The Executive Summary: Female CEO Peer-to-Peer Session – June 2023

June 15, 2023

On June 15th, we met for our third Female Peer-to-Peer session, hosted by Summer Fresh President and Founder, Susan Niczowski at her Woodbridge facility. Susan graciously shared her experiences and journey in both life and business, offering valuable insights and knowledge which resonated with all participants. The range of topics discussed was extensive and diverse. Here are some key highlights from our P2P discussion:

Interest rates: The rising interest rates are a major concern, although they are still relatively low compared to what may lie ahead. An increase in interest rates will have an impact on various sectors of the economy, particularly businesses in the food industry. Susan Niczowski emphasized the significance of this influence, stating, “We have been fortunate so far, even compared to businesses in the United States. However, the current circumstances are challenging.”

Staffing challenges: Finding qualified employees, especially among the younger generation, remains difficult. Entitlement and unrealistic expectations are prevalent issues, with recent graduates often demanding high salaries despite limited real-world experience. On the other hand, experienced workers may feel undervalued. The optimal solution could involve hiring a young and inexperienced workforce along with workplace mentoring and the development of educational programs. At the same time, younger workers seek greater flexibility and work-life balance compared to previous generations. This shift challenges traditional work schedules and the working ecosystem entirely.

Modern technologies and business implementation: Questions arose regarding the impact of emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR) on our lives. Balancing customer service with automation without compromising service quality emerged as one of the main challenges.

The Economy: The growing wealth gap and deterioration of the middle class is a concern for business leaders as news continues to gather on debt being carried by Canadian households and the implication this has on future spending.  Access to government funding for medium-sized companies to help navigate the near-term uncertainty is a particular concern, as availability varies depending on the industry, location, and political influences. Challenges faced by Canadian companies linked to access to information about the funding programs, assistance in writing and obtaining grants were also highlighted by participants.

Work-life balance and changing work expectations: The issue of work and life balance was a key priority for participants. Many thoughts were expressed on how they manage the situation. We saw different family customs among our participants – from including all the members of the family in the business to the complete detachment of family and business matters. The importance, as well as the pros and cons of involving your family in the business, were discussed.

Our session provided a platform to delve into these important topics while having an opportunity to benefit from the wisdom and experience of our participants. A big thank you goes to those who joined us on our 3rd Female Peer-to-Peer and to our amazing host, Susan Niczowski!