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Pekarsky & Co. January 2017 Newsletter – Ch-ch-ch-changes

January 3, 2017

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As 2016 draws to a close in our fair province, we at Pekarsky & Co., felt it an opportune time to reflect on the events of the year and give our loyal audience a well deserved pat on the back. While 2015 was certainly a difficult episode in the annals of Alberta, this year is another that many of us would rather be scrubbed from the historical record.

According to John Oliver in this comedic diatribe, 2016 has been labeled as uncommonly rubbish. He’s not the only one and in a year that has seen terror attacks in Paris and Berlin, the Zika virus, North Korean nuclear development, Brexit, the U.S. Presidential Election, police shootings, military coups, the losses of Muhammad Ali, Carrie Fisher, David Bowie and a myriad of others…there’s no doubt this has been one unrelenting turn around the calendar.

In Alberta we continue to ride the proverbial rollercoaster that is the price of oil, and, while many of us believe that we are out of this particular trough we have certainly seen our fair share of woe. Calgary has experienced unprecedented levels of unemployment and a downtown vacancy rate of almost 25%. In Edmonton, the construction and manufacturing sectors have been suffering and the city’s GDP is on track for a 0.4% decline. To top it off the wild fire of Fort McMurray not only devastated the city and over 500,000 hectares of our pristine boreal forest but also halted production in our beleaguered oil sands. It’s no wonder people think 2016 can end any day now.

Now please do not despair, as I would like to hark back to some of the many positives this year has also seen. Canada won 22 medals at the Olympic Games in Rio, 175 countries signed the Paris Climate Agreement, the Queen (“Granny”) turned 90, Pokémon Go got people outside, the Giant Panda was taken off the endangered species list, the hole in the ozone layer shrunk, a solar powered plane circumnavigated the world and finally the Chicago Cubs won the World Series again. The list of positives is arguably just as long and if that isn’t enough check out this article.

Our province has also made bold steps forward both economically, socially and in a challenging political climate. With the recent sanctioning of two major pipeline projects and new head offices springing up, I don’t think I’m too early to say there is a feeling of optimism in the air. Additionally, YYC’s new International Terminal and the National Music Centre were completed. Similarly in Edmonton, Rogers Place has ensured the “Battle of Alberta” will endure for many years to come, no more fiercely than in our office…!

Perhaps, rather than a year to forget, we should look back at 2016 as a year of change. Who would have predicted a real estate tycoon in the Whitehouse, OPEC agreeing to cut oil production and widespread legalized marijuana. There is no doubt this year has challenged the status quo politically, culturally and economically.

Personally, my own journey has seen its fair share of change. My military career in the British Army was cut short due to an injury and my dream taken away in an instant. I had not envisioned an alternative path in life but almost five years on I have a new country I call home, a new career, an amazing wife and a brand new baby. Looking back, I would not change a thing.

We all face change, be it professional or personal, however, one thing is certain, it happens and it must be accepted and faced in order to be overcome. As Spencer Johnson emphatically put it in his book Who Moved My Cheese, “If you do not change, you can become extinct”. Luckily we live in an incredibly resilient and entrepreneurial province, with a population of “doers” born out of the pioneering spirit of the explorers of the New West. We are no strangers to change, we have a lot to offer and it is about time we remembered this. As George Brookman, in this recent interview with CBC, eloquently put it “We must stop hanging our heads and looking at our boots and instead be proud of what we have, what we are and what we can do for the people of the world.”

Here at Pekarsky & Co. we hope we are doing, like many, our bit to contribute. We have successfully executed almost 50 searches this year, working with clients from national public companies to start-ups, crown corporations to not-for-profit organizations. We have worked with great organizations like Gordie Howe CARES, the JUNO awards, the Calgary Public Library, Edmonton Economic Development, YMCA, Legal Aid, CNIB, the RCMP Foundation, Triathlon Canada, Tourism Calgary and Travel Alberta to name but a few. I know it’s a cliché but people are our best asset. Happily we know a lot of you, we know our clients and we care about our candidates.

We also continue to give back to our community, from serving lunches at Inn from the Cold and cycling in the Ride to Conquer Cancer to raising another $33,000 for Gordie Howe CARES taking our six year total to over $385,000. We also donate our time and maintain our involvement with other great organizations like the YMCA, Bow Valley College, The Military Museums Foundation, Calgary Stampede and The Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation.

Though we have yet to pen the events of 2017, we are making a conscious decision to head into the New Year with optimism, an open mind and that true Alberta grit. We hope we will see you there!

James Sweetman is a Principal in our Calgary Pekarsky & Co. office. You will often find him moonlighting as “The Manny” on Modern Family or practicing his fake British accent on unsuspecting candidates.