“Working as a team”
An interview with our new President
Satinder Chera has been appointed President of the CCSA, and we were pleased that he could sit down with us ahead of his September 26 start date.
What brought Mr. Chera to our industry?
“I am someone who believes that public policies can have a positive outcome on people’s lives, provided they have a voice in helping to shape the laws that affect them.”
Mr. Chera feels that his experience in government, marketing and communications can help support the c-store industry, which faces many opportunities and challenges, including an outdated regulatory environment and ongoing consolidation within the industry. “With its growing economic footprint, I believe the time is ripe to further advance the c-store industry’s interests. That’s exciting.”
Mr. Chera began his career in government, and “that really allowed me to get a better understanding of how public policies are made and how governments try to balance competing interests.”
He took that knowledge and translated it into making a positive difference within his community. He worked for the small business sector at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) for 13 years before joining the CCSA. “I had the privilege of being the voice for small businesses. I believe that businesses absolutely deserve a say in helping to shape the laws that affect them.”
His keen interest in advocacy stems from the fact that he emigrated with his parents from India to Canada as a child. “The importance of public service, giving back to my community, is something that runs deep in my family.”
Regarding leadership values, “I am very much a product of my parents,” he says, and cites the lifetime of sacrifices they made for their children. “My father is in his 70s and still runs his small business. My mom, for 30+ years, worked day shifts, afternoon shifts, night shifts to make a better life for myself and my sister and brother. When I think about leadership values—courage, commitment, hard work and humility—these are the things that my parents helped to instil in me. This is what I want my new colleagues and the CCSA membership to know about me.”
Mr. Chera has been happily married for ten years, and he and his wife have a four-year-old daughter to whom he affectionately refers as a “firecracker and the centre of our universe.” His family and his local community, he says, are his support structure. “We happily call Mississauga home.”
What is convenience to our new President?
“People live incredibly busy lives these days. So convenience is access to need-to-have products at convenient locations to help make our lives easier. My early observation is that the c-store industry has a very strong story to tell. Whether it be the millions of visits every day that Canadians make to c-stores across the country, or the billions of dollars that these businesses generate and give back through employment and growing the economy, to supporting government-funded programs through the taxes they pay, collect and remit, they deserve to be supported and celebrated. This made-in-Canada story attracted me to the CCSA.”
What challenges lie ahead?
“Some of the issues I dealt with before are also important to CCSA members. I have run regional and national campaigns to help bring light to the impact of credit card fees on merchants, and also the impact that government red tape can have in holding back businesses. So I hope to bring immediate value to the membership in this respect.”
He is also encouraged by the talent surrounding him. “I have a strong board that I know I will be able to lean on for advice, guidance and support, but I also look forward to working alongside the strong leaders at the regional and national associations. They have done a great job of advocating for the c-store sector. I look forward to working with them.”
What are the priorities?
“As a start, getting out there and meeting the members, understanding their issues and understanding what ‘value’ looks like to them in exchange for their membership dollars. That means asking some straightforward questions: What is it that the association should continue doing? Start doing? Stop doing? I think that outreach will help me get to work with the national board to put in place a multi-year plan to continue growing the association, which means providing a strong, credible, responsive voice for the industry in the years ahead.”
Like any business, “providing value to members is going to be top of mind for me, and that means working as a team with the regional associations, the OCSA, WCSA, ACSA and AQDA, and with NACDA to ensure we have a strong, coordinated voice advocating for the c-store sector.”
CStore Life joins the CCSA board in welcoming our new President!