Each week we'll be showcasing more of our BDO Top 40 Over 40 honourees. Be sure to check back every Thursday!
We also want to thank community sponsor Pushor Mitchell LLP for their support.
Heather Sharpe “The Event Coach” powered by Sherpa Group Events Inc. is a multi-award-winning Event Producer with many years of experience leading corporate and community strategic initiatives. She has twice produced the largest public event in BC (Honda Celebration of Light 2014 & 2015) as well as the largest New Year's Eve event in Canada (Vancouver 2015).
She is now The Event Coach and an independent Event Producer operating Sherpa Group Events Inc. serving clients around the Central Okanagan, Vancouver or where ever she is needed. She is also an Instructor for the Event Management and Promotions program at the Centre for Arts and Technology Okanagan in Kelowna - passing on her contagious enthusiasm and passion for the industry to the next generation of event planners.
As a member of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, she focuses on elevating the event guest experience for corporate, community and charitable organizations in and around the Okanagan.
Heather’s work with Sherpa Group that most demonstrates her ability to learn from challenges with fortitude and grace, while leading through empowerment and inspiration. At the beginning, forming Sherpa Group was a risky decision for Heather. Going from a position where salary and work were mostly guaranteed, to one where the entirety of responsibilities falls on your shoulders is challenging – particularly when moving to a new city. But with her penchant for time and energy management, the risk has paid off and the growing pains of business ownership have subsided. Now that they have, Heather has set her sights on leading the next generation of event planners through her teachings at Kelowna’s Centre for Arts and Technology (CATO). At CATO, Heather takes the lessons she’s learned throughout her time in the industry and shares her inspirational message with the students, encouraging them to connect, collaborate and celebrate to the best of their abilities. While the classes’ scopes focus mostly on topics such as "Sales, Negotiation and Sponsorship", "Digital Marketing" and "Event Planning", there is an underlying current of conversation about the impact that the spirit, success and empowered leadership of women can have on the world around us.
As the Founding Director for the Okanagan Chapter of eWomenNetwork and through her participation in Kelowna Women in Business, Vernon Women in Business and the West K Women of Influence, Heather has helped local women entrepreneurs in need find the resources to improve their networking, marketing and promotional skills. These entrepreneurs are then encouraged to share their extraordinary stories with others. After all, there’s nothing that empowers one’s self more than the ability to empower others.
There are few tighter knit groups than that of women in business but that group is oftentimes not listened to or respected to the level deserved from the world at large. Heather has seen this first hand and believes that providing a platform for the women in her community to share their thoughts and visions will contribute to a society where the empowerment of women is the norm. Heather realizes that to reach that norm for future generations, it is best to grow support at the youth level through events like United Girls of the World Society’s G-Day – a day long, educational opportunity for young girls – in which she played an integral role.
Along with 3 decades of experience, Heather has the Certificate of Event Marketing (Honours) from BCIT.
2017 winner Smart Women in Meetings Award - Entrepreneur
2017 winner MPI BC Chapter Event Planner of the Year
2013 ISES Spirit of Excellence winner for Education and Programs
In the Media:
Leah’s parents immigrated to Vancouver from Israel in 1968, and she was born in 1969. After a tough start at school, she began Tae Kwon Do and Kickboxing at 9 years old and attained World Kick Boxing champion status at age 17. She then enlisted in the Israeli Army and struggled in a male dominated climate to become Israel's first female Elite Commando Instructor. Leah became a specialist and trainer in Krav Maga (the lethal training in self defense with your bare hands). From there she served in an undercover anti-terrorism unit. When half her team was lost in the line of duty, she was released to return to Canada and pursue a pro-cycling career. She settled in Vernon where she could train in hilly terrain. She began winning ultra endurance and professional races in B.C., Canada, the states and the World. After a life-threatening cycling crash in 2005, she came back to win the most gruelling single stage, a 3000-mile cycling race - Race Across America in 2012. Returning to Vernon and her personal training clients she began a career in keynote speaking and self defense training. Now she volunteers, mentoring youth and women in need and travels to speak & train. Her autobiography "No Limits" was published in 2015. Leah has entered Race Across America 2019. Her goal at 50 years old is to break the all-time record.
While training Israeli Commandos, Leah often created scenarios in which failure was imminent. Whether running through the desert, orienteering through a city, or contending with an obstacle course, soldiers were often forced to contend with much more. They would be sent off course and kept awake for 2 days. They would run out of food and water. They would suddenly have to carry 2 more soldiers. As a trainer, Leah knew that facing adversity would build them into a team. Militaries around the world utilize these leadership methods to create the strongest units possible.
Leah’s life in sports has also provided some incredible experiences in leadership and teamwork. Great cycling teams need many roles filled: climber, sprinter, time trialist, and many workers. Individuals never win races (although only one rider appears on the podium); races are won by a diverse team of people all working toward the same goal. The sport requires strategy, humility, trust and an ever-present atmosphere of ‘team first’. As team leader one must learn to use each individual’s strengths to pull everyone toward a common goal.
