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Success built on foundation of hard work – and an education from CNA

By Glenda McCarthy

To say Terry Power has had a pretty impressive career would be an understatement.

Originally from St. Mary’s Bay, Terry graduated from high school with honours. He was expected to attend university but after a year-and-half of, as he puts it, “wandering aimlessly” he still couldn’t figure out what to do with his life and dropped
out all the while trying to figure out what to do next.

“Growing up around St. Mary’s Bay there wasn’t a lot of exposure to Terry Powercareer counselling or anything like that. Business was something that was always there and when I finally did get serious I knew business was where I wanted to go,” Terry recalls. By the time he made that realization he couldn’t afford to attend university for the number of years it would take to obtain his degree.

“My family couldn’t afford it, I honestly couldn’t afford it and I wasn’t going to be able to get a job to put myself through, so I opted for a shorter, quicker path.”

That shorter quicker path led him to the Business Administration program at College of the North Atlantic’s Prince Philip Drive campus, known then as Cabot College.

“I did some research and a lot of the content was the same and some of the text books were the same, so I thought ‘okay, I’ll go this route.’ It was the more economical path and that was the prime driver for me at that point and time.”

Once he was enrolled in the program it gave him the freedom he needed to figure out which aspect to pursue.

“One thing I do remember about the program is that it had healthy enough content to help spear the choice for me. Business Administration is in a category where part of the benefit is the perspective it affords, and you get a foundation to build upon and implement the things that you learned. Post-secondary provides a broader foundation in courses like this. The real value was that sense of choice and opportunity.”

After graduating from the program in 1985, Terry moved to Toronto where he focused on sales oriented jobs.

“I was a guy selling photocopiers and what, at the time, was a relatively new invention called fax machines.” That progressed into jobs in the technology sector, focusing on personal computers and networks and then he joined a software company, CNC Global Limited.

“For three years I ran the North American sales organization so I was opening up sales offices in New York, Boston, Chicago, Dallas and a bunch of locations across the US.” He says he then “kind of fell into the recruitment business” and was able to move up the ranks through the usual internal opportunities.

“I was able to take advantage of them and was fortunate to have a lot of support along the way. One thing lead to another and by the time 2002 rolled around I was president and a couple of years later became the CEO.”

He remained in that position until 2008 and then became Country Manager for over two years when the company was purchased by Randstad Canada. So, with more than seven years under his belt as the Canadian leader of one of the world’s largest staffing and HR solutions firms, he realized he needed a break after working for so long.

“I think the fact I’ve been willing to look at a given situation to analyze it for the opportunity as opposed to getting paralyzed by the risk, I think that’s been part of my success story,” Terry says. “You have to be willing to take some changes and changes sometimes mean physical relocations as I’ve done, closing a door yourself. A lot of people need a door closed before another one opens, but sometimes you need to close that door yourself. That’s a little gut check thing you have to do.”

He took a two-year sabbatical and during that time returned home to St. Mary’s Bay to visit his family.

“I decided I wanted to get back into something more privately focused and took some time off to visit my folks. I was going pretty hard for a long time and wanted some time off.”

But now he’s back at work as the president of Eagle Professional Resources Inc., one of Canada’s largest and most successful professional staffing companies which specializes in sourcing technology, finance and accounting, and management professionals for contract and full-time positions.

“The product is people and I’m a people oriented person. I love working with people and a lot of people say in this business that ‘if you know people, you know business’, end of story. Most companies become smart enough to say people are their best assets and I think that’s true. The reality for us is people are our only asset and I love that about the business.”

He says the work is very gratifying and he relishes the opportunity to work in a profession where he gets to see the fruits of his labour.

“We see the company that gets their resources to help them grow and become competitive in this economy, but you also get to see the people who realize their career aspirations and get to enjoy a lifestyle that is associated with the roles they take on. It’s pretty cool from both sides.”

Terry is currently the president of the National Association of Computer Consulting Businesses and a board member of the Canadian Coalition for Tomorrow’s ICT Skills. He is a former board member of both the Information Technology Association of Canada and the Information Communications Technology Council.

In addition to his industry leadership, Terry is active in many not-for-profit endeavours. He is the president of the board for Sky’s the Limit Youth Organization which provides refurbished notebook computers to under-privileged children and their families across Canada; he is president of the board for the Jennifer Ashleigh Children’s Charity, which provides financial assistance to families with children who are seriously ill; and he is a member of the board of the Michael Pinball Clemons Foundation, which helps provide education, healthcare and hope to children at home and abroad.

Terry has achieved much success over the course of his career and while he is a graduate of the Ivey Leadership Program at Western University, he hasn’t completed a degree.

“Life got in the way. I think about it periodically but it’s one of these things where there is so much we can do with our time. For some it’s to go back for further information but I do a tonne of charity work and I’m on a lot of not-for-profit boards. That’s become my education for me,” he says.

“Sometimes the vanity in me wants that degree next to my name but we only have so much time. I try to use my time to have a broader impact out there. I think my Newfoundland heritage and growing up in the small town that I did, has afforded me a sense of appreciation and gratitude that drives a lot of what I do and that translates into giving back as opposed to going back to school.”

Reflecting on the career he’s had to this point, Terry believes it was a combination of skills, hard work, luck and timing that has garnered him success.

“I’m smart enough to know that timing has as much to do with my success as anything else. The old adage ‘hard work creates good luck’ has a lot to do with it and I think the fact I’m fairly open to taking risks is important,” he admits. “Hard work matters a lot – there is no substitution and I would say that to anybody in any role.”

Looking to the future, he says his employment with Eagle is where he will stay for a while. At 48 years of age, he believes he’ll be with the company for the next decade at least. After that, he may return home to Newfoundland with his wife Doreen and bring some of his self taught education to the not-for-profits in his home province.

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