02 Oct 2020
Women in Leadership Spotlight Series Part 1: Claudia Sjoberg
Statistics show that women account for 40% of the workforce and continue to contribute to world economic development. However, studies reveal that 55% of women do not believe they possess adequate entrepreneurial skills and tend to second guess themselves compared to their male counterparts.
Manning Elliott focuses to improve this statistic and elevate women’s leadership in business. As such, an initiative of the firm's Women, Wealth, and the Future Committee aims to highlight and demonstrate how women are growing, thriving and succeeding in the economic world through our Women in Leadership spotlight series.
Our spotlight series highlights five inspiring and successful women in leadership. Our first spotlight is Claudia Sjoberg, Owner and Founder of Pedalheads. Read about her story below.
Claudia Sjoberg and the Entrepreneurial Spirit
Claudia Sjoberg says the entrepreneurial spirit has always been a part of her personality. That spirit is evident in every aspect of her business, The Pedalheads Group— a multi-sport organization based in British Columbia. As owner and founder, Sjoberg grew the company from modest beginnings to a sprawling enterprise with about 1,800 employees.
For Sjoberg, shared values and strong customer/client relationships were key to The Pedalheads Group’s success. They started out with just one small swimming pool. Today, the company has seven pools, and 150 locations for bike, sport, and trail programs across four provinces and five states.
As a young girl, Sjoberg was already business savvy. “I always sold the most cookies and sold the most newspaper subscriptions,” Sjoberg said.
But Sjoberg fell into creating her own recreation business because she wanted to do something different.
“I didn’t want it to be so penned in by all the rules and the parameters of working for a local government.”
When Sjoberg first started out, recreation businesses were typically small.
“Doing what I was doing, which was taking children’s activities and making them privatized, that was different.”
With a great culture, comes great success
Sjoberg says that a lot of her and her company’s success is due to having a good company culture.
“We run programs for kids, so we have to get a great reputation with the parents and the kids. People have to trust us and believe in what we do and think that we can enrich their kids’ lives — that we can give them skills, confidence, independence and just a general love of doing the activities.”
Because their reputation is so crucial to how they grow, The Pedalheads Group has had to focus on finding employees that they could grow with.
“I do know that finding great staff and people who have the same attitude and mindset as us is very important to us because we also have to be able to create training programs that we can use in all different regions and all different areas.”
Those shared values were appreciated by families who participated in the recreation programs. The Pedalheads Group initially experienced success because of word-of-mouth. Sjoberg says that it was more important for them than maybe for other companies because they deal with children.
“People just want the best for their kids and they need to be able to be confident in people. So, if we did not have good word-of-mouth, we would just not move forward.”
Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Having just word-of-mouth can be a challenge. Sjoberg had to be innovative and work extra hard whenever entering a new market.
“We don’t have a track record with that new market, so it’s hard to get new people to come to the program because they’ve never heard about us.”
Sjoberg says that overcoming challenges like these and challenges that come with being a woman in a leadership role is about always seeking advice and mentorship. She has worked as a mentor at various entrepreneur groups for women and suggests that young women in business join one.
“When you come upon a problem that you don’t know how to handle, you have somebody there that either knows somebody who can help you or has been through it themselves and can guide you through it.”
Sjoberg has learned over the years not to be shy and to not try to figure out everything herself — surrounding herself with a team that has the experience and can offer guidance.
“Try to identify the things that you do well and the things that you don’t do so well. Because the things that you do well are usually what makes you successful. And the things that you don’t do well ... you need to hire somebody to do them for you.”
This is important for any entrepreneur to keep in mind when growing a business, says Sjoberg. It’s easy to get bogged down with all the details when you are not talented in one aspect of the business and do not enjoy yourself, she adds.
“You forget that you’re actually a star at other parts of your business.”
In the end, a business is the sum of its parts — talented employees and a focused and creative owner.
To read our other Women in Leadership spotlights, visit our blog.