That girl rocking the red dress is my daughter, Marissa Gagnier, who works for the Soshal Group in Ottawa. They just won The Exceptional New Business Award at The Bobs, which stands for Best Ottawa Business Awards and I couldn't be more proud.
Marissa joined Soshal a couple years back as a "digital strategist" following a successful run at Corel Corporation. Soshal is a consulting group that helps clients "conceive, build and manage digital technology solutions that transform key areas of their business".
They hire crazy smart young people who still have their original brain cells.
She met the chief visionary of Soshal, Dave Hale, at Algonquin College when they were studying business marketing together. Since leaving Algonquin, Dave and his partners have built a successful company with clients that include Bell Media, the Ottawa Senators, CHEO as well as universities and colleges across the land.
Soshal is one of those hot Ottawa companies where the cool kids go to work, the kind that believes that the best workers are ones who slave hard for their clients but also know how to have fun. They dress up at Halloween and go on field trips to places like Saunders Farm. They patrol their Westboro neighborhood together in search of the finest, weird new food.
In this day and age of kids coming out of post-secondary school with only the prospect of a "want fries with that?" job, it's pretty special to land in a place that values and trusts its employees and massages their brains to get the best possible results.
Soshal shared the business award stage last week with Shopify, another booming Ottawa business that cherishes the barbecue and the pingpong table as much as they do their iMacs.
It makes me wish I were 23 again. When I was growing up and working here, businesses didn't know how to have fun. They were too buttoned down for my taste, too dependent on a work culture that valued a dress code and a time clock more than their human capital.
Workers in restraints are very unhappy little bees. Too many rules stifle creativity. They lead to employee absenteeism, cynicism and worker's little helpers.
The kids at Soshal -- sorry, I'm calling kids cause I'm old -- know when to put on a business suit and when to kick up their heels. I like that.
So congratulations, Marissa and team on your great success.
I didn't win my first business award until I was...well never mind then.