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By Jensen Kirby, Gustavson External Relations co-op student

This year we honoured Sue Paish, a true trailblazer, at our 2019 Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year Award gala. It was a spectacular evening, with nearly 600 guests from the local business community celebrating Sue’s tremendous achievements. The night was filled with inspiring advice and memorable stories told by Sue.

The Gustavson School of Business celebrates entrepreneurial excellence with its Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year Award (DEYA). The award recognizes an inspirational entrepreneur who has had a significant and positive impact on the global community through their business leadership.

British Columbia born and raised innovator and entrepreneur Sue Paish, QC, is CEO of Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster.

Sue has led transformation and innovation across professional services, healthcare and technology sectors. She is the inaugural CEO of Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster, overseeing innovative cross-sector projects and initiatives that will digitally transform Canada’s leading industries, create jobs, grow our economy and build Canada’s competitiveness.

Sue was one of Canada’s foremost employment and labour law lawyers before becoming managing partner of her firm, where she oversaw its growth across three continents. Sue seamlessly transitioned to corporate leadership, first as CEO of Pharmasave, Canada’s largest chain of independent retail pharmacies and then as CEO of LifeLabs Diagnostic Laboratories, where she doubled the company’s size to create Canada’s largest diagnostic lab.

The DEYA gala was spectacular, with a trailblazer theme paying tribute to Sue’s innovative entrepreneurship as well as her love for the outdoors. The decor was amazing, and the camping-themed centerpieces and a faux campfire onstage made for a fun and unique atmosphere.

During the Q&A, gathered around the campfire, Sue shared stories about her unique childhood and travels to England. She also discussed topics like family, leadership and accountability.

For Sue, her family and her daughters in particular are her key motivators. “My goal is to build a better Canada for my children and their friends,” says Sue. She explains how, when asked what she does for a living, she always responds by first stating that she is the mother to three wonderful daughters.

She also offered some key insights into what has made her a successful leader. She describes how you must integrate into and truly understand the people and the organization that you’re working in. For Sue, understanding peoples’ hopes, dreams, wishes and fears is highly important to working successfully with others. “If you want to get people to sing a song with you, you better find out what music they like,” she says.

In terms of advice for other women in the business world, Sue focuses on the importance of making yourself heard and knowing your audience. When you are the only woman in the room, make sure you have something to say, make sure to provide your perspective. But also, be aware of your audience and how to best deliver your message to them, she advises.

Overall, it was an inspiring evening to celebrate an inspiring woman. Like all great camping stories, Sue’s words will be long remembered by all who attended.

Thank you to all our 2019 gala sponsors for making this wonderful evening possible – including VIP Reception sponsor, BMO Financial Group; event sponsors Abstract Developments, Reed Pope Business Lawyers, EncoreFX, Silver Arrow Cars Ltd.; wine sponsor Engel & Volkers Vancouver Island; technology sponsor Wesley Clover; program sponsor Carmanah Technologies and media sponsors Times Colonist and The Globe and Mail.

Photo: UVic Photo Services