Here at MaRS, we are all about thinking outside the box. Thus, it seemed only appropriate to go beyond the conventional professional bio format in our new blog series, “Meet a MaRSian,” which will profile a few of the professional and extra-professional interests of the people who work at 101 College Street.
In this first post, I’m profiling Amie Sergas, Director, Business Acceleration Program Network, MaRS Discovery District.
What does the Business Acceleration Program do?
We support a collaborative network of 14 Regional Innovation Centre partners to help startup entrepreneurs across the province. This program allows these organizations to carry out their entrepreneur outreach activities and advisory services in their communities.
How did you end up working at MaRS?
My background is in marketing and business development in science and tech businesses. I’ve always worked in entrepreneurial companies. Before coming to MaRS, I was exploring career paths that mixed my business and social purpose interests.
In your opinion, what is the defining quality of a successful entrepreneur?
From what I’ve seen, it’s tenacity. If you are just relentless, you can make something happen, whether it’s the venture that you’re working on now or the one after that. Those entrepreneurs with that unrelenting spark will stop at nothing to see their creations through to the end. That’s what you need to guide you through the hard times, when you have no cash and you’re basically going around selling a promise.
What is your extra-MaRSian activity?
I play competitive roller derby for the Toronto Roller Derby League. Our league belongs to the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association and our all-stars compete at the highest level of play for this emerging sport. We are a 120-skater owned and operated organization, so not only do we skate and train to compete, we manage all aspects of the league and run the business by committee.
What do you love about roller derby?
What most people don’t realize about it is that it’s a very strategic game that requires a lot of smarts, while also being very fast-paced and very aggressive. But I also love the rush of playing a full contact sport in front of a thousand plus fans.
How has your experience with roller derby informed your approach to business?
One area has been personal development, in that I have become less meek and more unapologetic. I’m a young female professional of 5’3”, but that doesn’t matter—no goal is insurmountable. When you can take down a 250-pound or 6-foot-tall woman, you realize that you just use what you have to make things happen.
It has also surprised me how much I’ve learned about working collaboratively, from a grassroots perspective. In my role at MaRS, I’m here to facilitate rather than own our project. It’s all about what these organizations can do as a collective. In traditional business school, they drill you with top-down management tactics, but in roller derby, that’s just how you learn to manage the business.