Gustavson School of Business
Did you know that Mia Maki, ACE educator, is not only an award-winning teacher and entrepreneurship expert, but also grew up cross-country skiing competitively?
Mia Maki graduated with a BA in Sociology and Math from the University of Alberta, and went on to work as a Controller while obtaining her Certified Management Accountants’ designation. Mia became Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer of IVL Technologies, a Victoria-based technology company and then obtained her MBA from the University of Victoria, focusing on Strategy and Entrepreneurship. Mia began teaching at Royal Roads in 2003, and joined the Gustavson School of Business in 2007.
At the Gustavson School of Business, Mia is an Assistant Teaching Professor and a member of the entrepreneurship team. Mia’s expertise covers a large span of areas including entrepreneurship; entrepreneurial, managerial, and international finance; risk assessment and risk management; strategic planning; governance and negotiation. Mia has gained her expertise through involvement in many organizations and projects, including work in which she has helped raise over $50 million in funds, and international activities including acquisitions in the United States, strategic partnerships in Japan, and joint subsidiary creation in Europe. Mia is also an active volunteer in the community and serves on numerous boards. Her active roles include serving as the Chair of the Investment Committee and Board member of the Victoria Foundation, Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee and Board member for Archipelago Marine Research, member of the VIATEC Finance Committee, and Chair of the Standards and Appeal Committee and Director with the CPA Western School of Business (formerly CASB). Mia is an accredited mentor to aspiring tech sector entrepreneurs through the VIATEC, ACETECH and BCIC Mentorship Program, while also managing her consulting company, Quimper Consulting Inc.
A key focus of Mia’s teaching is sharing her expertise with her students, as she enjoys working with prospective entrepreneurs looking to launch their careers. Although Mia’s background is in finance, she found herself drawn to startups and companies in their early stages. She sees entrepreneurship as an economy driver that is unique compared to other professions. If people are creating companies, which are providing more jobs and growth, this has unique impact on the economy. Mia’s passion for entrepreneurship is evident in her teaching, recognized through awards, including the Award of Excellence for Teaching from the Gustavson School of Business. Mia describes that “[e]ntrepreneurs have a special impact on our economy. So if I can foster and support that, I think that’s worthwhile.” In fact, one student of Mia’s students who graduated from the Gustavson School of Business with an MBA in 2014 believes that Mia’s expertise and energy as an entrepreneur has “fueled the success of dozens of local entrepreneurs and organizations.” This former student notes that much of Mia’s impact as a mentor and leader in the business community comes from her passion about connecting people within the community, as she believes that the best creative solutions come from intersections of paths. Mia’s focus on connections to create meaningful solutions for the community is making a difference in the way her students see business. In fact, Mia takes social responsibility further; as she often shares an adage with her students that is attributed to the Australian Aboriginal activist, Lilla Watson: “[i]f you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together”. Mia describes that this “encourages [students] to get out in the world and find out what people need, really, not give them what you think they need…because you care about their future and your future together.”
Mia began teaching the ACE program during the very first cohort, and she covers the second course of the program. This course is centered on preparing students to analyze opportunity in their market and how to measure the feasibility of launching their business. Mia’s focus on community through entrepreneurship is an invaluable component of this course, allowing students to see opportunity and determine which of their ideas is the best fit with the needs of both their stakeholders and themselves. When asked about her experiences teaching the ACE program, Mia described that she enjoys seeing how entrepreneurs in the ACE program and communities come together to create businesses. Mia also noted that the ACE program is unique in that she works with students whose direct aim is to operate their own business and that it is “exciting to be part of that intentional journey.” Mia also describes that finance and accounting are intimidating topics, and she enjoys demystifying numbers for entrepreneurs so they can use finance and accounting to provide additional value to customers. Mia described what stands out most about the ACE program to her: at this moment there is an awareness of an abundance of opportunity in communities and momentum towards starting First Nations’ businesses, and through the ACE program, entrepreneurs create the “economy of a community.”
Mia is a mentor to her students and provides advice to current entrepreneurs working to make an impact. Every entrepreneur experiences ups and downs, and these ups and downs are a normal part of the entrepreneurial journey. Her advice to current students is that they must create support around themselves to continue making an impact during both the ups and downs. Mia tells prospective entrepreneurs that they should not be intimidated by the entrepreneurial journey, but instead come into the ACE program with a view to recognizing and assessing their strengths, recognizing that every entrepreneur has their own set of strengths. Each entrepreneur also has their weaknesses, but through community, entrepreneurs can work together and build from each other’s strengths to create success.
We at ACE are thankful that our students get to meet Mia at this intersection on their journey as entrepreneurs. As one of Mia’s former students at the Gustavson School of Business notes, “[w]hether you want to talk about financials, brainstorm innovative solutions, or share your passion for food, I recommend getting to know Mia – you never know what could happen at the intersection.”
If you would like to know more about Mia Maki’s work, please visit these links:
Mia Maki is an educator of the Aboriginal Canadian Entrepreneurs Program. Many Aboriginal Entrepreneurs have graduated from the award winning ACE Program, which focuses on bridging Aboriginal culture with the key elements of entrepreneurship and business creation. The ACE program made possible through the collective efforts of our partnering regions, communities, institutions, and faculties.