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Pekarsky & Co. Mid-December Newsletter: Being Cratchit-y in a Scrooge-y Year

December 15, 2015

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As a difficult 2015 draws to a close, there is reason for optimism looming on the horizon.  Though I am occasionally asked to speculate about my forecast for the year ahead and have been overheard to quip “I predict the first 12 months of 2016 will be difficult”, in fact there are some very positive developments brewing here at Pekarsky & Co.

If you are feeling as weary and ready for a break as we are then I’m going to assume you don’t really care all that much about our news—good, bad or otherwise—right about now.  As I’m often reminded by my wife at times like this, I’m nothing if not perceptive. So, I’ll hold off sharing our new news with you until the new year. For now I’ll just hint that the new year will bring a new hire, a new line of business, a new market and an old, established, and very exciting business award for our humble enterprise.

Interestingly, like the recently shifting winds that have brought about our first hint of an Alberta winter, the change is blowing in from the north. And no, I’m not talking about my beloved Edmonton Oilers and their recent hot streak (matched, game for game, I’m quick to point out, by the Flames). Rather, there is a certain energy amidst the gloom that seems to be emanating from the Capital Region; one that suggests to me at least that while the provincial hockey rivalry appears to have new life, there is a resolve in Alberta that we’re in this together we’re going to get out of it together; a partnership that seems to have outgrown the tired cliché that once was the Battle of Alberta, replaced perhaps by the common cause of the Battle for Alberta.

As you will read from this month’s featured contributor, Christine DeWitt, there is reason for hope in the face of despair.  As for me, well, on behalf of myself, and both my work and real families, we wish you and yours a safe and restful holiday season and a healthy, happy and prosperous 2016 (okay, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad).

Warm Regards and Best Wishes,



Being Cratchit-y in a Scrooge-y Year

This weekend, the Edmonton contingent of the Pekarsky & Co. family will be celebrating the holidays together by seeing A Christmas Carol at the Citadel Theatre. I, like so many people, adore this classic play based on Charles Dickens’ beloved story, and in cities all over, many folks will enjoy a similar experience (in fact, our friends in YYC can see Theatre Calgary’s production until the 24th). As Rick, Jane and I, with spouses in tow, sit down for a pre-show dinner
at The Hardware Grill, we’ll have a chance to reflect upon 2015, how our humble operation has fared, and where we’re going in 2016.In some ways (if you’ll excuse the cheesy simile) Edmonton has been the Bob Cratchit in this Ebenezer Scrooge of a year. And that’s because, by and large, there is – and has been for quite some time – a buzz in the air here in Edmonton. The Edmonton Buzz; a feeling of hope and optimism. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want to understate the very difficult economic realities facing the city, region, and province, but this Edmonton Buzz exists on a seemingly different plane; it feels like we are on the cusp of something transformative.

We see this transformation in very tangible ways. Of course much of the hoopla about Edmonton’s downtown development is centred around the Ice District (I was actually corrected yesterday that it’s just “Ice District”, not the Ice District), but there’s more to the story than a new arena. The downtown skyline is currently dotted with cranes (for those of you down south, we’re talking Calgary in ’06/’07 kinds of cranes) dutifully building high-rise office towers and condo buildings. In mid-November, Oxford Properties announced a $41 million renovation to City Centre mall. In addition to bricks and mortar, other projects will enhance the urban lifestyle in the core; a site on 105 Street and 102 Avenue, for example, is being transformed from a gravel parking lot into Alex Decoteau Park, a dog-friendly green space that is currently being designed by the City in close consultation with the Downtown Edmonton Community League.

The City is also investing in spaces for arts and culture: in late November City Council approved theArtists Quarters project on the east side of downtown. This unique development will house a high-rise tower of live/work spaces for artists, as well as (this is where I get excited!!!!) a new, custom-designed theatre for my beloved Rapid Fire Theatre. In addition, the Royal Alberta Museum is in the process of building its new home immediately north of City Hall (a move that will make it the largest museum in Western Canada). A couple of weekends ago the Museum threw a giant, 48-hour closing party for its outgoing home (including an all-night horror movie marathon in the Museum’s theatre, and including some silly kid-friendly storytelling and improvising from yours truly), an event that saw 36,000 Edmontonians come together to – fittingly – celebrate the past, present and future.

In addition to the tangible marks of transformation, many Edmontonians wear this hope and optimism every day in the way they do and view business, even in light of difficult economic times. We at Pekarsky & Co. see it all the time. Over the course of 2015 as we had countless coffees, lunches, and phone chats with our clients and contacts. Many of these discussions were just plain tough; many of our clients have been forced to make very difficult decisions in the last year. But, in a very Alberta fashion, in the face of big changes and uncertainty caused by elections and the economy, folks have dug in their heels, and put their noses to the grindstone, doing as best they can in the present and looking towards a brighter future.

So, despite many immediate and difficult challenges, this city keeps chugging along, faring the storms, but celebrating the little things in a Cratchit-y kind of way. While there is a deep appreciation for the challenges we all currently face, we’re thankful for what we have, and we know that there are bigger and better things to look forward to in the future. After all, it was only two seasons ago that our beloved Edmonton Eskimos were 4-14, and as we all know, this year with their hard work and gumption they brought home the Grey cup. In my Edmonton Buzz kind of way, I’ll say this: perhaps what Alberta is feeling right now is just the economic version of a 4-14 season.

And on an even more micro level, the Edmonton Buzz applies to our Pekarsky & Co. Edmonton team. Over the course of a slow summer during which many organizations had to push the pause button, we plugged away, still the “new kid in town” of executive search in this city. When there was search work to do, we did it well, and when our plates weren’t completely full, we returned to the core of what we know best: people. So, we reached out. We lunched. We coffeed. We chatted. We spent real, quality time fostering new relationships and strengthening existing relationships with joy and optimism. We let people know we are here.

And you know what? Not only did we enjoy every lunch, coffee and chat, now that the new normal is starting to settle and things are beginning to un-pause, our phone is ringing! In the last few weeks, we have kicked off a flurry of new searches, all of which can be found on our excellent website. For us at Pekarsky & Co., this is good news. It could very well be a beacon of the bright future that lays ahead, but even if it is not a sign of shifting times, it lends credence to our theory that if you care – really care – about what you do and the clients you serve, and if you do good work, you will be rewarded.

We too are filled with that Edmonton Buzz. We know the wonderful things this city can achieve, and we are so happy to be working hard to shape our place in its future. So, when Ebenezer comes around and things get better, we’ll be there at the forefront, no worse for wear.

So, as I look back on 2015 – my first year with the company – while there were challenges, and we certainly weren’t so busy that we can now all afford to retire, we have had the opportunity to do some incredible work for phenomenal clients: from manufacturing to investment management, fund development to business intelligence, in the public sector, the private sector, and for regulatory bodies. And importantly, we’ve seized the opportunity to lay the groundwork to see us (and our clients) into a prosperous 2016 and beyond. Knowing that, I know what I’ll be toasting as I raise my glass with my work family at our pre-Christmas Carol feast.

We’ll also raise a glass to all of you, and wish you hope, optimism, and gratitude during the holidays and into the New Year.

Warm Regards,

Christine DeWitt is a recovering lawyer having spent the first six years of her career practicing administrative and municipal law before joining Pekarsky & Co. in 2014.  She also has a passion for comedy. She is a cast member of Rapid Fire Theatre where you can find her every Friday night performing  with many of Edmonton’s funniest and most talented comedians.  In 2014, Christine was named as one of Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40 by Avenue Magazine.  Most importantly, she is also the keeper of her grandmother’s secret gingersnap recipe.


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