By Trish Paterson
If you had asked me 30 years ago how I would be spending my retirement, I never would have predicted I would be a multi-unit franchisee for a vegan quick-service restaurant (QSR) chain, working alongside head office to strengthen and build the brand in the Ontario market. Today, I can honestly say Copper Branch has changed my life for the better and I love my so-called retirement!
Born in Ottawa, I moved to Oshawa, Ont., as a toddler and have always regarded the area, Durham Region, as my home. I was a tomboy. I loved sports, especially ice hockey and ringette. I rode horses and even spent a year barrel racing.
I’ve always adored animals. When I was a teenager, I became a vegetarian. I maintained my meat-free diet until my now-husband, Sean, invited me to his parents’ house for dinner. My future mother-in-law had prepared a chicken dish and, not wanting to seem rude, I ate it. From there, I slowly slipped back into life as an omnivore.
I studied criminology at Carleton University in Ottawa with every intention of becoming a lawyer. After completing my Bachelor of Arts (BA) in 1988, I took a year off to work full-time and save money for law school.
I landed a position in information technology (IT) with the systems engineering department at Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in Toronto. I had a university degree, but I didn’t have any experience with computers. Nonetheless, I worked hard, completed on-the-job training and soon was well-versed in computer programming. I ended up loving the company so much, I skipped law school to continue climbing the corporate ladder. While working for EDS, I married Sean and we eventually welcomed our three sons.
From IT, I was transferred to the company’s financial division on the advice of my lifelong business mentor and now best friend, Cathy, where I crunched numbers for two years before taking a position in sales and development. I found this was the part of the business I loved the most, the client side. I worked with associates in all industries, from health care to oil and gas. I travelled a lot for work, meeting and networking with clients across the country.
Working within so many departments at EDS helped me understand every aspect of the business and how the sectors worked in tandem. It allowed me to better understand ‘big picture’ goals and see how corporate pieces should fit together to work effectively.
In 2008, EDS was purchased by Hewlett Packard (HP) and I was promoted to vice-president (VP) of operations for Canada. I stayed in this position for seven years before finally retiring in December 2015, after 28 years in the industry. I loved my job, but I felt exhausted. I went on a lot of business trips and spent many evenings in hotel rooms, eating cheap dinners out of vending machines. When I wasn’t travelling for work, I played recreational hockey every Sunday, but it wasn’t enough leisure. I was tired and needed to focus on me for a while.