June 5, 2024

Class of 2024: From self-doubt to exceptional leadership, Ivy Lee’s journey at Haskayne was transformative

Empowered by family and mentors, Lee emerges as a resilient leader and award-winning captain
A woman wears a checkered scarf and smiles at the camera holding an award
Ivy Lee is part of Haskayne’s graduating class for 2024. JDC West

As Ivy Lee approaches her graduation from the Haskayne School of Business this week, her journey stands as a testament to resilience, leadership and growth. From initially considering a completely different career path to becoming a pivotal figure at Haskayne, Lee's path has been both challenging and rewarding.

Lee's decision to pursue a Bachelor of Commerce (BComm) at Haskayne was heavily influenced by her family. Her father, a renovation contractor, allowed Lee to help with his company and gave her an early glimpse into the business world. 

However, it was her cousin Vivian Lee, BComm’19, former president of the student club Alliance in Marketing (AIM), who truly cemented her decision. Watching her cousin travel for case competitions and witnessing the networks and friendships she built was inspiring; this was exactly the kind of undergraduate experience she envisioned for herself.

"I decided to go with business after reflecting and talking to people around me. I'm so glad I chose to apply for business (at Haskayne) and accept the offer,” says Lee. “The influence from my dad and cousin really helped me pick the Haskayne School of Business. It's been a transformative journey that I wouldn't trade for anything.”

Embracing change and leaning into discomfort

During her time at Haskayne, Lee made a significant impact as the captain of the JDC West team, one of the largest business competitions in Western Canada. Leading the team was no small feat, especially with last minute changes to the team for her last year of competition.

Despite the challenges, Lee thrived, driven by the support of her teammates and mentors. Her dedication and ability to coach her team led to her winning the prestigious Executive of the Year award at JDC West.

A group of people in matching scarves

Ivy Lee with her team at the 2024 JDC West competition.

JDC West

“Being a captain changed my life in terms of truly believing in myself. The experience reinforced the importance of having a strong support network,” says Lee. “Especially with my godparents, vice-presidents, and delegates on my JDC West team, to all my teammates along the way, friends even with the mentorship of alumni and faculty members, it really showed the strength of our community."

Cameron Welsh, an associate professor in business technology management at Haskayne, coached and advised Lee on numerous case teams, including JDC West, the Global Circular Challenge at the London School of Economics, and the McDonough Business Strategy Challenge at Georgetown University.

"I've had the chance to coach and advise Ivy on numerous case teams, including JDC West,” says Welsh, BSc’86, BA’90, MBA’94. “Throughout her last few years at Haskayne, she developed strong mentorship skills which she used to provide valuable guidance to her fellow team members. This mentorship will undoubtedly benefit them when they transition into being Haskayne alumni."

Catherine Heggerud, associate dean of undergraduate programs and associate professor in business technology management at Haskayne, admires her growth and commitment. 

"Watching Ivy lean into the leadership hurdles she faced leading up to and during the competition was remarkable. It was a privilege to watch her leadership growth," says Heggerud. "Her win for Executive of the Year at JDC West was a testament to her outstanding leadership ability. I cannot wait to see what she accomplishes next."

In addition to JDC West, Lee participated in the UCeed Haskayne Student Fund and the Venture Capital Investment Competition. These experiences expanded her understanding of the business world and deepened her interest in venture capital. 

"Participating in the UCeed Haskayne Student Fund taught me to dig deeper and explore different avenues in the business world, like startups,” says Lee. “The biggest takeaway was understanding that the next groundbreaking technology or idea might be right in our own backyard. It's about the venture capitalists who have the opportunity and foresight to recognize and invest in these innovations first.”

After graduation, Lee aspires to enter the investment and consulting industry, particularly in venture capital or private equity and ultimately in growth equity.

Looking back on her time at Haskayne, Lee emphasizes the importance of taking initiative and notes the experiences and opportunities at Haskayne have been pivotal in shaping her career goals.

"Your university experience is only as fulfilling as you make it to be,” she says. “Take the initiative to join clubs that align with your interests, explore who you are as a business student and future leader, and make friends.

“A community at university, especially at Haskayne,” says Lee. “Makes your experience more rewarding and memorable.”

Read more inspiring stories about the accomplishments and journeys of the Class of 2024.

Graduates, as you prepare to transition away from student life, we'd like to also welcome you into the UCalgary alumni community. Learn about the programs, benefits and services available exclusively to UCalgary grads, and be sure to keep in touch. 

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