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As she sat in the audience, listening as some unnamed person was praised as a lead-up to an award presentation, Deb McClelland was as attentive as anyone else.
She listened to the person — even gender was not mentioned — being described for vision, teamwork, a lot of attributes that, she told KTW, “I thought, well, I do that but other people do that, too.”
So, it could have been anyone at the annual gathering of the Chamber of Commerce Executives of Canada.
And then, as the description moved on to the person’s work “seeking input from the grassroots level, something that is unique to us among chambers, I started to realize what was going on,” McClelland said.
The glass trophy she received for being named Canadian Executive of the Year for a population of fewer than 100,000 joins one she received from the B.C. Chamber Executives in 2008.McClelland, who started working with the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce in 1999, was named its executive director in 2003.
Her staff and board members put together the nomination and, although the award made her emotional, it was reading the package they prepared that truly touched her, she said.
“I was reading it and I thought, ‘I did all that?’
“You do all these things and you don’t think about it — because it’s just what you do.
“But, there were sentiments in there from people across the city and, I have to tell you, reading those left me feeling like I had won the big prize.
“In some ways, those letters meant more to me.”
Ask her what she’s done in the past year and there is a sigh and then a laugh. It’s easier to ask her what the highlight has been from the past year.
“Buying our own space was huge,” she said of the move from near Aberdeen Mall to a storefront on Victoria Street.
“And so was the rebranding and the new programming.”
Even the logo that now graces the chamber’s front door at 615 Victoria St. — as well as all of its marketing tools — was a delight to work on, McClelland said.
“When we introduced it,” she said of the symbol that looks a lot like intertwined boomerangs, “the interpretations were so interesting and so cool.
“People were seeing different things and all meant the same thing. And they loved it right off.”
McCelland said she has got plans for where the chamber needs to go next and she also wants to continue in her mentorship role with other chambers and executive directors across Canada.
She’s gearing up for an accreditation process that will require a lot of structural matters be formalized, reviewing polices and procedures, things that appeal to someone who describes herself as “a procedure person.”
She’s in a job she loves, McClelland said, and not all that surprised she has found a career working with business.
“My father said he heard a noise outside one day and saw this little person outside, covered in mud, yelling at everyone telling them what they had to do.
“He said ‘I knew right then you’d be in management’,” McClelland said.
“I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty.”
Registration fee includes event toque, participation medallion, post-race refreshments, door prizes and swag.
To register, and to get more information, go online to sunrivers.com/events.