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BBOT's Gering to step down in May
After helping to put the Burnaby Board of Trade on the map, its president and CEO Darlene Gering announced this week she’ll be stepping down effective mid-May.
Over the past six years, Gering has led the BBOT in its focus on the “triple bottom line” of economic development in conjunction with social and environmental issues.
“I’ve discovered that I’m very passionate about this whole area of social innovation, engaging business directly in solving social issues, so it’s something I would like to pursue on a more concentrated basis,” said Gering in an interview.
She’s also looking forward to spending more time with her 11-year-old daughter, something that could be a challenge in a “very intensive” BBOT job that requires attending many evening events and meetings.
As for what’s next, she said, “I’m looking at some different opportunities right now.” The Burnaby resident does plan on continuing to live in the city.
“Darlene has made a tremendous contribution to the BBOT since she joined us in 2005,” the BBOT’s board said in a press release. “Her abundant energy and dedication to our community, with a focus on innovation and a strong emphasis on the environment and corporate social responsibility, transformed the BBOT into a leading organization nationally.”
Last year, its advocacy work highlighted social issues, something relatively uncommon for such business organizations.
It issued a call for a national action plan on homelessness, after advocating in 2009 for development of a national early childhood development program. Both issues were picked up by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, which is now taking the lobbying efforts to Ottawa.
Locally, the BBOT is working to connect immigrants with Burnaby companies, to assist their integration into the community. And it sent a delegation to the Shanghai World Expo, bringing its message of investment opportunities in Burnaby to an international audience.
All those efforts combined to make the BBOT the winner in online voting as NewsLeader’s Burnaby Newsmaker of the Year.
Gering said among her proudest accomplishments is growing the BBOT’s membership from 327 members to 1,000 within three-and-a-half years, turning it into the fastest-growing board of trade in Canada, despite the economic downturn of the past two years.
That’s partly due to the higher profile it has enjoyed through its new strategic direction in which “we were pioneers”—working on social and environmental issues to create healthier communities, and in turn, healthier economies.
“I think it’s testament to the fact businesses really do want to embrace the triple bottom line, they just need the leadership and the avenues and to be defined, shown what their role can be in that. Because we’ve proven as a test case that that is the case.”