Each year, OBJ and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce choose 40 of the region’s top young entrepreneurs and business executives and recognize them for their professional achievements, expertise and community service.
In these profiles, OBJ highlights some of this year’s recipients – their impressive accomplishments, what drives them and how they like to spend their downtime away from the business world.
Birthplace: Antigonish, N.S.
Company: Microsoft is a worldwide leader in software and cloud computing.
Education: Bachelor of arts in economics and political science, St. Thomas University (2000)
Charitable involvement: Dress for Success Ottawa
Biggest biz achievement: My greatest career achievement, and the one that fills me with the greatest pride, is the one I never made a dollar doing – founding Dress for Success Ottawa.
Working with a group of dedicated women from all walks of life and backgrounds, we created a welcoming, inclusive space for disadvantaged women to come gain the confidence and support they needed in order to go out and get that job! When I think of our humble beginnings, where it all started – working full-time jobs and volunteering full-time for Dress for Success in the evenings and weekends – to where we are now, with three full-time staff and annually serving over 800 deserving women from the National Capital Region, that, to me represents impact and achievement, and is something to be mighty proud of.
Biggest obstacle: My beginnings were pretty humble – I grew up on a farm in a small rural community. I couldn’t afford to go to the best schools, I didn’t have vast networks and I didn’t know more than a few souls in Ottawa when I moved here after university. But I didn’t let that stop me – in fact, I don’t think I ever cared. I just worked hard, and then I worked even harder.
Biggest influences: My parents instilled in me my sense of hard work, perseverance and community-mindedness. My parents were Christmas tree farmers in rural Nova Scotia; they worked tremendously hard to ensure a bright future for me and my brother. While financially it was often a struggle, there was one thing they were sure of – their kids were going to get an education. Even though I’m sure they could have used it at the time, mom and dad used to take the baby bonus cheque and put it in a scholarship trust for Trevor and me. Each year, mom would get a statement, and I remember being a very little girl and having her sit me down to show me how much money they had saved and how much money I would receive my first year, second, third, and fourth. They made sure I knew that I didn’t need to worry about money – all I needed to worry about was getting good marks and going to university. It was a powerful message, and I would not be where I am today if they hadn’t made that choice.
Biggest lesson learned: Treat the most junior employee with the same level of respect as you would the CEO. Be authentic. Be genuine. Learn everyone’s name. Ask them how their day is, or what they are working on. Be collaborative. Offer an ear when it’s needed or an extra set of hands when they are required. It’s the right thing to do, and the relationships it fosters will be the key to your success throughout your career.
First job: Camp counsellor
Advice I’d give the younger me: Don’t compare yourself to others. You have your own path to travel. Work hard, but slow down and enjoy the moments. They often come only once.
What’s left to do: Everything! (Isn’t it exciting?)
Favourite pastime: Volunteering
I’m currently reading: Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo to my two daughters, Maëlle, 6, and Élodie, 2.
Favourite local pro sports team: Ottawa Senators
Favourite local summer event: Canada Day
Preferred social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram
Twitter handle: @marlenefloyd