Sherri Paiement’s passion for industry advocacy came to her later in life, after seeing first-hand the addictive challenges and great opportunities in the field of business development.
And while Paiement can plan industry events and lobby for better conditions for members with the best of association directors, her first love was for the equestrian world.
“I grew up in the country, around horses. My family lived on an acreage, and we had dogs and cats.
“At the time, I thought I wanted to be a riding instructor. But then I got experience in the business environment, and I took to things quite well.”
Paiement’s career in business has spanned a variety of industries and niches, which has given her a broad base of experience to draw on in her advocacy work. Past positions in cement sales, banking, non-profit organizations and business management have provided her with unique insights into important aspects of the home building industry.
And now, in her fifth year as the executive director of the Canadian Home Builders Association of the Central Okanagan, Paiement is thrilled to be involved in initiatives that improve the industry.
“I love the variety of what we do here—forging relationships with government, creating great industry events. Helping the public understand what we do is also a big part of my job, and I want people to understand how important it is to work with licensed tradespeople.”
Paiement’s role as executive director encompasses a wide array of activities, including organizing events and providing educational seminars for members, something she’s taken to with gusto.
With two major events already planned for 2017, Paiement is eager to set the bar for professional activities in the Okanagan construction industry.
The first such event, slated for January 2017, is the 25th annual Tommie Awards. Paiement and her team have prepared a can’t-miss night of celebration that looks back on 25 years of construction in the Okanagan Valley.
“It’s going to be great to see what 25 years of building looks like—the differences in what we’ve built, what communities looked like then versus what we’re building now.
“We’re excited—and with the Tommie Awards, the builders raise the bar and set new trends every year.
“I can’t give away too much, but I can say that the 25th Tommie Awards will be on Jan. 28 at the Delta Grand Okanagan Resort—and we have a great show lined up.”
The second event will be the valley’s first construction industry conference.
In February 2017, industry experts will descend upon Kelowna to give local builders a next-level educational experience unlike anything the Okanagan has seen before.
“We’re going to have a keynote speaker. We’ll also be discussing philanthropy in the industry. We all talk about giving back to the community, but our membership actually has the tools to literally build the community.”
While managing an industry association involves a variety of challenging tasks, her biggest challenge—and the one she’s most eager to pursue—is lobbying the government.
“When you work with governments, change doesn’t happen quickly. We finally have builder licensing that holds our industry accountable—that took 11 years of advocacy,” said Paiement.
“It was a challenge to prove to the government that not having builder licensing was a problem.
“Many years ago, one of my friends had to have her whole kitchen ripped out because the contractor who renovated it the first time didn’t have the proper permits—that’s not right. The homeowner shouldn’t be left holding the bag.”
Paiement says that as part of her commitment to improving industry standards, she’s working hard to forge positive relationships with government officials and push for policy changes that protect homeowners.
The federal home renovation tax credit is just one example of a policy change for which Paiement and the CHBA are lobbying.
“There’s a huge underground economy for renovations. That’s why we’d like to see the renovation tax credit come back—it keeps things above board (by making it more affordable for homeowners to deal with licensed, reputable tradespeople).
“We’re going to the federal government to ask for it again.”
Paiement still has major plans to continue promoting the home building industry, and is driven to continue advocating on behalf of Okanagan builders.
At the same time she’s already looking ahead for more opportunities to make an impact in the non-profit sector.
Paiement says that her job with the CHBA is only just beginning.
“One thing I see in the future is working with the industry to give back to the community. I don’t know what that looks like just yet, but it’ll probably involve Habitat For Humanity.
“Right now, housing affordability and attainability is a big problem.
“We’re looking at getting our industry to pitch in and create a project that will impact the community.
“At this point it’s just talk, but I’d love to rally our membership and our association partners to create more housing options.”
Crowe MacKay’s Women to Watch is a weekly feature that profiles remarkable women in our community. This series is a joint initiative between Crowe MacKay, the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and the Kelowna Capital News. To nominate the exceptional woman in your life, email firstname.lastname@example.org.