Employee Spotlight: Raeshelle M. Morris, MA (Leadership), PMP, BMOS (Hons.), IMGB™, Innovation Program Manager, Humber’s Office of Research & Innovation (ORI)
“A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes,
and who has the courage to develop that potential.” – Brene Brown
“I’m an entrepreneur-at-heart.”
“I love the one-on-one contact and mentorship opportunities I have had with students and entrepreneurs-in-the-making. I love guiding them to launch successful businesses and positioning them for success by connecting them with my network. Seeing them successful, I felt successful myself. I love seeing the passion that they brought with their entrepreneurship initiatives. It kind of made me feel like it was mine as well.”
“I enjoy enabling others to pursue their purpose and overcome limiting mindsets!”—Raeshelle Morris
At ORI, we foster and harness an inclusive, open and sustainable approach to research and innovation. We continue to support and enable faculty, students, industry and community partners to participate and collaborate. We aim to expand the dialogue around ‘research’ and demystify ‘innovation’. We do this as a team, together, building on each other’s strengths and supporting each other to achieve a collective goal. Today we celebrate one of our leading experts, an ‘entrepreneur-at-heart’, Raeshelle M. Morris, affectionately known as Rae to us all.
Leadership Means Inspiring Others
Rae is a certified innovation and entrepreneurship expert. As ORI’s Innovation Program Manager, she promotes Humber’s applied research and innovation expertise and capacity. She is responsible for all aspects of ORI’s program management and confidently wears several hats.
“This role has expanded and exposed my mind to the missing piece which ties all of my experience together: the importance of applying innovative methodology and practices to guarantee organizational success.” —Raeshelle
Rae joined ORI in 2019, and among other things, she is currently focused on:
- Developing Humber’s Innovation Portfolio to help organizations build their innovation capacity with the outcomes of increased profits or increased market share. As a pilot program, Rae is administering the Innovation Management Analytics Program (IMAP) process to complete ORI’s internal Innovation360 assessment to identify how ORI operates and innovates as a department. The IMAP process has been built from the Innovation360 methodology in Innovation Strategy Management. This program has a sustainable impact and positive benefit to organizations by developing a comprehensive, evidence-based innovation strategy to enhance organizations’ products, services, and processes by focusing their attention through a gap analysis to determine ‘why they are where they are’ along with the ability to put data in context. Rae also has access to the scenario and global key driver tool PESTLED360.
- Developing and implementing innovative training sessions through a series of ‘Innovation Buffet Workshops’ offered to faculty at Humber and to our valued industry partners. She has been trained in design thinking, human-centred design, values-based leadership, change management, creative problem-solving using the Simplexity process, and Innovation Management through Innovation360 (Swedish Company leading the charge in Europe in Innovation Strategy Management)–she is a green-belt holder.
- Co-Investigator of a three-year research project.
- Managing a team of collaborators and project coordinators.
We asked Rae to share what leadership meant to her.
“I have been fortunate enough to work with leaders who continue to motivate, inspire and enforce a growth mindset. Leadership, to me, is more than just leading by example; it is about inspiring those around you to see greatness in themselves and giving them a platform to use as a springboard to move forward. I’ve had leaders who poured into me, pushed me to do better, and listened to me, and Dr. Ginger Grant is most definitely one such inspiring leader. It nurtured the need in me to be a good leader myself. They contributed tremendously to my success and shaped my thinking. They made me a better leader.” —Raeshelle
Rae obtained her Double Major Honors Bachelor’s Degree in Management & Organizational Studies and Sociology from the University of Western Ontario in 2008. Rae has been a Project Management Professional since 2012. She went on to pursue her Master’s in Leadership from the University of Guelph in 2017 primarily for this one reason:
“Because of my love for people, which may sound simple to many, but it’s rather complex because we are complex beings; we all have different perceptions, thoughts and beliefs. It takes a true leader to understand what differentiates us in the same thing that unites us and pushes us towards a unified purpose. I was challenged to think of who I was as a leader. I am a leader who stands behind her team and pushes them forward. I am a catalyst for real positive change in people’s lives.”—Raeshelle
An Innovative Mindset!
Rae asserts that she was born into a family of entrepreneurs and academic scholars who have shaped her thinking. She was taught at an early age to pursue education AND build an entrepreneurship mindset to be successful. She admits that she has always wanted to be an entrepreneur at some point in her life. We are cheering for her, and in the meantime, we are thankful to have Rae’s unique abilities to take on new challenges and lead with determination and compassion. We are encouraged by her resoluteness and her innate ability to inspire those around her. She may not be an entrepreneur yet, but her contributions and innovative mindset have attributed to successes along the way, both for the organizations/teams she has been associated with and her own personal/professional growth.
“I always knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur at some point in my life, but for now, I have decided that for any organization I work with, I will adopt the entrepreneurship mindset and become an intrapreneur until it is time for me to launch my own business.”—Raeshelle
Let us share with you some outstanding highlights of Rae’s journey that led up to her current role(s) at ORI in 2019:
- Joined Humber and challenged herself to manage the then-brand-new Centre for Entrepreneurship (CfE) [2017-2019]. Developed Entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship training programs. Within one year, increased entrepreneurship memberships from 554 to 2203. Collaborated on Humber’s first-ever Global Forum for Entrepreneurship and Innovation with participation from institutions from Denmark, Austria, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Indonesia, and Finland. Led Humber’s first-ever marketplace celebrating African and Caribbean cultures. Invited W. Brett Wilson, celebrated Canadian entrepreneur, respected philanthropist, and the all-time leading dealmaker on CBC’s hit TV show, Dragons’ Den (the Canadian version of Shark Tank), who spoke at an event on the lost art of critical thinking.
