Manifesting the Entrepreneurial Spirit
Story by Michael Seguin
In many ways, Nicole Anderson (née Sleiman) has been surrounded by entrepreneurs her whole life.
“Our family emigrated from Lebanon in 1986,” Nicole explains. “When we moved here, we were on social assistance for a number of years until my Dad started his business. He had a background in mechatronics, so he started a business that would provide automation services to the greenhouse sector. Over the last 30 years, he’s taken the company across the world.”
Nicole worked for her father’s company, Ag-Tronic Control Systems (ACS) for years, first in the manufacturing facility and then in the office. After obtaining her MBA from Ryerson University, Nicole worked at the University of Windsor, where she taught at the Odette School of Business and co-founded the Entrepreneurship, Practice and Innovation Centre (EPICentre)—the hub for all entrepreneurial endeavors on campus.
Now, Nicole serves as the Program Director of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy at the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation (WEEDC).
“In 2017, Windsor was identified as having the lowest amount of female entrepreneurs in the country,” Nicole recalls. “To combat that, we received a very large federal grant to provide support for female entrepreneurs and women working in STEM in the region. I was hired to run the grant through the Small Business Centre at the WEEDC.”
After scanning Windsor’s ecosystem, Nicole realized that, while the city has some amazing resources available, it lacked a true collaborative hub for entrepreneurs. In response, Nicole developed RISE Windsor-Essex.
“RISE Windsor-Essex amalgamates all the information out there into a one-stop shop for all women entrepreneurs and women pursuing careers in STEM,” Nicole explains. “It’s an organization that strengthens intrapreneurs within larger organizations and entrepreneurs.”
RISE Windsor-Essex is currently operating out of the Windsor Essex Small Business Centre, a department of the WEEDC.
These last few years have been busy ones for Nicole. In addition to her responsibilities with WEEDC and RISE Windsor-Essex, she also serves on the board for a number of different organizations, including the Campaign Cabinet for the new SportsPlex in Tecumseh.
And recently, Nicole has begun practicing what she preaches. This September, she and her husband, chiropractor Dr. Derek Anderson, are opening a health clinic called Ignite Health.
“I’ve worked through the entrepreneurial path with my Dad and have helped countless other business owners over the years,” Nicole states. “But it’s not the same as starting my own larger organization. Being able to take that step towards becoming an entrepreneur myself and walk the talk has been amazing!”
Continue reading for the original story we ran on Nicole which appeared
in the Summer 2015 Edition of Windsor Life Magazine:
Connecting With A Sisterhood Of Inspiration
Story by Karen Paton-Evans
Photography by LiquidWild Media
To capture a glimpse of beauty in motion, #YOUbeautymoment connected with young entrepreneur and educator Nicole Sleiman to find out what drives her.
“You should always be working toward something,” Nicole believes. “Whether it is a personal or professional goal, keep moving.”
That outlook resonates with #YOUbeautymoment creators Erika Harnish and Carly Nicodemo as they shine the spotlight on the positive, beautiful attitudes and actions of Windsor-Essex women age 40 years and younger.
Young entrepreneurs determined to make their own way locally and beyond are finding a kindred spirit, motivator and mentor in Nicole Sleiman.
As the program director at the University of Windsor’s EPICentre, Nicole helps students and graduates start and grow their businesses. She also teaches
Introduction to Business at the undergraduate level and is an instructor at the Odette School of Business.
Earning her own bachelor of business administration degree and an MBA
specializing in human resources, Nicole worked in her family’s business, local engineering firms Ag-Tronic Control Systems (ACS) and Accu-Label, Inc. “I started out in the machine shop soldering equipment and using CNC machines and drill presses,” she says. “As I grew to enjoy the business-side of the organizations, I worked my way into the role of HR and marketing manager during my schooling and took on that position full-time when I moved back home from Toronto after school. I still offer HR and marketing consulting to small businesses in the area as I truly enjoy those aspects of business.”
Her first exposure to business was in her own backyard. “Emigrating from Lebanon nearly 30 years ago, my parents lived a very humble life starting out on social assistance. With their perseverance and natural business sense, they founded ACS, an engineering firm focusing on greenhouse automation. Opening the business out of our basement and then later building a manufacturing facility in our backyard allowed my parents to maintain a strong family life while succeeding in their business,” Nicole says.
“Now, nearly 25 years in business, the company has grown globally and employs personnel from Windsor-Essex County. My parents remain the most humble and loving people I know, giving to those in need and raising four children who have become successful in our own lives.”
Nicole notes, “Seeing the opportunity that this region gave to my parents was my first indicator of the potential of Windsor-Essex. We have a fantastic landscape for various business successes: we are a border city, allowing access to the American market; we house an international airport, enabling us to travel the world from our doorstep; and we are dedicated to economic development, bringing large organizations to our area for employment opportunities.”
“With my background, I know that in Windsor Essex I am able to secure a career (or start my own business) with the help of regional resources, while owning my own home, thanks to our low cost of living.”
These are messages that she enthusiastically shares with young entrepreneurs. Nicole advises, “Use the resources available to you in Windsor-Essex County. There are many organizations in our area dedicated to helping entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses, from consulting services, market research and business planning to legal advice for start-ups. Find someone who inspires you and use them as a mentor and/or role model to help you on your path to success. You are your own advocate, so ensure that you surround yourself with positive people, whether they can help you in your business or in your personal life.”
To provide a supportive environment that encourages entrepreneurial spirit, Nicole was involved in managing the effective change of the Centre for Enterprise and Law at the EPICentre. “Building this centre from the ground up with the help of my colleagues and the vision of Dr. Alan Wildeman (University of Windsor president and vice-chancellor), Dean H. Allan Conway (Odette School of Business) and Dr. Michael Siu (UWindsor vice-president, research and innovation), we have created a hub for entrepreneurship at the University of Windsor, securing over $1,000,000 in funding and engaging over 3,000 students since our opening in January 2015,” Nicole says.
Always be working toward something. Whether it is a personal or professional goal, keep moving”— Nicole
“I find that our local young entrepreneurs have the passion and desire to succeed. They work seven days per week (on top of a full course load!), invest their time and hard-earned funds into their projects and travel across Ontario to meet with potential clients and investors. They are coachable and are willing to mould their ideas to creatively solve the problems of their target market.”
As a youth representative on the board of the Windsor Essex Economic Development Corp, Nicole has been able to bring the questions and concerns of youth in Windsor-Essex to the table. “I also take what I learn as a board member to my everyday life,” she says.
Nicole’s educational and professional experiences have influenced her definition of beauty. She reflects, “Beauty is ambition. Setting a goal and doing what it takes, professionally or personally, to get there is magnificent. Rising to the occasion, succeeding against all odds, is what’s most beautiful in my eyes.”