Tisha Parker Kemp CertHRM’04
Tisha Parker Kemp CertHRM’04
“You’re not going to have all the answers, don’t be afraid to fail and take risks. That’s how you learn. Say yes and figure it out later. Say yes to opportunity."
Could you tell us about shiftED Academy and what motivated you to start it?
shiftED is a training firm that provides courses, consulting services, and outsourcing services. We offer group training or one-on-one coaching. Through all our services, the underlying thread is education and presentation skills. Education can shift our careers in whichever direction we decide to pursue, and how we present ourselves as professionals has a direct impact on whether we’ll achieve those objectives.
I had no intention of becoming an entrepreneur. I was happily working in the corporate sector for most of my career. When the organization I was working for downsized and eliminated jobs, including mine, I thought, ‘what am I going to do now?’ When I went to Saint Mary’s many years ago, it inspired me to always continue learning. After losing my job, I disengaged from the workforce and decided to enroll full-time to finish my master’s at Mount Saint Vincent University. I wasn’t working, but people kept reaching out asking me to work on projects, which I had to put off until the semester was over. I quickly realized that I couldn’t do it by myself so I incorporated and launched the company in April 2018.
How has COVID-19 impacted your business?
It has been interesting for us as a business. We set up strategically in 2018 to offer in-person and online services. I’ve been involved in online learning for over 18 years now, so the idea wasn’t new to me. With COVID-19, we had to quickly evaluate our plan for in-person content but the challenge was short-lived for us because we were already set up for online business. Online then became our primary focus. Being such a new company, not many people knew we existed. We decided to offer some free webinars to help people in our industry - to give back to the community. It was a natural thing to do; we knew people were struggling, so we thought, ‘let’s just give it away to help.’ Those webinars not only helped us get the word out about your business, it helped our clients and peers and the general public demystify online tools and strategies.
How does it feel to be nominated for ‘Business Leader of the Year’ in the Halifax Business Awards?
It’s an incredible honour to be nominated. Our company was created three years ago, so it feels a bit pre-mature. In my mind, big companies are nominated for these sorts of things, people who have been in business for a long time. It feels amazing to be recognized for the work we’ve done. This is not an independent or individual award to me; it is for the company. I couldn’t have done it by myself. It truly is an honour, and I will continue to do my best to live up to the qualities expected of nominees.
Why did you choose Saint Mary’s to get your Certificate in Human Resources Management?
Back then, I worked at an engineering firm in an administrative position, and my boss suggested I take a business course to advance my career. I looked around at the options and wanted a credible institution and a program that was recognized. I looked at Saint Mary’s business degrees. I was intrigued by them, but I wanted to get a greater sense of accomplishment in a shorter period of time as I was looking at doing this part-time, so I chose the certificate. My education prepared me for my career in unexpected ways. Being at Saint Mary’s allowed me to see university education in a different way. Previously, when looking at university, I thought you go to university, graduate, and then start working. I had tried university before Saint Mary’s and dropped out after six weeks and went to work. When I discovered the Certificate in Human Resources Management, I knew I could get an education that fit with my life and schedule. That experience whet my appetite for lifelong learning. I started taking other courses and continue to do so today.
If you could summarize what it’s like to be an entrepreneur in one sentence, what would you say?
You are a perpetual octopus making rapid decisions. As an entrepreneur, you need to quickly figure out what you can grasp and what you need to outsource. It really is a fast decision-making process. From my vantage point, the difference between struggling entrepreneurs and those that succeed is the time it takes to make decisions. Successful entrepreneurs get crystal clear on what they’re good at and swiftly ask for help to fill the gaps.
What advice would you give to students or fellow alumni who are thinking of starting their own business?
You’re not going to have all the answers, don’t be afraid to fail and take risks. That’s how you learn. Like I said before, know what you’re good at and farm out the rest. Say yes and figure it out later. Say yes to opportunity.
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