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You’ve been described as the heart, or glue, of Westbank. What do you do

I do all of the recruiting for Westbank. And in a nutshell I do everything that Ian doesn’t want to do; the finances, overseeing the organizational structure, as well as overseeing the day-to-day accounting.

How do you find the right people to work here?

The one thing I say to every person who sits down across from me at an interview is to make sure that you feel that this is not just a job but a career for you. Ian uses the word passion to describe it and so do I, because everybody here has a tangible passion. They are a part of something bigger and they do the best that they can. We have a lot of people knocking on our door. But it’s a long process to find the right people and the right fit, so hiring does take a long time.

What keeps the right people at Westbank?

When you are part of an organization that does great work you don’t feel bad working so hard, because everybody else is working hard too and no matter how hard you’re working, Ian is working the hardest. I find that very inspirational for myself.

And I think that sort of attracts the kind of people we want here. Everyone here is a giver and not a taker. They’re giving everything they’ve got and they’re always willing to do more. Even when I hire a receptionist, I’m not just hiring the person who can answer the phone the best, but someone who is willing to do more. Someone who basically wants to or is willing to be an office manager and do more.

What is the culture like here?

It’s kind of a family. You’re always going to be somehow tied to it, because you’re around people who put so much into it. It becomes part of your DNA.

I can’t stress enough how much synergy there is here amongst the people. Because with that we’re able to make certain decisions really quickly and a lot of times we have to guess what Ian wants, but once you guess what he wants, you just go. It’s not like a lot of companies where there is a lot of red tape and it takes forever to go through approvals and get to a decision and action. That’s because of the synergy. Ian gives you a lot of rope to hang yourself. If you make a mistake, he might be a little volatile but he just expects you to fix it and you move on. In addition to our jobs, all of us are learning to run a business here.

How do you manage work/life balance?

There’s my balance (points to dog). I bring my dogs to work because I work so much I don’t get home to walk them. The other thing I tell people is that when you come into our office, you’ll see the kitchen in the middle and the couches there for brainstorming. Again, we’re all part of the family. And people work long hours here, but we also play hard. We do a lot of things outside the office together, because we’re friends too. I think everybody just really likes each other.

Do people come in with any misconceptions about Westbank?

Because the office is kind of atypical to a regular office, people new to the industry sometimes see the office and they think, wow this is glamorous and I want to be a part of this, even if they don’t necessarily realize the dedication required and how hard everyone works.

What does the future look like at Westbank?

Five years from now I think we’ll be adding about 10 more staff. Things will change a lot in the next 10 years as Ian wants his kids to be more involved in the business.

In a nutshell, what makes Westbank tick?

I think one of the things that makes Ian different than some of the other developers that I’ve seen is that he just kind of soars above everything. He sees things that other people don’t see. And it’s very inspirational because sometimes you’re just picking up all the pieces, or fixing things after the fact for him, but he’s not bogged down by the day-to-day stuff that the rest of us are. He just sees certain things and he goes for it. Where other people see obstacles, he just soars above it all.

He’s kind of a lucky guy and in a way he attracts people like that. You know, the first time he ever played golf he got a hole in one. I mean, how many people do that? Some people play golf their whole lifetime and they never get it and he plays just once and gets a hole in one. Similarly, there are people who have wanted to get a company up off the ground all their life and they can’t. But this is Ian’s first try. It’s a combination of luck and just being able to see ahead and avoid the obstacles, because unlike other people, he just doesn’t see the obstacles.