In the ever-evolving universe of business, the stars of progress align, guiding us toward a brighter and more equitable future. As the Managing Editor, it is my privilege to delve into the …
An Innovative Thinker | Marina Charriere
Marina Charriere, CEO of Star Drug Testing Services, Star Drug Testing Services (Windsor Park), and First Defence Face Masks go hand in hand. Star is a drug and alcohol testing facility, and First D F M is a face mask company. One of Marina’s qualities that have transformed the organization is her openness to thinking out of the box. Her innovative ways of understanding the current need of her companies are always at the forefront of all her thinking. Coming from 25+ years in the education sector, Marina has transitioned her talent of broadening minds, her ability to inspire people, and committing herself to active listening in any environment she finds herself surrounded by, just like she did with her students and staff.
Being part of the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce allows Marina to network with many businesses and entrepreneurs in search of new innovative ideas to progress in this ever-changing economy. This organization also allows Marina to mentor and support new entrepreneurs seeking guidance. In addition, Marina spends time mentoring and supporting 2 of her 3 children, who have also decided to be entrepreneurs.
The success of their businesses confirms the motto, “If you can vision it, do it, and you will accomplish it!”.
Some of the leadership lessons Marina has learned along the way is being comfortable with diversity so much that you don’t see it anymore. You must be comfortable with the uncomfortable. “The motto has always been working until the job is done. Perhaps, more importantly, is the ability to place your trust in the power of failure,” she says. She believes and lives by “the only true failure is never trying.” Marina often states that her team is beyond exceptional, which comes from knowing when to step back and listen to what the team members are trying to say by taking those recommendations and opinions when making final decisions.
Marina is often found working but can be found spending time with grandchildren, jet skiing, working out, walking her poodles, and traveling with her husband; this keeps her mind churning the brilliant ideas that keep the company in the headlines. For the pioneering leader, keeping emotionally and physically fit is essential. She believes that work-life balance is necessary for that continued energy and clear perspective but can often be forgotten. She admits that her husband, Dan is her coach when it comes to reminding her to take some “fun time” and enjoy life. Marina has no idea how one can be successful without having that person in life that you trust entirely in keeping you on track “grounded” because it has made me a better CEO.
The steadfast leader knows that business success differs for everyone; it all depends on a person’s definition of success. However, she believes growth and stability should be present for five years. “The first few years are all about finding your direction and establishing your business as a real company. You must find your groove! Without believing, persevering and positive perceptions are fundamental to your long-term success,” elucidates Marina. “I was fortunate to find success within 2 years of my companies, but there were also many sleepless nights! You must be strategic, be ready to adapt proactively, and constantly engage for impact.” All successful CEOs know that they also need objective support that can help increase sales, redirect strategies, and assist with presentation prep; Marina is fortunate to have Stephane Seguin from Montreal being her Sales Business Coach/Consultant. This support has brought value to the progress of the businesses.
Marina has been taking the company to new heights with this unique mindset. Star Drug Testing Services provides drug and alcohol testing utilizing hair, nail, urine, saliva, breath, or nasal/throat swab. Testing can be instant (POCT) or sent to a lab for confirmation. Testing is done for random, pre-employment, reasonable cause, personal, return to duty, and follow-up, by coming to one of our two Winnipeg facilities or calling to schedule a mobile test during or after hours. The clients include DOT companies, NonDOT companies, CFS, construction companies, RCMP, City Police, Pilots, Personal, and employers in Manitoba and across Canada. They also offer training courses that complement the needs of their clients, allowing them to comply with drug and alcohol policies within the workplace. The company’s testing is endless as they have access to thousands of collection sites in North America.
The latest technologies that have been incorporated into the organization at Star to enhance test results efficiencies has been the software Veriport (veriport.ca). This cloud-based software platform Veriport is a secure, cloud-based reporting platform for drug and alcohol testing. We also hired Barry McKay Consulting from Winnipeg, which overlooks, manages, and monitors all our data storage and data security needs. This allowed Marina and her team real peace of mind.
“Clients benefit and trust our products and services. They can rely on Canadian-made products with a Canadian company that adheres to Canadian regulations,” explains Marina. “That’s important as we saw during the Covid Pandemic, PPE supplies were scarce, and buying foreign was risky. As for Star, although we service companies all over Canada, Manitoba Trucking companies could rely on someone ‘at home’.” One of its most significant achievements of Star is to offer DOT and NDOT drug and alcohol testing random testing programs right in Manitoba. The efficiency and reliability are next to none for all cross-border commercial transport. As for First Defence Face Masks, Canadian-made masks allow companies to trust that all liabilities and regulations are Federally followed. It takes the worry out!
For the days to come, Star is working on widening the PPE Canadian-made supplies First Defence Face Masks offers. Gloves, gowns, and sanitizer, to name a few, are all needed supplies for healthcare facilities at home and Canadian-wide. “As for Star, we are looking at opening several other locations so that accessibility for all can be met more easily,” says Marina. She has mastered the art of pivoting and, in fact, often says “pivoting” is the main ingredient to a successful long-term business. In today’s markets and their ever-changing demands/needs, one must be ready to adapt, change and rethink. She has always believed that tomorrow is gone and can’t change it; today, it’s already happening, but tomorrow is something she can change!
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