May 28, 2014
As the faculty advisor behind one of Memorial’s most successful student teams, Prof. Lynn Morrissey models hard-working, ethical behaviour that’s helping to shape tomorrow’s business leaders.
Prof. Morrissey, assistant professor of communications at the Faculty of Business Administration, is marking her tenth year as faculty advisor for the national and international award-winning Enactus Memorial. Over the past decade, she has led the student group’s growth to its current powerhouse status as one of the best Enactus teams in the world.
“If you ask [the students], there are a few basic principles that I absolutely expect of them all the time: fairness, commitment, that moral compass – that’s really important, doing the right thing,” she says. “I would never ask them to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself. I model the same behaviours that I expect of them.”
Prof. Morrissey’s high standards for herself as a teacher and leader are reflected in the students’ relentless commitment to excellence. It’s a formula for success that’s clearly working.
Under her guidance, Enactus Memorial has won seven national titles (including the 2014 Enactus Canada National Exposition) and one world title. They’ve also placed second and third at worlds and have another shot at the title this fall in Beijing when they once again participate as Team Canada.
Competitions are only one aspect of Enactus, however. An international non-profit organization, Enactus mobilizes university students around the globe to develop community outreach projects that improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need.
Enactus Memorial currently runs 10 entrepreneurial and business-focused projects – nine in St. John’s and one in partnership with Project Stitch in Haiti – which have created 52 businesses and 92 jobs and generated over $1 million in revenue.
“There’s no secret. It’s commitment to excellence, it’s that passion and that focus and that willingness to do whatever it takes. That’s the secret, and that’s not a secret at all. That’s the secret to success, period,” she says.
Prof. Morrissey dedicates an average of 20 hours each week to the students in Enactus Memorial and the projects it runs. Her roles are diverse, including mentoring students in leadership roles, assisting the decision-making processes for new and existing projects, determining project responsibilities and overseeing the daily running of projects. She also monitors the Enactus Memorial brand and ensures that the brands of corporate partners are respected; she chooses a new senior executive each year and works closely with that leadership team; and she selects and trains the presentation team members each year for competitions.
It’s a demanding role, but one that she feels privileged to hold.
“One of the reasons why I wanted to even do this was to have that interaction with and the opportunity to mentor students,” she says. “I’ve often thought this is my last year and I’m going to stop, but every time I think that, then I see the students. There’s always another group that has that same passion and that same desire and that same willingness to do whatever it takes. It’s really incredible to be part of that. It’s the best thing I do, there’s no doubt about it.”
Prof. Morrissey’s impact on Enactus Memorial is also recognized outside of the university community.
“The long-term success of Enactus Memorial can be attributed directly to the passion and commitment of Lynn Morrissey,” says Ian Aitken, founder of Enactus Canada. “She has done an exceptional job and is respected across the country for the work that she has done over the past decade … Enactus Memorial’s success is unparalleled and serves as an inspiration to teams from across the country and around the world.”
One former member of Enactus Memorial agrees.
“Simply put, Enactus Memorial wouldn’t be the success it is without Lynn,” says Sophie Harrington, associate creative director at M5 Marketing Communications and an Enactus Memorial alumna who was a team member from 2003-2007.
“More importantly, thousands of people every year wouldn’t be impacted by their projects. Hundreds of students wouldn’t have gained the real-world, inspiring experience of being part of the team. And Memorial University wouldn’t be recognized the world over,” Ms. Harrington adds.
“She has offered leadership, guidance and motivation year after year, without ever asking for anything in return. She embodies what is great about Enactus: people going out of their way to help those around them.”
For Prof. Morrissey, it all comes back to her love of teaching and the meaningful relationships she is able to develop with students over the course of their time on the team.
“I work with the brightest and the best. To know that in any small way that you’re helping to develop that next generation of leaders is pretty special [and] I feel really privileged that I have that relationship with students,” she says.
“It’s still a breath of fresh air for me. It’s still something that makes me smile. I’m still completely blown away by what they’re willing to do and how hard they’re willing to work. I’m the lucky one here.”