“Instill hope where there is none, inspire dreams where they are absent, and develop opportunities where talent exists.”

This is a vision Catherine Priestman developed years ago and she continues to follow it every day.

When the pandemic hit, Catherine re-focused time, energy and resources to helping other businesses survive. Because she is in the marketing industry, many clients immediately cut that budget leaving CP Business Solutions with a loss of more than 50% of their clients in just 2 weeks.

Because other businesses and potential future clients could no longer afford some marketing services, CP Business Solutions put together a plan to help and provided the following services at no cost to other companies. This was a decision that helped other businesses and will hopefully help CP Business Solutions in the long-term by helping to get their name out as a generous, skilled and community-focused organization.

Here are some of the actions Catherine took to assist other organizations at no cost to those participating:

  • Presented at the WBN Mentorship Program and sponsored the 2021-22 season for both cohorts.
  • Hosted 50+ complementary consultations for other businesses to assist with how to pivot during the OCVID environment. These were conducted via open Zoom calls with any and all industries welcome to attend. They calls were held twice per week from March to July 2020.
  • Reached out to Shopify and hosted a complementary Shopify info call for businesses to learn more about how to use their services to create online stores. They set-up connections, answered questions and showed businesses that Shopify could be used to create online stores.
  • Supported the local Legion for the Poppy Fund Campaign by providing complementary services including: consulting, design, photoshoots, print and loaning of tents, signs and other equipment. As a result, the Legion almost doubled their fundraising target and will be able to help twice as many Veterans as originally anticipated.
  • Focused CP social media and outreach materials to help share info about gov’t supports for businesses, families and students. They created blogs and articles with links to all government services and programs to allow people to easily understand and navigate the application processes.
  • Developed videos, articles and webinars to share valuable marketing info with businesses to help them adjust their messaging, visuals and voice to reflect marketing in a COVID environment.
  • Offered a free webinar on marketing during Covid for the Ottawa Board of Trade.
  • Assisted junior entrepreneurs (under 18 years old) in learning how to pivot and continue to operate their businesses during the pandemic

Focusing on short-term survival and long-term growth, CP Business Solutions made a conscious decision to help other businesses survive. It is hoped that their decision to help other companies now, during a crisis, will bear fruit in the future. They have talent, skills and information that others needed and decided to share it to support the community.

In addition, in 2021, Catherine launched the Elizabeth Priestman Spirit of Giving Scholarship for young women graduating from high school in 2021. The bursary was offered across Canada and 3 young women were selected to receive $1000 each.

“It has been a challenging year for many and thankfully, we are in a position to pay it forward,” says Catherine Priestman, CEO of CP Business Solutions Inc. “Our Corporate Social Responsibility Plan is founded upon four pillars of positive impact. For this program, we have combined Empowering Women and Developing Youth. The result is our new bursary.”

The bursary program, which was open to young Canadian women, was not designed specifically for those with soaring academic achievement or for those who could run the fastest or jump the highest. Instead, it sought to reward champions who have a positive impact on those around them and who benefit others.

Beneficiaries were not required to use the funds for post-secondary education but were welcome to do so if desired. Prior to accepting the bursary, recipients had to agree to complete three tasks:

i. They must thank someone from their past who helped shape their personality today. This can be done in whatever manner determined by the winner. We ask that the gesture be thoughtful, impactful and sincere.

ii. They must pay it forward and assist someone else in growing and moving ahead. This could be a younger sibling, a member of the community or a new immigrant—someone who would benefit from a cheerleader and a show of support.

iii. Finally, they must take a moment and celebrate themselves. Young women often spend time comparing themselves to others; we want them to celebrate themselves for who they are, for who they will become and for the impact they will make in the world.

CP Business Solutions also launched its first-ever Corporate Social Responsibility Plan in 2021. Catherine and the team at CP Business Solutions Inc., are committed to being a socially responsible business. Clients, employees and community mean a lot; as a result, they want to ensure that they are aware of the company’s social, environmental and economic effects while doing their best to leave a positive footprint. Because they care about our collective future, they believe that investing in important initiatives today is essential.

That’s why Catherine developed CP Business Solutions’ four key pillars of corporate social responsibility:

  • Empowering Women
  • Championing Environmental Sustainability
  • Giving Back to the Community
  • Supporting Youth and Entrepreneurship

Each of these four pillars represents an important dimension of her values and mission; collectively, they pave the way for the future she hopes to build.

CP Business Solutions has always pursued a variety of initiatives because they are passionate about giving back. Given everything happening this year, this is the perfect opportunity to document their CSR efforts and think ahead to our goals for the future. Catherine wants to continue supporting her community. To do so, she is committed to continually improving her company’s CSR approach by learning from others, researching productive initiatives, always striving to do better, and showing up for those around us.

As the needs of the world and community evolve, the goals and pillars may change. However, her focus will always be the same: to be a positive force in the world and to inspire other businesses and individuals to do the same. She is a strong believer that every person and every action can make a difference, no matter how small The pandemic was a challenge for everyone however, it was also an opportunity to help others and that’s what Catherine decided to do both personally and with her company.

Tribute by Lisa Cruikshank

This is what Catherine has to say about Lisa:

“Lisa in an incredible community supporter and a champion of other businesses. She is especially supportive of other women in business and I was humbled that she chose to share our efforts.”