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Meet Carolann Harding, Executive Director of SmartICE Sea Ice Monitoring & Information Inc.

2021 Social Change Award Finalist: National Impact

As Executive Director of SmartICE, Carolann Harding is leading a diverse, award-winning team providing the world’s first climate change adaptation tool to integrate traditional knowledge of sea ice with advanced data acquisition and remote monitoring technology. As a social enterprise, the company embraces a business model that aims to expand opportunities for economic and social development in northern markets while preserving local cultures and lifestyles. In addition to her role at SmartICE, Carolann is currently the Chair of FoodFirst NL and a director on the Women in Resource Development Corporation Board and a member of the ICD NL Chapter Executive.


My first job ever was… a sales representative at Radio Shack. I was 14! I cut my teeth in customer service and learned a completely new language of electronic parts, stereo equipment and coaxial cable. Before I knew it, I was doing daily reports, inventory, opening, and closing the store. Little did I realize at that point that it was setting the foundation for my career.  

I chose my career path becausewell…I didn’t quite choose this career, it choose me! The accumulation of all of my experiences have led to me to this social impact role, it feels like home! 

The part of my role that I love the most is… twofold. Firstly, building the team of like-minded individuals that all strive towards the same goals and in my case where I work with many young people, setting the environment where they can flourish and become the leaders of tomorrow.  Secondly, I love the fact that we are enabling change.  Whether we are working with youth specifically or communities in general, we always strive to build local capacity that will empower. 

The biggest challenge of running a not-for-profit is… positioning the organization as a game changer. This could be anything from external and internal communications, continuous cultivation of relationships and revenue generation and diversification.  As well, like most sectors these days, talent identification, retention and fit to organization is critical. 

If you Googled me, you still wouldn’t know… that in 1990 I won the Youth Entrepreneur of the Year award for Newfoundland and Labrador. Too long ago for coverage to show up on the internet!  

My best advice from a mentor was… never bury your head in the sand when a problem arises, face it head on, be honest with yourself and your banker!  Ask for help, there are smart capable around you that can contribute to the solution – together is better! 

My advice for anyone who wants to build a not-for-profit is… have a rock solid vision, mission, mandate and values. Take the time to find people that align and build a team of smart people to help you execute. Set milestones and celebrate when reached. Commit to continuous engagement with: staff, board, stakeholders and community. 

One thing for-profit businesses could learn from the not-for-profit world is… having a social mandate brings people together. There is more than just building up stockpiles of profit.  Sure, build the profit but share the wealth by making many people’s lives better.  Ultimately, the organization will grow, develop, and become more sustainable. 

I stay inspired by… knowing that what we are doing at SmartICE is helping people become the best versions of themselves and that they see a hopeful future. 

Success to me means…that what I do or contribute to assists the greater good and affects people’s lives for the better.  Waking up each morning and wanting to go to work where my passions can come to life is success to me!