25 YEARS AS A CMC: WHAT IT'S MEANT TO TWO ALBERTANS
By: Pauline Patenaude & Keleigh Cormier
Winter 2019 Issue
This past year Pauline Patenaude from Calgary, AB and Keleigh Cormier from Edmonton, AB each celebrated 25 years as CMCs with CMC-Alberta. Pauline received her CMC designation in Saskatchewan in October 1993 while she was working as the Marketing Research Manager for the Technology Transfer Branch of the Saskatchewan Research Council. Keleigh received her CMC in Edmonton, January 1993 and her Certified Agricultural Consultant (CAC) in 2015.
25 years later, both management consulting leaders are thriving. Pauline is still working in innovation with technology companies and has her own boutique consulting firm, Marketing Directions. Keleigh is founder and owner of the management consulting firm, ClearThink™ Group and works in Technology / Innovation, Tourism and Agri-business sectors with SMEs, non-profits and all levels of governments primarily in business strategy, planning, and marketing.
Both consultants agree that obtaining the CMC designation has meant a great deal in their careers. It continues to be a powerful statement to themselves and their clients; they are committed to CMC-Canada Code of Professional Conduct and ongoing professional development in an ever-changing world. As founders and owners of boutique consultancy firms, the designation has been their compass and backbone to guide them in their practices. Let's explore these leaders' careers in-depth and their perspective on what's in store for the future.
Pauline Patenaude, MBA, CMC, B.Comm
Pauline was conducting consulting projects at the Saskatchewan Research Council when she obtained her CMC designation. She was Vice-President of the Institute of Certified Management Consultants of Saskatchewan and served on the CMC-Canada National Board of Directors from 1995 – 1996 prior to moving to Calgary, Alberta in late 1996. Pauline has also volunteered on various marketing and advocacy committees as well as being an oral assessor for CMC-Canada for the last nine years. She has helped more than 20 CMCs attain their designation either as a mentor, sponsor, or an assessor.
As a Certified Management Consultant, Pauline has the flexibility to work for large organizations and for the last 14 years she has worked as an independent contractor/consultant in innovation. She has worked in senior management for Fortune 500 companies such as Dow Chemical (now DowDupont), TransAlta, and ENMAX, and, as an independent consultant, has helped over 200 companies successfully develop and launch new products in global markets. She is bilingual (French and English) and has her Spanish language certificate, which has enhanced her effectiveness in global markets. Some of the biggest winners in the innovation space that she has worked with have been companies in the agri-business sector and the gaming and app space.
In addition to consulting, she is an Associate Faculty member at Bow Valley College in Business Communications and has taught at three Universities in Calgary: the University of Calgary Faculty of Continuing Education; the University of Lethbridge Calgary campus; and MRU (Mount Royal University). Pauline’s expertise in marketing, innovation, and new product development is well-utilized as a Program Advisory Council member for the SAIT School of Business, where she currently works with the Dean of the School of Business and the Marketing Academic chair to ensure the program meets the needs of industry. During an assignment with an NRC-IRAP client in Whitehorse, she was invited and continues to serve as a Business Advisory Board member for the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce. In addition to the long list of companies that she has helped achieved commercial success, she was also part of the project team recognized at the International Constantinus Management Consulting Awards in Milan, Italy in October 2018 for coaching work with Fort McMurray businesses after the 2016 wildfires.
Many of these opportunities wouldn’t have been attainable without the CMC designation. The training integral to the CMC designation not only expanded her industry knowledge but helped build new relationship and business partnerships throughout her career.
Keleigh Cormier, CMC, CAC, B.Comm
Growing up in Alberta with entrepreneurial parents ensured Keleigh wanted to learn more about business. She discovered a career called ‘management consulting’ while at the University of Alberta, Business School. Realizing she needed real business experience, Keleigh worked for Labatt’s Breweries (Edmonton, Toronto) and Maple Leaf Foods (Edmonton, Vancouver) in their marketing, sales, and product management departments. The world of consulting still beckoned, and she joined Pannell Kerr Forster (PKF), an international consultancy firm specializing in tourism and hospitality. Consulting requires special skills from mastering a myriad of business terminologies, to learning about effective business processes, to writing and presenting client reports and recommendations. With these solid foundations, Keleigh returned to her entrepreneurial roots and took the leap to start her own practice, ClearThink™ Group in 1993.
