Marcia Nozick

CEO, EMBERS (Eastside Movement for Business and Economic Renewal Society)

| Chung Chow

Each year, Business in Vancouver recognizes B.C.’s most outstanding businesswomen in private and public-sector companies. Honourees have risen through the ranks to become leaders in their fields. They help to influence and shape policy not just in our province, but also at some of Canada’s largest companies and organizations. This year’s winners include six women across a wide range of industries, with varying backgrounds and some very impressive credentials.


Marcia Nozick came to Vancouver in the late 1990s to do her PhD at Simon Fraser University, after completing a master’s in urban planning at the University of Manitoba and publishing the book No Place Like Home: Building Sustainable Communities. She immersed herself in community issues in the Downtown Eastside, which led to her founding the Eastside Movement for Business and Economic Renewal Society (EMBERS) to help people with barriers to employment become productive and economically self-sufficient. In 2008, Nozick broke new ground by launching EMBERS Staffing Solutions, an award-winning temporary staffing agency and social enterprise that has had a tremendous social impact. Nozick is still a hands-on CEO who often comes in at 5:30 a.m. to help drive workers to job sites.

What does it mean to be an influential woman? • I never set out to be an influential woman, but I know that my work over the years – the book I wrote and the work I’ve done in community economic development and our business – has influenced the sector of community economic development and the world of business. People now see and understand that business can be both successful and be used as a platform for doing social good. I feel really good about that influence. I think the success and influence I’ve had is really the result of having courage and staying true to my values and what I really believe in.

What are some of the early lessons you learned in life and leadership that serve you today? • Never give up. It’s really important to see things through. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s important to recognize that you don’t know everything. Tap into experts and surround yourself with people who can do the things you’re not so good at doing. As a leader, it’s also important to be authentic and to listen to other people – be open to others and new ways of doing things.

What does work-life balance mean to you? • I’m probably way overbalanced on the work side, but work is also my passion and my joy, which makes a big difference. I’m also at a stage in my life where my kids are grown and I really have the time and the luxury to be able to devote myself to the work that I love. It rejuvenates me.

What is your advice for the next generation of women leaders? • Lead by example. When you really strive for excellence in everything that you do, you tend to elevate those around you to that level. Also, find your “why.” Find your passion and go after it.

If you can connect your work to what you feel passionate about, you can’t ever go wrong. Things find a way of falling into place. In the end, you’ll be both successful and have a meaningful life. I don’t think it can get better than that.