With more than 30 years of experience in business and strategic leadership, Desirée is the CEO & Chief Disruption Officer at SureCall. Under her leadership, SureCall has been recognized for numerous industry awards for service excellence, ethics, and integrity. With an impact-driven vision, Desirée pivoted her company into becoming a Certified Benefits corporation (B Corp) in April of 2019. Her success was recognized with a 2020 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award in the RBC Momentum category.
My first job ever was… working in a doughnut shop; I was allowed to eat as many doughnuts as I wanted, but it came off my pay and unfortunately most times I ate my pay cheque away!
I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I realized that I had some very creative ideas and dreams, and I was willing to work hard to make them happen. I also enjoy helping others reach their goals and being an entrepreneur allows me to do that in a very meaningful way.
My proudest accomplishment is… being able to pivot my company to a purpose driven entity with full buy-in from my partner and team. This enabled me to create the Hero Girls program — educating girls in underserved and developing communities. We have touched thousands of lives in many communities through scholarships, micro loans, and direct support. It’s been my life-long goal to bridge the gender gap through equitable education for all people.
My biggest setback was… getting lupus at the young age of 30; I was incapacitated for nearly a year and many things were put on hold as I learned to deal with this autoimmune disease.
I overcame it by… having a very supportive family and team at work. I started a regular health and fitness regime, watch what I eat and stay out of the sun to avoid flare ups. Giving up some of my favorite things seems inconsequential when your health is at stake and people are depending on you.
If you Googled me, you still wouldn’t know… that I was an air force cadet when I was younger, and I have jumped out of a plane!
When starting my business, I wish I knew… that no matter what, the sun will still shine the next day so get on with life and don’t sweat the small stuff. I spent too many sleepless nights worrying instead of keeping my eye on the big picture; I had to learn to just trust my instincts and believe.
My best advice for people looking to grow their business is… don’t hold back. Take some risks because nobody ever grew a business without taking risks. It may not always work out and in fact you will fail along the way, but there are necessary lessons that come with failure — necessary to grow your business, and more importantly to grow your leadership skills.
A great leader is… someone who knows that their job is to create more great leaders to support and nurture others to success, and to give back selflessly to their communities. A great leader always sees a bigger purpose behind everything they do.
The future excites me because… I still feel like it can be designed and that we are really starting to see the beginning of a cultural intelligence renaissance like we have never seen in our lifetime. I have great faith in future generations, the glimmer of a world that is peaceful and equal is on the horizon.
Success to me means… being responsible for my own happiness and speaking my truth. It also means making a meaningful difference in the lives of others through good work, a bigger purpose, and leading with love.