This is a bimonthly newsletter featuring community updates from Capilano University President and Vice-Chancellor Paul Dangerfield.

President's Letter banner with portrait of Paul Dangerfield, president and vice chancellor of Capilano University

Your thoughts and feedback are welcome: president@capilanou.ca

March 2022

"Hope is not pretending that troubles don't exist. It is the trust that they will not last forever, that hurts will be healed and difficulties overcome. It is faith that a source of strength and renewal lies within to lead us through the dark into the sunshine."
            -- Liz Chase, Zimbabwean field hockey player

Spring is usually a time that welcomes renewal and hope. However, at this moment, the optimism of hope seems more elusive as we watch the Russian government escalate its invasion of Ukraine. The other day I had the opportunity to meet with some of our Ukrainian international students. I am in awe of their strength and determination—and if I could, I would give them all a hug. More than ever, we need to continue to care for each other like family.

Capilano University is home to a vibrant international community, and many of us have roots in countries around the world. The violent conflict happening in Ukraine affects us all. If we’ve learned anything from two years of COVID-19 it may well be that during a crisis it’s vital that we offer compassion and support to ourselves and for one another.

Renewal and recovery

I recently participated in a panel discussion on pandemic recovery with representatives from local schools, businesses, governments and not-for-profits. These community leaders were unanimous in their call for new levels of collaboration and teamwork across regions and sectors to get the economy moving again. Just imagine the transformative power of combining expertise and resources to advance clear societal imperatives such as sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and digital transformation!

At CapU, we already have a strong history of working with community partners to mutual benefit. Most recently, we worked with the North Shore Chamber of Commerce to launch GrowthHub, a unique work-integrated learning program that challenges students to help local businesses overcome specific challenges. And our recent campaign for the new Centre for Childhood Studies raised more than $5 million from North Shore donors alone to strengthen early learning and help make the workforce of the future more equitable for all.

Think big, act small and scale fast

We’re going to need to bring that same egoless, open-hearted approach to change to our individual workplaces. Uncertainty can make some people fearful, and worried employees definitely can’t bring their best selves to work: one recent workplace engagement survey suggests as many as 90 percent of employees in B.C. are looking for new roles—up more than 20 percent from pre-pandemic levels.

So, what can leaders do to help the people we manage find increased value in their roles during these liminal times? A recent McKinsey & Company report on crisis leadership identified five best-practices that resonate with me: building dynamic and collaborative teams; applying a pause-assess-anticipate-act approach to decision-making; leading with empathy; demonstrating calm and optimism; and communicating openly and transparently. 

Going forward, these are the kinds of skills that we will need to support and reward in our employees at all levels. I know that Kartik Bharadwa, CapU’s new VP of People, Culture and Diversity, is passionate about the need to cultivate amazing managers who understand how to bring out the best in their respective teams (see below). His superpower is enabling curiosity: creating a workplace culture that allows people to ask questions fearlessly so they are empowered to “think big, act small, and scale fast.” I am especially inspired by his commitment to ensuring our hiring practices meet the highest standards of equity, diversity and inclusion.

Collective hope

Change is the only constant, as the saying goes, and over the past two years, CapU’s students and employees have tenaciously adapted, adjusted and accommodated. I applaud our community’s resilience, and commend its collective kindness. This is who we are, crisis or not. Let’s keep it going as our recovery gains traction. And with sufficient reserves of hope, patience and humble leadership on board, I am confident we can all get to the higher and better place where we are all meant to be.



Kartik Bharadwa, VP People, Culture & Diversity

Kartik Bharadwa portrait

"Removing fear from the equation allows people to get creative."

“What should managers say to hang on to good employees? They actually shouldn’t be saying anything: they should be listening and creating space for people to say what they need. It should really be an appreciative enquiry process: tell me what you like, what you dislike, and what you need from me by way of support. Listen to the real meaning behind their words to understand how best to help them learn and grow—and then make sure they have access to appropriate resources. Be honest about their challenges, and let them know you care about their success. It’s important to enable people to ask, ‘Why are we doing things this way? Is there perhaps a better way?’ When you take away the fear of failure people feel empowered to try new things. And when they do it well, be generous with recognition.”




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