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For more than three decades, the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards have recognized and celebrated the strides of Canada’s most accomplished, influential and impactful women. The Awards, presented by Women of Influence, shine a spotlight on women who have been instrumental in driving business success in Canada. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we proudly recognize and promote their inspiring stories.
Like many businesses, HR Project Partners Inc. was formed out of an immediate need. Jacqui Winter was facing unemployment, so she decided to start her own business.
With a mission to help companies and projects attract their most valuable asset — their people — Winter aims to support businesses in all things human resources. From recruitment to short-term personnel staffing, and HR policies to being a company’s HR department, HR Project Partners has built a reputation for strong partnerships and sound values.
The power within: Turning rejection into lessons learned
RBC’s 2023 theme for International Women’s Day is “Celebrate the Power Within.”
Founded in 2015, HR Project Partners is 100 people strong and has two locations, one in St. John’s and another in Labrador West.
But success didn’t come easy, and Winter faced considerable challenges early on.
“I started by reaching out to previous companies I had worked for. I knocked on a lot of doors and was met with a lot of rejection. It was 2015 and a hard year to start a business — we had hit a downturn in the economy, particularly within the mining and oil and gas fields.” At that time, the future of the business was so shaky Winter even started looking for a new job.
But she didn’t give up on herself. Instead of letting fear of failure take hold, she channelled her energy into lessons learned.
I learned that if you can get through the rejection in the early days of business and stay committed to what you believe in — and not give up — you will get past it.
In 2016 she signed on some sizeable clients, which gave her the momentum she needed. “Once we brought on those first few clients and had those first few successes, we suddenly had referrals. That led to our first big contract with a mining company, and everything fed from that.” A year later, she opened her first office, which her team quickly outgrew. Since then, HR Project Partners has seen double and even triple growth each year.
She drew on her positive energy and perseverance to achieve the success she’s maintained for the last seven years. “I always say, ‘try not to let fear get in the way.’ I think naturally, as humans, we carry a lot of fear. I’m a big believer that the energy you put out in the universe is what’s going to come back. So you’ve got to put out positive energy, look at rejections as lessons and analyze why things weren’t successful. I certainly felt like giving up in 2015, but I didn’t because I’m a determined person and I like to work through challenges.”
One key to success: Stay true to your values
While Winter acknowledges the challenges female entrepreneurs face, she feels she is accepted by her clients and partners because of the skills she brings to the table and the values she has set for herself and her company. “I believe that if you hold true to your values, if you’re transparent and honest with your clients, people see you for what you bring to the table, irrespective of your gender. That’s what I hold onto, even though gender inequities are still out there.”
Winter advises new entrepreneurs to set their company values early and align them with their personal principles. “It makes it easy to live and work by the same values and to attract both clients and employees who align with your moral code and the values that matter to you.”
Gender equity, diversity and inclusion are a big part of her values. Winter is intentional about building a diverse workforce, including a leadership team that is primarily female. Her company actively seeks to recruit from underrepresented groups and partners with an Indigenous organization out of Labrador for job opportunities, community engagement and fundraising initiatives.
“Our mission and values have stayed the same since we started: We are honest, transparent, and own our mistakes. Our clients appreciate our commitment to those values, which contributes to our success.”
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