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Meet Emilie de Rosenroll, CEO of South Island Prosperity Partnership.

2022 Social Change Award Finalist: Regional Impact

Emilie de Rosenroll is founding CEO of South Island Prosperity Partnership (SIPP) and Startup CEO of the Centre for Ocean Applied Sustainable Technologies (COAST). With 15 years of senior leadership experience, Emilie is passionate about creating value for stakeholders and society, developing unconventional partnerships, staying curious and focusing on impact. Emilie is a director on the board of Innovate BC and a member of the BC Shipbuilding Advisory Group. She is the recipient of the 2022 Victoria Community Leadership Award for Belonging & Engagement for her work as a ”visionary and collaborative leader who harnesses the energy of others to help inform her transformative work to ensure an equitable, resilient, and robust economy in our region.” Emilie is also the recipient of the 2020 Business in Vancouver Forty Under 40 award.


My first job ever was… Working at a Marché Mövenpick restaurant in Ottawa. I was just twelve at the time, and I still remember that the manager didn’t want to hire me because I was so young so I came back every day for a week until he finally said yes! 

I chose my career path because… Actually, it was more like one part choice and two parts luck. I had no idea what economic development was when I started out, but after finding an internship in the field, I quickly fell in love with its power to generate positive change for communities.

When starting out, I wish I knewThat success takes care of itself when you follow what matters most to you. So don’t chase success unless you want to feel pretty hollow. Einstein said it way better, “Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.”

The part of my role that I love the most is… Bringing people together in unexpected ways. Getting to see tangible results. And being experimental — not settling for what’s been done before.

The biggest challenge of running a not-for-profit is… Saying no. It’s easy for non-profits to fall into the notorious “grant trap.” Mission-driven organizations have to work exceptionally hard to make sure that their energy and resources are driving their highest value — which sometimes is not aligned to grant criteria. 

If you Googled me, you still wouldn’t know… That I’ve lived in 16 places in 5 countries, and speak 3 languages.

My advice for anyone who wants to build a not-for-profit is… Spend most of your time thinking about how you clearly persuade others of your vision. Sponsors need to know what’s at stake and how they can help. No matter what your area of focus is, if your messaging doesn’t resonate at an emotional level it will be very difficult to gain momentum.

One thing for-profit businesses could learn from the not-for-profit world is… Understanding the entirety of your value chain. Business decisions are often made only to optimize short-term shareholder value, whereas non-profits are meant to optimize long-term outcomes, like healthy people and healthy planet. It’s pretty obvious that those outcomes are preconditions for profitable businesses.

I stay inspired by… My hilarious girls, Scarlett and Naomi, who are 7 and 3. I think they get most of their inspiration from the Thunder Sisters in The Croods!

Success to me means… We leave the world a little better than how we found it.