Living Every Day to The Fullest: Grad Turns Life Lessons into Consulting Business, Advocacy Efforts

Story by Rob O’Flanagan

   
  
    
  
   Normal 
   0 
   
   
   
   
   false 
   false 
   false 
   
   EN-CA 
   X-NONE 
   X-NONE 
   
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
   
   
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
  
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
  
   
 
 /* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
	{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
	mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
	mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
	mso-style-noshow:yes;
	mso-style-priority:99;
	mso-style-parent:"";
	mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
	mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
	mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
	mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
	mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
	line-height:115%;
	mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
	font-size:11.0pt;
	font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif;
	mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
	mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
	mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
	mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;
	mso-ansi-language:EN-CA;}
 
    His dog , Sawyer, in the lead, Drew Cumpson motors down the back  roads near his home, with personal support worker Matt Crosgrove alongside.

His dog , Sawyer, in the lead, Drew Cumpson motors down the back  roads near his home, with personal support worker Matt Crosgrove alongside.

Drew Cumpson books it on the back roads of Loyalist Township in his power wheelchair, an Invacare TDX SP model loaded with features. He steers, brakes and guns it with subtle movements of his head and neck. His T-shirt reads “Eat. Sleep. Travel” – the slogan of his former school at the University of Guelph.

Cumpson’s dog, Sawyer, takes the lead as Cumpson motors down the blacktop, alongside hayfields north of Amherstview, in the rolling landscape upcountry from Lake Ontario’s northeastern shore.

The young man’s personal support workers have trouble keeping up. One lags well behind, preserving her energy, while another quicksteps alongside. The chair goes just fast enough to give Sawyer a workout and Cumpson a breeze.

A graduate of the School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management, Cumpson, 26, is a determined, stubborn and resilient person who is on a mission to live life to the fullest. As a quadriplegic, he wants to help others with disabilities do the same.

His life over the last six years, he says, has been one big learning curve – a difficult process of learning to live well after suddenly losing the use of his arms and legs. He has lots of experiential learning to share.

Earlier this year, Cumpson launched his website www.drewcumpson.com, the centrepiece of his H & D (Hospitality and Disability) Consulting business. He advises restaurants, hotels and airlines on improving accessibility, while coaching people with disabilities in everything from travel planning to obtaining post-secondary education to maintaining a healthy attitude.

He also advocates for better health services for people with disabilities, and for changes to the Ontario Disability Support Program so it provides more support for those wanting to get o the program, earn a living or start a business.

“Yes, my life has changed,” he says, sitting in the open-space living room of the rural home built specially for him by his family, close to the medical services he needs in nearby Kingston.

“I cannot do all the same things that I used to do, but I try to do as many of those things as possible, in order to continue living a life that is comparable to what I would be doing if I did not have my accident. I have to go forward in life, no matter what. I am not giving up.”

A few days before the 2011 swimming accident that altered his life, Cumpson was looking out over Peru’s Andes Mountains from the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, among the seven wonders of the world. He vowed then to visit the remaining six. It was one of his last experiences on foot.

Unaccustomed to world travel as a person with a disability, he nevertheless visited Mexico’s Chichen Itza in early 2016, another of the world’s wonders. He did it because he promised himself he would.

He encountered many obstacles and inaccessible places. It inspired him to work to make travel easier for those with a disability.

“I’ve always been someone who, once something is in my mind, I am going to focus on completing that task, no matter what.”

In May 2011, Cumpson was part of a University of Guelph humanitarian trip to Peru, helping to improve the lives of local people living in poverty.

On the last day of the volunteer trip, he was swimming in the Pacific Ocean. One especially powerful wave drove him headfirst into the rocky ocean floor. The impact fractured the fourth cervical vertebra in his spine.

“I don’t really recall the first two or three weeks after the accident,” he says.

Paralyzed from the armpits down, he spent 16 months in intensive care at Kingston General Hospital. There were many complications. He was transferred to the former St. Mary’s of the Lake facility for complex continuing care, where he spent three years.

Now, Cumpson lives at home in a decidedly non-clinical setting. He requires round-the-clock care. Medical specialists monitor his health. He needs a ventilator to breathe and a pacemaker to ensure his heart rate remains above 60 beats per minute.

It was at St. Mary’s that he decided to resume his studies at U of G. He had been away for ve semes- ters. The option of transferring to Queen’s University in Kingston was suggested, but he said no. He would stick with what he called U of G’s “best in the nation” hospitality program.

“I wanted to show that even though you have a disability, you can still do everything from an educational perspective,” says Cumpson, whose tattoo of a leaping Moby Dick on his left bicep is a symbol of his own story of strength and survival.

After starting back at the University in January 2013, he learned that his mother was diagnosed with cancer. She fought a strong battle, he says, but died on July 17 that year.

