The Power of Opportunity
Court Reporting '84
President, National Captioning Canada
Opportunities in Canada’s largest city awaited.
She established Nathanail Captioning in 1988, the forerunner of National Captioning Canada (NCC), and started pounding the pavement. “Back then, you were really fighting for every single contact and contract,” says Nathanail, explaining that the broadcast industry was still very much a male bastion.
“We had to prove ourselves again and again in a male dominated field where a young woman couldn’t play by the same rules. We won in the end by raising the bar beyond the competition’s reach by simply providing the best quality and service.”
She saw the opportunity to grow and establish a niche industry and grabbed it. She points out that the industry was evolving and she foresaw using the caption-trained verbatim court reporters to get the spoken word to text and on the screen. She set up demonstrations at the networks with her shorthand machine and computer to demonstrate and explain the process of producing closed captions. She convinced the television networks to adopt the idea, persuading them it would meet the needs of the hard of hearing and their CRTC obligations.
Today, after moving the company back to Calgary, Nathanail has built an industry leader—one that thankfully is no longer dependent so much on who you know, but on the very attributes she and her employees value: hard work, quality and service. Today it’s RFPs, not golf with the boys that land the contracts.
And although she still finds herself on the flights to Toronto, Nathanail says it made sense to return to Alberta, to be closer, in fact, to NAIT—a postsecondary that arguably continues to have the best program in the country and one from which she disproportionately recruits her employees.
Today, National Captioning Canada is considered the national leader. The English closed captioning and real-time transcription service provider offers services to all major broadcasters in all major Canadian cities. Shaw, Rogers, Bell, TSN, CBC, Alberta Legislature, the House of Commons…it’s a client base that spans the country’s time zones and tallies some 1,500 hours of service per week. The company specializes in providing real time closed captioning for news, sports, political commentary, entertainment and government proceedings. Today, the company is the largest Canadian-based provider of live closed captioning and boasts a workforce of over 75 experienced captionists—many of who are NAIT graduates—formally trained in machine shorthand transcription.
Today, Nathanail, named one of Global Calgary’s Women of Vision, has stepped back from the frontlines of captioning. But she still takes an active interest in getting her new employees on the air, quality control and scheduling. They are roles she believes are important for her to keep her hand in.
With her business on solid ground and a son attending University, she has begun to lift her head up. Nathanail says she feels a real sense of social responsibility—not surprisingly, because of all the advantages her parents had when they adopted Canada as their new country and raised four children.
Over that time, she says her membership in the Young Presidents’ Organization and Entrepreneur’s Organization has enabled her to connect with peers through educational and networking experiences designed to support their business, community and personal leadership. National Captioning supports an annual scholarship to NAIT’s Court Reporting program. Nathanail and her employees have travelled to Mexico to build houses for families in need and they support local organizations such as Mustard Seed, Inn from the Cold, DJD, and the Canadian Hearing Society. Naturally, NCC donates over 30 hours of captioning for local telethons a year.
Reflecting on her successes, Nathanail says it’s been less about having dreams and more about seizing opportunities in front of you. And if she’s got any advice for recent graduates, it’s that: Don’t let those opportunities pass you by.