Meet SEWN member…
Building Businesses on the Coast
Cheryl is passionate about three things: helping people to start and grow successful businesses; educating communities and leaders about the value women and diversity bring to the world; and in nurturing community partnerships to build and grow the economy on the Sunshine Coast so it is a healthy, vibrant, and financially viable place to live and work.
Part of that passion comes from her own story where, as a single mom, she drove 88 km to the University of Windsor to take part time classes. After ten years she stood on the stage to accept her Honours Bachelor of Commerce degree feeling a sense of accomplishment and an even greater sense of relief.
She worked in the energy sector for 11 years and when the company was bought out she moved to the lower mainland and took another career turn, earning her TESOL diploma which allowed her to teach English to speakers of other languages.
“I’ve always had a passion for learning new languages and other cultures and I was personally inspired by my paternal grandparents who had immigrated to Canada from Czechoslovakia in the 1930’s. Their struggle with the English language and customs was huge and at that time there were no programs to assist them.”
She came to the Sunshine Coast for a weekend getaway on a passing recommendation from a friend, fell in love with the area and made friends on the beach at Hopkins landing. She and partner Ted sold their condo in Vancouver, quit their respective jobs and moved here a few weeks later.
Together they launched hrAchieve Consulting which is both a business start-up consultancy as well as an HR consultancy. She also has McNicol Consulting which also focusses on helping new businesses find their feet. And she is very involved in several initiatives looking at diversity and inclusivity.
“I’m driven to educate the world about the tremendous value that diversity and inclusion brings to businesses and our communities.”
One of her “babies” is actually SEWN itself. She was working on a Status of Women funded project looking at employment opportunities for women on the coast.
“One of the barriers to success that women identified during this project was isolation and the lack of the sense of belonging. When I lived in Vancouver I was very active in business networking organizations and one of the things that I noticed about the coast was the lack of networking opportunities, especially for women. I joined the Gibsons Chamber of Commerce and they actually have many events and networking opportunities but I was only meeting the same business members from Gibsons.
“Christine Younghusband and I decided to test out a pilot event for women with an education component, a networking component and an information gathering component. We wanted to find out if women really had an appetite for this kind of organization. They sure did! SEWN was born out of this very successful, sold-out, loud and raucous pilot event.”
Cheryl is now the proud past president of SEWN but says she’s a lifer and will always be an enthusiastic member of the network.