GRIT - Ed.05 - Magazine - Page 20
Kyle Winters, NEXT Canada’s Chief Advancement Officer, has
been appointed as the organization’s Chief Executive Officer
as of June 1. Having joined NEXT a little over two years ago,
Kyle was drawn to the opportunity to work with NEXT’s thought
leaders including: Co-Chairs, Reza Satchu and John Kelleher;
Co-founders, including Professor Ajay Agrawal and Claudia Hepburn; and former CEO and current Board member, Joe Canavan.
We had a chance to sit down with Kyle and chat more about
what’s in store for NEXT Canada.
NEXT: Congratulations on your new role! We’ve gotten
to know you these past two years through your Chief
Advancement Officer achievements. What would you
like to share about yourself as you take on the CEO role?
KW: Thank you! It’s such a privilege to lead the NEXT
Canada team and to continue to dedicate my time towards our mission of building a more ambitious and
prosperous Canada. One of my passions is leading people to achieve great, and often challenging, goals. My
first job was as an elite gymnastics coach, and since
then, every role I’ve held has involved coaching and
mentorship. I love that, and I see it as very relevant to
what we do here at NEXT.
NEXT: That is a perfect fit with us because coaching and mentorship play such important roles in developing our entrepreneurs. As we look forward, what do
you have planned for NEXT?
KW: We have a profoundly important mission. I plan
to remain focused on our mission of making Canada
more competitive by providing a platform for founder
development and excellence. We’ll continue to support
our programs with globally renowned academics and
mentors who have achieved what our young entrepreneurs aspire to do.
We currently have over 700 alumni, and by 2023 we
will have more than 1,000. These alumni are leading
companies that are driving the Canadian economy and
advancing Canadian culture — and this is happening
from coast to coast. We’ll continue to support our ventures by connecting them with world-class leaders and
I am also a bit of a stickler when it comes to budgeting
so another priority of mine will be to solidify NEXT’s financial footing for the years ahead. Fortunately, we have
an incredible board and a network of supporters who
see great value in what we are doing.
NEXT: That’s amazing. Our alumni have been making
headlines lately and they’re playing a big role in putting
the spotlight on the Canadian tech ecosystem. In your
opinion, what role will NEXT play in the Canadian innovation landscape?
KW: I think the last decade of success has already
shown us that NEXT plays numerous roles in the innovation landscape. We are, and will continue to be,
a source of competitive ambition for young entrepreneurs applying for our program. We’re a community of
experts mentoring the NEXT generation of founders,
and this community will grow as the Canadian tech
sector grows. We are an academic hub for some of the
world’s greatest thinkers, and we aim to continue to
attract talent from around the world. We also aim to be
an employer of choice in this competitive ecosystem
and we are enormously proud of the alumni who are
giving back to us in so many ways.
NEXT: As the Canadian tech sector grows, what role
DE&I will play in building a more ambitious Canada?
KW: Some of the greatest successes in this country
have been experienced by people who may not have
been born here, but who have added immeasurable
value to Canada through their culture, their identity
and their beliefs. I’m personally committed to ensuring
that our organization reflects the rich diversity of this
country in all aspects of what we do. I’m also aware
that the lived experience of others will be critical, and
we will continue to see feedback so that we can develop a more fulsome and authentic DE&I strategy.
NEXT: We agree, DE&I is becoming core to our everyday lives and we need to ensure that we’re creating
space and support for entrepreneurs from all different
backgrounds. Before we wrap up, what advice would
you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
KW: Speak up, and don’t be afraid to ask anything.
We’re hardwired to believe that ‘I will create my own
success’. My personal experience has been that I’ve
been most successful when I’ve been open about what
I’ve needed, and have sought the counsel of others who
may have been further along the path of life.
That’s also what NEXT is here for. We are committed
to helping entrepreneurs to achieve their greatest success possible, and in turn make Canada a stronger and
more prosperous place for years to come.