FACILITYCalgary publisher Mark Kolke, in conversation with Tricia Bailey
February 16, 2016
She’s traveled lots. Lived in China for a year. She’s seen horrible things every day. She’s seen wonderful things every day. Smiling, high energy. She describes their work as ‘a helpful solution to a big problem’.
Did you know 41,000 kids are reported missing in Canada each year? I didn’t.
Sure, most of them are found quickly and explanations of ‘mom, I forget to call – sorry’. Lots of gray in that area … 200 abductions/yr. in Canada. Alberta, like most jurisdictions operate an Amber Alert program. And not every case that meets the Amber Alert criteria means we’ll get an Amber Alert. Lots of moving pieces, it’s complex. Lives, families, police and organizations across the country … and connecting the dots, there is an organization I knew about, but really, I didn’t know much. Now I know more, and believe our readers ought to as well:
My recent interview with Tricia Bailey had two purposes – I wanted to learn about her and I wanted to learn about the MCSC - Missing Children Society. [MCSC was founded 30 years ago by folks formerly involved with Child Find Alberta - inspired/sparked by the Tania Murrell case in Edmonton].
I must admit I began this quest in the belief she ran ‘the Calgary office’ and that the ‘Calgary office’ was one of several outposts of a national organization. I stand corrected. Calgary IS the head office of the organization for Canada, and Tricia Bailey is Chief Operating Officer for the whole of it. She’s been in that job since December, 2014. A daunting job. They closed 132 cases last year …
She is keen to inform me about their search program and how it works, and the great strides technology has made – social media in particular, well beyond a ‘Milk Carton 2.0’ description can detail. Imagine, an APP for your phone that can alert you to a missing child alert in your area – wherever you are in the country? Yes .. they have it. There’s much more to it than that. Amber Alert, investigators, cooperation with law enforcement in every jurisdiction in Canada. And inquiries from NEMEC in the U.S. and Europe – interested in connections and possibly expansion of the program. What does success look like?. “When enough people are using the APP to make a difference – to make a system change.”
They have partners, sponsors, donors (she says oodles about WestJet – they provide flights), funders (like all not-for-profits they rely on donations).
But, let’s get focused on Tricia – how she got from there to here! I would describe her as cheerful, forthcoming and easy to talk to – but when she gets wound up talking about the work … she’s clearly a force to be reckoned with; passionate, informed and relentless methinks. It all started in Langley …
Born in Langley, BC – both parents worked in aviation; dad is a pilot, mom is a flight attendant. Her older brother is a pilot. But Tricia didn’t find her way into the travel business, notwithstanding a lot of travel …
Her high school days in an arts school were great, but she opted for a different school with a more academic focus – then left home (not acrimoniously!) and has been flying her own route since. A year off, travelling in Malaysia and New Zealand, then University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George with intentions of being a teacher (she obtained her B.A.). While doing some practice teaching she found the experience of dealing with students more focused on their ‘devices’ than learning produced ‘a redirect moment’. Through friends and family she got a job working with young adults with developmental disabilities, autism in particular. Her work at ABA Learning Centre in Richmond gave her a taste for the not-for-profit world. A taste she liked. And an appetite for business management which she seemed to be good at. She explains her affinity for the work as "influenced by her grandmother. She was poor, humble and very caring". Along the way, a first marriage didn’t work and change … led her to Calgary where her brother and some friends beckoned – which led to work at MCSC as a ‘development associate’ which meant ‘fund development’. She’s risen quickly and, with high praise for her CEO, admits to hard work, long hours, commitment – “all the pieces fit – I’m a ‘lifer”. Then she tries, successfully, to turn the discussion away from her and toward the work …
Why are you successful? “I’ve been allowed, been free, to flourish where there is a lot of responsibility and autonomy – and a huge group effort. We have complete commitment to what we are doing. I’ve encountered a lot of good people … I push for a solution.”
What has held you back? “I don’t feel like I’ve been held back in any way. I’ve been encouraged by a lot of good people.”
Regrets? “None, except for a three-day job in telemarketing a long time ago …”
How do you see your business – finding missing children - going forward over the next quarter?
… that’s why we get up in the morning! We are innovative and very successful. We are very active spreading the word about our APP. Crowdsourcing information, sharing information – is improving what we do. A lot.
And over the next five years?
... more. Better. Expansion of our search program will contribute to finding more kids faster and reuniting them with their families.
What qualities distinguish your preferred colleagues, collaborators and suppliers?
… they want to build partnerships, help us grow. And, when it comes to personal spending too – bang for my buck.
What distinguishes you that causes people to choose Tricia Bailey, and why do they do business with you, why have they hired you, over your competitors?
… I have the passion first – I have passion and drive for the 72-hour week when required.
How would you describe your leadership/management style?
… lead by example. Having really good people – then letting them do what they do best. Trusting your team.
What do you lose sleep over, what do you worry about?
… my family. Hope they find happiness, as I have.
Who or what influenced you most – that has made a difference in your life, or that was a major turning point?
… that re-direct moment, when a student was too committed to Eminem to focus on what I was teaching – if it weren’t for that, I’d be teaching school somewhere! My grandmother’s kindness, selflessness. Our board – every member is a powerful influence.
… travel – lots, still. Time with family – keeps me grounded.
What do you read?
… books – I like to hold them. I have a Kindle for vacations. I love post-colonial literature – such as The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. I did so much travelling when I was younger, in Asia in particular, that I love this kind of book.
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