Debra Tamagi

Debra Tamagi
Program Manager

As Bill Gates describes, “[e]veryone needs a coach. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a basketball player, a tennis player, a gymnast or a bridge player.”

In fact, it doesn’t matter whether you are a professional athlete or have a calling in another industry, having a coach to help find your path is critical to success. Many great business leaders have had coaches they’ve worked with closely, including Bill Gates, who credits his coach Warren Buffet, businessman and investor, for teaching him how to manage difficult situations and plan long-term.  Coaching extends beyond business as well, as shown through Mark Zuckerberg and his coach, Steve Jobs, who both “believed that their life paths were meant for more than just building businesses,” and worked together with the aims of impacting the lives of others.

We at ACE are grateful to have the opportunity to work with LD-ACE Program Manager Debra Tamagi, who works closely with students to share her expertise as an individual trainer, coach and facilitator of personal and professional development. Debra’s expertise also includes managing events and projects, which she applies to her current focus on coaching and facilitation with a special interest in developing the people and communities she works with.
Debra began her business education through obtaining her Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Saskatchewan, and would continue her education by studying human resource management at the University of Calgary. Debra would further her education through obtaining her event management certificate at Mount Royal College, and by studying personal co-active coaching at the Coaches Training Institute in California. In 2009, Debra obtained her Life Skills Coach Certificate from Rhodes Wellness College in Vancouver.

Debra’s experience she brings to the ACE Program in personal and professional development and event and project management spans work with multiple organizations. Some of her previous roles include marketing and event management with the Calgary Produce Marketing Association; facilitating employability skills and coaching with High Velocity Equipment Training School; life skills coaching and workshop facilitating with Discover Renewal; facilitating employment with WorkZone Employment Service and Resource Centre and providing services and writing grants with the Unlimited Learning Foundation.

In addition to her work with LD-ACE, did you know that Debra is also developing a bed and breakfast, and is working on another new venture, WalkAboutWoman? WalkAboutWoman offers coaching workshops and programs for women to take part in “a journey that takes a woman away from home so she can nourish her unfed parts, connect with strangers, learn about herself and the world, and fulfill that longing for something more.” It also supports economies and community growth through importing textiles from Turkey, with part of the proceeds going towards a scholarship for a participant of the program. 
Debra’s work is influenced by her passion to help others take the steps along their personal journey to self-discovery. When Debra was beginning as Women’s Representative of Thompson Okanagan Region Metis Nation British Columbia, she described that she believes “we are part of a collective whole, here to help one another.” Additionally, Debra’s work with the Unlimited Learning Foundation is a result of her shared vision and mission that through knowledge and learning comes opportunity for sustainable personal and professional growth to create lasting change.

Debra’s focus on creating lasting change to support community growth is also demonstrated through her volunteer work. Debra served in a lead role for women’s groups where she raised funds, organized retreats, and planned community volunteer appreciation events. Debra has also volunteered her expertise through planning committees for two national conventions in Calgary and her volunteer work with the public school system.

Debra began working with the ACE Program in February 2016, after working with Splatsin First Nation as Training and Employment Coordinator. Debra described that in her work with Splatsin First Nation, she had the opportunity to write an application for a job grant to obtain funds for training Splatsin staff. Splatsin was awarded the grant and had training delivered by the University of Victoria. Debra described that “[i]t was at that time we began to work on a proposal for funding for some Entrepreneurship training. Brent wrote the proposal, I gathered letters of interests. That proposal was awarded as well…I began working with UVic in February 2016, and continue to. I LOVE working with the program!”

 We asked Debra what her favorite part about managing the LD-ACE Program was, and she described how “[m]y favorite part is (by far) the people I have the privilege of getting to know. Every project brings new and interesting people with interesting ideas. Entrepreneurs are by their very nature, idea people with a lot of positivity and enthusiasm. It is a pleasure to work with them.”

Debra continued to describe the growth she sees from the students she coaches, describing how “[t]hey come in with ‘ideas’…sometimes a bunch of them! I see them become focused, determined, deliberate…about taking what is here in the ACE Program for them. From start to finish, they move from the idea phase to understanding each and every element of their business concept. Their confidence goes waaaayyy up, as they continue to own and tweak their ideas and TALK about them!!”

Debra describes that this growth students experience is part of what stands out most to her about the LD-ACE Program. Debra explains that “[t]he friendships and support that is birthed within the group also really stands out.”
The opportunity to connect with classmates and other members of the business community could not come at a better time, describes Debra. “The timing could not be better! Opportunities for community, regional, and provincial involvement with industry through joint venture and partnerships seem to be springing up everywhere!”
Further, Debra notes that “[f]rom my time working with the Splatsin Community, I understand that opportunity is everywhere. The local bands are all working hard to establish economic development opportunities for their communities. AND…they need champions…people to step up and lead projects, or start businesses.” Debra also explains “we have these folks in these communities.”

What advice does Debra have for entrepreneurs looking to take advantage of these opportunities?
“Just do it! Believe in yourself…believe in your ideas. Remember why you have always dreamed of being your own boss…and move in that direction. Two steps forward and one step back is still forward motion!! Keep going!”
We at ACE thank Debra for her commitment to the community and look forward to continuing to work with her to provide entrepreneurial training to students through the LD-ACE Program.

Debra Tamagi is an administrator of the Aboriginal Canadian Entrepreneurs Program. 137 Aboriginal Entrepreneurs have graduated from the award winning ACE Program, which focuses on bridging Aboriginal culture with the key elements of entrepreneurship and business creation.  The ACE program is made possible through the collective efforts of our partnering regions, communities, institutions, and faculties.

To learn more about Debra and her work, visit these links:
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