The practice began consulting in tourism and branched out into technology and agriculture sectors. Moving between complex projects with large organizations and others in small emerging shops, and from downtown boardrooms to kitchen tables, Keleigh has kept her skills sharp and current.
Some recent project highlights:
- Becoming involved in the NRC-IRAP MAS program (administered by CMC-Canada) in 2000, introduced Keleigh to many inventors and entrepreneurs in Western and Northern Canada. She has completed more than 140 engagements focusing business assistance and advisory services to commercialize products including: business strategies, target market identification and prioritization, customer identification, marketing planning, marketing strategies, implementation strategies, opportunity documents for investors, competitive intelligence, and feasibility assessments.
- Keleigh developed a Coaching Program for Alberta Open Farm Days in 2015 to help farm families understand a ‘road map’ to opening their gates to visitors. Agritourism is a growing intersection between consumers wanting to understand where our food originates, and farm families educating the public.
- She developed a Visitor Friendly Business Program pilot in four communities in Alberta. Over 40 tourism and hospitality businesses learned how to look at their businesses through the eyes of a tourist.
- She worked on Business Opportunity Assessments for several provincial agencies across Canada and Indigenous groups and communities.
One of Keleigh’s most rewarding consulting projects was the creation of the Back to Business Coaching Program with two other CMCs (Pierre Cormier and Cheryl Lockhart). After the 2016 wildfires in Fort McMurray, they felt it was important to use their skills to help a region with businesses in distress. The coaching program consisted of 21 CMCs, including coaches and matchmakers, helping 66 local companies with disaster recovery action plans. In 2018, this project was recognized as a Canadian CMC Project of the Year by CMC-Canada and received a Global Silver Award at the International Constantinus Awards. With a bit of creativity and big hearts, CMCs can move mountains.
Keleigh's CMC designation has led to a variety of exciting professional engagements and has provided many opportunities to give back to the profession where volunteerism is highly valued. Highlights of her volunteer experiences include: CMC-Alberta (Edmonton Chapter Chair); CMC-Canada (National Board member); helping 26 members with their CMC designation either as a mentor, sponsor, or an oral assessor; The Business Link (guest advisor program); ATB Financial (mentorship program); University of Alberta (alumni mentorship program); TEC Edmonton (advisory panel member to innovators, Venture Prize judge); Canadian Parents for French (Alberta Board Vice-Chair); 4H (Helping Hands, Club President).
Leadership in Collaboration
CMC-Canada administers a national Management Advisory Service (MAS) program with funding from NRC-IRAP, which includes an evolving roster of CMCs providing professional advice to roughly 100 innovative companies annually across all business sectors. Both Pauline and Keleigh have been instrumental in servicing these companies in Western and Northern Canada for many years.
Pauline and Keleigh spearheaded an initiative for CMCs to be preferred service providers with Alberta Innovates (voucher programs) from 2010 - 2013 including a roadmap for the voucher deliverable for an Opportunity Assessment on new innovations requesting funding from the provincial government. Although this preference for CMCs did not last as long as the MAS, it was another important demonstration of the quality work CMCs deliver in Alberta, and across the country. Pauline has subsequently led approved service provider initiatives for other innovation funding programs.
What’s in the Future (or the next 25 years)?
Pauline obtained both corporate and consulting experience in a variety of industries and plans to retire from consulting (still several years away as she has teenagers in Junior High School). Her passion lies in continuing to help both large international companies and smaller, more flexible companies launch new products into new markets. Between now and retirement, she is utilizing her expertise in the corporate world to increase her network and depth of expertise in digital marketing and change leadership.
Reflecting upon her 25-year consulting career has reinforced Keleigh’s enthusiasm for consulting. She's successfully combined a growing consultancy practice with raising two strong daughters. Buoyed by her clients and their fascinating projects, her goal is to continue evolving her consulting practice, with many interesting opportunities and adventures as she continues to learn and share knowledge with the business community. As in any business venture, the highs and lows have provided a sound platform to give back within her community.
Consulting is a rewarding career choice. Pauline and Keleigh encourage anyone interested in the profession to have a chat with two CMCs who made that decision and never looked back.
Have you recently had a major CMC anniversary and want to be profiled? Send us an email.
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