Susan Clovechok of Invermere, B.C., is a natural empowerer; it’s what motivates her every day
Susan Clovechok has lived in Invermere, B.C., for seven years, and is the executive director of the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce. From a young age she was taught to take what life handed her and make something better out of it. We spoke to Clovechok about her recent recognition by Kootenay Business with an Influential Women in Business Award.
What was your reaction when you heard about your nomination?
I was flattered and surprised to be nominated for this award. I’ve had awards within companies, but never a community-based one.
In what way do you think you have influence in your community?
Hmmmm. That’s a tough one. I’m really committed to helping our business community be successful. I love this area and I think that we can all live up to our potential, and if I can help others to do that, then I find that really fulfilling.
I think my desire to empower is innate. I attribute a lot to my parents—they were great models of pursuing what they wanted for themselves and their family. They had five kids, and we were told that we could do whatever we set our minds to. I have experience in sales and marketing and adult education, and training as a professional coach, and I’ve pursued that kind of work for my whole career.
In your mind, what does it take to be influential?
I hesitate to use the word influential—I like the word empower better. People don’t do what they don’t want to do. I can look at a project or a business or a problem, and through my experience and education I can see potential and solutions. I don’t believe people fail—I believe we learn. Failure can be productive if we make a point of learning from our mistakes and don’t dwell on the failure but focus on the learning opportunity. We all need to learn how to accept failure and learn from it.
What advice can you offer to women who would like to be influential?
(Remember) it’s not about you. Get your ego out of the way and make it about the project or the company or the community or the people you work with. It’s not a solo ride. It’s give and take—if you contribute your best you will reap the benefits.
Surround yourself with great people. Seek out mentors. I have been blessed to have a circle of very successful women as friends. We support each other and we tell each other the truth. We celebrate our wins together and we commiserate when it’s needed. Love what you do—I love what I do because it’s so diverse and provides so many opportunities for people. For me, supporting people to be successful is what drives me. It’s the point of whatever work I do. Know what your personal motivator is and do work that feeds it, and it won’t feel like work.
What’s coming up that will have some influence on your community?
I’m very pleased that the chamber was awarded the fee for service from the Columbia Valley Community Directed Funds Committee (CVCDFC) to be the lead on Invest Kootenay for the Columbia Valley. Invest Kootenay is a set of tools designed to attract new investors to our community. We have to approach economic development in a collaborative, balanced way, so I’m excited that the region’s elected officials are working together with community members via the CVCDFC to collaborate on economic development initiatives such as Invest Kootenay. Although it isn’t the entire solution to economic development, it is a critical piece of the puzzle.