“I am a life-long learner. Every day is an adventure,” says Laura Peck, a Cape Breton University faculty and staff member who has worn many hats over the years. Over the course of her career, Laura has been a broadcaster, political assistant and entrepreneur amongst other roles before beginning to teach in the Master of Business Administration in Community Economic Development (MBA) program at CBU.
Laura grew up in Sydney Mines and in 2019 when the opportunity to teach at CBU came knocking, she took it. After attending an Open House at the Shannon School of Business, Laura was convinced the University was the right place for her. Laura says both she and her colleague, now CBU professor, Barry McLoughlin, were both impressed with the facilities. “It reminded me of when I took an Executive Education Program at the Harvard School of Business,” she says.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many CBU classes have been held online over the past two years. While this is Laura’s fourth summer as an instructor at CBU, it is just her second in person. Laura says she enjoys in-person teaching because it’s more personal but acknowledges that a dual-mode classroom is ideal as it accounts for students who live in other time zones or have different needs.
Laura’s Strategic Communications course has a practical touch, combining realistic scenarios in which students are asked to play the role of CEO or senior executive in public and private organizations. “We record these simulations such as making a pitch, holding a news conference, conducting a town hall and other typical situations in business or community development,” she explains. This hands-on learning enables students to get a sense of the industry at its core.
Laura brings a unique element to her teaching as a business owner herself. She says her passion for communication and leadership stems from her experience working as a Political Assistant on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. During this time, she and Barry created their company, Transformational Leadership Consultants (TLC), that combines both communication and leadership functions.
“TLC specializes in strategies and skills for dealing with the media, risk and crisis communications, presentation skills, debate training, pitching products and services for potential investors and partners, parliamentary committee appearances and more,” says Laura. “We’ve been fortunate to have developed a wide variety of clients around the world in industries such as healthcare, financial services, politics, entertainment, government agencies and the judiciary. One of our most rewarding experiences was training Supreme Court justices in Kyiv, Ukraine.”
Starting a business was not unfamiliar territory for Laura, as she comes from a family of entrepreneurs. “My father, like his father, was a grocery store owner who also trained harness-racing horses. My brother Joe Peck continues that tradition through home building and renovation, car rentals and services,” Laura explains. “My other brother Gregory Peck is one of the top horse trainers in the world, he recently raced and spoke at a prestigious event in Paris. My mother Grace Howley Peck, originally from Bras D’Or, is an x-ray and lab technician who taught me how to multitask. She gave me the blueprint on how to combine work and family life.”
With a stellar track record in supporting and training women in leadership roles, Laura has been featured in two books – Fearless: Girls with Dreams, Women with Vision by Janice McDonald and Ladies Take Your Place, Leave Your Mark Politically, Professionally and Personally by Claudette Cain Coulas.
As someone who is well-versed in entrepreneurship, Laura feels there is more opportunity for smaller businesses and start-ups to flourish now, which works in favour of a place like Cape Breton and its business students. “The door is wide open for home-based businesses, micro-businesses and start-ups to reach customers on a more level playing field,” she says “This is to Cape Breton’s advantage. We have a long and proud history of entrepreneurs in the arts and cultural communities, we are developing a global brand. Entrepreneurs require creativity, passion, persistence and resilience to not only survive barriers but to achieve success.”
While she continues to train and coach executives, Laura hopes to carry on teaching at CBU and spend more time on the Island. “I enjoy that students at CBU are from all over the world and they bring different perspectives, cultures and experiences,” says Laura “The faculty are truly student-focused and the stimulating environment of the campus makes CBU stand out among Canadian universities. I want to continue the practical applications of what we teach in our classes in our seminar training business.”
We are grateful to have business leaders like Laura inspiring the next generation of CBU students!