FACILITYCalgary publisher Mark Kolke, in conversation with Leann Hackman-Carty
December 30, 2014
Do you have an idea, a development plan, a problem? ... just go to city hall, town hall, the county office – and you’ll get help. Next time you meet a municipal economic development officer anywhere in Alberta – you are likely meeting a member of an organization I’ve been hearing about more and more. Their connective tissue is the professional organization that connects and serves them – and I set out to meet their leader.
She casually describes herself as ‘not a focused person’, but I quickly learned she is very focused – just many focuses – and very busy.
Youngest of two (her older sister is a fashion designer), raised in Namao (just north of Edmonton), mom was a teacher, dad had his own garage door business. Ambition was taught at home. NGO’s are good. After graduating from Sturgeon High School, Leann studied political science at U of A, then U of C’s Social Work faculty where studies of community development caught her interest. Studied economic development at University of Waterloo. Doing her practicum working for Al Duerr ... quickly led to a speed-dialed nearly 10-year romp through City of Calgary - heady days working in the Mayor’s office (she says, “politics can be sincere”), meeting her husband there on a blind date, working on Calgary Inc. launch, Concrete Global Ventures, Blue Heart Consulting (fund development) – currently under contract to Economic Developers of Alberta, two kids, a husband, a golden doodle … a very busy lady who took time to share some thoughts with me recently over lunch.
I asked, what has contributed most to your success? “Hard work. I’ve done things I believe in. I want to make a difference – leave things better than I found it. I can work with most people … at both ends of the spectrum.”
What has held you back? “I’m doing as much as I can. I’m not prepared to sacrifice family for career.”
She added, “I had no idea what I was going to do … ”
And, added some more, "I do love challenging the status quo - instead of just accepting things for what they are, trying to figure out a way to make it better. Creating things that were not there before. The entrepreneur in me!"
I asked Leann how she sees her businesses – a professional development organization – over the next quarter?
… good! We understand our market. We’ve grown our credibility. We have been working with our ‘tool kit’, like lessons learned from the flood response last year.
And over the next five years?
… I want to push the envelope, work with our board to overcome resistance to change to better deliver what our members want.
What qualities distinguish your preferred colleagues, collaborators and suppliers?
… price drives a lot of choices. Convenience. Integrity. Someone I know or a referral. I like to support local businesses. I like to hire people with skills I don’t have. I like high achievers. Fast paced ‘get it done’ people, and I try to be patient – but often don’t have the luxury of time to get things done …
What distinguishes you that causes people to choose Leann Hackman-Carty, why do they choose you, why do they business with you?
… passion for what I believe in. I’m good at synthesizing information. I have a great network. I don’t believe you can do anything well ‘all alone’.
How would you describe your leadership or management style?
… I give people flexibility, a lot of leeway. I’m not a micro-manager. We try to work without a job description. I figure things out. I work with people who support me.
What do you lose sleep over, what do you worry about?
… family stuff, kids, hoping they don’t get into trouble …
Who or what influenced you most – that has made a difference in your life, or that was a major turning point?
… parents. They gave me confidence – I feel I can do something. My dad taught me ‘be yourself’.Travels with my sister. Church. Volunteering. Raising kids has taught me about black and white – things are always gray!
Work life balance, do you have it?
… sort of. Working from a home office is a blessing and curse. Saves commuting – time to ‘be there’ for kids.
… travel – one big trip every year. Cabin at Gull Lake. Time with family and friends. Soccer, basketball, drums, piano, euphonium.
What do you read?
… newspapers. I’m not a fiction person. I like life stories. Biographies. I like Malcolm Gladwell.
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