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Déjà Leonard is a copywriter and freelance journalist based in Calgary.

During the pandemic, Jason Ribeiro left his job in economic development when his first son was born.

“It was really critical for me during that early stage of his life, to take paternity leave,” he said. “I had a lot of time to reflect on the fact that what I did next, after coming out of that year, was going to be really important — and it better be purpose driven.”

Where Mr. Ribeiro landed in October was as vice-chairman, president and co-owner of the Calgary Surge, a basketball team that competes in the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL).

After a decade of working in academic research, organizational leadership, public policy and governance, he was charting a new path.

Almost half (41 per cent) of Canadian workers are either already looking or plan to look for a new job before the end of 2023, according to a poll by recruitment firm Robert Half published Thursday. And reports suggest a lot of those workers are making the switch for jobs that align more with their values. Research by McKinsey & Co. found “82 per cent of employees believe it’s important for their company to have a purpose” and “more than two-thirds say their sense of purpose is defined by their work.”

Changing careers or industries can seem daunting, but there is a lot to learn from those who have recently made the transition.

Finding a job with purpose

Mr. Ribeiro said he saw the opportunity with the team as “a city building project.”

“One of the biggest reasons that we brought this team to Calgary was because of what it could do for youth. Particularly youth at the edges,” he said.

Mr. Ribeiro himself grew up as the son of immigrants, and knows what it’s like to not have the social capital or connections that kids need to thrive and feel included in their community.

So far, the team has been able to raise $100,000 to send kids and families to the Calgary Surge games.

Identifying skills that transfer

Mr. Ribeiro had no plans of being an entrepreneur, but was able to see how his skills from his previous work, including volunteer work with organizations like Sport Calgary, aligned with what the team — and Calgarians — needed to flourish.

Currently, he is responsible for overseeing organizational strategy, organizational operations and stakeholder and media engagement.

His skills and leadership have helped the organization build community through more than 100 local events, bring in thoughtful team sponsorships and take an innovative approach to marketing that is community-centred.

“I instinctively knew that I was uniquely positioned to be a part of bringing the Surge to Calgary. From all the disparate things I’ve done — broadcasting, management, consulting, research, economic development — you name it,” he said.

Learning along the way

While many of Mr. Ribeiro’s skills transfer to his new role, he still said he has been learning a lot and embracing the unknown.

He’s had to get comfortable with tolerating failure, making mistakes and then correcting course. He’s also learned to trust his instincts.

His journey to becoming a co-owner of the team began with him seeing a press release about the team coming to Calgary, texting his now co-owner, and then contacting the team the same day to outline why they were the best candidates for the job.

Those same instincts have helped him make key business decisions in his first year, such as which logo to go with and how to integrate into the community.

Often throughout the process he reminds himself, “we did this for a reason, we’ve done this for a personal purpose.”

What I’m reading around the web

  • Fear can be motivating or debilitating. This Chief article shares expert insights on how fear affects your decision-making process, and what factors you need to consider when making tough decisions.
  • By adding small natural elements to your office, such as potted plants or a small foundation of running water, you can improve productivity, helpfulness and creativity among employees. This Harvard Business Review article shows how — and why — integrating nature into your workplace works.
  • If you’re an entrepreneur, there’s no doubt work-life balance is a constant challenge. Here’s an honest account of how three entrepreneurs feel about their current work-life balance, and strategies they use to try to ensure they are investing in their personal lives, too.
  • Elon Musk has rebranded Twitter as “X” and critics say it’s bound to fail, as reported by Fast Company. Read on for examples of recent rebrands, such as Google transitioning to Alphabet, and why these seemingly haphazard changes don’t always work for well-known brands.

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