As of April 2019, we are now known as ThresholdImpact Venture Mentoring Service (VMS) at the University of Alberta.
Dr. Ray Muzyka and Leona De Boer, founders of ThresholdImpact https://thresholdimpact.com/ gifted UAlberta $1 million; half of this donation was directed to VMS and the other half to training programs in the Office of Advancement.
When VMS sat down with Ray and Leona to understand why they chose to invest in UAlberta, a common theme bubbled to the surface: helping people grow. Whether this is to support Advancement’s fundraising professionals or to enable VMS to further support the growth of Mentors and entrepreneurs, Ray and Leona care deeply about supporting others to reach a higher level of personal growth and, subsequently, both individual and collective success.
One of the outcomes of this generous donation is a name change. VMS looks forward to living up to our namesake which represents innovation, growth, quality, mutual respect, humility and lifelong learning – to name a few of the core values that Ray and Leona hold dear.
Edmonton and alberta have a genuine opportunity to become a future hub for entrepren-eurship
Ray and Leona shared that they didn’t have the benefit of strong mentorship opportunities as they progressed through their careers. They want to help enable others to have access to strong Mentors like those in the VMS program.
Ray, co-founder and former CEO of video gaming giant, BioWare, explained that there weren’t a lot of Edmonton-based leaders who had had a successful journey in a similar industry to be able to support him in the 1990s. As a result, he didn’t have many people to turn to when he needed help. Instead, he and his co-founder, Greg Zeschuk, read a lot of business books. They both completed their MBAs to get a better handle on key business issues they were managing. They looked beyond this city (and country) to seek support and advice and wise counsel from leaders in the global tech industry.
In Leona’s chosen career path of commercial banking, she didn’t have Mentors to support her professional development. At the time, her industry was very male-dominated and having a female Mentor to turn to simply didn’t exist. Leona shared that having a mentorship program like VMS is so important to support all people in developing their entrepreneurial thinking.
In Alberta, mentorship for entrepreneurs is growing, but is still in its early days relative to other regions around the world, says Ray. It’s an incredibly positive step to see the UAlberta continue to support and foster mentorship opportunities for entrepreneurs through VMS.
Overall, he says, Edmonton and Alberta have a genuine opportunity to become a hub for entrepreneurship in Canada and the world. There has never been a more important moment for us to pursue innovation and economic diversification and the passionate and aligned mentorship community of VMS can play a vital role in unlocking and accelerating this future potential.
Drawing on observations from cities further along the innovation curve, Ray says there are a few key characteristics he feels VMS should continue to emphasize:
With the generous gift from Ray and Leona, VMS will be able to not only expand the mentorship opportunities for entrepreneurs seeking our support but also provide deeper learning so that our business leader Mentors can continually improve their mentorship skills. And every year, the ThresholdImpact UAlberta Venture Mentoring Service network continues to get stronger and have a greater positive impact.
As Ray is fond of saying, “With all the great things we’ve collectively achieved to date over the past eight years, we’re still just getting started! The best years of our VMS program are still ahead of us. And our amazing community will take us there!”