Leah’s work and life experiences have taken her to many places around the world. In doing so she has been exposed to many cultures, diverse groups of people and as a result witnessed incredible joy in circumstances, but also extreme injustice and poor treatment of people in others. As a result, her heart lies with youth, the under-privileged and women in trauma groups and that is where she most often volunteers her time. She visits monthly at Community Futures North Okanagan in Vernon and has developed long-term relationships with the youth. She shares stories of her journey through competitive sports and the anti-terrorism organizations she worked with. She tries to instill the knowledge that success can be achieved even in the face of incredible suffering and dysfunction. She shares strategies to find inner strength and push past perceived boundaries. She regularly volunteers her time speaking at Women of Worth events. She has partnered with Venture Training in Vernon as her charitable cause of choice for the 2019 Race Across America. They are an extraordinary organization committed to supporting adults with developmental disabilities with social, educational and vocational skill building and she is proud to be teamed with them.
In the Media:
Angela Gordon completed her BA from Simon Fraser University and her MBA from the University of Liverpool.
Spread across Canada, the United States and Western Europe, Angela’s 20+ years career began in the financial services, pivoted to customer service and has since pivoted back to financial services since she arrived back in the Okanagan two years ago. With her range of operational- to-project based leadership experience, Angela has worked for start-ups, experienced IPOs, mid-sized companies through to large global organizations like Accenture, the latter of which recognized her as an outstanding People Developer.
Since moving back to the Okanagan, Angela has embraced being an active member in my community. She serves as a Board member for the Kelowna Women in Business not-for-profit organization and actively volunteers with Soup Sisters, Karis Society and CRIS Adaptive Adventures. Angela joined Odlum Brown Limited as an Investment Advisor as she recognized alignment between her personal core values and those of the company.
Angela says she's learned along the way is you can’t manage change - you need to lead with change. A good leader is one that walks the floor, talks to people at all levels and demonstrates on a continuous basis the core values and forward-facing strategy.
She's particularly proud of her EU citizenship, obtained after 4 years of night school to learn Dutch and a two day government exam to demonstrate fluency. In fact, a VP level Director from ING Bank once asked her – after a one-hour program update – what part of the Netherlands she was from. According to Angela, you know you've done well when you can fool the native speakers.
In the Media:
Mark Fry has been a Superyacht Captain and entrepreneur for more than 20 years. He is a Master of Yachts instructor and examiner, marine surveyor and a boat designer. He is the founder and managing director of International Yacht Training Worldwide Inc. (IYT), a global leader in Superyacht marine certification, operating 300 nautical schools in 58 countries. In 2008, Mark brought his expertise to Kelowna, moving the IYT's world headquarters from Florida to Kettle Valley.
In 2017 Mark started The Templar Marine Group, a company with a unique concept of electric boat building and manufacturing. Boats are designed and built in Kelowna for the national and international market. There are currently two models available, a cruiser and a water taxi, with a further three models under development including an ambulatory care vessel. Boats can be used year-round and do not require winterizing as the motor is completely electric.They are almost completely silent when running and are exceptionally easy to operate.
Mark has logged over 300,000 miles logged at sea. He is a member of the British Marine and Coastguard Agency Yacht Qualification panel since 1997, a Life Member of the Navy League of the United States and small ship surveyor with the Society of American Marine Surveyors.
Mark is an author and co-author of 28 nautical books, 6 of which are registered in the U.S. Library of Congress. He is also a freelance writer for numerous nautical publications.
In the Media:
Peter has practiced as a lawyer in British Columbia for 17 years, primarily in the Central Okanagan with Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP. Peter’s clients include several high-profile institutions, private corporations and individuals in the region and involved him with some of the more impactful commercial and real estate development transactions in recent years.
Peter is also a dedicated member of the community. He is the director of the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation, where he has been involved in the creation of meaningful community projects, most recently the Interior Heart & Surgical Centre, Foundry Kelowna, and JoeAnna's House. Peter has also acted as Chair of the Board of Directors of the United Way of the Central and South Okanagan/Similkameen. In leading both boards, he has had the opportunity to work alongside Central Okanagan business and community leaders and help direct the critical work of each organization.
Peter previously served as a volunteer director of the United Way of the Central & South Okanagan/Similkameen (6 tears), director of the Kelowna Estate Planning Society (5 years, including 1 year as President), director of the Kelowna Visual & Performing Arts Centre Society (4 years), director of the Okanagan Science & Technology Council (2 years) and director of Project Literacy Kelowna Society (3 years). He has volunteered as a coach with Kelowna Minor Hockey Association and Central Okanagan Youth Soccer Association, for the past 6 years, coaching youth sports teams.
He holds an LLB degree (Bachelor of Laws) from the University of Victoria, and a BSc (bachelor of sciences) degree from the University of British Columbia.