Leading through guidance

April 23, 2014
Amy Dove

Tammy Dewar knows the value of a good mentor.

“I would not be where I am without them,” she says. “They are the people behind the scenes facilitating the accomplishment of others and that is a pretty powerful role.”

Through mentorship and work, Dewar believes in paying it forward and her efforts have not gone unnoticed. Dewar is the 2014 recipient of the Royal Roads University Leadership Excellence Through Coaching and Mentoring Award through the Victoria Leadership Awards.

Dewar has taught in various capacities as an associate faculty member at Royal Roads since 1997. Together with her husband Dave Whittington, she also runs Calliope Learning and is one of the minds behind Once a Quarter, which donates strategic planning sessions to non-profit organizations in Victoria.

As the name suggests one organization is chosen every quarter for a session worth between $8,000 to $10,000. Comprised of five team members, the group provides a day of facilitated strategic planning and meeting place, with lunch and a graphic recording of the day included. Past recipients include The Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition, Victoria Shakespeare Society, Victoria Brain Injury Society and Men’s Trauma Centre.

“Non-profits typically don’t have the budget or time to do this,” she says. “Most of these folks need different ways of thinking about their work. To provide an environment where they can be themselves and have fun, and celebrate the work that they do, that’s what we want to create for them.”

The experiences there have informed her consulting work and teaching, Dewar says.  

“It’s an interesting synergy back and forth; we will try new things in Once a Quarter that we then bring into our client work and vice versa,” she says. “The conversations and outcomes make the things I am talking about real world. There is something around giving back that energizes you. It leaves you energized.”

It’s a similar feeling that she gets from helping others see possibilities for themselves. For all the benefit Dewar has received from the mentors in her life, it is clear that she plays a similar role for others.

Royal Roads MBA alumnus Mark Smiciklas is a former student of hers and notes that Dewar was instrumental in helping him develop his career.  Her coaching helped him transition from a corporate job to self-employment with Intersection Consulting, he says.

“We tend to discount what skills we have because they come second nature to us,” Smiciklas says. “Tammy was able to put that in perspective for me. She is open, friendly, giving. She has real conviction in a lot of leadership philosophies that she talks about. She really does believe in what she teaches.”