A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support, and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.
Our community is strong and growing with record speed and maintaining a connection through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic, we’ve got a plan.
Introducing, We are #OKGNtech. A showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters, and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth, and more excitement. Follow along on the blog and on Instagram @OKGNtech to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.
Meet Brea. Brea Lake is the Chief Executive Officer of Accelerate Okanagan. When she’s not leading her team, you’ll find Brea out on the lake, at a concert, or exploring her creative side with some embroidery and mosaic art.
Where do you work in the Okanagan?
I work at Accelerate Okanagan. I started with the organization 7 years ago as a Community Manager. It was such a great role to dip my feet in, make lots of connections, and truly become an advocate for everything happening in OKGNtech.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I’m passionate about Accelerate Okanagan’s mission to give entrepreneurs the mentorship, connections and community they need, but I would also say I love the team and culture we’ve built over the years. Everyone is so bought into their role and how they’re working to support the growth of OKGNtech. We really have the opportunity to change people’s lives and we get to see that direct impact.
What do you enjoy most about the OKGNtech community?
One thing unique to the Okanagan’s entire business community is the level of collaboration and support for one another. Often when I go into other regions, they’re fragmented and competitive. Our strength lies in our ability to collaborate. It’s our secret sauce. We look at the whole sum and try to grow the region together.
What learnings have helped you come into your role as a leader?
Something I’ve found that contributes to being an effective leader is to stop and notice. I used to think my job was to come out and share information and all my expertise and experience. But that isn’t what a great leader does. A great leader helps people find their own potential and their own solutions. That’s something I’m passionate about and working to further develop.
What’s something you’ve noticed about leadership in the industry?
From the early days of my career, and now as a CEO, there are a lot of male-dominated tables I sit at. We are starting to see the tides changing in tech, especially in the Okanagan, but that reality still exists and it leads me to speak up more. If the diversity isn’t there in the room, you need to be a louder voice and bring a different perspective to the conversation.
Leading Accelerate Okanagan, what was your biggest concern at the onset of COVID-19?
We needed to reevaluate how we’re convening people, curating the right information and making it accessible without any in-person interaction. The support we were offering 6 months ago doesn’t address how companies are now reimagining their business models. So, we’re adapting our offerings to meet the founders where they are.
What was your approach to managing an entirely remote team?
Having empathy towards everyone’s situations—hearing about where they’re at, gaining perspective and leading from that understanding. Things are changing so quickly, we don’t want to leave people out in uncertainty. I’m a very transparent leader, so giving as much information whenever I can helps people understand what’s going on.
Do you see this as a pivotal time for leaders?
After the first 10 days of working remotely, one of my coaches told me, “not everyone can steer the helm in a storm.” I often think about that. Times like these are where leaders really need to find their footing. You either come into it and figure it out, into the qualities you’ve been building for a number of years, or you run away and collapse.
What’s been your favourite piece of advice?
The best piece of advice I think about is to do something that scares you at least once a month. That’s how you continue to grow. I can be anxious or avoid doing things that scare me, but I’m often reminded of that advice. You don’t realize your true potential until you lean in and try something that scares you.