Congratulations Marilyn Strong!
Fighting ageism: Top 40 profile of Marilyn Strong, MBA ITM ’04
Despite how forward-thinking, cosmopolitan, diverse and inclusive Kelowna has become, there’s still ageism in the city. “I’m over 60,” Marilyn Strong of the Strong Communication Group states. “But, I’m not prepared to say how much over 60 because I feel being older can be a bit of a disadvantage at times.”
When asked for an example, Strong hesitates. “Let’s just say there are some business people who only feel comfortable working with someone in their own age bracket,” she said. “When that happens there is ageism. It isn’t a big problem, but it’s there. I don’t think I look my age, so I don’t tell my age.”
Age in business can be tricky at both ends of the spectrum. “When you’re young, you can be disregarded because you don’t have enough experience,” said Strong. “When you’re older, you can be disregarded simply because some people think you’re too old. I’d prefer if you are judged by your expertise and skills and what you bring to the table, not your age.”
Strong spent much of her early career in Castlegar running an advertising and marketing agency and the West Kootenay’s first desktop publishing firm. She was publisher of the Castlegar Sun newspaper from 1992-96. From 1996-2001 she continued being what she calls a ‘contractpreneur’ in Castlegar. As the name suggests it’s a mash up of the words contract and entrepreneur. “I really means I’m an entrepreneur who works on contract, doing consulting and project for clients,” she said.
From 2001 to 2004, Strong returned to her hometown of Guelph, Ont., to work and obtain a masters of business administration (MBA) from Athabasca University in information technology management. When it came time to move back out West, Strong picked Kelowna because her mom was living here.
In the dozen years since, she’s run her successful contractpreneur firm, the Strong Communication Group, helping clients such as the Women’s Enterprise Centre, Silver Springs Concrete Services, Advanced Home Care Solutions, the Medical Arts Health Research Group and City of Kelowna. The Women’s Enterprise Centre has been the longest-term and most consistent client.
Strong has written proposals and done training for a number of projects, including diversity workshops in Kelowna and Kamloops and Catalyst for Growth training across the province. And she’s currently writing a proposal for the Entrepreneurial Mindset program for the northern part of the province and will deliver the training if it goes ahead.
With the City of Kelowna, Strong was a facilitator the cultural services department. She did strategic planning for Penticton-based Medical Arts, which also have five other offices throughout the province. Strong helps recruit managers for Silver Springs and developed the website and social media strategy for Advanced Home.
Strong’s volunteering includes work with the Trans Canada Trail and being a judge for the Okanagan College Business Simulation competition, the college’s entrepreneur course and the Western Canadian Business Competition.
As a gluten-free vegetarian, Strong also leads shopping and cooking classes for friends and neighbours. “I love the work I do and have no intention of retiring,” she said.