Growing up in the service industry, Soula Burrell learned at a young age the art of hospitality and making sure others were well taken care of.
Her parents, both hard-working Greek immigrants, started at the bottom when they each arrived in Canada – her mother working in a factory and her father doing the dishes in a restaurant – until they met. , get married and save enough money to run their own restaurant. , finally choosing the life of a small town in the Ottawa Valley. Nicholas and Eleni Boretos ran Nicholson’s in Pembroke for 35 years.
âI’ve always enjoyed getting to know our customers,â said Burrell, 58, of his years working at his family’s restaurant. âThe fundamentals of service have followed me throughout my career. My career has been about serving people, it has always been about service.
Last summer, Burrell stepped down as Executive Director of the Women’s Business Network (WBN) Ottawa to become the Membership Director of the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association (GOHBA).
GOHBA is the voice of the building, land use and renovation industry in the Ottawa area. Its members include builders, renovators, designers, specialty contractors, suppliers and financial institutions. It also hosts an annual Housing Design Awards Gala, which will take place this year in a virtual format on November 19.
Burrell said the Builders Association approached her with a job offer. It was based on a recommendation made by Eugeniya Tsetlin-Paliga, former chair of the board of directors of WBN and head of the real estate finance division of CIBC’s commercial bank.
Burrell liked that the work she would do for GOHBA would be much more convenient with its 400 members than her mostly administrative duties at WBN, a volunteer businesswomen networking group that has seen tremendous membership growth. and sponsorship under his three-year leadership. She helped raise her public profile, increasing her LinkedIn presence by 800%. Additionally, WBN had the largest attendance ever at its 2019 Businesswoman of the Year awards dinner. Burrell is also proud that WBN has become more diverse and inclusive. during her time there, creating more seats on its board for women of color.
Today, Burrell works in an industry dominated by men. Not that she is complaining. She appreciates the ability of men to compartmentalize and concentrate on the task at hand. âI have met so many great people from the construction industry. ”
Above all, she loves her new boss, GOHBA Executive Director Jason Burggraaf. She first met him, very briefly, at a fundraiser for Harmony House, an Ottawa women’s shelter, in February 2020, not knowing at the time that they would soon be working together.
âHis leadership is top notch,â Burrell said. “He’s one of the best people I’ve worked for in my life.”
At GOHBA, Burrell is the go-to person for help, whether it’s helping a builder in desperate need of a renovator or helping a renovator trying to track down building materials, which were rare during the COVID-19 pandemic.
âI’m the one to call if you need anything,â said Burrell, who enjoys problem-solving and breaking down barriers for people. “I like to see the result, to see what happens when two honest, trustworthy, good businessmen connect and meet each other’s needs based on my recommendation.”
One of the other big challenges facing the housing industry today is the labor shortage in the trades. There must be more young people looking for a skilled workforce occupation, she said. âI think becoming a craftsman is a lifelong job. There is no better security right now, in my opinion, than to become a craftsman.
Burrell previously worked as Executive Director of the Nepean Chamber of Commerce from 2007 to 2012, then as Executive Director of the Hellenic Community of Ottawa from 2013 to 2016. She joined WBN in 2018 and remains âa huge supporter. business women â.
She and her 28-year-old husband, Anthony Burrell, Chief Warrant Officer of the Canadian Armed Forces, have two grown children, Eleni and Neikko.
People on the move across Ottawa
Julia knox joined Sobeys as Senior Vice President of Merchandising Services and Retail. The 2018 Forty Under 40 Award recipient was previously Senior Vice President of Ecommerce and Director of Purchasing at Giant Tiger.
Seasoned Professional Fundraiser Danielle Robinson joined BMO Private Wealth as the new Director of Philanthropic Advisory Services. She is best known for having served as President and CEO of the Ottawa Senators Foundation for over 14 years. The organization left the hockey club in the summer of 2020 to become the Ottawa-Gatineau Youth Foundation, of which Robinson served as president and CEO for at least a year.
Kevan kaylan joined the blackiron agency as the new creative director. He was previously the Creative Group Leader at St. John’s marketing and communications firm Target, working on campaigns for Newfoundland Tourism, outdoor clothing brand Patagonia and Parks Canada.
Mushtaq Kazani became the new CEO of Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa. Previously, he worked in the Aga Khan Development Network, where he helped transform the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board (ITREB) into a community education organization.
Shannon Bain is the new Director of Marketing and Communications for Corporate and Community Partnerships at the Queensway Carleton of Hospital Foundation. She had been the Senior Director of Fundraising Development for the TELUS Brighter Futures Foundation. She has also worked for the OSEG Foundation and the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.
Janice Nicholson joined Bluesky Strategy Group as vice president of digital. Most recently, she was Director of Communications for Stem Cell Network and, prior to that, Senior Director of Marketing for Senators Sports & Entertainment.