Celina Caesar-Chavannes is a business consultant, coach and international speaker. She currently serves as the Senior Advisor, EDI Initiatives and Adjunct Lecturer at Queen’s University. Her forthcoming book, Can you hear me now?, published by Penguin Random House Canada, is available for preorder. She was the former Member of Parliament for Whitby, Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Parliamentary Secretary for International Development.
My first job ever was… working in the children’s department at Brampton Public Library. Minimum wage was around $3.50 and within a few weeks, it went up to about $3.75. I thought I was rich!
I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I had applied to 732 jobs after completing my first MBA around 2013. After only getting four interviews, two second interviews, and zero jobs (because I was overqualified and had no managerial experience), I decided to go full force into launching my company, Resolve Research Solutions, Inc.
I made the decision to enter politics because… after close to ten years of running the company, I started to get bored. I decided to do a second MBA at Rotman in September 2013, and part of the program had a politics component — the first politics course I had ever taken. It intrigued me, as I knew I could bring my business acumen, love of research and passion for people into the political role. I signed up to become a member of a political party for the first time in February 2014, and the rest is history.
My time as a politician taught me… to be myself. That experience, as painfully beautiful as it was, allowed me to find my voice, in a place that was not designed for me to be there in the first place.
My proudest accomplishment is… my three children, Desiray (21-year-old law school graduate), Candice (16-year-old who photographed and came up with the concept for the cover of my book — she also got the contract with Penguin Random House Canada to do so), and Johnny (12-year-old who is a gifted student in math and science, a competitive ballet, contemporary and jazz dancer, and all around good kid).
My boldest move to date was… intentionally stepping into my authentic self in September 2017, and deciding to speak up against microaggressions and racism in Ottawa.
I surprise people when I tell them… that I am an introvert or a well-trained extrovert. I hate crowds and much prefer to be cuddled in my bed with a glass of champagne.
My best advice to people starting out in business is… understand your brand and do everything to protect it.
The best thing about being an entrepreneur is… the flexibility to be at home with my children as they were growing up (and the money!!)
If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… meditate longer.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… how much I love taking care of my front lawn. I am obsessed with my grass.
The one thing I wish I knew when starting my business… is to never take the first offer. I understand my worth now, and therefore have learned to never sell myself short.
I stay inspired by… my children and the courage of the young people of the world.