Women in Weed: Alison McMahon, Founder & CEO of Cannabis At Work

Article by High! Canada

Women in Weed: Talking to Alison McMahon, CPHR, BHRLR Founder & CEO of Cannabis At Work

What led you into a career within the Canadian cannabis industry?

About two years ago I started seeing news about cannabis legalization, mostly in the US, and rumours that it could happen in Canada. I was intrigued and started to read as much as I could and watched every documentary I could get my hands on. The more I learned, the more I was fascinated. The medical potential of this plant is inspiring and the business opportunity is massive. I wanted to participate in the industry. I realized that I could use my background in HR and business to address workplace impairment and other HR issues in the sector. In the fall of 2015, I was winding down a technology company that I had run for two years prior. I was looking for my next project, so the timing was perfect and I began to direct my energy towards cannabis. I had started two businesses prior to Cannabis At Work, so I had the skill set to put an idea out into the world and the experience to gauge if anyone cared enough to buy our products or services. We had momentum from day one and the continued traction allowed us to launch our staffing services in the spring of 2017. It’s been a wild ride!

Did you encounter any challenges or adversity to adopting a full time role in the expanding Canadian cannabis market and if so what did you do to overcome them and successfully move forward?

I think I experienced the same adversity that every entrepreneur goes through, male or female. Starting a business from the ground up is hard work. You have to be willing to follow your intuition and step into unknown territory. When we opened ticket sales for our first workplace impairment conference in 2016 I was sick to my stomach. I was worried no one would care about the conference and no one would come. I knew it wasn’t rational but I was still scared. Then ticket sales started rolling in, as I expected they would, and in the end it was a sold out event. It’s not always easy but I’ve learnt to push past the fear.

What projects are you working on now. Can you run us through an average day for you?

Oh my gosh. Projects. They feel endless. The staffing side of our business has been growing since we launched this service in spring 2017. On a daily basis I am managing recruiters in Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver. The recruiting in really fun because we learn a lot about our client’s operations and are tasked with finding great people to help them grow. We get to meet so many interesting and smart people. In a way we are like matchmakers. We take our role of facilitating relationships between our clients and candidates seriously. In addition to staffing, we are also helping LPs and LP applicants build out their HR programs and policies. It’s an amazing experience to help companies build their business from the ground up. Lastly, we continue to educate employers on cannabis legalization, how to manage employees with cannabis prescriptions, and Drug & Alcohol Policy advising. We just wrapped up a conference in Calgary and we will be in Winnipeg and Mississauga in Nov 2017. Edmonton and Regina are on the books for early 2018.

Plans for the future – personally and professionally

I am personally looking forward to an upcoming trip to Nicaragua. Life is short and for me it’s important to build in travel and not wait until I’m ‘retired’ to live my life. I lost my Mom recently and I watched her wait for retirement only to be too sick to enjoy it. I refuse to live life that way. Also, I’m lucky because I truly love what I do and I’m pumped to work on my business every day. On the business side we are putting our heads down, focusing on what we do best, and riding the wave. We’re excited about the regulated retail market and the opportunities it will bring for businesses and consumers.

Last question – what are three things that you think everyone should be doing?

There are three things I think all women in business should be doing. However, I’m quite sure this applies to men too. Stop listening to fear. Listen to your intuition and put your idea, product or service into the world. If you get constructive feedback – use it. If you get negative feedback – listen and pivot. Fear can hold you back but it can’t kill you. Hustle. I know it sounds cliche but building a business is a tremendous amount of work. It requires long hours, weekends, travel and a bit of craziness. Don’t complain you haven’t made it until you’ve really tried. Lastly, stop playing the woman card. I know women and other minorities face barriers in business – it’s a real thing. But I see a lot of women using gender as an excuse. If I’m the only lady in a room of men, I don’t feel like a victim. I own it – because I know ALL the work I put in to get there. If I can do it, so can you.

See original article here.

About High! Canada

Our content is exclusively about Cannabis as it exists in both Canada and its new place around the world. We provide news on current trends in Marijuana, reviewing pertinent products and informing the public about ongoing legalities of both medical and recreational cannabis use. Our High! Canada Magazine is printed in an easy to distribute (8.5” by 7“) full color format, monthly.

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