Melissa Rolston; Toronto
Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. How would you describe, in a nutshell, what you do?
I work in the healthcare space.
Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I attended Humber College’s creative photography program. As of recently, I started a holistic medicine program at The Edison Institute, which I’m really excited about.
What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)
I started booking photography gigs when I was in my last semester of college which inspired me to drop out, move downtown and pursue my dreams full-time. While focusing on building my photography brand I picked up a side job as an executive assistant with a Licensed Producer Applicant, a.k.a. a legal medical cannabis grower—and so began my journey in the medical cannabis industry.
What was your BIG break? How did you land it?
Being born a Rolston. I’m so thankful to have the mother I have. She raised me in a holistic home and taught me the importance of health and self-care. Since I was a young girl I always envisioned myself following in her footsteps. Fast forward to now—I’m honoured to stand beside her as we embark on a journey aimed to enhance patient lives with our medical education consulting company TeamMD.
Describe the moment in which you first realized, I think this is actually going to work out?
There was never one exact moment throughout my entrepreneurial experience. It has been filled with plenty of moments where that exact phrase has crossed my mind. If I have to focus on a collection of moments it would be looking up to my cousin, Britney Guerra. She has been working in the Canadian cannabis industry for more than 10 years and is considered a successful entrepreneur who has worked alongside Marc and Jodie Emery with Cannabis Culture. Seeing her successes, and recent roadblocks, throughout her career has inspired me to pursue my own dreams within the industry with goals of becoming a self-made business women.
What would you say has been your biggest failure or shortcoming, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?
My persistence and passion to help people can be considered both a blessing and curse—more so a curse in a poor work environment. Luckily, I’m a quick learner and now recognize when to make a strategic exit when involved in a project that doesn’t suit my career needs/goals any longer. I always have to remind myself that in business, it’s OK to be selfish when making an important decision regarding my career, especially as a social entrepreneur.
Name one piece of career advice you always give.
Never give up, especially when things seem at their worst—that just means you’re about to take off.
What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?
Give up and get a ‘job.’
Did you deal with barriers in your field because you are a woman? If so, what were they?
The path of entrepreneurship is filled with plenty of barriers. But those barriers—whether because I’m young, or a women—are not roadblocks. I believe that everything happens for a reason and closed doors protect me from a path I’m not meant to take. I’m a solution seeker which means I am always looking for a strategic way to overcome a barrier.
What’s the worst stereotype you’ve heard about millennials at work?
“You’re so young, you couldn’t have done all you have at your age.”
That statement is something I hear quite often which is unfair in my opinion. Everyone evolves at their own pace. Some people fit into the groove society has structured, and some don’t.