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Your Chair in Your Community- June

June 29, 2021

Change has been forced upon us by the pandemic and it continues to push us to adjust our path. The idea for this blog titled, Your Chair in Your Community, came from the fact that in a typical year members that go to events, get to connect with our board chair personally and since we don’t have in-person events, Shreeraj wanted to connect in a different way. We hope this blog will give you an inside look at the work Shreeraj is doing each month to better serve you– the Winnipeg business community. 

Shreeraj Patel shares his thoughts on the past event season, what he hopes for the future, his favourite events from this past year and more!

Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce (WCC): How have you enjoyed your time as Chair so far?

Mike Sudoma Photography

Shreeraj Patel (SP): It’s indeed been an amazing privilege and opportunity to support our members and business community through this role. I have been able to experience firsthand the resiliency and perseverance of our business community. Even in the face of unprecedented disruption and uncertainty – so many of our members chose to adapt and innovate core aspects of their business. Getting to work with the Chamber leadership team and our board has been filled with many rewarding moments. We have boldly led from the front on so many social and economic issues. I’m excited to see how our Chamber and its members will fuel new possibilities for our city’s business community. Loren, Elizabeth and their entire team have ensured we are powering an inclusive economic and social recovery here in our community.

WCC: Not being able to interact in person with the business community has been tough and would be incredibly challenging as Chair. How did you find a way to connect with members this year?

SP: Like so many, I also needed to adapt my approach to staying connected and engaged with our members and the business community as a whole. The Chamber orchestrated its digital disruption and elevated its role by immediately pivoting to strategic and purposeful virtual events to magnify our mandate to Lead, Connect and Grow. Whether I am connecting with members on the phone, email, or platforms like LinkedIn – I have thoroughly enjoyed connecting with our members in ways most convenient for them. Our Chamber has consistently led with care and compassion – and in turn, it has enabled me to develop and build genuine connections with our members.

WCC: What was your favourite event of the season and why?

The Power of Leadership Luncheon with Jay Grewal, President and CEO of Manitoba Hydro.

SP: Each event this past year has left me so impressed with the calibre of speakers we have been able to curate for our members and business community. Getting to hear from entrepreneurs and business owners share their stories of adaptation, innovation, and resiliency has been inspiring.

If I had to pick one, it would have to be the most recent event, The Spirit of Winnipeg Awards. As our city is carefully re-emerging from the pandemic, I deeply valued the opportunity to celebrate 25 inspiring businesses here in our community. Each one has helped inspire and uplift our city at this critical time.

Watch the Spirit of Winnipeg Awards below!

WCC: What is the first thing you’re going to do when all restrictions are lifted?

SP: First, from a personal lens, I’m looking forward to getting back to my powerlifting gym and Brazilian jiu-jitsu training. I’m also looking forward to connecting in person with our members (in their places of business) and the many great people that make up our business community. I can’t wait to get back to enjoying our city’s great food, arts and cultural scene – I can’t wait to see live music again!

Shreeraj and his wife, Ruby.

WCC: How has this past year helped you grow?

The challenges we all have been navigating through have not been easy. I have relied heavily on my family and friends to help keep me focused and fueled in the right way. Actively trying to develop and create a growth mindset has been instrumental in helping me during the last 15 months. The most significant influence on me in terms of growth has been my wife and watching how she and her colleagues in the health care space have shown an unwavering level of stamina and endurance in supporting their city. This has set a great personal example for me. I have also learned to be more purposeful around my mental health and mental fitness overall. These last 15 months have shown me the importance of focusing and growing in this key area – something I know will deliver benefits in my role as a husband, father and leader.

WCC: What are three things that you hope for the future of our business community?

SR: We continue to magnify the power of community – build it, foster it and fuel it forward. We have seen firsthand that when this community comes together to support important causes like “Buy local,” we lean in with all our strength. We have the capacity, power and influence to do so many good things in this city.
We are all aware of the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on women and visible minorities. As we look to re-emerge even stronger, I am confident and hopeful that we collectively understand the impact of creating a more deliberate and inclusive economy. With our focus on tackling ongoing inequities in our community, we will unlock powerful economic opportunities for our business community and city.

Shreeraj Patel, Jessica Dumas and Liz Choi in front of the Tuniigusiia sculpture at the Qaumajuq building.

My last “hope” is perhaps the most important – that we all embrace our role as leaders and allies in the domain of Truth and Reconciliation. We are at a significant inflection point here in Canada. We need to ensure we all remain committed to listen, take action and push forward the progress of our reconciliation journey. There are so many local stories of Indigenous excellence around us, I would ask everyone to magnify them and celebrate them.
Read our Truth and Reconciliation Roadmap HERE. 

WCC: Here’s a fun one. What was your favourite tv show you binge-watched and takeour you enjoyed over the last year?

SR: Favourite Show– Lupin
Favourite Local Takeout: The Marion Street Eatery / Shawarma Khan (shout out to the big homie).

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