1. United Way moved quickly to meet the immediate needs of our community’s most vulnerable when the coronavirus hit. Now, as the 2020 United Way Campaign gears up to support critical social service agencies through the recovery, what will the focus be for you and the Campaign Cabinet team?
The need for United Way and their partner agencies is only going to amplify. I think there will be a much longer-term effect of COVID-19—both on the economy and the way we get back to work. We’re fully expecting it will be a slow return to any kind of ‘normal.’ A lot of people will require assistance going forward, particularly this fall when the initial part of the pandemic is over.
2. As General Manager at McCormick Canada, you head up the national office of a global corporation, you lead a diverse team across the country, and you have a major plant here in London. What experiences have you had along the way that led you to take on this big volunteer role with United Way?
McCormick has always had an important connection to United Way. Personally, I’ve been involved for well over 20 years now in various roles, and I’ve seen the good work. So United Way is not new to me. But leading a campaign certainly is. I jumped at the opportunity because giving back is one of our core values here at McCormick. I knew I’d have the support of the entire organization in Canada, and also the support of our management committee and everyone at our global office as well.
3. The phrase ‘may you live in interesting times’ rings true these days. What new opportunities does the pandemic give us to fight systemic issues like poverty and food insecurity?
I think a crisis elevates the good in people. We have a unique opportunity, even though a lot of people are feeling financial hardship. A crisis is the time to step up and rally around people who are more vulnerable and need our help. I’m optimistic that the campaign will be very successful and people will dig deep to embrace giving and caring for those less fortunate in our community.
4. No pressure, but you’re about to lead a multimillion-dollar fundraising campaign during a global pandemic. What are you excited about? What’s going to keep you up at night?
You know what, I’m excited about the uncertainty. We’re in uncharted territory. We can’t rely on how we did things in the past. We’re going to have to think differently and act more virtually. How do we reach the community when there’s a great deal of uncertainty around standing up in front of a crowded room to solicit support? We need to innovate and that’s what’s exciting. We’re not running a playbook that United Way has run before.
What’s going to keep me up at night? Probably much of the same thing! United Way has a lot of tried-and-true events that revolve around bringing the community together. If we’re not able to do that, how do we rally support in this virtual world?
The other thing, our big partners are going to be in very different states. What shape are they in? Are they up and running fully? United Way relies on businesses, institutions and organizations across the region to run successful campaigns for us. That won’t change this year, we just need to be cognizant of where they’re at.
5. Our ‘new normal’ continues to change rapidly. Can you give us a hint about how the 2020 United Way Campaign will look this fall?
I think the 2020 United Way Campaign will look exciting, innovative and different than it has in the past. One of the key things we won’t do is too much scenario planning. We don’t know what the future holds, even in the coming weeks or months. Instead, we’ll focus the Cabinet and the entire Campaign on being really agile so we’re able to react to meet new challenges. We have a very talented and diverse group of volunteers. We’re going to lean on that diversity a lot. Adaptability will be key, because the Campaign’s not short. Its kicking off now and it goes all the way through 2021. We can expect a lot of change.
6. McCormick Canada has a long history with United Way locally. What makes our organizations a great fit to work together for this community?
United Way’s values are McCormick’s values. We’re a diverse organization in the way we go to market and in the way we treat our employees and the communities where we live and work. We’re a little bit different than other companies. We really amplify why it’s important to give back to the community.
I think that’s why we’ve always gelled nicely with United Way. Our employees come from all over Elgin and Middlesex counties. They feel good about United Way because the money stays local and they know they’re helping their own community. This Campaign is about putting the power of our entire organization behind United Way. As Chief ChangeMaker, I’m just leading the charge.