Northern Alberta Business Incubator (NABI) has welcomed a new leader to head the non-profit organization.
Noreen Hoskins is taking over as executive director. With over 15 years of experience in training and developing, Hoskins said she’s excited to bring her expertise to the table.
“I bring a network with me to NABI and my network is really excited about what NABI is doing,” she said. “I’m really excited about learning about all the businesses that are either incubator clients or virtual clients or just consulting clients of NABI.”
Hoskins said one area the non-profit needs to work on is celebrating its successes. The organization has been focused on helping new businesses promote their strengths to the public instead of promoting its own strengths.
“You don’t want to toot your horn too loudly,” she said. “In terms of personality behind NABI, we need to get a bit more audacious and actually talk about some of the successes we’ve had.”
She said she would also be focusing on the organization’s growth strategy.
Her career in business began back in 2001 while she was living in Victoria. Prior to the switch she had been a science student at the University of Manitoba while training as an amateur rower. Hoskins fell in love with the sport and decided to set her sights on the Olympics.
To get to that level, she would have to move to Victoria for training.
While on the island the strong-willed amateur athlete trained until her numbers were close to those on the national team. In 2000, however, she sensed that her rowing career was winding down. Her husband, who was also training in Victoria, was well on his way to participating on Canada’s national team and Hoskins was looking for another way to support the two.
Taking a job at a marketing firm in Victoria, Hoskins found her second calling. Unfortunately the position didn’t last long. The firm had clients from the U.S., so when the attack on the twin towers happened in 2001 she said business dried up.
“I loved the field of marketing, I loved talking to clients and managing their strategy,” she said.
Hoskins was on maternity leave when the marketing firm closed down. Some of her old clients started calling her for work, prompting her to start her own marketing firm.
Every day was a learning experience for Hoskins, so she decided to get further education. In 2004 she received a bachelor of commerce in entrepreneurial management at the Royal Roads University in Victoria.
The family made a few moves from Canmore back to Victoria before eventually ending up in Edmonton in 2012 when she was offered a job at a non-profit called TEC Edmonton. The organization focuses on accelerating the growth of emerging technology-based businesses.
Afterwards she decided to get involved with a few business start-ups in the city.
While it seemed that life was finally stabilizing, in 2014 Hoskins received the devastating news that she had thyroid cancer. Stepping back from her position, she underwent surgery and radiation while spending time at home with her family.
“My husband was gainfully employed, so he said well, you don’t have to rush back to work, so I didn’t,” she said. “I spent some time with my kids.”
The next year Hoskins received a phone call offering her a position at eHub at the University of Alberta, a program that mentors and supports budding entrepreneurs.
The doctor had declared her cancer-free, so she decided to jump back in. When Hoskins went in for her next check up, however, her blood work came back showing the cancer had returned. In 2016 she underwent a second round of treatment and beat it again. She is now cancer free.
While undergoing treatments, Hoskins stayed in her position at eHub. Under her leadership, Hoskins said she redeveloped the program.
“It really kind of died off so I had to revitalize it and rebuild it – at least build a community,” she said. “If you don’t have (community) you can’t really build anything. There’s no substrate for you to build anything.”
Now taking her place as the head of NABI, she said she plans on bringing her strengths to the table.