Are you the next CEO of C100?

C100
7 min readFeb 12, 2022

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It is bittersweet to plan for a transition from what is, I feel, the best job in the world. So naturally, I am reflecting nostalgically and gratefully on these last 5+ years that I have had the honour of leading this organization and serving this community. These years have been the most rewarding in my entire career.

Today, we kick off a search for C100’s next leader, which means this year will be my last as C100’s CEO. And as I look at the community C100 has become during my tenure at C100, I revel in anticipating my one-day “role change” from CEO to “Member”. So, before C100 “turns a page”, “hands over the torch”, “passes the baton”, I’d like to share some of those reflections with you all here.

Laura Buhler, C100 CEO (‘16–’22)

Why is it time to pass the torch?

I have said from my early days at C100 that while one’s age is indeed measured in years, one’s career impact is not. I measure myself by progress against the “job to be done”. To that end, there were several things I wanted to help C100 achieve during my tenure. Until those goals were accomplished, I wouldn’t even think of doing anything else. In recent months, particularly as we expanded C100 to New York and plan towards launching C100 Los Angeles in March 2022, I was humbled, gratified (and scared!) to admit that we had finally realized those goals.

It’s not that there is nothing left to do — on the contrary! C100’s momentum is beyond what our current team can keep up with! (We’re hiring for multiple roles, by the way!) We welcome new leaders every single day to the C100 membership, onboarding them in cohorts each month. What was once a 100-person grassroots organization in the San Francisco Bay Area is now an international community with members spanning 26 cities from Shanghai to Tel Aviv, from Victoria to St. John’s. In addition to the chapters in New York City and the Bay Area, in 2022 we will launch four more C100 chapters in key markets across the US and internationally.

Quite simply put, and I’ll quote Lars Leckie (C100 Co-chair ‘11–12) here: “C100 is bigger than any one of us”. While it’s bittersweet to admit that it’s time to move on from the best job in the world — particularly at a place with so much momentum and a bright future ahead — I know that my chapter in the C100 book is closing.

In my time here, the C100 team and our legion of volunteers and supporters have laid a great foundation for scaling the preeminent global community of Canadians in tech. Namely:

  • We re-launched and revamped the C100 Charter Membership, our by-invitation cohort of members united in their mission to champion, mentor, and support the next generation of great Canadian leaders;
  • We launched C100’s core membership product, whereby Canadians building tech companies and investing in them can enjoy C100 as an evergreen community with year-round connectivity, access, and support built into the membership experience;
  • We grew (far) beyond C100’s Silicon Valley roots; and
  • We restored and expanded the C100 Fellowship program to be the community’s crown jewel, C100’s most mission-critical program to support the next generation of Canadian founders.

The next chapter at C100 will be about scaling our community and impact globally. Unlocking new communities of Canadian leadership in key markets across the US and around the world who are bought into our mission of supporting, inspiring, and advancing Canadian entrepreneurship and leadership in technology.

Gratitudes

It is with great sincerity that I say “this is the best job in the world.” I say it to myself all the time as a mantra of gratitude to the believers, the backers, the funders, and the players who make it all possible!

C100’s Members, you are the lifeblood of the C100. Thank you for embracing and living C100’s values of helpfulness, of entrepreneurship, of ownership (“This is your C100!”), and accountability to one another. Thank you for showing up at every opportunity to nominate founders to become beneficiaries of C100’s platform, for mentoring, for speaking, for sharing your networks with your fellow community members.

Even though I’m stepping off the full-time team, I am committed to remaining a part of our ecosystem and the C100 “movement” for many years to come. I invite you to continue leveraging me for connections and advice moving forward, and I ask that you afford our new CEO the same opportunities for them to be helpful as you have for me. This community has been a joy to steward, and it’s because of each of you making C100 (and me!) a part of your lives.

