Efficient and effective response to the ever-changing consumer regulatory landscape is both complex and crucial. We feature Robert Gialloreto, President & CEO of Consumer Protection BC – winner of Best CEO Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) Sector Canada and Visionary CEO of the Year, Canada – to learn more about his organisation, industry and success.   

Established in 2004 as a not-for-profit organization aimed at strengthening consumer protection in British Columbia, Consumer Protection BC is a provincial agency that regulates seven distinct sectors and a variety of consumer transactions. Its day to day activities include issuing licences, inspecting businesses to ensure they comply with the law, informing consumers of their rights and responsibilities, classifying motion pictures and investigating violations of the law.

Robert Gialloreto – President & CEO

President & CEO of Consumer Protection BC since 2013, Robert has brought a diverse blend of organisational management experience and a proven record of accomplishments to the consumer protection and regulatory world. Former President & CEO of Tourism Victoria, and former CEO with Travel Alberta International, his invaluable expertise across staff management, organisational leadership and strategic communications has been pivotal to the success of Consumer Protection BC.

As one of only 15 Canadian businesses in the category of ‘small company’ to gain the distinction of being recognised as one of 2017s ‘Best Workplaces in Canada,’ as determined by ‘Great Place to Work,’ Canada, Robert believes in a principle of strong corporate ethics. Here, he gives us insight into his values, industry challenges and outcomes and future vision for Consumer Protection BC.

For a consumer facing organisation such as Consumer Protection BC, having an efficient and skilled workforce is obviously paramount to the company’s reputation and ongoing success.

Can you give examples of the measures you’ve adopted to invest in the development of your employees?

“I credit our strong staff engagement and the way everyone works to uphold our corporate values as the foundation for our success. We have a knowledgeable, diverse, specialised workforce and I emphasize skills improvement through education and training to maintain our position as regulatory leaders.”

Flexibility and Accountability

“Balancing flexibility and accountability is important for any organization,” Robert continues. “Here at Consumer Protection BC, we have implemented a flexible working programme which shifts the focus away from continual supervisory hierarchal management into creating a culture of self-sustaining, flexible team working schedules. This has been adopted by the majority of our people and 94 per cent of our employees report they have a healthy work life balance.

Corporate values are more than just words on a poster. They must be put into operation, otherwise they have very little meaning. Every aspect of Consumer Protection BC, from hiring and recruitment through to its corporate policy, is infused and actioned with our values. Staff believe in accountability to themselves and each other, in the investment and maintenance of integrity and in the pursuit of excellence in the delivery of services which ultimately makes a positive difference in the lives of British Columbians.”

Growth and Development

“Consumer Protection BC is fortunate to have a richly diverse and specialized workforce. We encourage life-long learning and skills improvement that focus both individual needs as well as overall organisational objectives.

We recognise the need for our staff to not only grow professionally, but also respond to business and consumer needs. As such, we have implemented a range of initiatives to support growth and development — both financially and also in terms of devoting time for staff to attend relevant courses, workshops and conferences. Our Employee Training and Development Programme was recently overhauled, simplified and allocated extra budget, and this has resulted in all of our staff seeking training and developing training opportunities.”

We’ve heard how you’re making a difference through a programme of continual investment in your employees, but effective service delivery is a combination of people, technology and processes all working together to achieve efficiencies.

Could you tell us about specific challenges you’ve encountered within your role and how you’ve successfully been able to overcome them?

“Empowerment is so important, and I challenge our staff to find innovative and more efficient ways of working or solve business issues — my job is to remove the obstacles on the path to the solution, whether that’s identifying risk, managing implementation, or something else. A recent example is where some of our staff identified a particular challenge — and solution –with regards to the work ebbs and flows in our consumer inquiry centre and our licensing department. The end result was amalgamating our inquiry and licensing teams together into one, and investing in cross-training the staff to become information experts for both consumer and business-related enquiries. As a result, we’ve seen some great results: current data shows we have exceeded our targets.”

We were surprised to learn Canada classifies motion pictures on a provincial level, not national. Has this had mandate and messaging implications for Consumer Protection BC?

“There are some external pressures for a national classification system, and there’s also some misunderstanding for the need of a provincial-based classification scheme. Our response has been to continually develop the expertise of our people, provide excellent service, and to explain that the classification categories in BC are in place for very specific reasons: to reflect the community standards at the heart of British Columbian viewers, and to inform consumers of the nature of material found in motion pictures, assisting them in making sound viewing decisions.

Our motion picture classification department has earned a strong reputation in the marketplace: the skills of the personnel are well regarded, and the office is known for exercising fair processes and effectively dealing with increasing volumes. So much so that Saskatchewan relies on us to classify motion pictures exhibited in the province, and other provinces have recently approached us for preliminary discussions on similar relationship agreements. Our Director of Motion Picture Classification regularly travels the globe, speaking to the classification work of Consumer Protection BC in such locations as Korea, Ireland, and Sweden.”

Innovation and flexibility have clearly played an important part in your success. However, in a continually evolving marketplace, how do you see Consumer Protection BC being able to keep pace with the inevitable changes in regulation, trends, technology and workplace skills?

“Society is changing at a rapid pace. As a result, regulators across Canada – and likely the world – have had to adapt and react quickly, ensuring consumers are protected today and into the future. We are the only organisation of our kind in Canada and overseeing seven dynamic industries, each with their distinctive practices, is indeed a challenge. Thanks to the innovative and flexible nature of our organizational model and reporting structure to government, I’m confident we will continue to excel as a regulator, respond effectively to these evolving trends and pressures.”

Ultimately, the measure of success is not how much is undertaken, but how much is finally accomplished and in this respect Consumer Protection BC’s record speaks volumes. Last year’s achievements included issuing 8500 licences to regulated businesses, completing 358 inspections, resolving 202 enforcement files. “We all work here because we are driven by the simple mandate of helping consumers. I am fortunate to have that opportunity and to work with the skilled and passionate people that I do.” Robert concludes.

Detailed information on the industries which Consumer Protection BC regulates and licences, consumer tips and rights, information with regard to compliance and enforcement together with extensive industry related news can be found on the company website    https://www.consumerprotectionbc.ca/.