By Tammy Schlamp
After spending two years on contract in the Middle East, project managing the branding of non-competition venues for the 2006 Asian Games, I returned home to Canada seeking something new. Today, I am a successful Speedpro Signs franchisee in Red Deer, Alta.
I was born and raised in Grenfell, Sask., a small town located approximately 129 kilometers east of Regina.
I grew up on our family grain farm originally homesteaded by my great-grandfather. It was a lifestyle I didn’t always appreciate, but as I grew older, I was happy to have had the experience farm life offers. Growing up on a farm offered learning opportunities that you probably wouldn’t encounter growing up in a city. I was exposed to many different things, such as acquiring mechanical skills, using tools safely and learning how to drive various vehicles. All of these skills have proven to be useful.
We always had chores, and I learned the value of hard work as well as the importance of family. My father was not only a farmer but also a business owner. He owned a car dealership, sold farm equipment and ran the school buses for the local area. I have always admired him for his successes. Originally, I thought I would simply marry, have kids and live on a farm. I had no idea where life would actually take me.
Once I graduated high school, I attended the technical institute in Moose Jaw, Sask., and received a one-year diploma in office education. I worked as an office clerk at a satellite dish wholesaler and stayed in the industry for 10 years. During this time, I moved out of Regina and over to Red Deer.
A few years after moving to Red Deer I started working for a trade show event rental and setup company called Alberta Display, which was then purchased by ProShow Services. A year into the ownership change, I was promoted to branch manager. In 2005, after a decade in the event industry, I was approached and offered a contract overseas in the Middle East. Excited for this opportunity, I jumped out of my comfort zone and moved to Doha, Qatar.
I accepted the two-year contract and took on a project manager position, where I would oversee the branding of all non-competition venues for the Asian Games. These venues included the athletes’ village, media centre, airports, hotels and the like, totalling approximately 47 buildings.
Living and working abroad was a phenomenal experience and, for me, certainly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I was able to live in a country that was extremely diverse culturally, with a lifestyle totally different from what I had been used to. The weather was incredibly hot almost all the time, but I found I really didn’t miss the Prairie winters! I met and worked with amazing people from all over the world and now have friendships and memories I’ll cherish forever.
When my contract ended, I wasn’t sure what to do next. I owned property in Red Deer and felt like I had a significant enough support system there with friends and comfort to call it home. With my diverse work experience so specific in different industries, choosing a new path was challenging. My experience in Doha was what opened
my interest in the visual communications industry.