To be good at business, you need to do it yourself

Corey Ellis is in his final year of his Honours Bachelor of Commerce, former 2016-17 President and is now the Vice-President (Development) of Enactus uOttawa. He’s the co-founder and CEO at The Growcer Inc., a social enterprise that uses retrofitted shipping containers to grow food in Indigenous communities in some of the world’s harshest climates, including Iqaluit, Churchill, and Norway House.

Telfer gives students hands-on learning opportunities. They really understand that in order to be good at business, you need to do it yourself. You need to learn how to build relationships with people, get out there, and experience failure.

When I look at Telfer and compare it to other schools, that’s where Telfer shines – they build intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs. The School teaches us to problem solve, and not to expect that the path will be clear all the time. One of the most significant ways in which the Telfer School is innovative is the expertise it offers by way of advisors. Our faculty advisors Stephen Daze and Matt Archibald keep us grounded and make sure we’re doing these projects in a way that is feasible.

The Growcer, for example, is costly and a pretty big enterprise, so our advisors help us understand what we should be doing and how we should focus our time. One of our challenges was being sensitive to the history of Indigenous communities, and working with our partners to create a locally-owned project that still meets our objective of lowering food prices. Our advisors helped us think through a business model that helps us bring down the cost of food and the cost of living in a way that gives our partners room to choose and make decisions.

We’re always looking for different and creative partnerships with other organizations, and the School has helped bring in mentors and organizations who are interested in supporting our work, connecting them to us so we can get access to resources and undertake our project on a broader scale.

I also work with Stephen Daze on the Difference Makers program, where we conduct workshops in first year commerce classrooms on how to use your degree to have an impact in the community. We’re seeing more and more students who want to do good for society with business – flipping capitalism on its head. The Telfer School is well-positioned to take that trend and respond to it, to enable students to do well by doing good.