7 women who represent the spirit of Kootenay women in business for 2018

These seven women represent the spirit of Kootenay women in business for 2018

Pilar Portela, Natasha Lockey and Rauni Naud were given special recognition as influential women in business for 2018.

Pilar Portela, Natasha Lockey and Rauni Naud were given special recognition as influential women in business for 2018. — Linda Powell photo

Kootenay Business magazine held its annual celebrations for Influential Women in Business on May 2 in Cranbrook and May 3 in Nelson. To the many nominators who took the time to bring forward the names and accomplishments of all the women nominated, your attention and comments are very much appreciated.

To the more than 100 women who were nominated in the Kootenay region, we offer our applause and appreciation. Here are seven women who we believe amply represent the spirit of Kootenay women in business in 2018.

Pilar Portela — Linda Powell photo

West Kootenay and Revelstoke:

Pilar Portela is the co-founder and CEO of Astra Smart Systems and i4C Innovation, two emerging technology companies based at Metal Tech Alley in Trail, B.C. Portela has been described as a dynamic and passionate leader who has pulled together a team with extensive industry expertise and success in software development, data centres, the cloud and big data. She is both an inspiration and a mentor for women in business and technology. The companies she leads are important drivers of the current and future economic success of the region.

Natasha Lockey — Linda Powell photo

In 2002, Rossland’s Natasha Lockey—formerly of New Zealand—founded Betty Go Hard, a women’s program that supports health and self-confidence through mountain biking and snow sports. That company evolved to become Kootenay Mountain Biking, offering programs for people of all ages, along with a shuttle service to carry mountain bikers to the top of the course. Lockey has also run mountain bike clinics for children. Her passion for the outdoors, her enthusiasm for mountain biking and snowboarding, and her attitude of empowerment inspire and encourage others throughout the community.

Rauni Naud — Linda Powell photo

Rauni Naud is an active volunteer with many organizations in her community, as well as a recognized success in the business of financial planning.  She is the co-owner of Naud Lester Insurance & Investment Solutions in Castlegar and is a member of the Million Dollar Round Table. Naud is described by those who know her as wise, compassionate, helpful, loving and charismatic, as well as hard-working and driven. Her expertise and empathy are deeply appreciated by her clients as she works with them for a safe financial future.

Tracey Buckley — Linda Powell photo

Tracey Buckley presently holds a management position with Telus in Revelstoke, heading up Yourlink Revelstoke. She has spent much of her career supporting business development and solutions in Canada and South America. Buckley is known for her skill in relationship building, her quick grasp of new technologies and her practical application of innovations in communication. As a former professional athlete, Buckley is focused and goal-oriented, and brings those qualities to her volunteer activities as well as her workplace.

Grace Brulotte — Kyle Born photo

East Kootenay:

Grace Brulotte, president and program manager for FIRE: Fernie Adaptive Snow Program, is inspiring Fernie with her bright smiles and remarkable perseverance. Through setbacks, failure and disability, Brulotte has risen from the powdered peaks of Fernie like a phoenix to create FIRE, an organization that allows individuals with all kinds of differing abilities the opportunity to enjoy snow sports at Fernie Alpine Resort. Brulotte’s efforts and accomplishments are an inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs and anyone who has ever doubted their own abilities. Thanks to Brulotte’s determination, her contagious smiles are spreading across Fernie like a fire of positivity, creating life-changing possibilities to all snow sports enthusiasts—regardless of their abilities.

Brigitte Franyo — Kyle Born photo

Brigitte Franyo, owner/operator of the Snowdrift Café in Kimberley, manages all aspects of her business—even the kitchen sink. Starting a business can be overwhelming—akin to jumping over hurdles while juggling and answering skill-testing questions. This is the sort of scenario Franyo faces when she tackles all of her responsibilities at the Snowdrift Café. Aside from her hectic work schedule at the Snowdrift Café, Franyo sits on the board of directors for the Kimberley and District Community Foundation and is very active as an actor in Kimberley’s community theatre scene.

Stephanie McGregor — Kyle Born photo

Stephanie McGregor, owner of The Paw Shop in Cranbrook, B.C., has made it as a business owner through hard work and asking for help. For over a decade, McGregor has been providing healthy pet foods to East Kootenay pet owners in a personalized shopping setting. Another reason to root for McGregor and celebrate her accomplishments is her extensive volunteer work. McGregor puts on several fundraising events throughout the year including pet pictures with Santa, Halloween photos and the Sam Steele Days wiener dog races. McGregor also works alongside Stephanie Moore Photography each year to put together the “Men with Cats” fundraiser calendar—a calendar made up of a collection of local men and SPCA kittens.

(L to R) Amie Lubbers of Koocanusa Publications congratulates Grace Brulotte of Fernie, Brigitte Franyo of Kimberley and Stephanie McGregor of Cranbrook at the East Kootenay Influential Women in Business luncheon on May 2. — Kyle Born photo

Both recognition events were sponsored by Scotiabank and BDO, and floral bouquets were kindly supplied by Keystone Appraisals.

Marie Milner

Marie Milner is a writer and photographer for Kootenay Business magazine and several other publications. She appreciates the inspiration that she gets during her interviews and hopes to share that inspiration with you. View all of Marie Milner’s articles

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