Ross Rankin
Director, Facility and Property Services, Recreation Association of the Public Service of Canada

Please list up to three of your most memorable career-related experiences.

During the Ice Storm of 1998 in Eastern Ontario, I was working at the Fred Barrett Arena in Gloucester as an Arena Manager. The majority of small municipalities and communities outside Ottawa were without hydro for several weeks. We hosted a shelter in the Community Hall above the Arena for many families and individuals in the local community. Not only was it a shelter, but others in the outlying communities would stop by for a shower and hot meal on their way to work in Ottawa.

Once the power grid came back up, The Royal Canadian Dragoons showed up to assist with the clean up of the disaster areas. They arrived with their military equipment and set up camp in the Community Hall where many residents had stayed. At night you would see them, after a long day of work, looking down and enjoying the kids playing hockey.

What would you describe as some of the most significant workplace and/or industry challenges you have faced over the past five years?

Working for a Non Profit Recreation Association has many of the same challenges we all face. Having soccer pitches; ball diamond; racquet facilities - tennis, squash, badminton and racquet ball; arena; curling; bowling; indoor gun range; fitness centre; gymnasium and many other facilities onsite requires a very skilled, technical and knowledgeable team. Keeping up to date on the various regulatory agencies such as TSSA, Ministry of Labour, Chief Firearms Office, Health Departments, ESA can become a definite challenge. The interpretation of the regulations by individual inspectors can vary and be challenging for us industry members.

How has your involvement with the ORFA affected your career?

opportunities and networking with other industry members and vendors. In 2001 I successfully received my RRFA designation which identified an achievement in our industry. It provided me with the confidence to begin teaching at Algonquin College part time and developing and teaching an in-house course to my new employer at the City of Ottawa. It allowed me to begin giving back. My participation as a member of the ORFA Aquatic Technical Advisory Committee and being elected at the same time to the Board of Directors as Director Eastern Region has broadened my perspective on the recreation industry allowed me to grow both professionally and personally.  I look forward to my greatest association opportunity as I move from ORFA President-Elect to President at the end of 2016.

Ultimately all this helped my career from an arena operator in a municipal recreation department to a Director in a not for profit association in 23 years. 8 years later, I continue to take the knowledge I learn from ORFA courses, E-News, Magazine and working on the Board to my job on a daily basis.

List any best practices or tips learned at an ORFA professional development opportunity.

In one of the newly developed courses, Advanced Recreation Facilities Business Management 1, there is a section on Strategic Planning. I have been part of strategic planning sessions at various levels with most individuals not receiving specific training. The outcomes are generally not well defined. The session on strategic planning provided very specific information on how to as a group be successful working together to achieve the defined outcomes. A few months prior to taking the course I had the opportunity to work with other ORFA Board Members and the instructor of this course on the ORFA’s Strategic Planning document. I can attest what is taught works out in the field.

What advice would you provide to colleagues considering teaching or mentoring within the industry?

Over our careers we can look back at individuals that have mentored us by either their own actions or specifically working with us. I have two individuals that I have worked with directly that by their actions provided mentoring for me. I also look back at the many individuals that have made the ORFA what it is now and they continue to give back by providing their knowledge and experience through teaching at the Annual Professional Development program in Guelph.

Take the time to speak to some of our industry leaders, work on public speaking and look at how different individuals learn. Volunteering to work on committees with others can also help provide the confidence to beginning the process of working towards teaching and mentoring others.

Final Thoughts

In an industry that our leaders will soon be retiring, there will be many opportunities for other members to now move into these industry leader positions. This Fall there will be a few vacancies on the ORFA Board of Directors. As a member of the Board of Directors you can help set direction of the Association we all belong to. Working collaboratively with other like professionals and sharing ideas is very satisfying personally and professionally. I would ask that you consider allowing your name to stand this Fall and join our great team.

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