Failing to secure full-time employment after graduating with a Master of Business Administration degree turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Celina Rayonne Caesar-Chavannes.
“I was told I was over-qualified and I did not have enough managerial experience,” she said.
Frustrated by the rejections and with a family to help support, Caesar-Chavannes launched ReSolve Research Solutions (RRS) eight years ago. It’s a site management and clinical research consulting firm whose clients include pharmaceutical companies, private firms and non-governmental organizations.
The company employs a novel approach to research management that provides clients with innovative strategies for meeting deadlines through regulatory and ethical compliance and also collaboration and stakeholder education.
“I had two children at the time and I needed to provide some financial assistance for my husband,” said Caesar-Chavannes. “We were living in a small apartment, but the first cheque I received from my business was (enough) to be a down payment for the house we now live in.”
Caesar-Chavannes was rewarded for her resolve and ability to deliver a quality service in a timely manner with the Toronto Board of Trade 2012 Business Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
“It’s humbling to win such a prestigious award and to be the only woman rewarded in all of the categories,” said the 2007 Harry Jerome Young Entrepreneur Award winner. “It sends a message to young entrepreneurs that I mentor that working hard, sticking to what you believe in and providing a high quality service level really goes a long way.
“I find there are too many people trying to take short cuts. That does not work. You have to start from the bottom and work your way up. That pays off not just by awards but by others looking up to you for leadership and mentorship.”
Caesar-Chavannes, who came to Canada from Grenada at age two, thanked Grenada’s consul general, Jenny Gumbs, for nominating her, and husband Vidal Chavannes and their three children for their unfailing support.
A total of nine awards were presented to a variety of enterprises in the categories of Global Reach, Sustainability, Start-Up/New Business, Under-30, Local Economic Impact, Diversity Innovation, Business Growth and Entrepreneur of the Year. RRS was one of three finalists in the Entrepreneur of the Year category with Xtreme Labs Inc. and Elite Mail.
A graduate of the University of Toronto and the University of Phoenix, Caesar-Chavannes is also a U of T alumni governor, the Director of Research Administration for the Alzheimer Society of Canada and Project Coordinator for Neurological Health Charities Canada.
She also serves as a director of the Congress of Black Women (Ajax-Pickering chapter), the Olive Branch of Hope and the U of T Research Ethics Board and lectures widely on the inclusion of marginalized populations in clinical research.
Prior to starting her business, Caesar-Chavannes was a research assistant with the Rotman Research Institute and a research coordinator with the U of T and the University Health Network.
BY RON FANFAIR