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June 01, 2021

Q&A with Deloitte Canada’s Inventor Mentors

Jo-Ann Conrod, Executive Assistant, Deloitte LLP

What’s your top tip for identifying a creative solution to a real-life problem? What’s one example of a time you came up with a creative solution to a real-life problem?

My 'top tip' for identifying a creative solution to a real-life problem is to pay attention to your target audience. I once owned and operated a specialty coffee franchise and was a franchisee. The franchise company didn't appreciate nor understand regional differences when it came to marketing promotions. I decided to target promotions that would benefit my target audience.

What’s an invention or innovative idea that you have helped to develop and what steps did you take to develop it?

I created a take-out/delivery/catering service component to my business, and provided personalized service to corporate clients within a five-minute walking radius of my retail location for optimum service.

What advice would you give your middle-school self? Consider how the skills you learned when you were younger influenced your career path.

Be patient. Don't be a know-it-all. Be willing to accept criticism. Think outside the box. Go that extra mile to be on top of your game.

Tell us about a time when you did something awesome and innovative.

I received oodles of free publicity/marketing with my specialty coffee franchise while supporting the Alzheimer Society during Alzheimer Coffee Break Day. I reached out to all franchise owners in the city to participate.

Given my expertise in journalism and public relations, I also wrote the media release and it went something like this: "Metro Grabbajabbas will be perking and pouring pots of java as part of a corporate and community effort in support of the Alzheimer Society, an organization dedicated to the fight against a disease that affects over 250,000 Canadians and their families."

The innovative idea was further enhanced by having volunteer drivers drop off freshly-perked and specialty coffees to all the radio stations in the city to broadcast journalists who mentioned my name and retail location in their broadcast, while also supporting a needy cause - the Alzheimer Society.
 
Natalie Selfe, Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Intern, Deloitte

What’s your top tip for identifying a creative solution to a real-life problem? What’s one example of a time you came up with a creative solution to a real-life problem?

Stepping back from the problem and taking note of possible solutions by brainstorming on a piece of paper. Last week I was building a table that seemed to have a lot of missing parts. Instead of following the instructions, I took note of what parts I did have access to. This made it way easier to build the table and compare what parts I had with the instructions.

What’s an invention or innovative idea that you have helped to develop and what steps did you take to develop it?

I used to work at a children's hospital and was placed in charge of a fundraising initiative. The campaign encouraged youth and families to host lemonade stands, but I decided I wanted even more lemonade stands. So I asked around local high schools to see if they were willing to host a "Lemonade for Possibility" stand. Lots of teachers and students were interested, and they even hosted fun fairs in honour of the hospital.
 
To make this plan work I made a tracking chart with a timeline to help each school make sure they had the correct supplies and were marketing the event to their local communities. Once the event was done I used the tracking sheet to measure each school's achievements. This was a great way for the hospital to build new connections in the community!

What advice would you give your middle-school self? Consider how the skills you learned when you were younger influenced your career path.

Follow your passions! You don't always have to do what your friends are doing. Middle school can be really challenging, it's the weird in-between time from primary school to high school and I personally struggled a lot.
 
I wish I wasn't as embarrassed to have hobbies and academic interests that were different from my friends (from loving math class to wanting to play soccer at recess, or even dressing up at Halloween when my friends thought we were too old).
 
Stay true to your heart, and always try to pursue your interests without caring what other people think of you. Easier said than done, but doing what you love will make school and extracurricular activities that much more enjoyable!
 

Tell us about a time when you did something awesome and innovative.

For an economics class in university I started tracking the impact of mental health resources on student outcomes and wellbeing. I was able to show that schools with more mental health professionals offering services to students had significantly happier students with a greater likelihood of getting jobs.
 
This project is going to be turned into a year-long thesis in my final year of university! My hope is that it will empower all schools and all students to encourage the hiring of more mental health professionals on their campuses.
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