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Kent Waddington

Sheridan grad Kent Waddington

Pilon School of Business

Degree: Business, Corporate Administration

Year of graduation: 1978

Man in Motion: Corporate administration graduate Kent Waddington keeps driving forward

Kent Waddington is constantly on the go, whether in one of the classic cars he collects or in one of the many hats he wears in his daily working life. A freelance leadership coach and communicator, Waddington also co-founded the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care — of which he is currently communications director — working with health-care organizations to make them more environmentally aware and climate change resilient. Along the path to his success, there have been twists and turns, but looking back, he can see the steps that have brought him to his career today. “If you’ve got a passion for something, pursue it,” he says. “You have to persist and don’t let people sidetrack you because they think you can’t do it.”

Although Waddington has been interested in environmental issues since high school, he originally planned to follow his family into the world of business through an economics degree. Upon meeting Rudy Zabel, then corporate administration program coordinator at Sheridan, Waddington decided to take a new path, a decision that would lead him to graduate from the program in 1978 with a specialization in marketing and finance.

Deciding to add a Bachelor of Arts in administration and geography at the University of Ottawa in 1983, Waddington then continued learning about environmental issues in the field as an administrative assistant at Energy Mines & Resources Canada. He remembers site visits to Little Cornwallis Island in the Canadian Arctic to study permafrost degradation, which “really pandered to my desire to not be stuck in an office all the time,” he jokes.

Waddington enjoyed the work, but he decided to go back to school to do a Master of Arts in marketing geography from Carleton University. “Although it seemed natural to continue with permafrost research, my interest was piqued by one of the professors that had accompanied us on the orientation trip and I ended up studying upscale housing in an urban setting,” he says. Upon graduation, Waddington’s plan to work in the housing sector came to a halt when his mother passed away and he took over the family business for a seven year period. In 1993, Waddington joined Madawaska Doors Inc. (a company he had been doing consulting work with for a few years) as senior vice president of international sales and marketing, where he travelled the world for trade missions to Belgium, Turkey, Libya and Japan, amongst other locales.

By 1998, Waddington was ready for a change. “I wanted to mix travel, writing and working,” he says. When he was approached for an energy efficiency officer contract with the Canadian College of Health Service Executives, he seized the opportunity, which turned from a 26-week position to a seven year commitment.

Waddington worked on promoting federal initiatives for over 460 Canadian health-care institutions, also conducting the country’s first ever energy efficiency survey. “I always say that what I really bring to positions is knowing what I know – and knowing where to find what I don’t know,” he says.

In 2009, Waddington took on another challenge: co-founding the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care, where he now spends his day coaching health-care institutions on green initiatives such as energy conservation, waste management, local food and other sustainable practices. He also runs his own communications and leadership coaching company, Waddington Resource Management, as well as having founded and published the Combermere Free Press community newspaper for 10 years. “I’ve done a lot of writing and interviewing, which helps my coaching skills. I can ask the probing questions that the person being coached needs to hear, even if they don’t want to answer them,” he says.

Ultimately, Waddington is looking to create tomorrow’s leaders. “I’d like to see the coalition moving forward with a roster of young and enthusiastic green champions and help to cultivate their place at the leadership table,” he says. “Leaders aren’t just executives — there are leaders at all levels in an organization.”
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