Learning and development opportunities shape great careers at Silvera

17 July 2023

From architectural draftsman in Australia to hospitality manager in the Yukon to quality development in Calgary, Peter Lawrence has led a storied career.

He first joined Silvera in June 2016 as a community assistant manager at Bow Valley Commons, was briefly posted to Westview, back to Bow Valley and then onto Spruce as community manager. He weathered the pandemic alongside employees and residents through multiple lockdowns and restrictions. And then, in February 2023, Peter had the opportunity to accept a secondment for six months in the role of Quality Development Manager.

“I expressed interest in potentially moving into a role outside of community,” Peter says. “As a community manager, the demands on your attention from residents, family members, service providers, contractors, employees and EMS are constant. In this quality development role, there are certain instant demands, but the design of the work is very different.”

Peter started his career as a draftsman in his home country of Australia. He was keen on adventure, so embarked on a one-year trip to Canada. He accepted an architectural drafting job in Toronto in 1988.

From there he moved into the food and beverage industry and liked it so much he enrolled in SAIT’s Hotel & Restaurant Management program. He accepted a position as a food and beverage manager in the Yukon for three summers “in the mosquito-infested tundra, literally in the middle of the nowhere, a six-hour drive from both Fairbanks and Whitehorse.”

After meeting his Saskatchewan-born wife, they eventually moved to Calgary where Peter worked at the Stampede for 16 years in the catering department.

When the downturn happened in 2015, Peter was laid off and began considering his next move. He reached out to his network and one of his former colleagues, Neil Reimer, recommended Silvera.

Peter knew little about seniors’ residences except for the one he volunteered at in high school, but he was keen to make a career change and the work/life balance seemed more favourable.

During his time at Silvera, the organization has invested in Peter, and many community managers, by offering multiple leadership courses through SAIT.

“Silvera offers great educational opportunities. They are very supportive of employees who want to enhance their careers,” he says.

Though his background is not in health and safety, Peter has been taking courses through the Continuing Care Safety Association and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. He relies on his past experiences and perspectives, along with the knowledge of colleagues, to help him in his new role.

“A great deal of this role is about compliance, which I’m familiar with at a community level,” he says. “Communities must comply with many rules and regulations set out by both the organization and government bodies. In part, my new role is an extended version of that, ensuring we are completing and documenting the necessary inspections, checks, and audits organization wide.”

His immediate goal is to ensure Silvera is compliant with our COR audit in October.

“It’s critical to instill a culture of health and safety at Silvera, ensuring everyone is on-board and compliant with H&S policies and guidelines, and operating as safely as possible,” he says.

In terms of career development and problem solving, Peter suggests employees use the resources around them.

“Don’t assume you’re on your own – there’s always someone who can guide you, problem solve with you, and help you grow. Talk to people about what you want, keep your eyes open and see what comes your way.”