- As Client Relationship Manager (GTA and Atlantic Region) at Futurprenuer Canada [2016-2017], successfully worked with and led the funding of 267 start-ups with 267 mentors matched.
- Managed and supported government-funded programs with a combined value of 40 million over two years at the Ontario Centres of Innovation [2013-2016]. Led 18 process improvements and resolved 9 gaps. Reviewed all proposals and business plans submitted by youth and non-youth start-up companies that applied to the Entrepreneurship Programs.
- Developed the Lead & Prospect Development Program for the Ontario Real Estate Association [2011-2013].
- Worked as a Project Manager (Account Management) for the Caribbean’s largest telecommunications company (worked with corporate clients like BMW, Sandals Resort and the Govt. of Lucia) [2008-2010].
“I am an optimizer which means that I enjoy turning ideas into practical solutions. Optimizers like to refine and evaluate ideas, turning abstract notions into realistic plans, including optimally managing competing priorities and interests from multiple stakeholders whose goals and values may contrast my own. I believe in collaboration and clear communication during the planning phase to ensure expectations are set to avoid confusion.”—Raeshelle
Rae embodies the qualities of an entrepreneur, a researcher and an innovator. She practices the art of effective communication, prospecting, business acumen, storytelling, active listening, presentation skills, negotiation skills and collaboration to relentlessly pursue her goals while working in unison to achieve ORI’s collective goals. As a leader, she continuously encourages those around her to take on new challenges and inspires them to achieve success.
Transitioning from roles that accorded Rae complete autonomy with opportunities to directly interact with entrepreneurs, Rae immersed herself in an immensely collaborative role at the Office of Research & Innovation. “Did you find it was challenging to shift gears towards your role at ORI?” we asked. Rae humbly shares, “I would say it was positively challenging. I now truly understand the value and power of collaboration. I learned how to step out of self and into a team. I embraced bringing the entire team along for the achievement of goals that we all develop together. I believe in working smarter, not just harder. I learnt the value of brainstorming and delegating tasks that my team members are better at. My perspectives have widened; it is easier to accept different perspectives and realities, which has helped me develop compassion and empathy as I got to really dive deep and understand user groups and what it is like to step into people’s shoes. I learned to build with others.”
A Researcher’s Mindset!
Extending her innovation and research portfolio and taking on new challenges without hesitation, Rae is now the Co-Investigator on a three-year research project on “Measuring the Impact of 21st Century Experiential Learning on new Immigrants Workplace Performance”, led by Principal Investigator Dr. Ginger Grant, PhD., Dean, Research & Innovation, in partnership with ACCES Employment Canada. In 2020, Humber College received funding for this project; it was awarded the College and Community Social Innovation Fund (CCSIF) grant for $360K through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). This study aims to research and measure the impact of–implemented and planned experiential learning opportunities on the employment readiness and actual employment of the Internationally Trained Professionals (ITP) who participate in ACCES’ bridging programs–to determine efficacy and effectiveness from both an ITP and employer perspective, and to use this data to inform decisions about which are, and which are not effective.
Rae humbly shares how she turned her fears into fueling her passion for taking on yet another challenge. “I’m not afraid of failure; it definitely stresses me as I tend to take accountabilities for all actions and results of my team, but I’ve learnt to build on past experiences and lead by example.”
“What does research mean to you?” we implored Rae. “I’ve learned that research is accessible to every single person on the planet; from a child who is trying to understand how to put Lego blocks together, seeking out their parent to ask how it’s done. Research always starts with how–how do we, how might we? There’s a misconception that research is only accessible to academics, whereas, in reality, every person is conducting research every day.” —Raeshelle
Rae states that research also means failing at first and then picking up the working pieces to build a stronger case moving forward. In one of her roles at ORI, Rae was responsible for being the institutional holder for NSERC Engage grant applications. She remembers how agonizing it was to receive notification of a rejected application. Nevertheless, she endeavoured and kept going. From fear of failure to leading a three-year research study as a co-investigator–we can proudly say that Rae leads by example; she is a researcher with an entrepreneurship and innovative mindset.
Get to know Rae a little better: 7 Things
- When she is not at work, she sunbathes, plays with her pet cat, and spends time with family.
- Secret talent: Rae shares, “Creative writing and poetry.”
- A favourite book or two: ‘How to Do the Work’ by Dr. Nicole LePera–the creator of the Instagram account @the.holistic.psychologist–offers both a manifesto for self-healing as well as an essential guide to creating a more vibrant, authentic, and joyful life. Another favourite: ‘Me, Myself, and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being’ by Brian R. Little; an in-depth exploration of the new personality science and its provocative findings.
- Most visited online research portals: Academia.edu and Researchgate.net
- Coffee or Tea: Coffee, for sure!
- Research in one line: Rae states, “To solve a problem, simply said,” and we couldn’t agree more!
- A message for women leaders: “Be bold. Stand up for what you believe in. Do not waiver regardless of what is coming up against you. There’s nothing that can move you out of the way of where the universe is leading you if you believe in yourself.”