On Tuesday, March 28 at the Centre for Social Innovation “Garage”, 18 inspiring students walked down a rainbow carpet to the end of one journey and the start of the next.

Fellowbration decorations reflect the optimism of the evening

Affectionately known as “Fellowbration”, the theme of the 2016-17 Social Intrapreneur Fellowship graduation was the whimsical Oh the Places You’ll Go, a much beloved Dr. Seuss masterpiece. In a venue cheerfully bedecked in optimistic hues, hot air balloons, and truffula trees, students were awarded their Fellowship certificates and new identities as SSE alumni.

Friends, family, mentors, and other well-wishers cheered the students’ accomplishments. Also present in the audience were about a half dozen alumni from prior SEF and SIF cohorts.

Student Speakers

The graduating class nominated three students to represent them during the ceremony:

Kelsey Corey SIF ’16-’17 calls the gathering to order

Calling the ceremonies to order, Corey spoke movingly of her time as an intrapreneur in a social enterprise and the value of finding a community of like-minded changemakers.

Nagrani spoke about coming into SIF with a workplace project idea only to realize, over time, that her project had been herself and her own development as a leader.

Rounding out the evening, Mclaughlin described taking a similar journey to his classmates, pausing to thank the many mentors, volunteers, program partners, and staff who had made the SIF program a success.

Shalini Nagrani ’16-’17 Describes the SIF Journey

SIF 2016-17 represents the second cohort of the Social Intrapreneur Fellowship, a program funded largely by the Ontario Trillium Foundation with additional support from RSA Canada. Joining the festivities was RSA’s Senior Vice President for Human Resources, Mark Edgar, who announced that RSA was renewing its financial and in-kind sponsorship of SSE for 2017.

Keynote Address: Bindu Dhaliwal

The evening’s attendees were also treated to an outstanding keynote speech by Bindu Dhaliwal, Director of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) for BMO. Introducing Dhaliwal, SSE Ontario Director of Business for Good, Chryssa Koulis, remarked: “When SSE decided to launch the Canadian chapter of the League of Intrpraneuers, we conducted a national search for role models among the country’s leading social intrapreneurs. Bindu’s name emerged quickly and repeatedly. In addition to being a brilliant legal mind and member of the business community, she has also pushed tirelessly for a more just world.”

Xavier Mclaughlin SIF ’16-’17

In addition to her role at BMO, Dhaliwal co-chaired the Legal & Compliance Diversity Council, and served as the Acting Executive Director of Street Kids International. She has also won numerous awards for her contributions, including the 2015 South Asian Bar Association and the Top 10 30-somethings by the Association of Corporate Counsel. In 2000, she won a Governor General’s Award for her contribution to the goal of equality for women and girls in Canada.

Tracing her winding professional journey from camp counselor and classroom door monitor to her current role at the Bank, Dhaliwal spoke eloquently about the challenge of finding one’s way. Quoting Oh the Places You’ll Go, a book she cited as a personal favourite, Dhaliwal had posed the questions of Dr. Seuss many times over her career:

…should you turn left or right…

or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?

Or go around back and sneak in from behind?

Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,

For a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

Intent upon bringing positive changes to the world and leading a fulfilling career, Dhaliwal sought the perfect job until she realized that “change could come in many forms and in many places.” Being invited in 2015 to join and help launch the League of Intrapreneurs Canada, Dhaliwal realized that the “dots” of her life in non-profit organizations and corporate social responsibility had been stops along “long wiggled roads” of an exciting intrapreneurial journey.

No doubt in the mind of the audience, the road for Dhaliwal and other social intrapreneurs leads to the “bright places where Boom Bands are playing.” Congratulations to all the graduates!

Bindu Dhaliwal speaks eloquently of her intrapreneurial journey

If you couldn’t make it, click here to view photos of the evening.