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BYOB (it’s not what you think)

Fredericton students learned how to get bossy last week.

The student ambassadors of UNB’s Pond-Deshpande Centre threw BYOB: Be Your Own Boss event. Students got to munch down on free pizza and beer at Planet Hatch and listen to leaders in the city’s entrepreneurship community share their secrets.

The first speaker of the evening was Karina LeBlanc, the executive director of the Pond-Deshpande Centre.

LeBlanc started out as an engineer, working for Procter and Gamble Inc. She then began to eye the upper echelons of the company. However, a conversation with a fellow passenger on a plane got her questioning her life plan.

The man on the plane eventually called her up and offered her a job at a start-up in New Brunswick. This led her to where she is now.

“Sometimes, these paths open up in front of you, for whatever reason you made the decision to take them,” LeBlanc said during her speech. “It has been my personal experience that you should always take the path less trodden, because it’s full of reward, even though it’s the scary one.”

She said though being an entrepreneur has its wonderful highs and painful lows, she doesn’t regret leaving her corporate dreams behind.

“You get the bug,” LeBlanc said. “You get in the start-up community and you never want to get out. You never want to go big again.”

Leblanc’s advice for budding entrepreneurs is to take chances and do what you love.

“Invest in yourself. Keep your eyes wide open for opportunities. Don’t be scared to take the path less trodden,” she said. “Listen to what really touches you, because that’s what’s going to drive you. The wealth and prosperity will come after that.”

Dale Vandenborre of ISOMNI solutions and Brian Dunphy of OneLobby then followed with their stories and advice. The evening closed with Rivers Corbett, UNB’s entrepreneur-in-residence and owner of Relish Gourmet Burgers.

“Being an entrepreneur is like a sport. It is a game. It’s in our DNA and we get to play every single day of our lives and that is so cool,” Corbett said.

“It’s a great game . . . there’s a lot of practicing that goes along with it, but it is a great high that you can never ever replace somewhere else.”

One of the goals was to put entrepreneurship into perspective.

“I think there is a stigma around entrepreneurship, like ‘you don’t want to get into that, it’s so risky,’ ” said Cathlia Ward, one of the student ambassadors. “But really entrepreneurship is the creation of your own dreams and whatever your ideas are, making them happen.”

Ward said she hopes the event showed students that being their own boss it possible.

“I just hope everyone took away the idea that entrepreneurship isn’t as scary as you might think,” she said.

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