Cumpson persevered. He took all the distance education classes he could. Skype allowed him to attend further courses remotely. Other students took notes for him. Faculty and sta did whatever was necessary to make it happen. “They were just amazing,” Cumpson says.

Mike von Massow, now a professor in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics, was teaching in the College of Business and Economics when Cumpson made his return to his studies.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it,” says von Massow. “His commitment to finishing the program – and the support he got from other students – was admirable. It really was amazing. It was inspira- tional when he came across the stage to graduate.”

Cumpson’s body is confined, but his mind is unconstrained. It darts and dashes, keeping him awake at night.

“My brain never shuts off,” he says. “It does not shut off at all.”

He is bombarded by thoughts about his future, his consulting business, the challenges he faces and how best to overcome them. There is a connecting thread of optimism running through it all.

   
  
    
  
   Normal 
   0 
   
   
   
   
   false 
   false 
   false 
   
   EN-CA 
   X-NONE 
   X-NONE 
   
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
   
   
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
  
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
  
   
 
 /* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
	{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
	mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
	mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
	mso-style-noshow:yes;
	mso-style-priority:99;
	mso-style-parent:"";
	mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
	mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
	mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
	mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
	mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
	line-height:115%;
	mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
	font-size:11.0pt;
	font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif;
	mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
	mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
	mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
	mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;
	mso-ansi-language:EN-CA;}
 
    Cumpson’s optimism, and his smile, shines through.

Cumpson’s optimism, and his smile, shines through.

 “I’ve honestly never seen him have a negative day,” says Madison Simmons, a best friend. “He’s always positive. He’s just so driven. When he sets his mind to something, he has to see it through.”

Before his accident, Cumpson had no idea of the challenges facing people with disabilities. “As someone who went from being able-bodied to disabled in an instant, I realized very quickly how inaccessible it is, and how many barriers there are in this world for people living with disabilities of any kind.”

Yet Cumpson doesn’t think of himself as disabled. “In terms of my disability, I look at it more as not really a disability, but something along the lines of just having different abilities now than what I had before. My abilities in life have changed, but I still have these other abilities to push forever and work through in life.”

This story, reprinted with permission, originally appeared in The University of Guelph’s Portico Magazine. 

H & D Consulting, Cumpson’s consulting practice offers practical guidance for people with disabilities on

  • the dos and don’ts of world travel
  • the pursuit of higher education
  • the art of self advocacy
  • sex and relationships

 

Making Connections in the Music Industry

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Tim Fraser has been the Events and Activities Programmer for the Fanshawe College Student Union for the last three years, taking over the role previously occupied by Pat Maloney. Tim mentioned that he is still referred to as “The New Pat” all these years later, however he has been successfully making the position his own by booking big name acts for the college such as Dallas Smith and Fred Penner. Tim has often been a guest lecturer for the Music Industry Arts program at Fanshawe (where he was once a student) and more recently he has also helped Sheridan College book performers for their events.

In addition to his work as the Events and Activities Programmer, Tim is the owner and Creative Director of Murdoch Music Management, a company he runs with his wife, Tanya Chopp-Fraser.  “We are an artist management and music industry consulting business. I kind of started it myself, as I come from the music industry.” Tim jokingly added that he made Tanya join him as a business partner. However, her marketing skills proved to be a real asset to Murdoch Music. “My wife is very, very smart. [Tanya] works in marketing…. She came up with the name of the company and the logo… so really, I kind of think it’s her company and I help her with it. That’s probably how it should be, but yeah, it’s just the two of us”, he explained. Together they have interviewed artists such as Frank Turner and Northcote for their Murdoch Music podcast, available on iTunes.  

Not one to be star-struck very often, Fraser said that his most memorable guest on the show so far was children’s entertainer, Fred Penner. Penner did a show at Fanshawe in 2015, and much to Tim’s surprise, he also agreed to an interview.  “I [got] an email from Fred! It was just like, ‘Hey Tim, looking forward to the show! I would love to sit down and chat with you!’…. I lost it. I screenshotted it, and posted it, and texted it to my brother and my parents! I was like, ‘Oh my God! This is weird! I can’t believe I’m at that point now where I’m getting an email from Fred Penner!”

In addition to Fred, Tim noted that having done interviews with people like Lindi Ortega, Eric Alper and the President of FACTOR have added credibility to his podcast and so it has become easier for him to interview other people in the industry. All he does is ask, usually via email. Fraser tries to reach out to the publicity contacts listed on an artist’s website, especially if they are on tour in London. “The worst they can say is no, and then you don’t get to interview them.”

On the managing side, Tim acts as the booking agent for singer-songwriter Ken Yates and the two-man circus freak show, “Monsters of Schlock”. Although he couldn’t mention the artists involved, Fraser is excited to expand his roster very soon, because for him, it’s the best part of his job! “I really love the artist management and consulting and helping people write grants. That’s the whole reason I started that company… to help artists with the monotony and the business side, because a lot of really creative people aren’t good at business. It’s a completely different mindset and work ethic, too.”

