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Q&A with the Roy Group

In our latest Economy Builders feature we glean leadership insights from Ian Chisholm, Partner at the Roy Group. For more than two decades, the Roy Group has delved deep into fostering transformative mindsets in organizations and cemented its reputation as a key influencer across Vancouver Island.

Dive into our candid Q&A to discover the Roy Group’s perspectives on community resilience, the importance of meaningful collaborations and their unique approach to nurturing the next generation of leaders.

Ian Chisholm, Roy Group, Partner

Why did the Roy Group join South Island Prosperity Partnership?

For us, SIPP is the best alternative for networking, community-building and keeping on top of the exciting things happening in our region. From a values perspective, our work is aligned in many ways. We both see the potential in people and organizations, look at ways to explore transformation and growth – and build community resilience along the way.

The SIPP network provides fabulous avenues to liaise with the community, our economic partners – and better understand and learn more about what is working well and what is tricky with respect to economically developing in our region. We like that SIPP is not just about growing bigger and better businesses, but is wanting to build stronger and healthier communities – both economically and socially.

What do you see as key to growing a resilient, robust economic future for our region?

Sustainability and diversity in all its forms. Strong, healthy communities are comprised of human beings who focus more on collaboration than on competition, because we are interdependent. When people lead organizations and businesses with that mindset, it allows a rising tide to lift all boats. 

What is our region’s secret sauce when it comes to competing internationally to attract quality talent, businesses with household-sustaining jobs and investment?

Quality of life – and it’s not just about the great scenery and climate – though that’s certainly part of it – but those are blessings we can’t take credit for. Part of the secret sauce is the meaningful conversations and collaborations happening amongst and between communities around authentic reconciliation. When we visit other regions, it is clear that here at home, the hard work of many, many people and organizations and the genuine commitment to action is strengthening our region and contributing to this being an amazing place to live, work, play and learn together.

What are you most excited about in terms of your own plans and potential?

Roy Group is philosophically aligned with becoming a “Small Giant”. We want to be great, not big, and part of that means having a real sense of “place”. SIPP gives us the opportunity to foster a sense of belonging alongside other like-minded organizations who we share this wonderful place with. That’s pretty exciting.   

What’s one thing about the Roy Group you really want people to know that they probably don’t know?

It’s kind of funny. Roy Group has been sponsoring F*ck Up Nights here in Victoria for years and at those events, people always ask us what it is we do. We’d love for people to know that we are helping organizations develop their next generation of leaders – and that we believe that leadership lives in everyone, at every level, in special and unique ways.

Since our inception 20 years ago, we’ve been exploring how to help people become leaders and how to help leaders become mentors. With Roy Group, this goes beyond attending a workshop– it’s about fostering a mindset and practice that lends to building stronger and more meaningful organizational cultures and relationships. The ripple effects are absolute magic. Over the years, we’ve developed some serious convictions about leadership and what it means to be a mentor. There is actually a book in the works that takes a deep dive into these concepts and ideologies.  

What challenges are you most invested in helping our community overcome and why?

Let’s face it, there is no shortage of challenges – culturally, economically, environmentally, socially and for each of us personally. For us, exploring solutions always come back to themes of leadership and mentorship. People who were considered “emerging leaders” when we started working with them 15 years ago are senior leaders now.

Their priority today is to develop the next generation of leaders who are navigating increasingly complex times and seriously wicked problems. The reality is, they will have to lean into a role of mentorship to do that well. This work is purposeful, meaningful and impactful. If we’re going to develop the kind of leaders we need for tomorrow, we need to equip our senior leaders with tools to evolve into the mentors that the next generation and our world, will rely upon.   

What lessons have most profoundly impacted you since the pandemic sent shockwaves through our community and economy?

For Roy Group, the pandemic could have crushed us. We had only ever worked face-to-face with clients and were convinced we did our best work when we were in a room with people. Not only did we manage to transform our programming to work incredibly well via a virtual platform, but we also learned that it is actually a blended combination of highly experiential in-person learning, complimented by a long tail of virtual support and follow-up, that allows us to be most effective. Whenever possible, we craft in an element of being outside in nature together – truly the icing on the cake.  

When you envision the South Island region in 2040, what will have changed? What does our future look like?

The South Island in 2040 will be a place where sustainability and diversity aren’t just a goal or a concept, but what is, and this will further improve the quality of life we enjoy now. For everyone. 

Being from Vancouver Island will mean we bring Indigenous perspectives to everything we do. In 2040, we will see leadership and mentorship flourishing in all corners of the region – people and organizations will be consciously learning from one another and developing themselves – to lead, to follow and to collaborate. Our vision is that government, social enterprise, education, business and community will be cross-pollinating and thriving with shared purpose.

Learn more about the Roy Group’s work at