My 25 year love affair with business (and my 39 year relationship with my mother, Lois!) has prepared me in every way for this new venture. Within each of the different phases of my career I discovered a new passion. The mission of MoneysLOVE Ventures unites my passions for business, bringing people together and teaching into a cohesive and focussed passion for social entrepreneurship.
Growing up working in a family-owned fast food restaurant in Vauxhall, Alberta laid the foundation for my genuine love of business. The business was first owned by my amazing grandmother and grandfather and passed through three generations. Regardless of the generation a focus on customer service, quality products and efficiency remained. It was quite a busy restaurant and working towards increasing the speed of our preparation time without sacrificing quality fascinated me.
The next phase of my career started in 1990 and is what I like to call “the learning to build bridges phase”. It spans 16 years, starting as an Assistant Movie Theatre Manager at Cineplex Odeon in Calgary, Alberta and ending as the Volunteer Chief Operating Officer for The William J. Clinton Foundation in Abuja, Nigeria. At every new job I increased my talent and passion for bringing people together.
Within this phase I enjoyed a ~10 year career (mainly as a Business Analyst) in the Oil and Gas industry in Calgary. Here I learned how barrier-free bridges between departments positively impacted overall corporate performance. Throughout the ~10 years I had excellent mentors that encouraged me and gave me the freedom to experiment with this hypothesis. I was also blessed with excellent teammates. By the time I left in 2006, I believe together we had fine-tuned bridge building in the Oil and Gas industry into an art form. Although there were many bridges built, a couple of my favourites were between (a) Engineers and Accountants and (b) Field Staff and Corporate Calgary.
From 2006 – 2008 as a Student Council member at the IESE Business School (ranked by The Economist in 2009 as the #1 full-time MBA program in the world) I worked to build a bridge between students and faculty. Given the vast array of cultural differences, histories and influences (students in any given year are from ~50 different countries), this proved more difficult than I originally anticipated when I ran for election. Only time will tell if our Student Council’s hard work had any lasting impact. I often wonder if the lesson I was supposed to learn was to accept something I couldn’t change.
My final day at the Clinton Foundation is the last bridge I would like to describe. This was a very proud moment for me. Around the table I had all the players needed to work together to improve child nutrition in Nigeria; the Federal Government’s Ministry of Health, UNICEF, Family Health International, Save the Children and several other leading NGOs.
I presented them a well-researched and feasible strategy that took into consideration each of their different strengths and visions. Being able to use the Clinton name didn’t hurt my cause, but I like to think it was my listening skills, cultural sensitivity gained at IESE, love of people and analytical ability to get to the core of any problem that brought them together.
Nigeria was also where I entered another phase of my career, teaching. Working directly with the local accountant, we were able to leverage my accounting experience and collaborate on building financial processes that were aligned to meet the Clinton Foundation head office requirements. More importantly (in my opinion) they were also aligned to her way of doing things. Through this experience I discovered I had both a gift and a love for teaching; a fact I think deep down I have always known.
Wanting to further explore this discovery, I started volunteering to teach English to new Canadians in 2009 while I was in Edmonton, Alberta performing research to try and uncover a gap in our province’s approach to homelessness that I could fill using my passions, talents, gifts and strengths. My students were impressed with my ability to adapt to the group of ~12’s varying capabilities and learning styles in order to ensure each individual student was always engaged in the learning process.
In July 2009, no longer able to stay away from the beautiful city that was my home for 18 years, I returned back to Calgary and immediately started volunteering at The Mustard Seed homeless shelter. Because of their genuine compassion and willingness to embrace new ideas, I have been able to start personal financial planning in addition to my original career counselling, computer lab, philosophy cafe and case worker intake process duties. Here I’ve seen my flexible and informal approach, compassion and business mind-set create some real AHA moments for the guests, but none more impactful than the AHA moments their openness and many other natural gifts have created for me.
It took almost four decades, relentless determination and a lot of hard work to give me the confidence and skills I will need in my next phase; a phase where I will focus on taking more risks and using more creativity in the field of social entrepreneurship.