Sharlene Massie: “Get the right support, and I mean brilliant support.”

Sharlene Massie, Owner and CEO of About Staffing and JOBSHIFT, is an exceptional entrepreneur in the recruitment arena. No matter the obstacles in her way, she continues to move forward, but not without the help of those around her, including her TEC Small Business group.

Sharlene’s warm and exciting presence is accompanied by an ambitious drive and expertise in people and relationships, hence her success in her industry.

Early Career

Sharlene moved to Calgary from Montreal in 1980. By 1988, she was already juggling the responsibilities of raising three children, attending school, and temping. Her first real job in a staffing agency set the stage for her future endeavors.

In the following years, Sharlene’s career took a turn towards the non-profit sector, where she served as a fund development coordinator. In this role, she recruited 8,000 volunteers. Although the job was large and stressful, it provided her with experience and connections.

Turning Fallbacks to Triumphs

Her first experience in entrepreneurship was in a partnership which unfortunately failed.  Although it was disappointing at the time, it pushed her to start her business, driven by a desire to invest in herself and work on her own terms. Sharlene took a leap of faith and founded About Staffing in 1996. With nothing but a borrowed fax machine, a $500 overdraft, and relationships with previous clients, she embarked on her entrepreneurial journey. Remarkably, one of her first clients from that year is still with the company today.

Sharlene’s approach to business has always been one of resilience. In the 28 years of operating, they have moved offices 10 times, many of which instances were not by choice. Recruiting is highly sensitive to market conditions: in recessions, it comes to a grinding halt, which it has done numerous times in recent history. Sharlene has had to become hyper-vigilant when it comes to potential risk and has learned the importance of community and support.

“People are all we have in this world”

That’s where TEC Comes in…

Finding Support at TEC

Sharlene’s journey with TEC Canada began in 2012. Her first Chair was the now-TEC Canada CEO, Todd Millar. She then transitioned to her current group under Mark Terril, who went from being a client of hers to a close confidant and mentor. “Mark has a unique ability to draw out the right information by asking the right questions,” says Sharlene, a skill that About Staffing values deeply.

Through her TEC membership, Sharlene has experienced the profound benefits of having a strong support network. During times of health issues and personal challenges, her TEC group, including Mark, stepped in and provided unwavering support. They not only assisted with business matters but also personal ones.

“It was the first time in history that I had to cancel things. I was a very scheduled, very regimented person, with very high expectations of goals. Instead, I had to rely on my support network to jump in without notice. Mark too was helping wherever I needed, without any information or guidance.”

Building Higher

In 2012, Sharlene expanded her business by launching About Staffing Industrial, a separate entity focusing on the industrial sector. Inspired by a TEC Canada speaker, Bill Bishop, Sharlene started another company on top of those, during the pandemic.

Previously, About Staffing provided job coaching and support services for free. Bishop encouraged her TEC group to dig into the services they provide for free and turn them into profitable entities that expand a necessary service and make it available to a wider demographic. JOBSHIFT offers a comprehensive program that guides job seekers through finding the right job, upskilling, applying, and successfully onboarding.

When discussing the variety of speakers that a TEC membership grants access too, Sharlene says, “We’ve had a lot. The health and wellness ones are pretty special. We had a speaker come in to talk about breathing not too long ago, and I had a hard time with that because my breath was a little shallow… I do like the business-related ones, but you can learn something from every TEC speaker.”

Women in Leadership

Sharlene’s advice for women in business and aspiring leaders is to lean on their abilities as relationship builders: “[Women] are brilliant at relationships, and you can build whatever you want by being a relationship builder”

Entrepreneurship is not for everyone, Sharlene states, and requires relentless thinking and perseverance. Female entrepreneurs are often pushed down by systemic barriers, in banking and legal professions; however, she encourages women to trust their instincts, set lofty goals, and find the right support network. “If you feel what you’re doing is right, there is no reason not to do it.”

“We [women] can get pushed down. So, for women entrepreneurs, I think that we become guarded because we believe what we’re told, and often it is by people in authority.

But I think that if you can find other women to work with in whatever capacity, that would be excellent because you can work together to get to where you need to be. And go with your gut a little. I know people don’t believe in that, but I believe in my gut and I’ve set a lot of goals, and they were lofty. Just get the right support, and I mean brilliant support, the smartest support that you can.”

Despite the ups and downs, Sharlene remains steadfast. She encourages entrepreneurs to focus on “getting to zero” during tough times, as reaching financial stability is the first step towards growth. Ultimately, through her example, we can see that Sharlene’s impressive business success has come through hard-fought determination, adaptability, and support like that she finds in her TEC Canada Small Business membership.

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