A life-long musician himself, Tim grew up playing classical violin and was involved in the Suzuki music program. At one time, Tim could be found playing in orchestras but he now only “dabbles” with the violin. He traded it in for the guitar, and later, a saxophone. “…High school hit, hormones started kicking in and I thought to myself, ‘I can’t land a girlfriend playing the violin! This is so nerdy!’ …So I taught myself how to play the guitar. I’m now in my 30s and look back on it, and I see people like Tim Chaisson who plays violin very well, and my wife wishes that I still played the violin.”

Fraser began writing and singing his own punk rock and ska songs in high school and eventually toured Canada as a member of the band, Angry Agency. Now as the person who is responsible for bringing acts to Fanshawe and other venues, Tim has been both the performer and the promoter. He uses his personal experiences to help make better events for everybody involved.  “It helps a lot coming from the performing side of things just because … I’ve been on the other side of it. So it helps with all the hospitality stuff and the planning of it. I know that when I was an artist touring around, what I would’ve wanted to know from the promoter…. I really do pride myself in how I treat artists and performers when they come on campus. I make a concerted effort to make sure they’re comfortable and having a good time…. A lot of people don’t realize [the performers] are actually people and they’re providing a service so you’ve got to treat them well,” Tim explained. Part of making an artist comfortable involves following their rider and using common sense. For example, Tim said that if someone asked him for a Diet Pepsi, he wouldn’t give them a Coke Zero.

Tim Fraser’s advice?  “Take any opportunity that you can get, work your ass off, do a good job and just be nice to people. Treat people with respect and don’t burn your bridges-- the entertainment business is a very, very small world where a lot of people know each other and a lot of people talk.  I’ve seen people lose clients and lose work.”  Tim gave up three well-paying jobs to work as an intern for True North Records six years ago in order to get a foot in the door. He has no regrets because the connections he has made helped him become “a viable member of the Canadian Music Industry”.

Getting the Right People in the Right Job! Danielle’s Recruiting Story

By Craig Leonard, WorkStory Ambassador at Western University 

Danielle Giannattasio is a Recruiter for Aerotek, a leading company in the recruiting and staffing industry. As a recruiter Danielle’s job is to place suitable candidates in positions assigned to her on a contract basis. She specializes as a Technical Recruiter within Aerotek’s Engineering Services division. Specifically, she pursues engineers –  technologists, mechanical and electrical designers, and a wide range of specialized engineers.

This is far from the typical 9-5 job. Danielle’s schedule is mostly based around that of her clients and contractors. Typically, she begins the day by meeting with the other recruiters in her office to discuss the most urgent positions that they are working on. After prioritizing business, Danielle begins the recruiting process by using job boards and the company’s own database to screen for candidates, depending on the type of position she is trying to fill. Much of the workday is spent interviewing applicants to uncover what they themselves are looking for in a career and what their interests may be. Danielle also coaches selected applicants on their interview skills to help increase their chances of landing jobs.

Danielle thinks of herself as a subject matter expert in the engineering field, and because of this she is able to act as a consultant to her clients. While her primary objective is to provide the most qualified candidates, she also offers business and industry advice based on her daily interactions and findings in the market. Once she is successful in getting a candidate hired, her job is far from done. She continues to work with the contractor throughout their employment to ensure that they are satisfied, and moving towards accomplishing their own goals. When asked what it takes to be successful in recruiting, Danielle says, “A competitive and hardworking attitude…recruiting is about generating results under pressure.”

To get to where she is today, Danielle began by earning an undergraduate degree in Political Science at McMaster University. After completing her degree, she was unsure of what direction to head. She knew that she enjoyed working with people and had always excelled at sales, which fueled her decision to enroll in a Human Resource Management Post-Graduate program at Humber College. Danielle loved the one-year program but was not convinced by the end of it that she wanted to pursue a career in human resources. A requirement of her program was to complete an internship and she began inquiring about various companies and sections of human resources that she wanted to work in. She begun looking into recruiting companies and realized that given her interpersonal skills and passion for sales recruiting was a unique field that she could see herself working in. She then reached out to a number of individuals who were working as recruiters to learn more about what the staffing industry is like.

Funnily enough, after speaking with a number of recruiters she was approached by a recruiter at Aerotek for an opportunity to work in the company. The interview process for Aerotek is unique. It involves a 3-step interview, followed by a “half day”, during which the interviewees work at an Aerotek office for a half of a day to fully submerge themselves in the Aerotek way of life. After successfully completing this rigorous process Danielle was hired in June 2015. Although Danielle entered the staffing industry in order to complete a program requirement, she is fiercely passionate about her job and continues to love it and excel at it. When asked whether she would take the same educational path to her career in recruiting Danielle says, “Absolutely. While I don’t think that a background in human resources is necessary to do my job, I’m not sure that I would have ever entered the staffing industry and come across Aerotek if I didn’t get into it.”

