Mission Critical is a podcast hosted by Bay Street Bull Editor-in-Chief Lance Chung about the purpose and values that drive today's most inspiring leaders. From innovative entrepreneurs to cultural game-changers, each episode will introduce you to someone new who is defining their community and redefining the status quo.
Noura Sakkijha (CEO, Mejuri): How to Build a Buzzy D2C Brand
“Buy yourself the damn diamond.” Such is the gospel of Noura Sakkijha, CEO and co-founder of fine jewelry company Mejuri. In 2015, she started her Toronto-based brand to reframe the conversation around jewelry, mainly around the idea that the industry was built for men gifting women. Instead, Noura wanted to empower women to celebrate themselves.
This notion of agency and self-expression is precisely what has grown Mejuri into one of the most exciting and dynamic lifestyle brands today. Noura, who is a third-generation jeweler, has proven her business thesis and built her company into a global direct-to-consumer brand that has not only influenced the purchasing behaviour of women but completely turned the industry’s distribution model on its head by pioneering weekly style drops.
Today, Mejuri has been able to amass a following of brand evangelists like Oprah, Bella Hadid, Ariana Grande, and Lizzo - along with thousands of other women - who believe in Noura’s mission.
In today’s episode, Noura joins us to discuss how her upbringing shaped her approach to design, building a company while raising a family, and what it takes to create a buzzworthy direct-to-consumer brand.
Bold by Veuve Clicquot: https://bit.ly/30rmbIl
Penny Oleksiak (Olympian): How to be Unapologetic About Your Success and Ambition
Bold by Veuve Clicquot: https://bit.ly/30rmbIl
Bay Street Bull's 2021 Women of the Year: https://baystbull.com/women-of-the-year-2021/
See photos from Penny Oleksiak's Cover Shoot: https://baystbull.com/women-of-the-year-2021-penny-oleksiak/
At just 21 years old, Toronto-born swimmer Penny Oleksiak has already been crowned as Canada’s most decorated Olympian with seven medals to her name. Before her dominant display this past summer in Tokyo, Penny became the first Canadian to win four medals in the same Summer Games and the country’s youngest Olympic champion. If that weren’t enough, she closed out her Olympic debut by becoming the first athlete born in the 2000s to claim a medal in an individual event, further underscoring her status as a generational talent.
Five years later, Penny returned to the Olympic stage to compete under the bright lights of the Tokyo Summer Games and, once again, represented Canada in spectacular fashion. By securing a silver and a pair of bronze medals, she immortalized herself as Canada’s most decorated Olympic athlete.
But holding a reputation like hers comes with its own set of challenges. When you’re thrust onto a podium and heralded as one of the greatest athletes in the world, that can sometimes affect your mental health, as we’ve seen in other instances with athletes (notably, young female athletes) like Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka.
Despite these challenges, it’s undeniable that Penny (and her contemporaries) have all earned their success—and have every right to celebrate it without apology or validation.
In today’s episode, Lance chats with Penny on the set of our very first Women of the Year issue about navigating the discomfort of high-pressure environments, her philosophy on victory, and what it means to own your ambition.
Jen Rubio (CEO, Away): How Can We Better Support Parents at Work?
If you’ve walked through an airport or hotel lobby in the last few years, you may have noticed people using a specific luggage brand, distinguished by its horizontal lines and array of different colourways. That brand is Away and on today’s episode, we're joined by co-founder and CEO, Jen Rubio.
Throughout her career, Jen has become one of the foremost authorities on modern retail, using her business philosophies to help redefine exceptional travel standards. It’s not an easy mission, especially following a time where travelling was viewed with perhaps more skepticism than ever before, but Jen and her company are helping to reignite the spirit of exploration and adventure.
As the leader of her company, she’s also had to navigate how to run a successful retail enterprise while being pregnant with her son, who was born right on the heels of her stepping into the CEO role. Months later, she’s excelling at both the role of executive and mother, helping to break down archaic and misogynistic stigmas surrounding working parents.
In this episode, Jen joins Lance to discuss the importance of a company’s parental policies, advice for ambitious and career-driven parents, and how to be an empathetic leader.
Chris Hadfield (Astronaut): What Can Astronauts Teach Us About Stress Management?
As a decorated astronaut, engineer, communicator, author, and musician, Chris Hadfield’s illustrious career has made him one of the most renowned and universally beloved figures in Canadian history. His reputation spread into the international mainstream after becoming the first Canadian to walk in space, flying two Space Shuttle missions and serving as commander of the International Space Station. He then cemented himself into pop culture history for his legendary performance of David Bowie’s Space Oddity while floating aboard the ISS, garnering over 27 million views on Youtube.
Inspired by witnessing the famed Apollo 11 moon landing on television when he was a child, Chris’ achievements have helped encourage the next generation of explorers and scholars. His books, which include three national bestsellers in The Darkest Dark, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life, and You Are Here have become some of the most valuable resources available for those searching for fascinating and accessible introductions to the field.
His influence on young Canadians and the realm of space exploration at large is simply incalculable. And as we continue to embark towards a future full of more question marks than ever before, the presence of strong leaders and scientific thinkers such as himself is more necessary than ever before.
In this episode, Chris joines Lance to talk about his otherworldly experiences, the importance of big-picture perspectives, the future of space exploration, and what it was like writing his latest book (and first fiction), The Apollo Murders.
Kyle Dubas (General Manager, Toronto Maple Leafs): How to Manage a Team of Elites
At just 35 years old, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas has firmly established himself as one of the most influential minds in professional hockey. But those who have followed Kyle’s career know that being the youngest person in the boardroom is nothing new to the executive. Kyle began his hockey career by becoming the youngest agent ever certified by the NHL Players Association before working his way up the ranks as an OHL executive at just 25 years old. He then moved up and was promoted to the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the 17th in the club’s history.
His identity as an executive has always been defined by bold – and sometimes unpopular – decisions, many of which are featured in the new Amazon Prime Video original series, All or Nothing: Toronto Maple Leafs.
On today’s episode, Kyle discusses what viewers can expect from the series while offering his philosophies on leadership, managing criticism, fostering young talent, and a wealth of other insights into the world of hockey and business. .
Aurora James (Founder, Fifteen Percent Pledge): How Can We Create More Shelf Space for BIPOC Brands?
Aurora James is a force to be reckoned with. Those of you who are tuned in to the world of fashion will likely recognize her name as the designer behind sustainable accessories brand Brother Vellies, a favourite amongst fashion heavyweights like Beyonce, Zendaya, and Solange (to name a few). You may also recognize her for gracing the cover of American Vogue’s coveted September issue in 2020 and, more recently, as the designer behind US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s 'Tax the Rich’ gown worn to the 2021 Met Gala. But beyond the fold of fashion, she’s also been hard at work to create real and meaningful change within the larger community.
In 2020, the Toronto-native and New York City transplant started her non-profit, the Fifteen Percent Pledge, in direct response to the wave of corporate statements issued during the Black Lives Matter movement. Focused on keeping these businesses accountable to racial equity, Aurora challenged the corporate community to commit at least 15 percent (which is roughly the proportion of the Black population in America) of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses. Today, that has manifested in a movement that has seen some of the world’s largest retailers sign on to help decrease the racial wealth gap.
On today’s episode, Aurora and Lance talk about progress, community, and what it means to take the pledge.