With his education in business administration and his experience in teaching, management, operations, government relations, organizational development, fundraising and finance, Stuart can develop and deliver courses on a wide variety of subject matters. With keen observational and investigative skills, Stuart is effective at determining training needs and organizational opportunities. He can facilitate team retreats that focus on specific training needs and on organizational strategic plans.
He started his career working with Indigenous youth at risk. “That,” he said, “had a profound impact on me.” Stuart’s most important value is respect for both the individual and the culture. And he believes that the best way to demonstrate that respect is to listen and look for cultural nuances when delivering training. In workplaces in larger urban settings, for example, one would rarely manage a family member. That might not be unusual in an Indigenous community and requires strategies and tools tailored to the cultural norms of each community.
Stuart greets each work day as an opportunity to be creative, to learn something new while interacting with and motivating others.
Sometimes, Stuart says, you can’t plan things. He recalls a two-day course where the participants seemed subdued and the room was tense. At the afternoon break on the first day, Stuart took out his harmonica and began to play. Within minutes one of the participants had the harmonica and began playing traditional songs. He was quickly joined by people playing spoons and guitars, and by voices singing. The simple gesture of introducing music completely changed the dynamics of the room. There were still issues, but the participants felt empowered to confront them.
Although it is completely different from the urban corporate world, Stuart doesn’t find the work in Indigenous communities any more difficult. “The hard part,” he said, “is saying goodbye.”