The event was held in the recently opened Ottawa Art Gallery. Photo: Sarah Crookall.
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U of O Entrepreneurs’ Club puts on annual entrepreneurship gala

On Oct. 2, the Entrepreneurs’ Club (TECDE) of the Telfer School of Management held their annual Excellence in Leadership, Legacy in Entrepreneurship (ELLE) Gala—the largest in its 21-year history—at the Ottawa Art Gallery.

This year a mentoring hour was introduced, where attendees had the opportunity to network with eight female industry experts; Jamie Petten, Camila Bousquet, Ashley Cyr, Sarah Abood, Alexandra Salamis, Naomi Morisawa De Koven, TJ Misra, and Claudia Thompson.

“Going into the workplacea lot of success comes from making connections,” said ELLE Gala project manager, Priya Aduvala. “Not only having local, but national entrepreneurs coming all together and being all in one roomit makes for a good opportunity for a lot of students.”

The keynote speech and mentorship hour were not just to connect women, but also to address the unique challenges women face in the workplace.

“Even now, women are kind of seen as a minority in the workplace, so I think it’s really important to start that conversation about what it’s like to be a woman in business,” said Aduvala.

Aduvala identified one of the significant challenges facing women is in forming male and female business partnerships.

“From a female perspective, I think that males may be intimidated by a female being their equal in a partnership, and so sometimes when you’re co-founding a company it can be a little difficult to decide on business deals. To decide who’s going to make how much money and how they’re going to split that partnership up.”

The keynote address from Komal Minhas, president of KoMedia, emphasized self-care and wellness while on the journey to success.

“You’re listening to entrepreneurs who are telling you to hustle harder, sleep less, and work yourself to exhaustion to achieve some grandiose version of success,” said Minhas.

“They don’t necessarily share that they prioritize their health, that they don’t do vlogs on the weekends because they want to spend time with their family.”

Minhas produced the 2016 documentary film Dream, Girl, which highlights the experiences of female entrepreneurs. The film landed Minhas on Oprah’s SuperSoul 100, a list of inspirational leaders making an impact on the world. In the same year, Minhas was diagnosed with skin cancer and a neurological illness. Much of her recovery involved personal wellness and organizational strategies which she drew upon in her speech.

Now Minhas’ work surrounds encouraging women to pursue their goals with a focus on self-care, emphasizing the three foundations of success as community, well-being, and purpose.

“It’s hard when you’re in university because you have deadlines for school coming at you,” said Minhas. “If you can be free from doing it all to just doing one thing very wellit might take that pressure off.”

When asked by an individual of the crowd when is the right time for a woman to pursue their entrepreneurial goals, Minhas responded by saying, “I think once you ask that question, you’re ready to do it.”