Meet Sharon Kim, CEO & Founder of CanPlan

Sharon Kim

Sharon Kim is a passionate, imperfect millennial striving to live a life of meaning as CEO/Founder of CanPlan, a one of a kind planner that exists to assist cancer patients and their caregivers navigate the confusing and often overwhelming world of cancer treatment. Here she outlines how she got her idea off the ground, why it’s important to her, and how she hopes to change the perception of the millennial generation for the better.



My inspiration behind CanPlan was… after my mom passed away from cancer a few days before my 23rd birthday, I asked myself, “What control would look like in one’s cancer journey?” The answer was a planner that acted as a roadmap to guide patients through the different stages of cancer.


I got my idea off the ground by… running a crowdfunding campaign in order to obtain enough funds for the first printing because I strongly believe in the power of a unified community working towards a specific cause. So I crossed my fingers, launched my project on Kickstarter and was fully funded seven days before my campaign was set to end.


My proudest accomplishment was… completing my second Relay for Life Speech. I was overwhelmed by the amount of positive feedback I received.


My boldest move to date was… when I moved from Hawaii to California. I knew that I had to put myself in an uncomfortable position in order to grow, so I left my friends and family behind and moved to California with a small savings and no real plans of what to do next. I took a leap of faith and trusted that I’d figure things out along the way.


I surprise people when I tell them… I was class clown in high school. People think I’m very serious since cancer is a pretty serious topic. But I’m actually very lighthearted and I enjoy making fun of myself.


My best advice for people looking to make a difference in people’s lives is… you cannot influence others without being vulnerable and being authentic. Always come from a genuine place and allow yourself to be deeply seen. Be raw and don’t be afraid to show off your imperfections. I truly believe that imperfection is the driving force behind connection, so put yourself out there wholeheartedly, with the risk of judgment and criticism.


My best advice from a mentor was… there is no such thing as failure. You either win or you learn.


My biggest setback was… lacking confidence in myself. I knew I had a great product and a great idea, I just didn’t believe that I had the ability to bring it to fruition.


I overcame it by… each and everyday waking up, and telling myself: I believe I can do it. I believe I deserve it. And I believe I will get there.


I balance work and life by… setting goals for the week and then breaking it down by each day. If I accomplish my goals for the week, I make sure to do something I enjoy as a reward.


Being a young entrepreneur is… riveting. But it’s not for everyone. You have to be comfortable living on a shoestring. You have to still feel motivated even if it’s the third day in a row you’re eating cup noodle. You have to ask for help even if you’re prideful. It takes sacrifice, perseverance and faith.


Creativity is an important part of my job because… it a fundamental aspect of any successful business. The ability to stay ahead of the curve and see a solution to an unmet need is what makes an entrepreneur an entrepreneur.


I stay inspired by… TED Talks. I listen to a podcast each morning.


The future excites me because… I have hope that the millennial generation will prove society wrong. We’ve developed a culture where giving back is something of importance. We believe that a healthy society stems from a unified community where every voice is heard and every opinion has weight. We have already made profound changes in the world we live in today, and whether people think those changes are praise-worthy or not, they can’t argue that it’s fundamental in order to move society forward.



Meet Lesley Lawrence, the BDC senior executive helping entrepreneurs realize their dreams

Lesley Lawrence

Recently appointed to the role of Senior Vice President, Financing and Consulting, Ontario, Lesley Lawrence oversees Business Development Bank of Canada’s lending and consulting services in the province. She hadn’t planned on going into finance — Lesley holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto — but after more than 25 years in the financial services sector, she considers herself lucky to have found a career where she can help people realize their dreams.

Actively involved in the community, Lesley personally focuses on advancing entrepreneurship. In her role at BDC, she acts as national champion for the Bank’s Women Entrepreneur initiative. This includes work with Cisco’s Circle of Innovation, an internship program in cooperation with Cisco and Communitech. The program has partnered entrepreneurs across Canada with interns from the University of Waterloo to help grow companies’ digital presence, all while using Cisco technology to drive future growth, collaboration, and success.


My first job ever was…Working as a cashier at Miracle Food Mart grocery store. I did that job all through high school and university to pay for my education. I took summers off to work full time and came back and worked during the school year for 8 years.


My proudest accomplishment was…Being a strong role model for my daughter. Showing her you could be successful in your career and be a wife and mom at the same time.


My boldest move to date was…Moving my family from Toronto to Vancouver to take on a new role with increased responsibility and building a new team and a new region.


I surprise people when I tell them…I have an abundance of disco music on my phone.


I balance work and life by…Taking my dog for a walk, running, and experiencing new adventure as often as I can. I work hard, but ensure I make the time to enjoy my life.


My best advice from a mentor was…Be true to yourself. Always remember who you are is what got you to where you are.


Female entrepreneurs and funding is…My passion. I am proud of the work the team at Business Development Bank (BDC) has done in supporting women entrepreneurs as they represent one of the fastest growing market segments in Canada.


Engaging women in entrepreneurship is…Not only necessary, but key to the future success of the Canadian economy.


If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know…I thrive on pushing myself outside my comfort zone. I enjoy a challenge and get enormous satisfaction when i inspire others around me to the same and realize success.


I stay inspired by…Surrounding myself with people of different backgrounds who bring new and interesting ideas to the table. I enjoy learning from others, especially millennials.


The future excites me because…Of the unknown. It challenges us to grow, expand our thinking, and evolve to succeed.


You helped find female entrepreneurs to match with interns at the University of Waterloo for the Cisco Women Entrepreneur program. How would you describe that experience?
It was a enjoyable and very rewarding experience. Partnering with Cisco gave us the opportunity to help women entrepreneurs leverage technology and obtain critical expertise to accelerate the growth of their business.


Are you an entrepreneur interested in leveraging technology to grow your company? Sign up for the Cisco Women Entrepreneurs’ Academy, with over 90 hours of free training on the technology basics that can help you understand the opportunities available to you and your business. Simply fill in this quick survey for access.