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 Debbie. Debbie da Silva is a Partner at KPMG. When she’s not listening to business owners and helping them problem solve, you’ll find Debbie spending time with the community at Orangetheory Fitness, or enjoying some wine with family and friends.
Where do you work in the Okanagan?
I’m a Partner at KPMG, an international accounting firm. People tend to think of accounting in a very limited scope. But during COVID, through our advisory services in particular, we’ve been helping businesses and individuals navigate the pandemic with our different programs and services. I like to think we’ve been a contributing factor to how people are managing through all of this.
What are your responsibilities at KPMG?
My responsibility is to private companies where owners are on the ground day-to-day, building their businesses. I become their trusted advisor, their confidant, helping them problem solve. When you’re an owner or founder, it gets to be a pretty lonely world. Your circle is small and you can’t necessarily share a lot of day-to-day problems with the team. That becomes my role—listening to them and trying to help solve problems.
What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?
People come to me asking what they should be good at. They ask about math skills, analytics, and problem-solving. Problem-solving is a great skill to have, but the biggest thing is relationship building. In everything we do, if you can’t build a relationship, it’s really hard to be successful. Finances are very intimate. In order to do your job well, you need your clients to be forthcoming and honest about their situation both in and out of their business.
How were you first introduced to the OKGNtech community?
10 years ago, KPMG was starting a partnership with Accelerate Okanagan and they asked if I would be interested in participating, which I was. I was fortunate to have time in my calendar to get out and network. I attended a lot of seminars and lectures that were being put on around the community. I hadn’t done a lot of work in the tech industry, and it was great to start. The tech industry moves quickly and always brings me something new and challenging.
What do you enjoy about the OKGNtech community?
I’ve really enjoyed how the community has evolved. 10 years ago, I felt a lot of the entrepreneurs were sitting in their basements working on their ideas, being very secretive. Everyone was kind of reluctant to share and build trust. To see how that’s evolved into this amazing ecosystem where everyone’s out there supporting and helping one another is incredible. I don’t know anyone in the community that wouldn’t be willing to help another entrepreneur.
Do you think there is anything missing from the community here?
Entrepreneurs and founders have a good network, but how can we bring that to the managerial level so that they can bounce ideas off each other and offer support? The community has grown and companies have gotten big enough to introduce c-suite employees. Bringing those c-suite management groups together, helping them build networks to support one another, is something we need.
What’s the best piece of advice you can share?
C.S. Lewis once said, “the definition of integrity is what you do when no one is watching.” I was very fortunate to have a mentor early in my career, who has now passed. He taught me how important it is to believe in yourself. No matter what decision you’re faced with, no matter what challenge you’re trying to deal with, take a moment and reflect on who you are, what you stand for, and make sure your decisions always align with your integrity.
Is there something you want to be remembered for?
I believe that, if you have the ability, you should help whoever and whenever you can. I’d like to be remembered as someone who would always listen, be helpful, and provide support.