Social Entrepreneur, Startup - Private Sector

"I started my own business as a result of my pet almost dying when he ingested poisonous fertilizer in our garden. It got me thinking: was there a way to produce safe fertilizer and at the same time address food waste in urban areas? After a lot of work, talking to mentors, building my network and developing multiple business plans, on one of my trips I discovered technology that could help address the problem I was interested in solving. We now have patented technology that is used every day to automate the composting process, modernizing ancient methods. This cutting-edge technology uses waste that we collect and turns it into super high-quality and, importantly, safe compost.

As an entrepreneur, I’m the financier, product manager, human resources manager, market researcher, and I’m always selling my vision. In this job, I need to have confidence in my vision, the ingenuity to deliver it within all sorts of constraints, and the enthusiasm to effectively tell the story and move others to action. I also need enough humility to adapt my solutions to changing market conditions and customer feedback."

Salary Range:

$40,560 - $122,005

The Tip

Don’t get a mentor. Get mentors. No single person has all the answers. I find the real learning isn’t in what they agree on, it’s what they disagree on. This is where you can really start to ask hard questions.

Priority Knowledge & Skills
Systems Thinking

Knowledge & ability to:

  • Understand systems thinking

  • Identify and make plans for future trends

  • Thrive in ambiguity and manage complexity

  • Recognize trends, opportunities and underlying patterns

 

Human-Centered Design & Design Thinking

Knowledge & ability to:

  • Apply human-centered design principles to solve problems

  • Think laterally

  • Identify patterns

  • Work with third-party groups, such as think tanks, labs and accelerators

  • Ability to formulate research questions

  • Conduct secondary, qualitative and quantitative research

  • Synthesize key issues

 

Communication, Collaboration & Facilitation

Knowledge & ability to:

  • Use contextual knowledge

  • Communicate effectively in all formats

  • Design and facilitate collective impact initiatives

  • Cultivate new collaborations and partnerships across sectors

  • Use technology and specialized collaboration tools

  • Compelling presentation & report writing skills

Changemaking

Knowledge & ability to:

  • Be authentic, empathetic and ethical

  • Apply changemaking principles to create impact

  • Ask questions

  • Embrace challenges as opportunities to create systemic change

  • Demonstrate long-term social impact and sustainability

  • Break down silos and leverage relationships

 

Oversight & Knowledge Management

Knowledge & ability to:

  • Develop and manage the planning process

  • Direct coordination of activities across departments, stakeholders, clients & users

  • Manage operations & resources; provide oversight

  • Leverage stakeholder relationships

  • Develop and implement program schedules

  • Budget management & oversight

  • Evaluate social, financial and collective impact

  • Manage and analyze complex data

 

Core Transferable Skills

Be an expert at all core transferable skills:

  • Thinking skills

  • Communications skills

  • Organizational skills

  • Interpersonal skills

  • Technical literacy

Building Block Experiences
Education & Learning:
  • Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing)

  • A commitment to be a lifelong learner. I read one book a month.

  • Listen to the Stanford Social Innovation Review SSIR podcasts

 

I followed my passion into a degree in business, because I had started a small landscaping business when I was in high school. I guess you could call me a serial entrepreneur. What gets me up in the morning is making a difference in my community. I seem to have an ability to see problems and at the same time think about possible solutions. I guess I am also a bit of a risk-taker.

Employment Experiences:
  • Worked for my dad in the family business throughout high school and during the summers

  • Set up a small landscaping business in high school

  • Set up my current company while I was working on my Bachelor of Commerce

 

Family is really important to me and my family has been there for me throughout my journey.

Community Experiences:
  • I have always been big on networking and meeting people in spite of the fact I am quite young and a bit of an introvert

 

Networking when you’re an introvert is like anything—you just have to show up and do your best. Being friendly is a great start.

Contextual Experiences:
  • I am a passionate believer in Margaret Mead’s principle that “…a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

 

I discovered I loved the whole idea of creating something from scratch. I had the energy, drive support and focus to stick with it even in the hard times.

 

Relationships:
  • Developed a diverse team of mentors inside and outside of my business. This includes senior and junior people in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. We all need to work together to improve the world we live in.

 

The diversity of my mentors often creates internal conflict and challenges. This is a good thing. I think building a uniform mentor team of people “just like me” can be comforting, but I found it to be a poor strategy. I now use mentors to challenge what I think I know.