January 9, 2023

Collaborative circles: Strength in numbers


In keeping with its mission to humanize the business world by building bridges between the different communities working in the District Central, the SDC launched the Connector of Opportunities project. This project encourages meetings between different businesses in the area, naturally giving rise to a wealth of collaborative circles. “The creation of these circles was a natural step. They bring together businesses with common issues around a table in order to discuss problems, find solutions, and be open to the possibility of new connections,” explains Mia Van Der Heyden, Project Manager – Connector of Opportunities at the SDC District Central. The entire process is facilitated by collaborating partners responsible for highlighting the key points that can be used in the future. To date, four collaborative circles have been held in 2022.

The next generation: September 20

During the month of September, a world café was organized as part of Montreal Fashion Week. “For this year’s edition, the SDC put together a working committee to discuss opportunities for the District Central and its member businesses to participate in. Eight fashion companies came together,” explains Mia Van Der Heyden. This became the theme of the first SDC collaboration circle, which was then subdivided into four sub-themes: how to raise the profile of the textile trades, how to adapt to the new work reality, how to ensure the transfer and preservation of knowledge, and how to integrate environment and fashion. These were explored at two tables with five entrepreneurs each. “The participants were invited to discuss two of the four topics related to succession for nearly two hours,” recalls the project leader.  Then, four ambassadors, each representing a topic, shared with the group the elements that had emerged from their discussions.


The search for funding: September 27

In a different format, a second collaboration circle was set up the following week, dealing with a recurring issue for any entrepreneur: the search for financing “In our offices, three companies had the opportunity to discuss their level of experience and their shared vision of the subject,” says Mia Van Der Heyden. In this case, an interesting network was created between MPhildor, Ananké and Iso-Protek. One of these companies had solid experience in financing and the application process. They were able to discuss at length with the other two, offering their expertise, encouraging them in their efforts and sharing their contacts. This same company was looking to digitize its systems, and benefitted from the expertise of another participant in the group. “With all three having similar visions and complementary projects, they naturally connected “, says the project manager.


Retention, recruitment, and the employer brand: November 9

In November, the first edition of the Apéro RH event was held, a day of workshops, expert conferences and networking. In keeping with the times, this year’s theme was retention, recruitment and employer branding. “Various entrepreneurs and managers from the human resources community – from District Central and from across Quebec – came together as part of a world café hosted by Coboom,” explains Marie-France Richard, Project Manager for HR Services at the SDC.

How to maintain and develop corporate culture with telecommuting? How to attract talent in 2022? How to make your employer brand live internally and how to spread it externally? How to adapt to the new generations? Experts and participants engaged in meaningful conversation to answer these questions.  “The importance of bringing the human element back to the forefront was something that was addressed in all the discussions, regardless of the topic at hand. A number of solutions were put forward to meet the major challenges that HR professionals face on a daily basis. One thing is certain: transparency and flexibility are now essential to meet the needs of employees.”


Growth management: December 6

To wrap up 2022 brimming with ideas, a final collaborative circle – this time in the form of a networking breakfast – focused on growth management.  “This more informal brainstorming took place in the Coboom offices,” reveals Mia Van Der Heyden. Ten or so companies were present to share their realities and to look for solutions that would be beneficial to everyone. Although divided into two smaller groups, a common vision surfaced throughout the workshop: a growth that is beyond mere financial wealth and is directly linked to their teams and relationships, through trust and respect for human beings. Moreover, the desire to create a pooling of resources within the territory, be it a space, an expertise, or other, came up throughout the workshop. This vision is what Connector of Opportunities is all about!

What discussions would you like to have with nearby businesses?


Translation of article written by Elizabeth Pouliot


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