When Linda Horowitz’s son started learning drums, she decided she’d take lessons too. So, she picked up the bongos and djembe, a west African hand drum.
The same thing happened when her kids started skiing. And scuba diving. “I said, why am I sitting here watching? I think I’ll take lessons,” she said.
Then motorcycles grabbed her attention, so she took a two-day course to get her licence. A month and a half later, she had her M2 and bought her first bike, a ’96 Harley Davison Sportster. (Now she rides a Harley Davidson Heritage Softtail.)
Horowitz has always jumped into opportunities with both feet, a theme that runs through her personal life and professional career, and which eventually brought her to managing Innovation Guelph’s Fast Lane program.
Early on, she wanted to be a journalist. Instead she found engaging work with Super X Drugs and later Shopper’s Drug Mart, when it bought the pharmacy chain.
“I grew up through the pharmacy business, moving from the Ontario region into the national office, and then moving through operations, training and development, and strategy” she said. When opportunities became available, she took on the challenge, leading her to try a bit of everything and eventually becoming the National Manager, Cosmetics Operations.
But then came a life change: raising her son and daughter as a single mother. At that point, she was working at the national office and travelling more than she liked. “They wanted me to travel more, and I wanted to travel less because I had little kids at home,” she said.
That’s when she started her own consultancy agency, helping small and mid-sized businesses with business development, project management, and operations. It also gave her the freedom she needed with her family.
“I was able to decide for the most part my own hours, when I was going to meet clients, when I wasn’t,” she said. “I was able to end my day when I wanted to, so I could be available for my kids when they came home or if I had to pick them up.”
Still, making the switch from corporate to independent work was a learning curve. “Suddenly I had to learn how to build a sales funnel and find new clients, which takes up an enormous amount of time. And once you have that client, it’s how do you keep them, over and over again.”
Then, another life change. After 16 successful years as a consultant, Horowitz felt she was ready to re-enter office life at Innovation Guelph. Her kids had grown up and moved out, and she now had lots of experience to share from her own venture.
“I missed the sociability of being around people. You know, the life of an entrepreneur can be lonely at times, so I was happy to make the switch,” she said.
Horowitz is one year in the role and still excited by it, whether she’s reporting to funders, managing projects, coordinating with mentors, leading business development with partners, working with clients, onboarding industry specialists, organizing events or networking. “I’m really appreciating this city. It’s quite dynamic, there’s a lot going on, a lot of innovation.”
Her list of responsibilities may be long, but, like most things in her life, she’s jumping in feet first.
“There’s a lot of activity, so it’s exciting and different pretty much every day,” she said. “Although we’re a small team, we do a lot here to help our clients.”