C100’s Partners, your support has afforded me and my team to do our work, and has supported the growth of a movement that is truly unique in the world. Our work is simply not possible without the steadfast support of not only these organizations but also the champions within those organizations supporting us, encouraging us, and helping every step along the way. In particular, RBC, Scotiabank & Roynat Capital, BDC, and Silicon Valley Bank have underwritten and bolstered the C100 you all know and love today. Additionally, our corporate member community who not only support C100 financially but strategically, include: Alberta Enterprise Corp, Boast.ai, CPP Investments, the DMZ, espresso capital, Fasken, Golden Ventures, KPMG Canada, McCarthy Tetrault, McVestCo, the Zohnny Group at Morgan Stanley, Osler, Queen’s University, Radical Ventures, Real Ventures, Spear Street Capital, TMX Group, Taylor Wessing, Telus Ventures, Toronto Global, the University of Toronto, the University of Waterloo, Wittington Ventures, Western University, and Wilson Sonsini.

Each of C100’s Board Members and Co-Chairs I have partnered with during my tenure have each left their fingerprints on this organization in such unique and tangible ways. Angela Strange, Terry Doyle, Sean Harrington, Shari Hatch Jones, Andre Charoo, and Janet Bannister: you have each been a mentor to me in your own way. You have invested countless volunteer hours into C100’s programs, governance, and into our team. Your leadership should earn each of you a Governor General’s award! Until that time which will surely come, please take it from me: you have served Canada and the C100 community and left an indelible mark on me, too.

I’d also like to give kudos to an incredible board of directors. Strong board directors are one of the highest-leverage members of any nonprofit organization and a critical piece of the talent puzzle that makes it all work. Since C100’s inception in 2010, we have always been supported by a devoted and talented board of directors. You know who you are! Thank you for the gift of your wisdom and talents. Today, Jen Lee Koss, Andrew D’Souza, Kim Fennell, Curt Sigfstead, Ruth Hennigar, Angela Tran, Michael Hershfield, Emilie Potvin and Kirstine Stewart serve on our board — thank you for your leadership and your care for C100. We are a strong organization because of the dedication and service of each of you.

We stand on the shoulders of giants! C100’s founders Anthony Lee and Chris Albinson and my predecessors Atlee Clark, Joanne Fedeyko, and Terry Doyle, who each took time and effort to mentor me and guide me in my early days — thank you! Anything I did for C100, it was building on top of a foundation you had already laid. I aspire to emulate you for all those who come after me.

And the C100 Team... Joshua Goodfield, Lauren Howe, and Cameron Miemiec — when you flip to the word “dream team” in the dictionary, you’ll find a picture of the three of you right there. Each of you inspires and challenges me, and one other, every single day. Together, you have had an immeasurable impact on the global Canadian tech community, and while your work here will extend past my own, you can and should take pride in what you have already done for that community in your tenure. Working with you has been the joy of my career, and your future teammates will call themselves extremely fortunate, as I have, to work alongside you. Our Members, our Board, and our Partners respect you, trust you, and believe in you to take C100 to the next chapter.

So, what’s next?

I will be leading C100 for several more months while we simultaneously conduct our CEO search and continue our ambitious program for 2022, which includes C100’s expansion to Los Angeles, the announcement of our 2022 Fellows cohort, and our big annual mentorship event “48Hrs” in May.

I invite you to join us in our search for a magnetic, talented CEO who will take the C100 torch to expand it internationally and carry on the legacy that many of you have helped create.

Our new leader will be charged with C100’s global expansion. Specifically, we are looking for our next leader to:

  • Continue C100’s transformation into a global network including developing a proven market-expansion playbook and a clear, compelling value proposition for all stakeholders
  • Establish strong, thriving C100 chapters in 10 to 15 cities across North America, Europe and Asia
  • Continuously evolve C100’s revenue model to be ever more robust and self-sustaining
  • Lead a talented and motivated staff team that is working together towards the organization’s goals

If you or someone you know might be fit for this incredible leadership role, please refer them to either me, Andre Charoo, Janet Bannister, or Chris Ramsay, our search partner.

“With a Glowing Heart”,

Laura Buhler

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C100

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