Amy opens up about how she has achieved success throughout her fruitful career, how she learnt and grew through “career fails”, and what leadership means to her.
- Location: Canada
- Industry: Science & Technology
- Programme: MBA
- Year of Graduation: 2021
Before Amy Lafleche became a Senior Lead for Merchant Support at Shopify, her drive for business success started at a very young age, watching her Dad run his business and trying a few of her own. Harnessing the entrepreneurial spirit from her childhood, Amy has now come full circle, as she gets to support and watch entrepreneurs and business owners grow their enterprises throughout her current role.
Becoming a Successful Entrepreneur and Business Owner
Growing up in a small town taught me countless lessons in business. It was there where I watched my Dad grow his businesses and where I worked for several small businesses myself.
My first attempt at business was when I was about eight years old. I set up a stand to sell pet rocks, which were just cool rocks I found and drew faces on. It didn’t go well – I made no sales, and the neighbourhood bully stole my rocks and threw them at me. It was my first lesson in the importance of market demand and understanding that not everyone is going to like you.
What Career is For Me
My career has taken a lot of twists and turns since then, but my entrepreneurial spirit has always been strong. I’m happy that I now work for a company that supports Entrepreneurs. I am currently a Senior Lead for Merchant Support at Shopify.
The most exciting part about working at Shopify is our merchants. We get to see businesses of all sizes from around the globe build and grow their ideas – it’s truly inspiring!
What’s been especially inspiring is how businesses have adapted over the last year and a half through lockdowns and restrictions. Our support teams have adapted and grown alongside our merchants’ needs, and I love that I’ve been able to play a part in that.
What Does Leadership Mean to You?
I’m a firm believer that leadership is a craft that can be developed, as opposed to something someone is born with or a title that is given. As I’ve grown in my own career and moved into roles where I’ve become a lead of leads, I’ve been dedicated to helping others develop their own leadership styles and approaches.
I don’t think there’s a right way to lead a team, but I’m a big fan of inspiring team members to achieve a vision rather than demanding compliance.
I also think it’s really important to make sure you’re pursuing leadership for the right reasons. If all you are after is a bigger salary or title, you’ll burn out fast. Get grounded in your why and be ready to be in service to your teams.
How to Overcome Fear of Failure in Career?
One of my failures as a leader that has greatly impacted me was a situation where I was faced with a tough decision. I knew what the ‘right thing to do was, but I had a lot of pressure from my lead and other stakeholders to go the other way.
I wavered in my own judgement and didn’t hold the line strong enough, which resulted in a pretty negative impact on my team. Still to this day, I maintain that mistake as a lesson and reminder to never replace my own judgement with someone else’s, which has served me well in several roles since.
How do you Define Successes in Your Career?
I worked as part of a team that built the largest cannabis clinic network in Canada, serving over 100,000 patients from 7 locations. Growing this company from the ground up has been one of the most rewarding chapters of my career.
I lead the company’s overall operations, including overseeing all clinic locations, call centres, retail, and marketing teams. The industry carried a stigma, was heavily regulated, and ever-changing, which presented a lot of interesting challenges. I had a lot of fun developing strategies, solving problems, and leading an amazing and impactful team.
Why Having a Mentor is Important
I’ve always been pretty lucky when it comes to mentors, and I’ve had several over my career. I think mentors are crucial for everyone.
Some of the best advice I ever got (from one of my mentors) is that you should always have a mentor and be a mentor at all times throughout your career so that you’re constantly learning and teaching and engaged in the mentoring process. And, if you ever find yourself without one, you can find mentors in the form of authors, public figures, etc.. that can fill the gap until you do.
What is Your Personal Mantra?
I don’t know if it’s much of a mantra, but more of a general approach to my career: I provide value through my work, and I have fun doing it!
If I can’t provide value in a role, I won’t stay. It’s pretty important to me, and if I cannot do that, I will make an exit plan. I also put a high value on having fun. I think too often we associate work with being serious, and there are definitely times where it needs to be, but if there’s an opportunity to inject fun into the day, I’ll do it.
What is Your Career Advice for Anyone Aspiring to Build a Name?
My advice to anyone trying to build a name for themselves is to not focus on building your name – let your work and impact speak for you instead!
You are building your personal brand with every interaction you have, every project you work on… everything you do matters, so show up consistently, do good work, be yourself, and be kind.