Connect Series: Meet Claire McKellar from Reception/Client Services!

Claire is responsible for reception and client services and is part of the culture club at Reportex. She comes to us with an extensive background in customer service, office administration and management.

While she is now a Vancouverite, Claire was born in Winnipeg, where she began her work in client relations. In 2014 she moved to Edmonton, where she continued to grow her knowledge and expertise as well as acquire new skills from different industries.

In her spare time Claire enjoys cooking meals from every culture, exploring Vancouver and nurturing her long-distance relationships with friends and family. Claire has a passion for travel, understanding other cultures and learning how people in other parts of the world live.

At Reportex our core values of team, mentorship, equality, community and industry are central to what we do. Which of these values resonates most strongly with you and why?

These three core values resonate with me the most:

Team is important. Recently I needed the Reportex team, and they had my back in every way imaginable. It was amazing to see, and I felt the positive vibes from all angles. Whether it was covering my duties, taking calls while I had no voice, spending time trying to help me figure out my computer/internet issues — the team was there, and I will never forget it. My dad used to tell me, when you have a strong team, nobody ever feels alone. Thanks for not leaving me alone, team. I appreciate you.

Mentorship is a big one for me. In many jobs I have had in the past, mentorship was lacking. Everyone was afraid that if they taught you how to do what they did, you were going to steal their job. I have been with Reportex for four months now, and in that time I have learned from everyone. Everyone is willing to give you information, show you how they do this or that, etc. In this company if your mind is open and your attitude is right, the learning opportunities for you are endless.

Equality in general hits very close to home for me. First, I’m a female. We still have a long way to come before that equality issue is fully resolved. But I also come from an immigrant family, and my former partner is Jamaican. I have watched my loved ones struggle in various ways for different reasons. For my parents it was language barriers and people telling them to go back to where they came from. I remember in the late 90s my father invested a lot of money in English classes and speech correction so that he could speak without an accent. I didn’t understand it at the time, but as an adult I do, and it makes me sad that he felt that this was something he had to do to earn the respect of his colleagues and advance in his career.

For my former partner it’s been the colour of his skin and his dreadlocks that have caused people to use derogatory language towards him (both at work and in public) or talk down to him. There was a point where he considered cutting off his dreadlocks. (In Rastafarian culture/way of life dreads are something to be proud of, and you are not supposed to cut them. They are considered part of your identity. The longer the better!) It has always made me so angry that things like appearance or the way someone speaks (which are things that people are born with and cannot change) affect the way people think and interact with others. I truly believe that everyone is equal and that we have the choice to embrace differences. We can learn from differences instead of treating them like they are something to look down on someone for. I will continue to ask the universe to ensure future generations are less ignorant in these areas.

We have been talking a bit about wellness on the blog and through our Slack channels. Do you have a favourite way to recharge or any tips for staying well?

Recently I have started to try and be more mindful. I have paid attention to how I am feeling, and I try to understand why I am feeling that way. It has forced me to become more patient with myself and allowed me to understand myself better. I am trying to put in some extra effort to focus on solutions instead of problems, which so far has been easier said than done, but I am looking forward to some personal growth in that area!

When all else fails, music is medicine for me. Whenever life gets just a little too real, I turn up my reggae/dancehall music and get my dance on. Certain beats and certain words, they have a way of repairing my aura. Life is hard, and adulting is serious crap sometimes, but turning up my jams, singing along and busting a move puts a smile back on my face and allows me to ease my mind. It’s also excellent comic relief for those who are around when it’s happening, LOL!

The last year has been a serious test for me; the struggle at times has been way too real. However, mindfulness, music and hugs from my mamma always bring me back to life.

We just came back from a very strange holiday season. Did you do anything special or creative to connect with loved ones over the holidays?

This year was a very different holiday season. This year I was in Winnipeg with my mom, my sister and my niece. My family arranged a Zoom meeting for us all to be able to sit and eat our dinners together. Everyone showed everyone else what they cooked, we all had a chance to share what was new and then we played some games and opened the gifts we had sent to each other. It was much more fun than I anticipated. Turns out that sarcasm and dirty jokes are still funny over Zoom, LOL.

As we reflect over the year 2020, what was your biggest takeaway and why?

Oh, 2020 — what a year. Not only was it the year I turned 30 — facepalm — but at one point I was convinced that this year was trying to break me down until there was nothing left of me. The year started with the loss of my grandmother and ended with the loss of my father. In between there were employment issues, family issues and racism issues that affected those I am very close to; the disappointment of cancelling all the trips I had planned for the year; and many other disappointments. My takeaway from this year is that I am one tough chick. Life can throw me some really sour lemons, but it’s the perspective I choose to have on things that will allow me to make lemonade or not. 2020 taught me that when life gets hard, I need to find out what it is trying to teach me. I am choosing to see 2020 as a setup for better things instead of a setback. Perspective is everything.

Am I glad the year is over? Heck yes! It was starting to feel like I was in a never-ending game of Jumanji. I was just waiting for the stampede.  

You began working in client relations in 2014, which likely ties into your love of travelling and exploring other cultures. Living in Vancouver, we are lucky to be so diverse. What have you learned about different cultures while living in beautiful British Columbia? 

I have been working with clients for a long time — even before 2014! I am definitely a people person. I love to travel, and I have been to many places (all over Canada, Jamaica, Trinidad, Senegal, Gambia, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Argentina, El Salvador, Honduras, Italy, Greece, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France and the good ol’ US of A). I love to have the local experience. I want to meet the people, I want to eat the food, I want to learn how to make the food and I want to see how they live everyday life. There is so much that can be learned from other cultures, religions and ways of living if your mind is open. 

I moved to BC in September. The population here is very diverse, which for me is exciting. I think it’s a beautiful thing to see so many different cultures represented in the same place. Every culture brings a piece of itself to the larger puzzle, and it’s a beautiful thing. I am hoping that over time as the diversity continues to grow, there will be more acceptance of differences and a willingness to learn and understand each other.

BC is by far the most beautiful place I have ever lived. I grew up in the prairies. Seeing a hill in the distance got you excited (Megan, I know you feel me on this one)! Here I could be doing something as simple as walking to a bus stop or taking the train, and I’m surrounded by all this natural beauty. Every time I get in my car to drive somewhere, the beauty of this province smacks me right in the face, and I’m just thankful to be here. I look forward to doing more exploration of this province. I’m used to winters with minus 30 to 40 degrees for what feels like week after week after week!!! This winter I can officially say I have not worn a parka, I have not stepped into a winter boot, I have not gotten stuck in a snowdrift and I have not slipped and fallen on my butt while trying to get into my car. For all of those reasons I am extremely happy to be here!