Twitter post leads Ten Thousand Villages to new GM

NEW HAMBURG, ON—Answering a job posting on Twitter eventually led Ryan Jacobs to his new position as the general manager of Ten Thousand Villages Canada.

Jacobs was the communications officer at the University of Waterloo when he saw a tweet advertising for a director of finance and operations at Ten Thousand Villages. Working towards his Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation, he'd also held roles as a purchasing manager, manager of administration and finance, and vice-president of operations with a variety of organizations.

"I'd been a long-time customer and supported Fair Trade as long as I can remember," says Jacobs. "I'd wanted to make a transition back to finance when I saw the job ad."

He was in the finance and operations role for less than a year when the board promoted him to the general manager's position. While similar to what had been the CEO's position—overseeing the New Hamburg head office and the 47 Ten Thousand Villages stores across Canada—the new general manager role has a more internal focus.

The oldest and largest Fair Trade organization in North America, Ten Thousand Villages develops long-term relationships with artisans around the world and sells their products so they can earn income from the Fair Trade products.

"We had a few tough years with the economy being difficult," says Jacobs, noting that while Ten Thousand Villages, as part of the Mennonite Central Committee, is a not-for-profit store, it still needs to "be making surpluses."

Jacobs says non-essential items—usually products priced above the $100 mark—have taken the hardest hit.

"As disposable income has shrunk, people cut back. We have some loyal followers who aren't buying as much but tell us they plan to support us in the future."

Jacobs hadn't expected a promotion so quickly. He managed four different departments in the finance and operations role, getting different teams of people working together and building trust.

"That's part of why the board decided to put me in this role," says Jacobs. "There was a sense that bringing someone in from the outside didn't make a lot of sense."

For more information visit Ten Thousand Villages.

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