What Danielle loves most about about her job is the fact that she is doing something different and learning something new, every single day. Although she was initially nervous to enter the engineering field without any prior knowledge of the industry, Danielle, as a naturally curious person, didn’t have a hard time networking with industry experts to gain some insight. “During any given week, I talk to at least 100 engineers, all from different backgrounds, with different educations and experiences.” One encounter Danielle remembers fondly is when she met one of the men who took part in designing the Mars Rover!

“Working in engineering has opened my eyes to so many things that I wouldn’t have paid attention to before. You wouldn’t believe how much you can learn from simply listening to other people’s stories.”

Danielle explains that the most satisfying part of her job is hearing that a client is pleased with their employee. “People rely on employment for their livelihood and it feels good being a part of that for someone.” Staffing is a competitive industry, and Danielle loves the competition involved in hiring the best people to the best companies, along with the challenge that comes with the pressure to make deadlines. She states that staffing is a unique industry; “You are dealing with the most unpredictable product – people.”

Danielle’s advice for people searching for employment? “Recruiters look for people that know what they want from a job or an opportunity. Although this may be difficult with the vast number of opportunities out there, it is important that you begin with an end goal in mind.”

 

Applying Outside the (Online) Box: Daniel's Engineering Story

By Daniel Fensom      Facilitated by Elyse Trudell, WorkStory Ambassador

Dan Fensom.jpg

I was quite amazed reading the stories of young, talented people on this site. In thinking of what to write for my post, it took many hours to determine how my story compared to those of successful entrepreneurs, brilliant artists and activists for social change. So I thought I would begin, from what I remember to be the first thing I wanted to become when I grew up; a professional hockey player. Upon realizing just how realistic this dream was by the young age of 14, I thought it would be time to explore other career paths; perhaps an avalanche hunter in BC, guide in Yukon or a lobster fisherman on the east coast.

I settled on attending the University of Guelph for environmental engineering. I had no idea what to expect prior to the start of second year. I always knew I had a deep passion for nature and exploring the wilderness so I figured that with my math and science credits from high school, environmental engineering would be a suitable subject. I initially thought that I would be designing wind turbines and solar panels but I was gravely mistaken. Much of what I learned in school was about water quality and treatment, air pollution and soil quality.

Although I liked and appreciated the new material I was learning, I often thought that maybe engineering wasn’t for me; maybe attending law school or completing a master’s degree would better suit me. The choice became especially difficult in my final year of university when several of my friends decided to pursue a master’s degree. I came to the conclusion that I should test the engineering job market first and if it did not pan out, I could always return to school. So I scoured the school’s job posting website, recruiting websites and top engineering firm job sites; applying to every applicable job I could. It then occurred to me that there are probably thousands of recent grads applying to these same positions with more experience and higher final grades than me. I then started to search out the smaller firms; ones not listed in the top 100 engineering firms. Although there weren’t necessarily job openings posted, I sent in my resume anyways as a general application.

My hunch worked and soon after graduating, I was lucky enough to have been offered a job at a small engineering consulting firm – XCG Consultants Ltd. It happened to be for a position that I was very intrigued by and enjoyed learning about in school. I have been at this firm now for almost a year and a half and I have really enjoyed my time there. The projects are extremely diverse and I’ve yet to work the same day twice.

The projects I am involved with are mostly water related where I simulate what happens to municipalities under extreme storm events. We then recommend solutions based on our results. As a smaller consulting firm, we do get our share of larger projects but we also get quite a few smaller projects. The smaller projects are really what provide with valuable learning experiences and the opportunity to work in a range of disciplines.

I think the variety of my work is a result of the culture surrounding smaller engineering consulting firms. Smaller companies don’t often employ many junior staff and as a result, junior staff are often assigned a number of projects of a wide variety rather than specializing in one specific task or project. Another intriguing aspect of smaller companies is the hierarchal structure. As a junior staffer, you’re often dealing directly with the senior partners and associates, thus minimizing the distance between you and the final decision makers.

Just recently I learned a valuable lesson for all job seekers. Senior managers don’t like posting job openings online. They seem to find it difficult to differentiate the people who are really passionate about the work from those who have used the same cover letters for the hundreds of other job postings. Senior managers prefer those who take the initiative of sending in their applications even though a posting online may not exist. I’m not saying applying to all the postings on a recruiting website is a bad idea, but rather diversify your applications to firms who don’t post openings online.

If you are truly passionate about a position or field of work, show it and apply where you want to work, regardless of online postings.