One of things I continue to enjoy most about my job as president and CEO of Shaw Centre is the endless opportunities for learning. Not a day goes by, it seems, when I don’t get a chance to learn something new about either our facility, our city or our industry. Although I have worked for many years in the hospitality and events field, being at the helm of a landmark building in the nation’s capital is a completely different experience. I learn daily from my colleagues as well as from those who visit our beautiful venue. I particularly enjoy sharing with our guests some of the interesting things I have learned about Shaw Centre since I joined the team here almost two years ago.
For example, we recently hosted the Ottawa-Gatineau International Auto Show. It was fun to walk through the Centre and see all the gleaming cars and trucks on display. Attendees with whom I spoke were surprised to learn that Shaw Centre can actually accommodate up to 300 vehicles inside the building and our freight elevator can hold up to 24,000 pounds which is the equivalent of one really huge concept vehicle or two African elephants.
Earth Day is approaching later this month and I’ve enjoyed learning about the many environmentally-friendly aspects of Shaw Centre. Ours is a LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Gold certified building, which is a significant achievement for a facility of this size and something that is important to our clients seeking eco-friendly venues. One of our most significant environmental features involves saving over 850,000 litres municipal water each year by harvesting rainwater from our roof and storing it in a cistern below the building, from which it can be drawn for non-potable uses. In addition, daylight sensors on the ceilings throughout the Centre automatically dim the artificial lighting when the ambient natural light is sufficient.
Accessibility is understandably a hot topic these days in the hospitality industry. Making venues open, welcoming and easy to navigate for all is very important and something we take seriously at Shaw Centre – in fact, we are fully compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Features such as tactile tiles and cane-detectible floor strips to help the visually impaired navigate are just two of the many essential accessibility elements at Shaw Centre and on my daily walkabouts through the Centre I watch for any barriers to accessibility that may have inadvertently arisen during the setup or teardown for an event. At the same time, I’ve learned that from our visitors’ perspectives, accessibility takes other forms as well. As an example, long washroom lineups can mean guests’ needs are not being served effectively, which is why we have the unique ability to adjust a clever series of locking pocket doors to temporarily turn part of the men’s washroom into an extension of the ladies’ or vice-versa, depending on the demographics of an event.
I’ve also learned a great deal from our talented kitchen team, who masterfully execute complex dinners for small functions as well as providing exceptionally delicious full-day catering for events with thousands of guests. Ours is one of the largest kitchens in Ottawa and we are able to serve 4200 guests a plated meal simultaneously, assembling up to 500 plates each hour; these are then finished to perfection in our high-tech ovens so everyone can be served at the same time.
As befits a national capital and highly cosmopolitan city, I am proud that the staff of Shaw Centre includes people from all around the world. Not only do they add a vibrant diversity to our team, they also allow us to offer service to guests in many different languages. For example, we are currently able to assist clients in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Khmer, Tagalog, Bosnian, Vietnamese, Turkish, Croatian and sign language. Given my love of lifelong learning, it is now a dream of mine to one day have the ability to great guests comfortably in all these languages!