I'm Deanna Dalla-Vicenza. I'm Executive Director of the Regina
Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber is a business organization.
My role as Executive Director is to manage the staff and put
into place those directives which come from the Board of Directors.
My work history is sort of a mixed path because I came at it
probably in a different direction than many people would. When
I married I stayed home to raise my children for quite a while.
By the time my children were in their teens I had done however
an awful lot of volunteer work - a great learning experience.
I was probably doing it full time. When that stopped giving
me back some satisfaction it was almost by accident that I
was offered a job. I was working as a volunteer on a Chamber
of Commerce committee and through my husband's involvement
with the chamber I became interested in one of their education
programs. A contract position came up and they offered it to
me because they felt that I had the skills to deal with it
and it was really finding employment opportunities for high
school students that were identified as potential dropouts
- to give them some real practical work experience. That sort
of evolved over a couple of contracts and when a marketing
position became available at the office they offered it to
me as well. I had no sales experience but I took a couple of
courses. I think a lot of what our involvement is in the Chamber
is a commitment to the community and I felt I had that. That
evolved over time to becoming the Manager of Membership Services
which was membership sales and marketing of all of their products.
When I left Sioux St. Marie, I came to Regina
in 1983, I dropped in to see the person who
was managing the Chamber at the time or who
was Executive Director, introduced myself,
and a position came open within three months
and I became Assistant Manager and as time
went on I worked about three years in that
position and that was mostly administration
so I was building my skills. I went to work
at the Better Business Bureau for six years
as Executive Director.
When the position at the Chamber as Executive
Director came open, I applied for it, went
through the screening process and was successful.
I've been here now five and a half years.
I don't think I set out a path until I really
came to Regina. The first part of this career
in non-profit organization, as I said, was
almost by happenstance. Once that happened
and I realized what I like to do and what my
strengths were, then I pursued the career path
a little more. I think I'm a fairly creative
person. I like variety so I'm stimulated by
change and not change for the sake of change
but I think I contribute that to an organization
and when I feel that I am no longer doing that
then I feel it's time to move on and I think
that's important in recognizing that. Absolutely
change is important in terms of non profit
work. There's an evolution in business happening
anyway. Business isn't conducted the way it
used to be volunteer organizations. People
are still wonderful at volunteering but they
can't give the time they used to so you have
to be able to adapt to what they can contribute
so staff has to do different things and you
have to be able to recognize what those changes
have to be to make the organization tick. I
think you need good people skills. I think
you need to like people. You need to have very
strong organizational skills, good time management
skills because you're called upon to be flexible
and to jump in at any time and we don't always
know what our days are going to be like and
I'm sure that's true in a lot of businesses
but it's probably truer in an organization
similar to the Chamber of Commerce and I think
I lend myself to that well. We could not function
without some hundred and fifty volunteers.
We have to put a team together and you have
to be able to work. My job is primarily with
the Board of Directors. The staff works more
with the individual committees. I may work
with the Chairs to help guide what's happening
but that's the message's guide. These people
are leaders in the community. They recognize
what they want to contribute and you need to
have the ability to work with them to tap that.
Positive attitudes are important I think in
anything you do. If you don't have a positive
attitude about your job you're not going to
give your best. There's no question about that.
I think training is the most important element
but training can be quantified in terms of
both experience and practical hands on and
formal education and this kind of job it integrates
a whole variety of those things.
Experience is important, too. It's very difficult
to rank people skills I think that without
people skills you couldn't do this job either.
I guess ultimately the experiences is what
has been most important but training is almost
equally as are people skills. It's very difficult
to give people advice on career path to suggest
that that my way was the right way. I would
suggest that if they're looking at non-profit
work understand that you're not going to get
paid at the top of the range. It isn't like
working for government. I guess it's the enjoyment
that you get out of the work. You have to like
your..but that's most important is liking what
you do. And I think that if you like what you
do the money can be secondary in a lot of cases.
I don't think there's a better opportunity
for people to grow both intellectually and
experientially than working with an organization
like the Chamber of Commerce.