAAR staff is provided with direction from the board. It’s my job to ensure the information is collected collaboratively, clearly communicated and, most importantly, followed up on and followed through.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish over the next 12 months?
A: I don’t think it’s a secret that CAAR needs members. In order to retain current members and attract new members, CAAR needs to ensure there is membership value. To do that, we need to listen to what members are asking for and make sure we deliver. Two areas that the board will focus on will be increasing membership and making the 2021 conference in Edmonton one you don’t want to miss.
Q: What do you see as the biggest potential for growth for the association?
A: Most companies and individuals are facing the same shortage – time and funds. CAAR needs to provide a return on investment for both. We need to show that we are protecting our member’s best interests, and if we don’t, who will? Providing value is a non-negotiable. Membership is voluntary and we need to make sure our members see and know this value individually and as an industry.
Q: Any final thoughts you’d like to share with CAAR members?
A: As I step into this new role, I want to say to our members – CAAR is integral to the agri-retail industry. Your association is here to support you, to protect and advocate for you, and to serve as your most accurate source of information. I look forward to seeing where this next year takes us.
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