In my search for interesting people I recently decided that I needed to focus on finding more women that have done interesting and unusual things. So off I went and searched on the Internet and sure enough, I stumbled across a website called www.sailingforwomen.com, and I figured that the owner would probably be a woman herself and might have an interesting story to tell.
Bingo. Valma Brenton sure has a very interesting resume which includes international travel, managing businesses in Chile and Tazmania, working as a private investigator, divemaster, aquaculture specialist, writer and photographer, to mention just a few of her credentials.
The common thread through all these diverse experiences is that Valma is a woman who loves to take on challenges, she has had a love of the Ocean ever since she can remember, and she dedicates her time to empowering women, teaching them sailing and self-awareness skills to help them become vibrant, successful and self-confident so they can create their own miracles. Without further ado, here is Valma Brenton:
1. Please tell us a bit about your personal background and your work experience.
I was born in Chester, England and immigrated to Canada with my parents when I was just 3 months old. We traveled from England to Quebec by boat. My mom told me she is not surprised that I like to travel so much she said that we traveled to and around Canada by boat, train, car and many other methods from the east coast and to the west before I was a year old. We eventually settled in Gibson’s Landing which is on the Sunshine Coast near Vancouver in British Columbia. I was raised there.
Valma at the helm
When I was 16 I got itchy feet and started to travel oversees. My father was living in Britain so I headed over there and then on to Europe. I eventually completed school in between my travel adventures. Fashions and trends were about 4 years ahead of where I was living. I found it so exciting to see all of the different trends, foods, cultures and people and thus really acquired a taste for travel. I am like a sponge full of curiosity and really enjoy learning new things.
My father is a Private Investigator and whenever I would travel to Scotland to visit him I would work in the field with him. We always had good fun and some amazing adventures together. I still visit him every few years and head out on a PI adventure. We always end our day with a pint of beer afterwards and share the stories of the day. The experience I gained working with my father in his business helped me understand more about business, people and behavior. I was able to transfer this to many other areas in my life. My life is like a river flowing with magical adventure, freedom, curiosity, creativity and recognition.
My years of curiosity and adventure have lead me on a path of exciting career opportunities with a broad range of industry experience up to executive management levels, including research, project management, sales and marketing, operations, public relations, finance, business startup and development. I am enterprising and a resourceful individual.
My strengths are in identifying and analyzing opportunities, formulating strategies and implementing an action plan. Well-developed analytical, planning, project management, thinking outside the box and motivational skills have enabled me to achieve repeated success in a variety of business situations.
I have a varied business background with experience as a Private Investigator / Security Consultant and Business Administrator both in Canada and the United Kingdom. For twelve years my career has expanded into the aquaculture industry in Canada – British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and internationally into Tasmania, Curacao, Scotland and Chile at a Business Startup / Development, and Management, Operational, Sales and Marketing and Research level. Eleven years prior, I worked in the West Coast Commercial Fishery and Charter Boat industry on the British Columbia coast as a Captain, Divemaster, and Marine Engineer and in Sales and Marketing. I hold a Fishing Master IV International Captain’s license, CSC 2 Small Craft Masters training, International Occupational Scuba Diving License, Canadian Yachting Association Sailing Instructors Certifications and a Boaters License.
Over the years I gained a passion for writing and photography and became a successful author and photojournalist specializing in fisheries and aquaculture-related subjects. I have published numerous research publications of which appear in scientific journals and government scientific updates. Other feature articles and photography has been published in magazines, newspapers, books and art galleries.
2. You have a great deal of entrepreneurial experience and started several ventures, more recently a company called Future SEA that you are still involved with. Please tell us about your entrepreneurial endeavours and your philosophy.
The company Future SEA Technologies Inc was just an idea. Myself and two partner’s one of them being my husband founded the company. What a whirl wind of excitement, growth, learning, traveling and opportunity. At one time we had almost 40 employees and operations in Chile, across Canada, Tasmania and Japan. I got a lot of juice from being on the frontier and the leading edge of new environmentally friendly technology for the aquaculture industry. Working with other people to solve their problems and add value to their lives as well as their businesses. Not to mention being on the water and working with all varieties of ocean and fresh water fish. I was trained as an animal behaviorist by Dr. Kees Groot which crossed over to people through the PI work and training with my father in Britain.
I think for me my philosophy about business is to get clear about what I want, have a dream and dream BIG. I always believe that I can do it if I believe that I can. I envision what I want to produce and then start to manifest and create it. I ask the Universe for what I want and then make space for magic to occur. I believe that it is up to the Universe to provide me with the opportunities and connections along with the money. We raised over 10 million investment capital into our business. That was an experience just on its own.
I think that this 13th century poet and mystic says it all “Let the beauty we love be what we do” Rumi
3. You have also lived and managed businesses in other cultures in places like Chile and Tazmania and are fully bilingual in Spanish. Please tell us about these cross-cultural experiences.
I really loved traveling and working in these other areas. Especially working and traveling in Chile. This was so exciting for me because it was like being on the frontier. Every one in Chile is an entrepreneur. Ideas are always flowing and their creative ways to make money. I like being able to come up with an idea, take some action, get some feedback and make a course correction until it comes out right. In Chile we just frickin did it. Here in Canada there was always so much paperwork and the work was always in convincing someone of the idea first. I guess that is what I loved about Chile…we just tried it on a small scale…tested it, modified and then made it happen. I also know from my experience that no matter what language or religion or belief system that the people had, we were basically all the same. We are the same make-up physically, have the same needs for survival…we all had different perspectives based on our cultural and other upbringing. I love seeing things through different eyes.
I think that I have been successful in working in these other locations because I am adaptable, flexible, curious and open to learn new things and in new ways. I am always curious about the people, culture, land and always try to speak in their native tongue. Even if that meant making a fool of myself. I gained respect for at least trying and eventually succeeded. I am always on the look out for new opportunities and look for the good in people. Treating them with respect and being open to see things their way. Having gratitude and being grateful for every moment and situation was also a big PLUS.
4. You purchased HERIZEN ™ Sailing for Women a couple of years ago. Please tell us about the history of that business, and why you decided to purchase it.
HERIZEN™ was started by Trish Birdsell-Smith back in the late 1980’s. She had a passion for supporting women to be better sailors and raise their awareness about the differences between men and women’s way of learning. After I came back from Chile a few years ago, I was working on another large project here in Canada. One day I had a vision that I was suppose to teach. I was not sure what that exactly meant and asked the Universe to explain. I got a response that it was to do with women and sailing.
One day I saw Trish…we chatted and she mentioned that she was going offshore for a few years. I asked her what she would do with the business and she mentioned selling or folding. My vision came to me suddenly and I said “What about me?” She was excited and figured I would be the best fit…at the same time wondered how I would do it with such a busy schedule of travel. Well, one thing led to another and within a few months – December 15, 2003 I was the new owner of the company. I have not regretted it and am so pleased that I can add value to so many women’s lives. Bringing experience, passion, vision, creativity, transformational processes to help women to really gain the confidence in sailing and assisting them to transfer this to many other parts of their lives is important to me.
5. What programs does HERIZEN™ Sailing offer and what makes your sailing school unique?
HERIZEN™ offers unique sailing and self-awareness courses for women of all ages. We offer retreats in the Gulf Islands in BC, Canada as well as amazing Live Aboard Sailing Adventures for both women and couples in the British Virgin Islands. We offer Canadian Yachting Certification programs and provide seminars on sailing and personal awareness. We also offer training aboard clients sailing vessels from 24 to 60 feet.