Adriann Knight graduated in 2017 from the Bachelor of Business Administration (International Commerce and Global Development) program. She spent six months as a research assistant for Research & Innovation’s Business & Commercialization team. Adriann is now employed as a business information officer for the City of St. Catharines.
Tell us about where you work:
I work at the St. Catharines Enterprise Centre – a partnership between the City of St. Catharines and the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. We provide small businesses and entrepreneurs assistance to start, grow, and succeed in business. We offer seminars on various small business topics, help them access financing through business plan revisions and facilitate events and one-on-one consultations.
Describe your role and what you like about it:
I’m truly blessed in my role. I get to meet talented individuals who have a dream to start their own business. I love being able to help them navigate the rules and regulations as they’re starting and being a resource for them to lean on when they have questions and concerns. It’s exciting to watch them grow and hire. Looking at just downtown St. Catharines there are a few businesses that I worked with closely and seeing them succeed is the highlight of my role! I’ve also had the chance to work with clients on crafting their pitches for the 1Awards by FirstOntario, as well as the Ignite Pitch Series by GNCC (Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce).
Please give us an idea of what types of related things you’ve been doing prior to your current position:
Just after graduating, I returned to work at the Niagara Region. I had taken a break from studies to work there full time in 2015/2016 with their Economic Development department. Upon graduating, I returned to work with the Planning Department to work on the Niagara Employment Inventory data set. I actually use this data set a lot for my current work, to help entrepreneurs understand the competitive landscape in Niagara for their products/services.
How has your R&I experience helped you prepare for your current role?
One of the seminars that I facilitate is Market Research. My main role at R&I was in drafting client surveys and conducting interviews. I now help my clients work through Market Research and draft client surveys as a crucial step into validating and growing their businesses.
Please describe a memorable research project you were involved with at R&I:
I really enjoyed being a part of creating the Course-Based Research Report. I had the opportunity to speak with business owners and students on the value of these projects. I guess you can say that is where my passion for working with local businesses started to grow. I was able to learn about their needs and struggles; this has helped me in my current role. I’m now better able to advise my clients.
What led you to Niagara College in the first place?
I had the opportunity to move to Ottawa but chose to stay in Niagara. I wanted to be a part of the growth and changes that are happening here. Niagara College also offered the degree program, allowing me to complete a degree in a setting that had smaller classroom sizes and the opportunity to study abroad. During my degree, I completed a co-op placement at the Ecuadorian-Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Guayaquil, Ecuador. I studied for two semesters in Guayaquil at UEES and then one semester in Lima, Peru at USIL.
“Work experience and life experience will help set you apart from your competition.”
Most memorable experience at NC?
Studying abroad. You learn so much about yourself when you take the leap to live in a country where you don’t speak the language. My time in Ecuador and Peru will always stay with me. I still speak to quite a few friends from South America, and have even used the Spanish that I learned in my current role. To be able to immerse yourself into a new culture, plus receive financial assistance from Niagara College to do so, was a dream come true.
Were there any faculty members who influenced you?
I honestly can say that every professor with whom I had an interaction, along with administration staff, shaped who I am today. From Eliza Lister in administration to Maxine Semple, for encouraging me to go abroad, to Jeff Sinclair (who now works at the Niagara Region) for recommending me to apply to work at the Region. Dr. Dawit Eshetu, who had so much belief in my abilities to succeed and was always there to help; David Pastirik, who always found time to listen to his students and their struggles; to Dr. Phil Wessels, for always answering my accounting questions. The list goes on. The staff is so dedicated to you succeeding!
A mentor at R&I?
Neil Wilkinson was a wonderful mentor during my placement! He has a brilliant mind and it was a privilege to learn from him!
What advice would you impart to current research students or future alumni?
Get yourself out there. Learn about all the opportunities you have available to you and go for them! Work experience and life experience will help set you apart from your competition. Talk to your professors – they truly want to see you succeed and are always happy to help!
After being in the workforce, what have you learned?
Do as much as you can while you’re in school to get both work and life experiences. This will help you not only find your true passion but help you grow your network, and make you an attractive hire. Be humble, patient, and always open to learning new things.
Proudest achievement since graduating:
A program I coordinated recently saw 60 new businesses and over 100 jobs started across Niagara. Knowing that in some way I helped these businesses start and hire has been my proudest moment.
What are your interests outside of work?
I love riding my bike, the yoga studio, supporting our local wineries, and spending time with my friends and family.
If you could have a billboard message that would be seen by many, what would it say?
Wow this is a hard one… I think I will steal something that a hockey legend by the name of Wayne Gretzky once said: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” You have to put yourself out there and try; if you don’t, you’ll miss out on opportunities every time.