Whether it was getting inspired from her grandmother who had migrated from Portugal to Canada and her mother who stressed the importance of education, or finding entrepreneurship and realizing that it gave her all the tools she needed to be self-sufficient and create a better future for herself and others, Victoria Lennox’s journey is indeed a rousing one.
A Humble Beginning
Victoria’s voyage to finding herself began since she was an ill child with environmental sensitivities when the importance of education – to rise above the poverty and take everyone to the path of empowerment – was instilled in her by her grandmother and mother. Victoria, as a child, always wanted to get into politics, so when she graduated from high school in Kitchener, she went to the University of Ottawa – which was the closest to Parliament Hill – and studied politics and public policy. Victoria then went on to work for a number of Members of Parliament, but she never really found herself.
Thus, she tried working in a developing nation, but that went in vain as well. She then traveled and ended up doing an internship in Beijing for an Australian-based consulting firm thinking she might want to work in an emerging economy. The answer, however, was to go back to school. She went to complete her Masters from the University of Oxford with a Commonwealth Scholarship studying Global Governance and Diplomacy.
Victoria unknowingly stumbled upon a student club called Oxford Entrepreneurs who were showcasing photos of people like Nelson Mandela and other amazing leaders. Victoria had never been exposed to the word ‘entrepreneur’ before and she didn’t really know what that meant, but little did she know that she would do anything to have a legacy like these people and that she wanted to make a difference. Victoria joined Oxford Entrepreneurs and found her tribe.
Accolades that Made the Journey Worthwhile
From there, Victoria learned how entrepreneurship could help people find out what’s unique about them, and to bring out that to the world in order to serve others, their communities and their country. She then went on to become the first woman president of Oxford Entrepreneurs, the largest entrepreneurship club in Europe. She started Oxford Women in Business for women entrepreneurs seeing that women were not joining the club. Victoria also started her first charity called NACUE, The National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs, during the economic recession in the UK.
After a couple of years, she returned to Canada through a recruitment and policy leaders’ program for the government of Canada where worked in Industry Canada (currently ISED), and realized that the country needed a cultural shift. Canadian entrepreneurs needed to elevate their ambitions and surge above the cycle of scruple. Victoria had seen her friends creating Startup Britain, and was also aware of what was happening in the US with Startup America and Startup Chile. She thought her country needed to do it in their own way and left the government to incept Startup Canada, and that’s how it all began.
The Revolution She Dreamed Of
Fast forward two years, today, Startup Canada boasts nearly 200,000 members across the country and 40 Startup Communities from coast to coast giving voice to every entrepreneur.
Startup Canada celebrates and shares the stories of entrepreneurs through the Startup Canada Awards, and gives them a voice in the Capital through Startup Canada Day on the Hill as well as through policy and advocacy efforts. Moreover, Startup Canada is engaging industry to elevate their investment in the entrepreneurship community. And all this for a dream that Victoria dared to see and find her way to this point where everything is possible and happening, all at once.
Service Before Self
When asked about her foundling memories of entrepreneurship, she replied, “One of my key first memories of entrepreneurship, was that I had been a part of a Rotary Club in Kitchener-Waterloo, and I heard this beautiful motto that they had and it was “service before self” and that resonated so deeply with me.”
Victoria always wanted to serve Canada, serve humanity, make a difference and make an impact and today, she truly believes that she is able to serve every entrepreneur, everyday through Startup Canada, and to bring that value of “service before self” by empowering those who see opportunities where others see nothing and who are creating the future. This makes her inspired by the work that she does every day.
Victoria is also the first Canadian and one of the youngest recipients of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion on the recommendation of the British Prime Minister. She is the recipient of the UK’s ‘Enterprise Support Network Builder Award’ and ‘Overall Enterprise Champion of the Year Award’ and has been recognized as a ‘Top 30 Under 30’ by Real Business Magazine
Passion is the Key
The most important quality that Victoria attributes her success to, is her work ethic and perseverance, but that wouldn’t matter if she wasn’t passionate about what she does that drives everything and helps get her through difficult times.
“My vision and hope for women in business is that we support and empower one another and that we take our rightful seats at board tables and at the helm of major companies and of our country. I believe that when women are around the table more thoughtful decisions are made and there are higher considerations about the wellbeing of others because we look to foster consensus, understanding and collaboration,” she adds.
Victoria’s Advice for the Young Entrepreneurs
You really need to find an issue that you are passionate about whether it’s supporting indigenous social innovators, or helping to end world poverty or to eradicate cancer. Whatever you choose to do it has to be something that you are passionate about and gets you fired up.
Secondly, you need to do is empower other people and find other people who are equally as fired up and work together because you can’t do it alone. It’s also much more satisfying working in a team to achieve something much more than you could do on your own.
It’s Time to Move Fast
For Victoria, the increased engagement of major anchor companies and industry in the little guys and entrepreneurs, has never been more important. However, the slow pass of change concerns her in the context of Canada’s global competitiveness. Canada needs more urgency as a nation to really build up the entrepreneurial competencies and see entrepreneurship as a key pillar and value of what it means to be Canadian. She considers this as their opportunity to lose if we don’t move fast enough. Victoria believes that we all need to be working together to create a more entrepreneurial nation for every entrepreneur.
And yes, she really enjoys yoga. It helps her quiet her mind and stay focused. She also enjoys walking and she tries to get the right amount of sleep every night