From biz success to TedX, Ramsden relishes sharing innovation

June 28

By Sean Meyer


Kelsey Ramsden business pedigree is impressive as she not only owns a successful civil construction business, but was named Canada’s top female entrepreneur by Profit Magazine in both 2012 and 2013.

More than a decade earlier, Kelsey had moved from British Columbia to London to complete her MBA at Western University’s Richard Ivey School of Business.

As a result of her success, the award-winning entrepreneur, podcaster and author — she also has an upcoming global book tour — started getting phone calls from people looking for her to share her business insights.

However, the idea really only started to take hold while out for a lunch with a new acquaintance who suggested Kelsey should be sharing her experiences with a wider audience as a public speaker.

It wasn’t exactly an idea she immediately warmed up to.

“She said I should be a speaker and I said, well why would I do that?” Kelsey said. “I was very much involved in businesses where you just do your work, be on time, stay on budget; I never really liked customer-facing business. It turns out, I really do like people.”

Those calls resulted in what she now describes as her “tertiary business,” where she serves as a “wingman” for entrepreneurs looking to take their business operations — whatever they might be — to the next level.

Ironically, two days later Kelsey got a phone call from a TedX event in her former hometown of Kelowna.

Kelsey took them up on their offer, although in hindsight she doesn’t recommend a TedX talk as someone’s first foray into public speaking.

She did find out though that while she’s not naturally good at delivering a speech, she is particularly adapt at having a conversation with an audience.

“I’ve realized this was always part of my life’s ambition. It’s a part of what I’ve always done,” she said. “People say to me, how do you think like this, and I just shrug. For me, it’s connecting with individuals around these intimate ideas. So, did I think I would be doing this? I can say, absolutely yes and unequivocally no.”

Kelsey could literally do her job anywhere, including out of her house, from an airplane, or back in her office in British Columbia.

An invitation to speak at a Pillar Nonprofit Network event, however, led her to Innovation Works, where she’s been set up for the better part of the past 18 months.

It’s an environment she’s embraced because it connects her with people Kelsey acknowledges she wouldn’t normally cross paths with.

The flip side, Kelsey explains, is she comes into contact with “the titans of Canadian commerce weekly,” so being able to share stories of the grassroots work being done at Innovation Works with those people who often have no proximity to it, has a lot of value.

While it gives her something unique to talk with them about, from a wider community context, it also spreads the word around the opportunities coming out of the space.

And speaking of that space, Kelsey said she is also grateful for what being at Innovation Works does for her personally.

“The friends I’ve made have allowed me to get outside of my echo chamber . . . and that’s been awesome,” she said. “The really amazing the people who put this place together had the courage to say being part of a community doesn’t exclude us from being front-facing to it. I think that’s really cool.”

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