Vision, courage, perseverance, and resilience are the most essential skills to determine the potential of a business leader. Being a business person means that one has to be a visionary like an entrepreneur and committed like a leader at the same time. An entrepreneur and executive leader with a track record of designing, building, and operationalizing ecosystems, clusters, networks, and organizations, Victoria Lennox, President and Co-Founder of Startup Canada has propelled Canada to the global stage as an ‘Innovation Nation.’ As one of Canada’s leading proponents of entrepreneurship and innovation with deep relationships and ties across academia, industry, government and media reaching every industry vertical from AI and Machine Learning to Cleantech and Fin-tech across Canada and the World. Victoria is a commensurate diplomat with the ability to lead, communicate and forge consensus in any environment.
Passionate about education, entrepreneurship, innovation and technology to foster peace, hope, equality, and sustainability, Victoria possesses principal diplomacy and political acuity. She creates and communicates a compelling vision, and inspires higher levels of achievement and impact of individuals and organizations alike. As a digital powerhouse, Victoria leverages technology and digital media to unite, grow and reinforce communities, ecosystems and organizations, launching robust digital programs and omni-channel campaigns. Victoria founded the National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs, Startup Canada, and the Startup Nations, scaling organizations from zero to 35 employees. She is working alongside 3,000 volunteers, raising more than $50M from private and public sector partners, and growing membership beyond 250,000 members.
Ms. Lennox sets her organizations apart by focusing on national and global challenges, empowering individuals to become advocates, committing to collaboration by default, and always focusing on the end result impact. This approach aids her to mobilize people, resources, information, and everything required to take an idea and build it into a thriving organization. With this approach, Ms. Lennox doesn’t need to appeal to a target audience, as the target audience is engaged from the onset in building and the products, services and programs that are created. According to Ms. Lennox, “This approach to co-creation leads to greater speed, quality, and impact of the services and programs for the targeted audience — it removes the guesswork and replaces it with teamwork”.
She is first Canadian to receive the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion at Buckingham Palace on the recommendation of the British Prime Minister. She also has represented Canada on Governor General State Visits to Colombia, Chile, Jordan, Israel and the West Bank; APEC Summits in the Philippines and Vietnam, G8 Summits, UNDP Summits, and led dedicated Innovation Tours across Mexico, India, Israel, Estonia, Lithuania and Helsinki to promote and forge ties to Canada’s innovation, startup, and scale-up ecosystems.
Experience Leads to Proficiency
As with every entrepreneur, starting up can be challenging. Building an idea into a business requires wearing every hat including fundraising, fulfilling, driving impact, and scaling at the same time. Ms. Lennox attributes her success to her co-founders, team, mentors and the advisors that have lived her and her organizations to great success.
Ms. Lennox’s past experiences at the intersection of business, academics, government and entrepreneurship have shaped her journey and the organizations she has built. From her early undergraduate studies and positions in government, she learned the value of ‘service’; from her global travels across more than 25 countries and her work in China, Ghana and the UK. She learned the values of ‘diplomacy, collaboration and global impact’, and, from her work in entrepreneurship she learned the values of ‘empowerment, economic independence and social justice.’ The combined values have propelled Victoria to put her skills, experience and knowledge to use to tackle ever larger societal challenges, with what she calls a ‘systems lens’.
Inclining towards Equality, Sustainability, Peace, and Freedom
A life-long learner, Ms. Lennox continues to support her Canadian-based non-profit organization, Startup Canada as its President and advises economic development, government and private sector organizations on advancing innovation and entrepreneurship. She is a keynote speaker on the topic of innovation ecosystems, is writing her first book, and is set to embark on a DPhil at the University of Oxford focused on AI ethics, governance and geopolitics.
“I am driven to be of greater service of humanity through developing institutions, systems, policies and approaches that lead to greater equality, sustainability, peace, and freedom for all” Ms. Lennox asserts. Her short term vision is to complete by her doctorate and contribute to the scholarship and field of knowledge in her domain; be involved in cutting-edge innovations, enterprises, and institutions where she can make an impact; and to continue to speak and write.
Believe in Yourself
Ms. Lennox is a strong advocate of entrepreneurship as a vehicle for individual empowerment, economic independence, and social change. Further she states “Don’t wait. Reach out to mentors. Connect with your start-up community. You owe it to yourself and the world to give it all you’ve got.”