Jacqui Winter Mastered Her Mindset and Built a Multimillion Dollar Business
The 2022 RBC Momentum Award recipient shares her journey
By Khera Alexander
In the 10 years that Jacqui Winter has been running HR Project Partners (HRPP), an HR consulting and recruitment business, she worked hard to overcome business challenges, but she also took time to work on herself.
“I’ve had to learn over the years that things work out the way they’re meant to be,” she says. Jacqui may have not grown up thinking she would become an entrepreneur, but once she did — and though building her business was not easy — it’s clear that the monumental success of HRPP was meant to be.
Growing up in a small fishing community in Newfoundland, Jacqui’s aunt, uncle, and grandparents ran businesses, but she didn’t think she’d end up running her own — much less a business with millions in revenue and two offices in Newfoundland. A good student and hard worker, Jacqui would bring her strong work ethic to any role she had when she worked for others. ”I was always that good employee wherever I worked,” she says.
Getting a Bachelor of Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology and Psychology from Memorial University, as well as a Master’s Certificate in Project Management, Jacqui’s foundation for entrepreneurship was slowly being built as she worked for other people, and eventually, she incorporated and took a stab at working as an independent consultant.
Hired as a Project Coordinator on a large job in 2013, Jacqui enjoyed project-to-project work, the process of securing a contract with clients, and building a team. She worked as a solopreneur until the project she was working on was shelved, delayed, and eventually cancelled.
During this period of transition, Jacqui identified a whitespace in the industry. “There was a great need for recruitment support, helping companies find people supplying short-term contract personnel to other companies and for projects,” Jacqui says.
The need was too big to ignore. In 2015, Jacqui hired Janessa — a recent graduate that previously worked with her on a three-year project as a work term student — to work with her part-time. With this help, Jacqui set out to get her website designed, identify her business mission and values, rename her company, and start strengthening the professional connections she had while also making new ones.
“We literally sat down and started from scratch,” she says. “We thought, ‘okay, we have to rebrand and come up with a name that reflects what we do.’ HR Project Partners is what we came up with.”
2015 was, in many ways, the beginning of a season of tremendous growth for Jacqui. “By the end of 2015, I had to lay Janessa off,” Jacqui says. “I literally started applying for jobs, because I thought, ‘oh my god, this is not going anywhere. I gotta make money.’ To spend 2015 [having] a lot of rejections and a lot of no’s, it was really hard.”
“By the end of 2015, I had to lay Janessa off,” Jacqui says. “I literally started applying for jobs, because I thought, ‘oh my god, this is not going anywhere. I gotta make money.’ To spend 2015 [having] a lot of rejections and a lot of no’s, it was really hard.”
Jacqui knew HRPP had great potential, so she pressed on. While servicing her clients and networking, Jacqui also spent 2015 and 2016 reflecting on her beliefs. She realized that her faith in herself wasn’t as strong as it could be, and to take her business to new heights, that had to change.
“I wasn’t afraid of working hard. I did my second degree when I was pregnant and had a baby in the middle of it all — none of that scared me,” she says. “It was getting past that fear of making a decision, getting past taking a risk, and knowing it’s going to work out versus thinking it won’t work out. Because if you [have] fear, it won’t work.”
In 2016, HRPP things started looking up. Jacqui did some consulting and she landed a few great clients. The business picked up even more steam, there was a large demand for Jacqui’s service offerings, and she was even able to hire Janessa back.
“It just took off. And we have had growth every single year since 2016.”
With clients in the private and public sectors, construction, and natural resources industries, HRPP provides organizations with high quality HR, recruitment, and consulting services, collaborating with businesses to implement the appropriate workplace HR policies and practices. Whether a business needs help with drafting up a recruitment ad, an employee’s offer letter, help with developing performance management programs, or simply reviewing a company’s policies and procedures, HRPP is equipped to provide adequate support.
Operating with the values of respect, quality, professional conduct, ethics, and confidentiality, Jacqui has grown HRPP from a team of two in 2015 to a team of 100, with profits that have doubled every year. Most notably, the business closed out 2022 with over 14 million dollars in revenue.
In addition to her hard work, business values, and filling a void in the market, Jacqui credits the success she’s had with building HRPP and leading a large team to the personal growth and mindset shifts she experienced in the early years of her business.
“I did a lot of self reflection in 2015 and 2016, changed a lot of my own thoughts, and put a lot more faith back into trusting my gut [and] trusting myself,” Jacqui says. “I think when I reached that point, the success really took off.”
As the 2022 RBC Momentum Award recipient, the acknowledgement reinforces how far Jacqui has come in her time as a business owner, but she almost didn’t apply. Having applied for the award two times before, she wasn’t sure if she’d be able to complete her application in time. “Last year, I was so busy. We were moving to a new office, [and there] was just a lot happening,” she says. After being encouraged to apply, Jacqui and one of her staff members worked together to complete her application — the same application that landed her the Momentum Award.
When thinking about her journey, Jacqui reflects on what she’s learned in her 10 years of business.
“In the last 10 years, I’ve been on holidays where I’ve spent the whole vacation working, and sometimes you need to do that, because you’re at that pivotal point in your business where you really want to have growth,” she says. “But somewhere along the line, you have to try to find that bit of time for self-care, looking after yourself, and recognizing that you don’t always have to do it all by yourself.”
She also shares advice for ambitious, hard-working entrepreneurial women that are making their dreams a reality.
“Trust your gut — I trust my intuition more than I ever did. Yes, you need the facts and all of those things, but if something doesn’t feel right, chances are, it’s not. Stop and question a little bit more,” she says. Equally important, Jacqui encourages women to have more faith that everything they want to accomplish is possible. “Fear is such a powerful four letter word that holds so many people back from doing things that they want to do,” she says. “Don’t let fear get in the way.”