Meet Laurie Clark, RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Ones to Watch Recipient
Laurie Clark’s latest venture is as the Founder and CEO Onyen Corporation, a rapidly growing and leading-edge AI RegTech startup that is transforming ESG reporting for a number of public and private industries worldwide. A global finance executive and founder of three present technology companies, she was awarded “Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada” in 2017, 2019 and 2022. She also started, grew, and sold three companies prior to her present activities. Laurie has over 20 years of capital markets and trading experience, including Start-Ups, JVs, and M&A. She is an Independent Corporate Director serving on a variety of public and private company boards, including past Chair of the Compensation, Risk and Governance Committees for Belzberg Technologies Inc. (TSX: BLZ), current Chair of the Board for a private capital management company, and a director of Troika Group of Companies. She is also a member of the Advisory Committee for Pelangio Exploration Inc. (TSX.V: PX), the TMX Advisory Council (X TSE), the Canadian RegTech Association Advisory Board, and the Advisory Board for Advisorsavvy. Laurie is a frequent motivational and keynote speaker at global conferences on Finance and Technology.
I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur when… at the age of six, while I was in Italy, a teacher delivered a pivotal message: As a woman, I was supposedly incapable of making consequential decisions. That single statement became a catalyst for me, propelling me towards a relentless pursuit of excellence. It drove me to become the best, the brightest, and the hardest worker. I honed my leadership skills, which in turn fueled my unquenchable thirst for more, compelling me to strive relentlessly to realize the vision I held for my businesses and ultimately my life.
Entrepreneurship is made for me because… I’m never satisfied with the status quo. I always want more, need to do more, question more, seek more. I am forever curious. I deal excellently with stress. I love following my passion and seeing opportunities others don’t. I value creating my own vision and bringing it to life. I have a strong desire for self-determination and to build independent wealth. I’m not afraid of a calculated risk and understand pitfalls are part of the journey.
The impact I hope to make through my work is… my drive to leave a meaningful legacy, particularly for women considering product creation. I want them to see that despite stumbling, others have risen and persisted. With Onyen, I witness the tangible results of sustainable business practices daily, as it’s a global ESG reporting system. I aim to lead by example and ensure our impacts on communities and culture are genuine.
My goal is to leave behind a thriving, ever-growing company, where my leadership inspires both women and men to pursue their dreams, even when fear looms large. I want to teach my own children that life is challenging, but the less-trodden path can be incredibly rewarding, even though it’s undeniably tough. My ambitions have never been small and continue to reach to conquer the world.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned on my entrepreneurial journey is… PERSERVERANCE. Even with the amount of success I’ve enjoyed along my journey of six companies, I still face rejection, and sometimes failures before achieving my goals. Resilience means having the determination to persevere through adversity, even when the odds seem stacked against you. It means finding the inner strength to keep going, even when the path ahead is unclear or difficult.
My proudest accomplishment is… besides having four wonderful kids, one of my proudest moments has been conquering my fear of water by becoming a blue water sailor. Now, I’m out there sailing around the world, taking on my fear of the deep like a boss. It’s kind of like a metaphor for being in business. Entrepreneurship is all about facing the unknown, just like when you’re out at sea. If you can handle that fear of the unknown, you’ve got what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
The biggest risk I took that paid off was… leaving an abusive marriage with my son without support was incredibly tough. I did it because I wanted a life filled with fulfillment and joy, not just survival. It was a gruelling journey, and I had moments of doubt. But today, I stand to say that a fulfilling life includes joy, triumph, and calculated risks. I see my goals clearly.
My biggest setback has been… failing to recognize the critical importance of removing obstacles, especially negative ones, from my path to success in both life and business as quickly as possible. I learned, perhaps later than I should have, that loyalty doesn’t equate to tolerating incompetence or those who undermine progress. Today, I adopt a more ruthless approach when it comes to eliminating anything that could potentially hinder the path to success, whether in my personal life or in business.
I overcame it by… understanding the vital role of obstacle removal involves shifting focus from short-term comfort to long-term success. This includes seeking mentorship, self-assessment, and a proactive approach to spot and tackle obstacles promptly.
The best advice I’ve received as an entrepreneur was… surround yourself with excellence: Assemble a top-notch team, seek advice from the best minds, and never shy away from asking for help. Seeking assistance isn’t a weakness; it’s your confidence in finding the best solutions. Lastly, when you lose a deal, move on swiftly.
I surprise people when I tell them… at my core, I’m quite introverted and truly savour moments of solitude.
If I had an extra hour in the day, I would use it to… write my novel. That’s my next goal.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… when the pressures of business weigh heavily on my shoulders, and I’m searching for the next step, I seek solace in an unexpected place: the kitchen. But don’t mistake it for mere amateur baking — I’m a seasoned pro in there.
The future excites me because… it ignites my enthusiasm with its limitless potential. I’m captivated by the incredible advancements in technology, medicine, and pharmaceuticals and their transformative impact on our culture and the world. Embracing these scientific wonders feels akin to celebrating extraordinary events. I choose to focus on the positive aspects that our world has to offer, relentlessly pursuing progress and always hungry for more.
When we set out to launch Onyen on a global scale, we were brimming with confidence in our business idea and product. But what we didn’t foresee was that it would soar like a rocket ship. Now, I’m gripping the reins, thoroughly enjoying the most thrilling journey of my life! It’s a powerful reminder that the only thing to truly fear about leadership is not realizing your full potential and destiny. Plus, there’s the joy of my eldest getting married, adding another layer of excitement to the journey ahead!