Interview with DiverseCity onBoard board appointee Rick Gill
“Do it now. Why wait? Society needs your perspective. Seeking a board appointment is more about what you can contribute to a discussion, not about the career or perceived status you hold.”
National Retail Development, Account Manager & Project Manager, McIntyre Group of Companies
DiverseCity onBoard candidate Rick Gill was recently appointed to the Marketing and Operations Committee at MCIS Language Services.
DiverseCity onBoard candidate Rick Gill immigrated to Canada in 1995 from Trinidad. Since then he has lived and worked in all the provinces. His professional background includes at one point running for political office, and has involved a diverse array of experience in Retail Development, and Store and Project Management. He has held various positions in retail from frontline Customer Service to Regional Management, and managed thousands of fixture installation, merchandising, carpentry, and multi-location rollout projects nationwide. In 2008 Rick became a Constable with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Stationed in Strathmore, Alberta, Rick was assigned to be the Liaison Officer to the local high school and spent considerable time addressing the challenges faced by Canada’s indigenous peoples. This experience piqued his interest in community involvement, which he thoroughly enjoyed, until he left the police force and returned to Ontario to care for ailing parents. Upon returning to Ontario, Gill made the decision to return to Retail Development. He currently operates the national retail division of a successful national Canadian company.
How were you introduced to DiverseCity onBoard, and why did you choose to get involved?
DiverseCity on Board was recommended to me by a friend who was familiar with the organization. I did the research and chose to sign up for DiverseCity onBoard because I believe in their mandate of adding diversity, not to meet status quo, and to ensure the leadership of organizations reflects the communities they serve.
What has your experience been with DiverseCity onBoard?
This is my first appointment. DiverseCity onBoard offers training for those new to the world of governance. As a result of my career, I spend considerable amounts of time in meetings and boardrooms, but it is important to have a proper understanding of Robert’s Rules of Order, so that I can be effective in the boardroom. This is where the formal training comes in handy.
You were recently appointed to the Marketing and Operations Committee at MCIS Language Services. What is your interest in their board and the organization?
MCIS tends to nominate successful candidates to its committees first, which provides the opportunity to learn the intricate operations of the organization while lending your skillset in the most practical area. Starting out by being on a committee allows you to learn about the organization while still being a part of board decisions and gaining invaluable governance experience. After contributing to a committee, you are eligible to be nominated for a full Director’s position on the board. I was nominated to the Marketing and Operations Committee of the board as my first stage. I am eager to learn as much as possible about the organization and lend myself to the great work they do.
I was particularly drawn to MCIS because they work so closely with immigrant communities. Making a life in a new country is an overwhelming experience, more so when your language and culture are different. MCIS focuses on the language aspect of integration, which is closely tied to cultural integration. Canada is a country of immigrants. It is one culture made up of dozens of others. The success of our interdependent society depends largely on how we interact and relate to each other. It is incumbent on those who have had a successful immigrant experience to facilitate the removal of barriers to integration that many new Canadians face. Language and cultural understanding are the foundation of this endeavor.
This is your first board position: what do you hope to learn and contribute while serving on the board?
I hope to learn a lot, meet new people, and do my part to help the organization to grow efficiently and conscientiously so it will be able to have a greater impact on the success of Canada.
Why do you think diversity on boards is important?
I believe the blessing of varying perspectives can only serve to benefit all of society. Our perspectives come from our experiences gained in our countries of origin. By ensuring cultural diversity, we do more to ensure that fiscally responsible decisions made at a higher level are fair, respective, and inclusive.
Were there any challenges you faced in joining a board prior to being a part of DiverseCity onBoard? What advice would you give to others who are looking to get involved in leadership and join a board?
Do it now. Why wait? Society needs your perspective. Seeking a board appointment is about what you can contribute to a discussion, not about the career or perceived status you hold.