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Lazina McKenzie, '08 MBA

This past year was filled with exciting developments, starting off with a program name change, ending with us taking VMS virtual, and many eventful items in between.

Lazina McKenzie, '08 MBA


Throughout this past year, I’ve seen one element become more prominent. Community. Since our inception, there has been thoughtful effort put towards fostering a productive and welcoming sense of community within VMS. Because community has always been the backbone of this program, we have been able to further engage our Mentors, better support our VMS entrepreneurs, and offer opportunities for VMS members to support and lean on one another as challenging times arise.

In building our community, we’ve widened our arms to include more partners in VMS, which includes UAlberta community members, corporate partners, Edmonton business leaders, others in innovation and entrepreneurship in the city and province, and more. While we're at the beginning of growing these relationships, they have already proven to be impactful in supporting entrepreneurial thinking, which will only further diversify economic opportunities for us all; and we all know that this is important for the sustainability and success of a well-rounded community.

I’m proud of what our team, including many VMS Mentors and entrepreneurs, has been able to accomplish this year. Some of the key highlights include:

  • Tripling our work output to be able to accept more entrepreneurs into the program throughout the year
  • Growing our team by one additional role which has already been quite impactful in how we iterate and evolve the program
  • Offering more learning and networking opportunities than any other year in VMS history
  • Deepening our focus on quality and standards as we continue to serve more entrepreneurs in the UAlberta network

These are no small feats and have positioned us to be able to allow all VMS members to get the most of their experience with us.

we’ve widened our arms to include more partners in VMS

Last, but certainly not least, there are a number of people and organizations who believe in the work being done by VMS and have not only donated their time and expertise but have also financially supported our mission. Thank you to ThresholdImpact (Dr. Ray Muzyka and Leona De Boer), MNP, Dentons, Accelerate Fund, Blaine LaBonte, Catherine Vu, Kristina Milke, and Charlene Butler. You empower us to not only operate the program, but to also imagine a bigger future for mentorship in Alberta.

We're proud and forever grateful for the strong partnership we have with the original VMS program, founded through MIT. Thank you for your ongoing guidance as we scale our VMS program.