On this week’s Employee Spotlight, featuring the staff here and what they do, we have Bernard Ntansah, our Coordinator of Administrative Logistics at The Storefront.
Name: Bernard Ntansah
Job Title: Coordinator of Administrative Logistics
What do you do at The Storefront?
I’d like to say that the role that I play at The Storefront is to provide and facilitate the creation of tools, resources, and information to enable staff of the organization to do their job as effectively as possible. This has become especially important as The Storefront looks to translate our in-person work to the current virtual reality. COVID-19 has accelerated The Storefront’s adoption of digital technologies and I strive to train staff, reduce any growing pains and establish processes that we will carry into the future.
In our previous reality, managing the physical equipment in the building was a large part of keeping the organization running. From computers to printers and televisions to fax machines, the equipment of The Storefront required maintenance to allow staff and residents perform the work that they set out to do.
Other areas that I contribute to are the day to day finances, supporting our external communications, staying up to date with legislations and policies that impact the work that we do.
“Jack of all trades, master of none, though oftentimes better than a master of one.”
The idea behind it is that there are many people who want to excel in one part of their lives or jobs. If you are a jack of all trades, master of none, it means that you are competent in many different areas, which is far more effective and helpful than being an expert in only one area.
What does it mean to you to be part of a Community Backbone organization?
If I had to use the analogy of the human body, I would say that the brain controls the whole person while it is the spine that is providing support and is in touch with what is going on at all times. To me, The Storefront is that spine. As a Community Backbone Organization, the goal isn’t to control what is going on at any given time. Rather, the aim is to make sure each part of the community, or the body, is able to reach their full potential and to work well together. Information is passed on from one group/person to another, systems are coordinated to ensure that all parts are functioning smoothly, and new connections are continuously being made between all of the system players. The spine, or backbone organization, lays a foundation for growth allowing the community to thrive.
What influenced you to work in the social services sector?
Growing up, I had no idea when I wanted to do. In high school, I met my half-sister, who is mute, meaning that she is unable to communicate verbally. Meeting her sparked me to get involved in the social services field. This is because I realized that she was someone who had such a positive outlook on life even though she had informed me that three things were working against her: her disability, she is a person of colour, and that she is female. This influenced me to help people who are even less fortunate be able to get to the same view of the world that she had. From there, I took social science courses in grades 11 and 12 and continued to do so, getting my degree in sociology at York University.
I like Interstellar, just because it is one of the few science fiction movies that have a lot of scientific facts and real physics in it. I was drawn to movie by the premise that dealt with the physics of time and how it is manipulated by celestial bodies.
I also like Snowpiercer, which imagines a world where climate change has ruined the world and all of humanity is reduced to a couple hundred people living on a constantly moving train.
What do you enjoy most about working at The Storefront?
I think it’s the fact that every day at The Storefront is different for me. I never have the same exact experience twice because some days I’m working really hard on communications, but the next day becomes all about health and safety, and then on another day, there’s a big finance issue to solve. I need to solve each of these challenges in a different way so nothing ever gets stale for me. I’m always being challenged in different ways, which allows me to grow in many different areas as well.
Where is your favourite place to eat or your favourite food/cuisine?
There is something special about eating a good bao. It is the perfect vessel for delivering food to your stomach. During this time of physical distancing, I have learned to make them. I would probably say my favourite cuisine is Japanese, I like everything with the exception of anything that has seaweed in it, so no sushi rolls for me.
What is a project that you are working on at The Storefront?
A project that I’m taking on for myself is a relationship management database that is currently used to track our donors and employers. Because some of The Storefront’s contacts are, for instance, a donor, a volunteer, and even works with resident leadership circles; the staff at The Storefront may not be able to recognize that this person is having three separate conversations in three different circles. Each new staff member who comes across these contacts may treat it as a new relationship, while in fact, The Storefront already has a relationship with this person. The database will help track all of The Storefront’s core contacts so that the relationships with these contacts can be leveraged and more streamlined.
Apart from your work at The Storefront, what are some hobbies you have outside of the office?
I play archery tag, it’s like playing dodgeball, but with bows and arrows.
If someone were looking to join the team at The Storefront, or looking for work in a role similar to yours or in the nonprofit sector in general, what advice would you have for them?
Be comfortable with change. Things change very often based on the needs of the community, the staff, and funding. This will affect the type of work that you do as well as what types of resources you will need.
Favourite place you’ve traveled?
I would say Newfoundland because you can see so many different environments there. When you drive outside the city, you can see icebergs and even get them to it via boat. Then when you climb up a mountain, the bottom of it is a rainforest, while the top of the mountain is covered with snow. There’s also a place where the tectonic plates have shifted, so you are standing on the Earth’s mantle instead of the crust. Within 7 hours, you can be able to experience so many climate zones and see different things.
Where do you hope to see The Storefront in the next five years?
Seeing The Storefront be able to better adapt to changing technologies. I see technology, and access to it, as something that can make society more equitable as its use may help create bridges between people, knowledge, skills and opportunities. For instance, in the past, we were all limited in terms of the information that we had access to. The Internet has become an integral technological tool that provides us to gain access to information that was once only for a privileged few. If the sector were to better embrace technology, it would enable us to use data to inform our work to better serve the community so that the community can be provided with tools that can further improve their lives and be used to collaborate with one another.