Culture

This is the kind of post every CEO dreams of getting to write.

December 10, 2020

I am thrilled to announce that Roma is officially accepting Waterstone Canada’s prestigious Most Admired Corporate Culture Award.

This is how Waterstone defines the merits for which they choose the winners:

“At Waterstone, we believe corporate culture drives performance and that it’s an organization’s greatest asset,” said Marty Parker, President and Chief Executive Officer of Waterstone Human Capital and Chair of Canada’s Most Admired™ Corporate Cultures Awards.

“This year’s winning organizations have all demonstrated an outstanding commitment to corporate culture and to leveraging their culture as a competitive advantage. They all align to three key themes:  they are focused on building a high-performance culture, committed to employee career development and growth,  and focused on creating a workplace culture that supports physical and psychological safety for their team members.”

It is a genuine honor to receive such a prestigious and sought-after award that very much embodies everything we make it our mission to strive for here at Roma.

The genesis of that mission; the genesis of what Roma is today, really lies in our first All Hands Meeting back in March 2011.

Nine years ago, we were a very different company. Like so many, we’d endured the financial crisis of 2008, but Roma hurting; we were a company that had lost its identity and true mission.

We were still a great company with great products, but we’d lost our spirit and our sense of team. People knew something needed to be done – unfortunately, no one knew what that was.

On a business trip to Las Vegas that year, at a dinner with several fellow entrepreneurs, I was gifted the book Delivering Happiness by Zappos’ CEO Tony Hsieh.

It was that book that ultimately opened my eyes to what is possible when you put your employees first.

Truth is... I didn’t believe it and did my best to discredit it... until I read the book and visited Zappos for a 3-day boot camp where I saw it firsthand.

The feeling I walked away with was priceless. I wanted to bring that to a Canadian company.

Prior to this point, it hadn’t been done. There was a perception that companies could only function like that in the US – in places like Las Vegas or Silicon Valley.

My ideas were frowned upon in many ways.

But when I believe something in my core, I don’t give up, I don’t care who’s in my way.

I just don’t stop.

I made the pitch to the rest of Roma’s leadership… They didn’t get it. They didn’t understand what company culture was, much less how to monetize it and be profitable because of it.

After weeks and months of education on what’s possible, I finally won them over and we decided to hold our first All Hands Meeting to outline that strategy.

We literally shut the company down to present the new direction to the team.

I knew there were likely to be far more naysayers than advocates and ambassadors in the beginning.

“I make no promises” I said, “and you all have the right to doubt. But I am vowing to make Roma one of the greatest places to work in Canada. I don’t know exactly how to get there or what all it’s going to take. What I DO know for sure is that I’ll need your help and your long-term commitment to make this happen.”

Fast forward nine years. Through setbacks and big wins, team building, hiring and firing, confessing failures and celebrating wins and a whole lot of perseverance… And here we are.

This is the culmination of everything we’ve done over the last nine years to become everything we can be.

Winning this award is an honor and a privilege that is also very much in line with what I believe this company to be. I consider my team friends, each far more talented in their respective fields than I could hope to be.

This is what happens when you put people first. When you live and work with passion. When you put culture first. You become a team that makes magic happen.

While certainly a pinnacle moment in the history of Roma, we’ll also use this to learn and forge ahead and continue to MOVE, INSPIRE, and WOW far higher and greater in the months, years, and decades to come.

It is our amazingly talented team of men and women who made this possible!  Sending loads of gratitude to the Roma Team!


Tony Gareri

CEO & Culture Enthusiast

Drawing from firsthand experiences, Tony addresses how a culture evolution can lead to improved business results and happier work environments.

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