5 Tips to Success
By: William Ludwick
A CEO of a local multi-million-dollar business has insider tips for graduating Red River College business students. His first golden rule is to put in the extra effort.
“People see passion,” said Jamie Aitkenhead, CEO of Perfect Pierogies Limited, in Garson, MB. “If you’re not willing to put in the time and effort to make your business successful, nobody will do it for you.”
His other four tips are to be honest, to surround yourself with experts, to never stop learning and to be patient.
Aitkenhead spent five years at The University of Winnipeg before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in both Business Administration and Economics. After graduating, Aitkenhead was asked to fill in as the acting manager at Perfect Pierogies Limited for three months.
“You can only learn so much in the classroom,” said Aitkenhead. “Business is a living organism.”
At 21, Aitkenhead was managing a business. His second and third tips, honesty and surrounding yourself with experts, helped him from the beginning.
“You don’t want to be anything but yourself in a business environment,” said Aitkenhead.
Being transparent with everyone from suppliers, to customers, with affiliates, and even with the opposition, Aitkenhead infers, is a must for anyone entering the business world.
“If you surround yourself with people that are the best in their fields, you can always feel confident in anything you put out there.”
Aitkenhead has now been with Perfect Pierogies Limited for eight years and has seen an annual 30 per cent increase in sales since 2009. He attributes this to his fourth tip, never stop learning.
“Learn from people. Learn from mistakes,” Aitkenhead said. “Learn from experience. As soon as you become stagnant, you stop being inspired.”
Aitkenhead said he asks himself hundreds of questions and makes thousands of decisions every day. It’s his final tip, he said, that makes everything he does as a CEO possible. Patience.
“You might not see it right off the bat,” said Aitkenhead. “If you are doing something for the good of the business, the longer you do it the more you’ll get out of it. Eventually it will pay off.”
Aitkenhead’s list of five tips was shown to Roger Land, a graduate of the Red River College Business Administration program and Warranty Service Analyst with JELD-WEN Windows & Doors. He agreed with four of them. Networking, learning continuously, transparency and putting in the effort are all things Land has on his list as well. He is particularly fond of networking.
“Surrounding yourself with experts is paramount to success,” said Land. “One of the best things I’ve done in my short career is ask for a mentor.”
It’s Aitkenhead’s final tip where Land draws the line.
“Patience can be good,” said Land. “It can also cost you an opportunity if you don’t act.”
Land agrees, however, that sometimes you just, “have to go out and make things happen for yourself.”
Aitkenhead admits that everybody’s career experience will be a little different. As a student who had an opportunity in a managerial position right after graduation, the same can’t be said for every business student. This happening meant Aitkenhead had to learn on the fly. It’s this list, formulated over the 11 years of combined education and business experience, that he thinks will benefit all graduating business students at Red River College.