Select Page

By Paige Cey, Gustavson External Relations Co-op student

There are any number of ways we can prioritize our lives.

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to sit down face-to-face with Sue Paish, via Zoom, along with 150 other UVic BCom students. Sue, who is CEO of Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster and the 2019 recipient of Gustavson’s Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year Award, shared with us a “north star” with five points – five different intentions that have led and grounded Sue throughout her life.

Especially relevant today, her first point on the star is health – something that I, an able-bodied individual (“fit as a fiddle,” as my grandma would say), often take for granted. Sue talked about her early career as a lawyer and how working out while “sweating away to the early ’80s disco music” became a point of refuge from a busy day, and how those habits have stayed with her throughout her life. While all of her colleagues said they were too busy to join her, she concluded that we all have the same 24 hours in the day and we all have both the “responsibility and the authority” to decide how we use them. Sue goes on to say that “we have a lot more power than we give ourselves credit for.” I know that I’m guilty of always having an excuse to not taking more time for my health, mental and physical. Sue’s message was a wake-up call that I do have the time for things I’m willing to deliberately prioritize in my life.

The second point on Sue’s north star is happiness, which in a nutshell was: “if you’re not happy, what are you?” To Sue, the key to happiness is living a life of purpose. She urged us to evaluate our values: who we are and what we aspire to become. Taking time to consider this, beyond adopting our parents’ values, creates the foundation for our purpose. I know that I find myself going through life without a direct aim or goal beyond trying for a high GPA and landing a great co-op. While these are honourable goals, they lack the purpose and values that equate to the deep happiness Sue hoped we’d all find. Sue offered the advice that when you know where you are trying to go, by rooting yourself in values and purpose, your path will become clearer.

Sue’s third point is humility. She made sure we knew how lucky we were to receive a great education at UVic, and that going forward there may be times when we think ourselves “the smartest person in the room.” However, we must “resist the temptation to let everyone know that.” Sue emphasized how important it is to consider and authentically listen to the perspectives of everyone in the room instead of coming in thinking you have all of the answers. Sue summed up speaking about humility with, “Being someone that others want to be around is critical to being a leader because if nobody’s following you, are you really a leader?”  That seems like a fantastic question to consider as we enter the workforce.

Humanity is Sue’s fourth point on her north star. By evaluating the context of our privilege, Sue said we are given both the responsibility and the mandate to give back. As future leaders, it’s so important for us to be deliberate about helping others. Sue shared that this has brought her amazing opportunities personally and professionally, all while making the world a better place.

Finally, the fifth point is hope. Sue defines it as “the most persuasive and motivating emotion known to our species.” While we are young, we need to hold on to hope, instead of being jaded and seeing things as broken beyond repair or stuck in the status quo. Sue explained how having hope and seeing the potential for a better future will drive us to transform our world.

Photo: UVic Photo Services