FACILITYCalgary publisher Mark Kolke, in conversation with Brian Milloy
February 4, 2020
“I don’t like being second, and I don’t quit.” – Brian Milloy
Brian Milloy’s life and work have manifested in co-founding and leading Levvel - https://levvel.ca/ - a balancing act showing remarkable growth across Canada and a remarkable off-shore software testing venture in Rwanda.
His early desire for a career in medicine was not fulfilled. His desire for fast cars was.
Brian wanted to be a doctor but life took a different path. After his CGEP year, he entered McGill but never graduated. He did further work at Concordia University and University of Manitoba. His schooling paths were sidetracked by an appetite for getting-at-working, and to get a car – a drive which hasn’t abated in his work, and in his software development career and business development success. It drove him to successes in a distinguished career in computer technology – and starting Levvel.
Mom helped him land his first job at CNR in 1981 in computer operations. Aptitude tests suggested software development was his best choice. His career with CNR was long – 20 years, three cities – Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary, as a Process and Systems Officer and e-commerce consultant; and declining a transfer/promotion back east in 1989. His career path – West Coast Energy/Duke, Shaw Communications, Sierra, and Corporate Oasis I.T. Staffing. He liked to solve software problems/process issues but found himself having greater success in sales. The urge/desire to strike out on his own was encouraged by clients who knew him well, sent consulting work and staffing requirements his way – which led to founding iugoWerx in 2015. [rebranded as Levvel in April/2019].
Along this path, a first marriage in 1985, a daughter and a son – then divorce, and raising kids, he met and worked with Chantal St. Arnaud, a single mom with one son, at Shaw Communication where she was a Senior Director. They’ve been together 15 years now. They co-founded Levvel, and lead the company together.
Today the team is 75 strong; 20 staff, 55 contactors in Calgary, Toronto, and Ottawa working in change-consulting, staffing, software QA testing and Management Consulting. Levvel is the exclusive Canadian affiliate with LaMarsh Global.They also have a strong working and ground-breaking relationship, an off-shore software testing operation partnership with Muraho Technology in Rwanda.
Brian’s love of cars, muscle cars, fast cars, and speed came early – his cousins were into muscle cars and he wanted one. Racing, on streets and tracks in Montreal, and pursuit of speed are still part of his passion today. His beloved McLaren is one of the fastest production cars on the planet.
Born in Montreal, Brian Milloy and his younger brother were raised by his mother who was a homemaker – but after dad left the scene, she worked two jobs – teaching at night and secetary by day, and climbled the corporate ladder into a management position at CN Rail. His mother remarried when he was 16. Step-dad, a software developer, then an executive and now retired.
Brian’s reluctance to talk about his early childhood family struggles with his birth father are painful, but he admits, with great pride, those times have formed in him, a strong focus on family. After his own divorce, as a single-dad, he has kept his focus on family.
Spending time with Brian Milloy revealed, as these interviews often do, the driving force of most people is rooted deeply and early in their lives. Brian proves that.
Why are you successful?
“Because of the people we have. We fill a gap. Ego, greed, and bullies drive me crazy. I’ve learned – and practiced that you can build a successful company by exposing and exploiting people’s strengths. Being part of the change in people’s lives gives me a lot of joy – I love helping people and that makes me stronger. As a child - some family issues were difficult, but those times formed me, I realize that has given me great strength, resolve, and determination to live my life differently.”
What has held you back?
“I’ve never realized my full potential. Fear of failure…”
How do you see your business – change management, I.T. staffing, QA testing, management consulting – going forward over the next quarter?
… things are awesome (fingers crossed!), our change management practice is growing rapidly, our LaMarsh Global relationship is providing leverage and helping us broaden both our reach and depth of service offerings and the Rwanda team are doing incredibly valuable work.
And over the next five years?
… data-driven – that’s the short answer. There will be SO MUCH DATA; solutions will need to be simplified and sharper to deal with that data growth. People adapting to and coping the pace of change will be high on everyone’s agenda. Change management will become more important in M&A – measurable change, fitting data systems and processes together.
What qualities distinguish your preferred colleagues, collaborators, and suppliers?
… value, customer focus on needs, honesty, and humility. I need to know the truth – even if it’s painful. I don’t like mediocrity, it drives me nuts.
What distinguishes you that causes people to choose Brian Milloy, choose Levvel, and why do they do business with you, why have they hired you, over your competitors?
… trust. Value. They know my mantra, know our team is working to make their operations better, helping them succeed with better products and processes.
How would you describe your leadership/management style?
… it’s very simple – we create and set the vision, hire great people and turn them loose! I believe in the principle of UBUNTU - "I am what I am because of who we all are."
… we’re still looking for it. It’s our new year's resolution this year. Seriously, we work at work, we work at home, we work together – it feels balanced, complete and who better to end the day with than your partner in life and work?
What do you lose sleep over, what do you worry about?
… our kids. Doesn’t everyone? Client concerns – cyber-hacking risk is a 24/7 worry.
Who or what influenced you most – that has made a difference in your life, or that was a major turning point?
… my mom - raising 2 boys on her own, working 2 jobs, night and day to give us a great childhood (after my father left!) and continuing to complete a B.Comm. at McGill at night while climbing the Corporate ladder into a Management position at CN Rail. That strength and tenacity is in the DNA!; being fired twice in my career really shook me because I was doing some of my best work – and then with support from loyal clients, I felt confident to start my own business. We haven’t look back. My mom’s family – cousins with hot cars inspired my desire to have one and that has been a lifelong passion. Drag racing in Chateauguay (south shore of Montreal) at 18-19 whetted my appetite for speed and competition – I hated coming second. And, my dad leaving when I was eight years old – I knew from that, from then, that I would never leave my kids, so that has been one of the most profound influences in my life. And, obviously, meeting and marrying Chantal.
… working out in the gym every morning – been doing that since my 20’s. I’ve been a competitive squash player but I’m recovering from a torn MCL. We play tennis locally and on vacation.
What do you read?
… I’m a big Stephen King fan, I haven’t read much for pleasure this past year – I’ve been focused on work, travel, and most reading has been business-focused. I read on devices.
… 2018 McLaren 720S [he tells me, zero-to-60 in 2.6 seconds, top speed 341 km/hr], 2019 Ford F-150. Chantal drives a Tesla, four motorcycles (two speed bikes, and two dirt bikes).
FACILITYCalgarynewsletters may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast, directly or indirectly, in any medium without prior written permission. All rights reserved. PLANDflex Corporation - http://plandflex.com