As a 20-year old, Alison Gordon couldn’t have fathomed one day having a full-time, let alone high-powered, job in the marijuana industry — or that pot would ever be an industry at all. Now, she’s leading 48 North Cannabis Co., an ACMPR licensed medical cannabis company, as CEO, bringing her unstifleable passion to this nascent — and controversial — segment of the consumer packaged goods industry.
My first job ever was… Working in the stockroom at the Roots flagship store on Avenue Road. I was 13 years old and too young to be a salesperson. I was thrilled just to be unpacking boxes stuffed with my favourite sweats, leathers and shoes!
I chose my career path because… I never have a plan! I get an idea and then I go for it. I started out as an academic with dreams of becoming a Professor. After I dropped out of my PhD to work in advertising, I realized that my career journey would reveal itself to me as long as I followed my passion and gut instinct.
My proudest accomplishment is… Co-founding Rethink Breast Cancer with MJ Decoteau. I am beyond proud of what we built and where MJ has taken the organization over the last four years. We shared an office for 13 years and never once had a serious argument or fight. This might be my most successful relationship ever!
My boldest move to date was… Leaving Rethink Breast Cancer to start a new career path in the medical cannabis industry. The industry was truly in its infancy when I decided four years ago to investigate making the transition. Looking back, I am glad I was naive to the challenges that would lie ahead in the fast-paced, ever changing business of marijuana.
I surprise people when I tell them… That I smoke pot. There is a big misconception as to who a cannabis user is — we come in all shapes and sizes! I have witnessed the incredible medicinal value of cannabis for patients, and I am thrilled that these stories are finally getting out to the public.
My best advice to people starting their career is… Meet as many people as you can. Who you know is truly as important as what you know. Many of the people I have hired over the years are people who have reached out to me for a coffee or advice. Initiative is often rewarded.
“Many of the people I have hired over the years are people who have reached out to me for a coffee or advice. Initiative is often rewarded.”
My best advice from a mentor was… Surround yourself with people smarter than you. This truly is the best advice as it makes your job so much easier!
I would tell my 20-year old self… That the pot smoking is going to pay off one day. Who could ever imagine that we would live through such a massive change in perception and regulation around cannabis?
My biggest setback was… Learning how to handle deal fatigue! When you work in business development, 9 out of 10 opportunities you are working on don’t come to fruition. This revelation was soul crushing to me a few years ago and would knock me out for weeks after.
I overcame it by… Recognizing that nothing was personal. Realizing that I had to learn how to let go (not easy for a passionate person) and take my emotions out of the business equation. Looking back I am thankful for all the deals that didn’t get done. Hindsight is 20/20 vision.
Work/life balance is… Completely necessary, unachievable and totally doable. All at the same time.
I survive a life of constant travel by… Engaging with others, even people I don’t know. Strangers can become friends when you’re on the go, even if only for a moment. Those human connections definitely brighten the journey.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… I helped start the Helene Comay Nursery School in the Wychwood Barns (in my spare time as a working mother). A close second to my proudest accomplishment.
I stay inspired by… Never tempering my passion. My unconscious quest for excitement (and allergy to boredom) keeps me moving forward into new and exciting arenas all the time. It’s a blessing and a curse.
The future excites me because… Canada will legalize cannabis July 1st 2018! It’s really crazy if you step out and think about the journey here. So many advocates and educators have worked to get us to this point in history.
My next step is… To build 48 North into the most respected and well known consumer packaged goods cannabis company out there.
Photo Credit: Lewis Mirrett